John Boylan’s Conversations: What’s Coming

After this fragmentary but glorious summer, autumn is coming, and that means we’ll be starting up the conversations at Vermillion again. We’ve put together a good set of topics, and we’re looking forward to some very stimulating discussion this fall. We haven’t yet settled on the guests, but you’ll be the first to know once we have those in place. Suggestions are always welcome.

Note that the dates are fixed, but the topics may shift as we get closer to show time.

If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at

The List

Making Sense—Tuesday, September 20

This one is the latest in a long series (Death, Making Sense of the Handbasket…) about the urge to make sense of the craziness that surrounds us, and what role art can play in that, if any. This summer has seemed exceptionally strange, as the right flexes its muscle, the new normal drags drearily on, and a world of difficult weather suggests that something out there really is changing. Where do we turn to make sense of it all? Politics? Religion? Economic theory? Science? Art? Or is any attempt to make sense of it all doomed? Are we better off if we stop making sense and embrace the nonsense?

Temporary Cities, Imaginary Cities—Tuesday, October 18

More and more I notice the urge to build cities that only last for a day or a weekend. Burning Man’s Black Rock City is a prime case, rising from the dust of an old lakebed and then disappearing again, not long after. Then there’s the Oregon Country Fair, where a beautiful village exists year round, but only comes to life for few days in July. Closer to home, Seattle’s somnambulant Broadway comes into its own with the Gay Pride Festival, completely transformed as a new place, a city from another life, but only for a day. And then there are the ubiquitous farmer’s markets, village squares for a village that only exists as dream, also for a day. These are the places that we love, but we make them for such small stretches of time. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make cities that are like this all the time? Or would we go mad living in such places, the mental equivalent of eating too much birthday cake? What can we learn from our temporary cities and the way we create them?

Installation—Tuesday, November 15

A conversation about installation art: places transformed, objects juxtaposed and repurposed, art installed. Theater sets for plays that don’t exist. Miniature worlds that both envelope and challenge. Installations made with craft, and those made for some all-encompassing effect. Installation art.

Museums or Food—Tuesday, December 13

I still can’t make up my mind whether I want to do a conversation on museums, how they’re faring, what roles they play in this digital age, and what sort of secular cathedrals they can be. Or do I want to do another discussion of food, to celebrate again the season of gluttony? Last December’s food conversation was very good. We will see.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle ( For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848.


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