Conversations, the Summer Ahead, and a Few Good Plugs.

The conversations always go on holiday for the summer. They’ll be back in September. It has been a good year, with discussions ranging into theater, trash, exclusion and inclusion, the art of intoxication, the future of this city, and conversation itself. I’m looking forward to more great encounters in the fall.

For now, I want to leave you with some words about a few of the things in Seattle that are exciting me this summer.

First is the long-awaited opening of the KeseyPollock show on June 29. After raising a record $45,000 on Kickstarter (video at http://www.keseypollock.com/work.html), these two artists have been working 70/80-hour weeks for months, striving to finish what has become a massive project. They’ve been casting people in wax and various other meltable substances, painting the figures, and then melting them and capturing the melt in photographs, video, and drawings. They’re not making portraits; I was cast late this winter, and the figure they created was someone I didn’t recognize. It was, well…, maybe you’ll just need to show up and see. I watched my figure being melted, but I haven’t yet seen the video documentation of that. I’m very much looking forward to it.

The opening promises to be the art party of the summer, complete with Peruvian cebiche bar. Basic facts: June 29, 5:30, 2231 First Avenue in Belltown. “All are welcome.” The show runs June 30 to July 14. See http://www.keseypollock.com for more information. And go.

Also that night is Chocolatada, a big fundraiser for the much valued and wonderful Backbone Campaign, the political theater and activism group originally conceived in 2004 to give some backbone to the Democrats, as I recall. It’s “a night of chocolate, wine, fingerfood, & fun,” with much music, aerial performers, and more. Sounds excellent. That happens from 7 to 10 at Om Culture, on the north side of Lake Union. Maybe after a stop in Belltown…. For more info, see http://www.backbonecampaign.org/2011-12-13-18-50-10/archive.html

Longtime readers of these notes know that I love circus, especially circus that bends the limits and strives toward creating something completely new. In Seattle, the best practitioner of such things is the Acrobatic Conundrum (https://www.facebook.com/Acrobatic.Conundrum), which fuses acrobatics, aerial performance, dance, and theater. In July, with “The Way Out,” Conundrum artistic director Terry Crane and managing director Joselynn Engstrom join forces with choreographer Elizabeth Rose, who has also worked to fuse dance and aerial in such projects as TickTock and Physical Graffiti.

The show happens weekends in July at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center on Delridge in West Seattle. Info and tickets: http://www.strangertickets.com/location/7922198/youngstown-cultural-arts-center. Here is a video pulled from past work: http://vimeo.com/63982163. Here is a wonderful piece that the group put together as part of a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=XxQohrH8IMI. They didn’t win, but were runners up, and the video has had almost 25,000 views. I’m pleased to note that both Elizabeth and Terry are alums of this conversation series, as is Macklemore, for that matter.

This Saturday afternoon, I’ll be emceeing one of the stations of the Solstice Parade in Fremont (http://fremontartscouncil.org/). I’ll be in front of Wright Brothers Cycle Works (http://www.wrightbrotherscycleworks.com/). Do come by if you’re around. This is the parade’s 25th birthday, and there are some changes in the works. For the first time in 25 years, the parade is starting at 3 pm rather than noon. I’m guessing that a lot of people may still show up very early, so it makes sense to do the same. Fear not: for those so inclined, the parade will now feature beer gardens right on the route. One will be in the parking lot next to Roxy’s; the other in the lot in front of Makerhaus, where Evo used to be, near the beginning of the parade. And you can dash around the corner to check out the fair and the art cars http://www.seattleartcars.org/.

But the most amazing new development is that the Parade and Honk Fest West (http://honkfestwest.com/) have joined forces, so that the streets will be filled with wild and wonderful street bands, before the parade, in the parade, and afterward, at the big party at Gasworks.

Intiman’s delightful summer theater festival is back, with four plays: Dario Fo’s great “We Won’t Pay! We Won’t Pay!,” a production of Lysistrata, an inspiring and heart warming musical about the nation’s first openly transgendered mayor (in Silverton, Oregon), and “Trouble in Mind,” telling the story of an integrated theater company on Broadway in 1957. http://www.intiman.org/plays-events/festival/ . For those that need to, check out the pay what you can previews.

Smoke Farm’s LoFi Arts festival is coming on August 24. It promises to be fabulous. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the amazing collaboration between Sari Breznau and Bret Fetzer, among many other performances and installations. Walk the fields and encounter art and music scattered about. I’ll be telling a few stories at the festival, fantastic stories but still grounded in the flora, fauna, and history of the place. For tickets: http://www.strangertickets.com/events/7919960/lofi-arts-festival-must-be-present-to-win

There’s so much more. Just looking around, next week starting June 27, there’s an art show at Seattle Central Community College “Leaves from a Different Tree. Curated by the inestimable Alan Lau, it features works by Lucia Enriquez, Kanetaka Ikeda, and Mark Takamichi Miller. http://seattlecentral.edu/artgallery/2013-leaves/2013-leaves.php. And this Friday night is clothing designer Michael Cepress’s big “American Dreaming” showcase: http://michaelcepress.com/3641/michael-cepress-2013-collection-showcase-american-dreaming/

And so it goes, and goes. Seattle is a vital city.

I hope you have a wonderful summer. 

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John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Kicking Seattle up a Notch or Two”

Event Date: Tuesday, May 14 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

The Summary

For our next conversation, we’ll be talking about what it would take to greatly raise Seattle’s profile as an arts center, “taking Seattle up a notch,” for want of a better tagline. Read on for the details.

The Guests (see the bios below)

Andrew Russell, Artistic Director, Intiman

Andy Fife, independent consultant, teacher, writer

Greg Lundgen, artist, impresario, and restauranteur

Shari Behnke, creative philanthropist

The Story

This time we’ll be talking about Seattle’s reach and reputation, how those affect what we do in terms of making art, and how they might grow. I’ve been thinking about the city’s tendency to see the world of the arts a place of finite resources. What are the alternatives? Greg Lundgren, in a recent presentation at the Hedreen Gallery, called for more ambition among Seattle’s artists, something he’s channeling with his Walden 3 project. Another idea I’ve heard lately is the desire to be more like Austin. Should we be better exporting our arts? Or become a stronger destination? Or build our own audiences? What would any of those look like?

It’s easy to treat one’s city as a closed system, a finite system, a zero sum game, whether in building support, getting audiences, or finding artists. What you see around you is what you get. That’s especially true here, in Seattle, with the city as isolated as it is, perched out at the northwest tip of the country. Sure, we have two neighbor cities, but there is surprisingly little collaboration and cooperation between the three, and each is a bizarro version of the other two. So we function chiefly on our own. And if we see the rest of the country—or the world—as a source of sustenance and support, it is merely as a place to go, to tour a band, get an out-of-town gallery, get published or produced.

But what if there’s another whole element to Seattle’s relationship to the world around us? What if this city became a cultural destination to an extent that it has not dreamed of since the summer of the Seattle World’s Fair? How might that look? And what would it do for the vitality of the city’s cultural scenes, for the sort of resources we have available? Would it be amazing, or maybe a complete disaster?

I’ve been in several conversations recently about what it would take to move the city’s profile up a notch or two. In recent years this town has become something of a laboratory, with a level of experiment and risk taking that can be electrifying. But then what? We share our wares to our friends, bring them into our projects, put on small—or even good sized—events, and then the project dies, or maybe we think about taking it elsewhere. But what if there were ways to grow the pot, either through bringing in outsiders, growing local audiences, or raising our own sense of what a destination we have here.

And what would we want to be known for? We’re already a theater town. But we’re also a dance town, an experimental music town, a literature town. And we’re definitely a hip hop town: http://www.youtube.com/user/gabrielteodros. We produce fine graphic novels (http://www.amazon.com/The-Carter-Family-Dont-Forget/dp/0810988364) and we have a growing and energetic circus community: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxQohrH8IMI

So what are we? And what can we become? Come and talk about it.

The Guests in Detail

Andrew Russell is Artistic Director at Seattle’s Intiman Theatre where he has directed several productions, workshops and readings. Other credits include directing the acclaimed new musical THE CALLERS for Washington Ensemble Theatre, FOR A LOOK OR A TOUCH for the Seattle Men’s Chorus, Jeanine Tesori’s AMERICAN SONGBOOK concert for Jazz at Lincoln Center, and overseeing Tony Kushner and Tesori’s COURAGE IN CONCERT at The Public Theater. Also in New York, he has directed for Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Subjective Theatre Company, The Gallery Players, Downtown Urban Theater Festival, Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, Columbia University and New York University. While in NYC Andrew also interned with Warner Bros. TV Casting, was an agent with Peter Strain and Associates, and worked in creative development with David Stone. BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Acting.

Andy Fife is an independent consultant, coach, teacher and writer in arts and nonprofit management, located in the Puget Sound Region and working throughout the country.  His primary focus is on the intersection of art, civics and commerce, helping cultural institutions and programs to bring relevant and impactful social benefit to broad and diverse communities.  He has a wide breadth of knowledge and experience in arts and nonprofit management, especially in small- to mid-sized organizations, and specializing in new initiatives, programs and businesses.

He most recently served as Executive Director of Shunpike, a nonprofit arts service organization that provides support to hundreds of arts groups and projects annually.  At Shunpike he served as the primary spokesperson, consultant, advisor and director for all programs and activities.  Prior, he coordinated the Publicity Office of the Seattle International Film Festival, and was Director of Operations at the former art center Consolidated Works.

Current board responsibilities include the Washington State Arts Commission and the Seattle Arts Commission’s Facility and Economic Development committee. A musician, theater director and writer, he received a B.S. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and participated in Seattle’s Leadership Tomorrow program, a series of training activities designed to develop effective community leaders in the region.

 

Shari D. Behnke is president and founder of the New Foundation Seattle. She is a creative philanthropist and art collector based in Seattle, WA. She has a varied history of contributing to the growth and vitality of the community in which she lives by participating on non-profit boards and creating programs that serve the public. In the past twenty-five years Shari has created: the Behnke Foundation, which under her leadership founded The Neddy, an unrestricted cash award for Seattle-based visual artists; The Child Care Fund at Cascadia Revolving Fund, a micro-lending program for Day Care providers that was recognized by President Clinton in 1977 for its innovation; Two Cupcakes Production, a manufacturing company of fingerless gloves whose profits funded the “It’s a Wrap” award and a scholarship for apparel design students at Seattle Central Community College; The Brink, a collaborative award with the Henry Art Gallery for an emerging visual artist in the Northwest region; and most recently, she co-chaired the Innovation Campaign for Building Changes.

The New Foundation Seattle was created to strengthen the position of contemporary visual art and production through concentrated support of individual artistic development, and the presentation of public programs that foster the exchange of ideas about art and its role today.

 

More information about Greg Lundgren is at http://www.themonarchreview.org/manufacturing-renaissance-an-interview-with-greg-lundgren/ and http://lundgrenmonuments.com/about_us.html

John Boylan’s Next Conversation: “Trash!”

Event Date: Tuesday, April 16 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

The Summary

For our next conversation, we’ll be talking trash. No, not that kind of talking trash. We’ll be looking at the ubiquitous stuff that we generate every day. Read on for the details.

The Guests (see the bios below)

Robin Worley, artist, designer, activist

Julia Hensley, artist, teacher

Karen Hackenberg, artist

The Story

This time, the conversation turns to trash: the stuff we throw out, and the many roles it plays in our lives. It’s invisible, taken for granted, except when it’s not, when we find ourselves swimming in it, say. In Seattle, we’ve trained ourselves to separate our trash and our compost, which can change the nature of the stuff: trash contaminated with meat blood or the rotting remains of last month’s moldy casserole becomes leaking garbage, a different thing entirely from the general things, the stuff, the detritus of everyday life.

It’s no great insight to realize that our trash, or lack of it, is a record of how we lead our lives, what is important to us, how we buy and prepare our food, what we break, what wears out and what doesn’t. Muck like spoor, human or otherwise, it tell us about those who left it behind. When it is not preoccupied with burial remains, archaeology has long been about looking at trash, middens and ruins and broken tools. Future diggers will wonder about out trash. What important object would have been kept in those thick layers of impenetrable and unbreakable plastic? A reliquary? A rare token? Or a pair of cheap earphones? The late archaeologist William Rathje didn’t wait for the future; he spent the past several decades employing the techniques of careful excavation to explore how we live our lives now: http://uanews.org/story/william-l-rathje-1945-2012. His book Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage is essential reading for understanding the nature of what we throw away: http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/Books/bid1369.htm.

Trash has long been integral to how we make art, from found musical instruments to DuChamp’s readymades and Picasso’s Bull’s Head (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull%27s_Head) and Tinguely’s self-destroying kinetic sculptures: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/596605/Jean-Tinguely and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cl_WVGDzxT4.

I’ve asked a few artists who have been working with trash in Seattle to join us for a conversation on trash. Julia Hensley just completed BIO, an installation at Joe Bar made from five months of her retained trash (http://juliahensley.com/journal/). The installation was beautiful in a way that is unique to commercial packaging. It was also fascinating to look at the piece and realize how much of a self-portrait it was: a revealing portrait of how she lived her life over those months. And Robin Worley, who suggested this conversation a year ago, has long been a spearhead of the trash fashion world: making clothes out of cast-off stuff, to both call attention to the ubiquity of wasted junk in our lives, and produce some truly beautiful clothing. One of my favorites is still the beautiful dress made from a discarded inflatable rubber raft in 2009 (http://www.rayonavisqueen.blogspot.com/).

I’m also working on getting a solid waste person and possibly another trash fashion designer. Stay tuned. And do come.

May’s conversation (May 14) will be the last until fall. We’ll be talking about “Exporting Seattle,” about the culture that we want to be known for as a city, and how to get there.

The Guests in Detail

Robin Worley, aka Rayona Visqueen, is a fine artist and fashion designer who makes her home in the Puna District on the Big Island of Hawaii. She began her illustrious career in Trash Fashion Design in Northern California in 1986 as a model for Polly Ethylena, the founder of Haute Trash, and was then christened Rayona Visqueen. In 1988 Robin/Rayona showed her first full line of couture from trash, and she just never stopped. She took to producing the shows in 1991 and has hundreds to her credit.

Robin lived for a stint in the Pacific Northwest where she conceived of the fashion aspects of the annual Recycled Art & Fashion Show sponsored by The RE Store in Seattle and Bellingham, Washington.

Rayona works semi-annually with the original group in California to produce events and this core group, who now live far and wide, usually always mail pieces back and forth or even travel to be part of the outlying events. The next of these will be April 13th at the Burke Museum, and April 20th in Missouri.

Since 2000, Rayona has toured a mini-show each summer, when she can, to the Oregon Country Fair and then continues on with the New Old Time Chautauqua, an all-volunteer educational vaudeville show dedicated to laughter and community. With this group she has traveled to California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Louisiana, Mississippi, and British Columbia.

Haute Trash is a humorous and irreverent look at this disposable culture we live in. It’s a group of talented designers using society’s waste to create stunning high fashion with meaning. In France the term “haute couture” is understood to be fashion that is more than just pleasing to the eye. It implies fashion that is thought provoking. It is this interpretation of haute couture that guides and inspires the creativity that goes into these fashion shows. We explore the fine line between convenience and real needs. We unveil the mysterious beauty and truth of our waste. We help you look at your trash in a new way.

Julia Hensley is a visual artist currently exploring themes of space, technology, and trash in a range of media from collage painting to sculpture and installation. Matter is a unifying idea in her work, or as she puts in her current statement, “Everything is made of the same stuff, vibrating at different frequencies.”

In BIO, her latest site-specific installation at Joe Bar Café on Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Hensley saved five months worth of trash and installed it on the iconic green walls as a combination portrait of a space, self- portrait, and observation on the manmade ecosystem of consumption we all participate in.

Trained in painting and drawing at Boston University, Hensley has shown her work at galleries including Foster White Gallery in Seattle, John Raimondi Gallery and Sunne Savage Gallery in Boston, and Paul Thiebaud Gallery in San Francisco.

Upcoming events include a multi-site installation for the Seattle dance company UMAMI Performance, a show she is curating at Gage Academy’s Steele Gallery, and a solo show of new work at Sharon Arnold’s LxWxH in Georgetown.

 

Karen Hackenberg writes:

“Have fun saving the world, or you are just going to depress yourself” – David Brower

The tenuous boundary between living nature and human encroachment is the primary unifying theme in Karen Hackenberg’s artwork.

Her Watershed series of paintings present beach trash as monolithic in the seascape and provide a visual metaphor for the magnitude of ocean debris pollution. Using a light-hearted touch while holding on to a subversive tone, she presents a tongue-in-cheek taxonomy of our new synthetic post-consumer “creatures of the sea” that now rise and take the place of native marine species. By lovingly and meticulously crafting “beautiful” images of conventionally “ugly” beach cast-offs, she creates provocative juxtapositions of form and idea, giving dark witness to looming global disaster. Marquand Books will publish the Watershed paintings this spring as a hand-bound limited-edition book funded in part by a grant by Artist Trust.

During her second Centrum for the Arts residency in 2010, she created a life-size walk-in Water Shed made from hundreds of single serving plastic water bottles, currently installed in “Art Outside” an ongoing exhibition in Webster’s Woods at PAFAC in Port Angeles, WA.

Hackenberg lives and works near Port Townsend WA. She received her BFA degree in painting from Rhode Island School of Design, and migrated west to San Francisco in 1978 before heading north and settling in the Pacific Northwest in 1992.

She developed her first connections with the natural world in the pastures, orchards, wooded hills and gently sloping beaches of rural Connecticut. Her years living in San Francisco working in architecture and as textile designer for Esprit de Corp.’s e-collection sustainable clothing line, honed her environmental values and educated her eye to the juxtaposition of man-made shapes and natural forms. When she moved to the Pacific Northwest her life experiences came full circle; she was again surrounded by the natural landscape. Her past experiences heightened her awareness of the Northwest’s struggle to find balance between increasing population and development and the preservation of wild natural places.

Exhibiting extensively in the Northwest and around the nation, Hackenberg recently participated in a seven-person invitational exhibition about ocean debris, Beneath the Surface: Rediscovering a World Worth Conserving, at the American Association for the Advancement of Science headquarters in Wash. D. C.  Her work is included in many public and private collections, including the new Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, the Providence Medical Center in Everett WA, and the New York State Museum. She is a WA State Artist Trust GAP award recipient, and is a Washington State Arts Commission Public Roster Artist. Her artwork will be included in the upcoming 2013 Schiffer publication, 100 Northwest Artists, and will be in the inaugural exhibition at BIMA, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

Next Episode: “Inclusion/Exclusion”

 

Event Date: Tuesday, March 19 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

 

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

 

The Summary

This time, we’re talking about exclusion and inclusion, about welcoming in and about pushing out. See below for the whole story.

 

The Guests

You, this time….

 

The Story

I’ve been thinking lately about inclusion and exclusion. These opposing concepts tend to intertwine, and they often lie in tandem at the center of the ways in which we create our societies. They are at the root of tribalism: members of my tribe, clan, gang, platoon, ethnic group, or football team are better than those who are not members of my tribe, clan, and so forth. And they are at the core of the dynamics of adolescence: in youth, too often one is either part of the school in-crowd or the various groups who cluster around the in-crowd, or one is an outcast. Or in the case of a great true dork, even joining the outcasts is unattainable.

Exclusion and inclusion also form the root of how we build concepts of class, and of course of race, especially in terms of exclusion from place and from opportunity. And they are integral to how we build a sense of privilege. They are how we build deep friendships and exercise compassion, and how we inflict pain. They are how some of us live in exclusive gated communities, while others are exiled to a life on the street.

I’ve been wondering what would be the qualitative differences—and parallels—between these two statements: the first that old saw of white separatists, made all the more vicious for its ostensible innocuousness, “I have nothing against black people. I just don’t want to have to live next to them.” And the following: “Let’s not invite Betty to Thanksgiving dinner this year. She talks so much, and she’s bound to get into an argument with your uncle.” Is there a parallel?

In the arts, discussions of inclusion and exclusion seem to be everywhere these days. I’ve sometimes heard it said that large parts of the visual arts scene in Seattle are cliquish. I can easily see where that perception might come from, but I don’t think it’s true. To the extent that there is a certain incestuousness here, I think that it comes from laziness more than anything else.

Instances of the discussion pop up all over. The lovely musical play currently at ACT, “These Streets,” is in part an attempt to remedy the exclusion of women musicians from the history of Seattle grunge. (http://www.acttheatre.org/Tickets/OnStage/TheseStreets). Anna Telcs reports that her ongoing project “The Dowsing” is in part a response to the exclusiveness—and exclusion—of contemporary fashion (http://www.henryart.org/events/show/723 and http://www.vanguardseattle.com/2013/01/28/anna-rose-telcs-and-the-art-of-invention/).

Or listening to Karen Finneyfrock read from her new young adult novel, “The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door,” at Hugo House a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by the ways in which Celia negotiates that pure pain of being alone, a high school outcast. And by the fascinating juxtaposition of that isolation with the outpouring of inclusion that bathed Finneyfrock that evening. She was surrounded by friends, colleagues, and fans who obviously love her very much (http://www.karenfinneyfrock.com/).

Or looking at the offerings from the amazing and peripatetic White Privilege Conference, which will descend on Seattle this April (http://www.whiteprivilegeconference.com/). Privilege, especially when it is built so seamlessly into the fabric of everyday life, is all about insidious forms of inclusion and exclusion. If we seek justice, to what extent does injustice stem from a lack of access, access to just about everything.

And I’ve been thinking about the many recent conversations about Charles Krafft. As laid out in Jen Graves’s well-written and well-researched Stranger article (http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/charles-krafft-is-a-white-nationalist-who-believes-the-holocaust-is-a-deliberately-exaggerated-myth/Content?oid=15995245) and Krafft’s interview on a podcast (http://thewhitenetwork.com/2012/07/28/should-we-leave-the-holocaust-alone/), Krafft, a veteran artist who has long included Nazi imagery in his work, identifies as a “White Nationalist” and sees the Holocaust as “a myth that is being used to perpetuate multiculturalism and globalism.” He feels that in the United States “we are living under a Marxist tyranny.” The reaction to the Graves article has been intense, spawning a number of articles, discussion threads, and Facebook posts. Some conversations devolve into an absurd back and forth as to how many Jews were killed in World War II. Others involve thoughtful discourse, while still others seem to be dialog from bad theater. And meanwhile, the discussion has spread across the continent, as in http://hyperallergic.com/65557/what-do-you-do-with-white-nationalist-art-once-the-ironys-gone/ and http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/nazi-themed-artwork-monstrous-art-or-art-about-a-monster/article9132957/.

In Seattle, the conversation among artists has been colored by the fact that a lot of people here have genuinely liked Charlie over the years, liked him for his perverseness, a deep sense of the weird, and his role as a provocateur. For now, the surge seems to be toward excluding the excluder, banishing him and his artwork from polite society, or at least polite artistic society, if that’s not too much an oxymoron. But I’m not sure what that exclusion means; I think that Krafft exiled himself some time ago.

Or elsewhere, on a lighter note: I’ve just missed another year of the fabulous BIL Conference, which happened last week in Los Angeles. BIL is a low-budget, very-low-cost, heavily participatory, and volunteer-run conference of ideas (http://bilconference.com/). It reminds me a little of the much smaller Smoke Farm Symposium (http://www.rubiconseattle.org/2011/01/symposium/). BIL is in part an inclusive response to the elitism of the TED conferences. The BIL organizers are proud that the cost of putting on an entire 600-person BIL conference is less than the cost of two or three tickets to TED. TED recordings are plentiful. But with tickets at anywhere from $3,500 to $7,000, actual attendance to a TED event has long been primarily reserved for wealthy jetsetters. BIL goes the other direction. Oh, and as for what the name means, think BIL and TED….

Finally, I haven’t put together any formal guests for this conversation. As a wise friend pointed out, having invited guests to a conversation about inclusion and exclusion doesn’t make a lot of sense. As usual, you’re the experts.

Come and talk, or come and listen. Or both.

Next Episode: Conversation!

Event Date: Tuesday, February 19 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

The Summary

This time, we’re talking about conversation, looking at why and how we talk. We’ll have a guest host, Randy Engstrom, the Interim Director of the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. And we’ll have one guest, noted conversationalist John Boylan. See below for more details. And please note the time; we’ll be starting a little later than usual.

The Guest (see the bios below)

John Boylan, writer, raconteur, provocateur

The Story

This will be a conversation about conversation, why we talk, what we say, and what we expect to find when we talk with each other. And we’ll go into why this conversation series exists, and what it has—or has not—accomplished over the years.

John Boylan writes:

I tend to see conversation as a core glue or mortar with which we build both our identities as individuals and the relationships with which we construct our families and our communities. It’s how we become who we are. It’s not the only glue, and it may not be the most important. But it certainly has the deepest potential for both stark pain and soaring uplift. It is, after all, how we are educated, how we make decisions, how we most immediately express our desires.

Often conversation delights. For me that happens when I find myself in discussion with someone of excellent imagination, or someone who just knows a lot and in the course of an evening’s conversation can make me stretch my mind.

Sometimes conversation pisses me off, as in a crowded theater…, but let’s go into that when we meet. Do come.

Thanks to John Perkins, Meredith Clark, and Randy Engstrom for excellent conversations that led to this one.

The Guests in Detail

Randy Engstrom has been a passionate advocate and organizer for cultural and community development for over 10 years.  He is currently the Interim Director of the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. He served as Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission in 2011 after serving 2 years as Vice-Chair, and was chair of the Facilities and Economic Development Committee from 2006 to 2010. He was most recently the Deputy Director of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA), a community development organization that seeks to create a thriving neighborhood through a variety of creative programs and services. Randy served as the Interim Director of the King County Food and Fitness Initiative while working at DNDA, where he stewarded a multi-faceted program that sought to create policy and systems change in the food-retail, school and built environment sectors.  He was also the Founding Director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a multimedia/multidisciplinary community space that offers youth and community member’s access to arts, technology, and cultural resources (http://www.youngstownarts.org) opened in 2006. Prior to DNDA and Youngstown, Randy spent 3 years as the Founding CEO of Static Factory Media, an artist development organization that owned and operated a record label, bar/performance venue, graphic design house, recording studio, and web development business. Before Static Factory Randy was the Program Coordinator of the Fremont Unconventional Center, a non-profit event space dedicated to helping other charitable organizations with their fundraising efforts through event facilitation and support.  He is also a founding member of Stronghold Arts Collective, an artist live/work project comprising four neighboring houses collectively owned by eight resident artists. In 2009 Randy received the Emerging Leader Award from Americans for the Arts and was one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. He is a graduate of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, and he received his Executive Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs.

John Boylan is a writer, conversationalist, and provocateur. Since the 1997 he has run a roundtable conversation series about art, politics, and culture at large. The series has featured more than 300 guests, including some of Seattle’s most fascinating artists, scientists, poets, engineers, writers, musicians, composers, architects, actors, impresarios, and culture workers of all stripes. A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

John is active on a number of cultural and community fronts across Seattle, including service on the board of directors of Art Corps (http://www.artscorps.org), Seattle’s largest nonprofit arts education organization.

From 1994 to 1996 he was the editor of Reflex Magazine, which covered the visual arts in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and since has written irregularly about art and culture in Seattle. He also has several fiction projects in the works, including Ship, an experiment in serial space opera, which is about to resume production after lying fallow for some months: http://shippartone.wordpress.com/

John is employed by the Microsoft Corporation, where among other things he runs a website for software developers, http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio. He has two bachelor’s degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, in history and English literature, and a master’s degree in communications from the University of Washington. His master’s thesis looked at the ways in which the New York Times contextualized the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations for an American audience.

Next Episode: The Art of Intoxication

Event Date: Tuesday, December 18 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

The Summary

A perfumer, a chocolatier, a whiskey maker, and a poet/wine merchant walk into a bar…. See below for more.

The Guests

Chocolatier Joanna Lepore

Perfumer Christi Meshell

Poet and Wine Merchant Doug Nufer

And a whiskey maker, still to come

The Story

We’re full on into the holiday season, with all the lights and the parties, and the feasts, and of course, huge amounts of crass mass merchandising. But generosity abounds, and this year, I’m seeing an exceptional degree of optimism, along with more thankfulness than there’s been in a long time.

As I write this, people in Washington state have begun taking their first legal tokes, legal sort of. More important, lesbians and gay men have begun joyously getting marriage licenses. Family relationships that have endured for decades have finally become legal. And this coming Sunday, hundreds or thousands of people will kiss the bride or the groom, each in a heady, rapturous moment of excitement and exhilaration.

It’s time to talk about intoxication, and the art thereof.

No, this is not a conversation about the art of getting drunk. We can leave that to the packs of restless twenty-somethings who roam the streets of Pike-Pine or Belltown at 2 am on a Saturday night, desperately seeking something.

Instead, I want to talk about moments of exhilaration, a rush of often-complex pleasure or meaning, of deep sensation. I want to look at those precious moments of experience, stimulation, even delirium, when the head is spinning with too much: too much pleasure, too much insight, too much input, life showing its overdetermined side, in the language of Freud and Marxist critique.

We all constantly have such moments, maybe more than we realize. Everything becomes so intense, if only for a few seconds, that everyday life is displaced; we step outside of ourselves. A moment of intoxication can come with an epiphany so deep that one runs naked down the street shouting “Eureka!” It can come in that split-second when, exhausted and in a zone, one feels the finish-line tape breaking. It can come with a first step into a pine forest, with everything rushing in at once: the scent, the prickly softness of the forest floor, the cool feel of the air, the majesty of the space. Or when we find ourselves doubled up helpless with laughter. Or it can be that moment when one meets someone who, through force of intellect, an extraordinary smile, or simple power of personality or spirit, leaves one completely breathless.

A conversation about intoxication might be approached from many angles, with maybe a theologian, a psychologist, a daredevil, and a great comedian as guests. But instead, this time I want to bring together people whose art and livelihood provide moments of sensory exhilaration: the first taste of a complex wine, the feel of a piece of chocolate as it coats the tongue with a rush of sensations, a jolting and delightfully flavorful sip of whiskey, or the scent of a perfume that evokes love, or a time far gone.

Come. Talk about the art of intoxication.

Plug

Conversation series alum and Seattle Met style editor Laura Cassidy is curating a film series “Screen Style” at NWFF this weekend. Each film was chosen by a local style expert, including two other series alums, Robin Held and Anna Telcs. All will be at a panel discussion at NWFF this Saturday, December 8. Laura writes, “The panelists will join me in talking about these movies and others, and the way they inspire us to better understand and adorn our world.” For information on the films and the whole project, see http://www.seattlemet.com/style-and-shopping/shop-talk/articles/go-see-screen-style

Note

I am truly impressed at the work that series alum, fellow Canoeist and scenic designer Jennifer Zeyl is doing to put together the wedding chapels for this Sunday’s huge wedding extravaganza at City Hall. Wonderful.

The Guests in Detail (actually, this time there’s not much detail; I’m expecting more bio information soon)

Joanna Lepore is Confection Production Manager at Theo Chocolates.

Christi Meshell is the proprietor of House of Matriarch, an award-winning natural perfumerie in Seattle.

Doug Nufer is the author of seven or eight books, including the poetry collection We Were Werewolves and the novels Never Again and By Kelman Out of Pessoa.  He has been in the wine business for nearly a quarter century, in a wine shop on Capitol Hill.

Next Episode: Damn! I love this town….

Event Date: Tuesday, October 23 from 7:30 to 9:30 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

(Note that this episode starts a half-hour later than usual, at 7:30.)

The Summary: How do we make a city that pops, a city that overflows with life, imagination, excitement? Read on below.

The Guests (see below for guest bios)

Randy Engstrom, organizer and advocate

Anne Focke, writer, advisor, initiator

C Davida Ingram, cultural producer

Charles Tonderai Mudede, writer, filmmaker

The Story

The question: How does a city develop a thriving, vital, beautiful culture? How does a city become a place that pulses with new ideas, experiment, with imagination? How does it become that place where it’s easy to walk down any street and think, “Damn, I love this town?”

Traditionally, cities came into being for three reasons: commerce, culture, and defense. With city-states no longer beating the daylights out of each other and commerce moving nowadays in all sorts of strange ways, it’s easy to argue that culture has gained the pre-eminent position as to why cities need to exist. It’s a matter of gathering and fostering talent.

But creating cultural vibrancy isn’t easy. How does a city take that charge and make it something wonderful? City leaders usually count on a critical mass of major—and often expensive—institutions: opera, large theaters, ballet, orchestras, museums, to make a city great. Planners and architects look to graceful and livable public spaces, walkable streets, ready amenities. Working artists want money and space, space for work, rehearsing, performing, exhibiting. And good bars. People like me want more and better salons. Maybe it’s the economics: more incubation, more opportunities for starting the small businesses that can bring vitality to a neighborhood. But if it’s any of this, what’s the formula?

How do we create a city where a lively culture is integrated into the fabric of the place? How do we balance needs, as say, when a bar wants to offer good loud live music in a neighborhood that is otherwise very, very quiet? How can cultural vitality permeate a city, not just a few cultural districts? How do we make sure that rather than something received by a relative few, a city’s culture springs from the lives of all the people?

And of course, the other question: How does Seattle rate as vibrant, vital city? Where do we stand? And however this city rates, can we make it more so?

Come and talk about it.

Plugs

There’s a lot of stuff happening this month. (Maybe I’m answering my question above, or maybe not.)

Amy O’Neal is at Velocity with “The Most Innovative, Daring, and Original Piece of Dance / Performance You Will See this Decade,” (10/12-14, 10/19-21) http://velocitydancecenter.org/events/the-most-innovative/. The amazing Cyan James is telling stories as part of the Verbalists event at 826 Seattle (10/12-13) http://verbalists.net/. And then there’s the huge City Arts Festival  (10/17-20) http://www.cityartsfest.com/ and the big Seacompression party in Burien on 10/13. http://seacompression.org/

Then there are the collaborations:

Café Nordo is back, delving into a “dark fantasy of American dreams,” with what promises to be phenomenal food and drink and the typical Nordo ensemble of amazing talent, including Nordo geniuses Erin Brindley and Terry Podgorski, along with, among others, Opal Peachey, Kiera McDonald, Evan Mosher, and the most excellent composer/musician Annastasia Workman, and a collaboration with designer Jennifer Zeyl. (10/12 to 11/18) http://www.cafenordo.com/index.html

“Lead Bunny,” Paige Barnes’s long-in-the-works performance at the Hedreen Gallery, brings together Barnes, Paris Hurley, Alice Gosti, and Pol Rosenthal, among others, along with the wonderful animator Stefan Gruber. (10/11-14) http://paigebarnes.in/lead-bunny/

Janice Findley’s latest project is a production of the Caryl Churchill’s “The Skriker” at the Erikson Theatre. Findley has brought together choreographer Pat Graney with Curtis Taylor as co-producer, artist Timothy Siciliano as designer, the incomparable Eve Cohen making costumes, and, among others, veteran performer Mary Ewald, Amelia Reeber, Mariel Neto, and the ever-amazing Cathy Sutherland. (10/19 to 11/11.) http://www.janicefindley.com/Theater.html

Finally, “This is Halloween” returns to the Triple Door. This burlesque-cabaret mash-up, inspired by Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas,” features the Can Can Castaways, along with the Heavenly Spies and Orkestar Zirkonium and David Crellin, and Jed Dunkerley doing a wonderful turn as Jack Skellington the pumpkin king. (10/26-28 and 10/31). http://thetripledoor.net/Calendar/Events/October-2012/THIS-IS-HALLOWEEN!-A-Live-Music,-Cabaret,-Burlesqu.aspx?date=2012-10-26

The Guests in Detail

Randy Engstrom has been a passionate advocate and organizer for cultural and community development for over 10 years.  He is currently runs Reflex Strategies, a cultural and community based consulting services business. He served as Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission in 2011 after serving 2 years as Vice-Chair, and was chair of the Facilities and Economic Development Committee from 2006 to 2010. He was most recently the Deputy Director of the Delridge Neighborhoods Development Association (DNDA), a community development organization that seeks to create a thriving neighborhood through a variety of creative programs and services. Randy served as the Interim Director of the King County Food and Fitness Initiative while working at DNDA, where he stewarded a multi-faceted program that sought to create policy and systems change in the food-retail, school and built environment sectors.  He was also the Founding Director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a multimedia/multidisciplinary community space that offers youth and community member’s access to arts, technology, and cultural resources (http://www.youngstownarts.org) opened in 2006. Prior to DNDA and Youngstown, Randy spent 3 years as the Founding CEO of Static Factory Media, an artist development organization that owned and operated a record label, bar/performance venue, graphic design house, recording studio, and web development business.  Before Static Factory Randy was the Program Coordinator of the Fremont Unconventional Center, a non-profit event space dedicated to helping other charitable organizations with their fundraising efforts through event facilitation and support.  He is also a founding member of Stronghold Arts Collective, an artist live/work project comprising 4 neighboring houses collectively owned by 8 resident artists.  In 2009 Randy received the Emerging Leader Award from Americans for the Arts and was one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. He is a graduate of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, and he received his Executive Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs.

Anne Focke is a consultant in planning, research, evaluation, and writing who works both independently and as senior advisor for The Giving Practice of Philanthropy Northwest (a regional association of grantmakers). Her national and regional clients have included the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs; the Humboldt Area Foundation in northern California; the Behnke family and foundation in Seattle; Lucy Bernholz, self-professed “philanthropy wonk” and visiting scholar at Stanford; and Marquand Books, a fine art book producer based in Seattle. She was the first executive director of Grantmakers in the Arts, a national professional association for foundations, corporations, and other arts funders (1999-2008), and served for 18 years as co-editor of its principal periodical, the GIA Reader (1991-2009).

Anne is also known for leading the start-up of both nonprofit and for-profit enterprises including Arts Wire, a national online network for the arts (1990-95); Artist Trust, a nonprofit that supports artists in Washington State; and Artech, a for-profit art-handling company.  She was the first staff person for the City of Seattle’s arts agency, was the first director of its Art in Public Places program, and directed Bumbershoot (the City of Seattle’s annual arts festival) the year it got its name. The Anne Focke Gallery in Seattle’s City Hall acknowledges her contributions to the city.

Her writings include “A Pragmatic Response to Real Circumstances” (2006), “Artists and Economics: Notes from the Headlands,” (1991), “Financial Support for Artists” (1996), and “Sustaining a Vital Downtown Community: A Study of the Market Foundation” (1987).

C Davida Ingram is a Seattle-based, Chicago-born cultural producer. Her recent creative endeavors include co-founding the Seattle People of Color Artist salon with fellow artist Natasha Marin; curating ID x ID at IDEA Odyssey; and producing the audio project DETOUR: Cascade to South Lake Union. Her projects have been featured at the Bridge Motel, City Arts Festival and the upcoming Soft Power Activated exhibition at the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, University of WA.  She will be presenting at the October 12th  Pecha Kucha for the Elles exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum and City Club’s The Making of a Neighborhood panel on November 6. Ingram believes in liberatory aesthetics, a way of looking at and perceiving the world in ways that are new and more beautifully free.

Charles Tonderai Mudede—who writes about film, books, music, Marxist urbanism, and his life in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe, the USA, and the UK for The Stranger—was born near a steel plant in Qwe Qwe, Rhodesia (now Kwe Kwe, Zimbabwe). He has no memory of this birth, but he does remember noticing himself in the mirror for this first time—it happened on May 3, 1972. Mudede is also a filmmaker: Two of his films, Police Beat and Zoo, premiered at Sundance, and Zoo was screened at Cannes. Mudede has written for the New York Times, Cinema Scope, Ars Electronica, C Theory, and academic journals. He also wrote the liner notes for Best of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Elektra Years. Mudede has lived in Seattle since 1989. He has lived in cities all his life.

Next Episode: “Making Theater”

Event Date: Monday, September 17 from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

A history of the conversations is available at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/a-brief-history-of-the-conversations/

(Note that this episode is happening on Monday, not the customary Tuesday. Vermillion is usually closed Mondays, but this evening will open at 6 for our conversation. Note also that a gentleman will be selling hand-tailored suits in the gallery. Feel free to check him out on your way back to the bar.

We’re back! This time the conversation looks at making theater, that passion for taking an empty stage and turning it into a story, into a vision, into another world. Read on below.

The Guests (see below for guest bios)

Jennifer Zeyl, scenic and costume designer

Matt Starritt, sound designer and writer

Valerie Curtis-Newton, director and university professor

Sheila Daniels, director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor, and producer

Curtis Taylor, writer and director

The Story

Theater has been on my mind this summer. There’s been a lot of it to see, with the big Pinter Festival at ACT and Intiman’s summer Theater Festival, among others. I’ve been reading a lot of plays, most recently Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Christopher Fry’s 1948 verse romance, The Lady’s Not for Burning, and another rereading of Eugene O’Neill’s A Long Day’s Journey into Night, the play that resonates the most with my adolescence.

And I’ve been thinking of theater as magic. That’s magic as something mysteriously wonderful, but also magic in the sense of creating illusions. I think of a small addition to Arthur C. Clarke’s famous rule, “Any sufficiently advanced (or in this case, sufficiently mysterious?) technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

What are the mysterious technologies of theater? How do we bring an idea into fulfillment, into a flowering that can disturb, awe, and delight a diverse pack of strangers? And why? What are the passions in making theater?

We’ve assembled an excellent group. I would like to have another actor; we will see. This will be a great conversation. Do come.

What’s Next:

In October (10/16, the topic will be vibrant culture, vibrant cities. How do we create a culture that is pulsing with life, with energy? And how does Seattle rate in that regard?

In November (11/13), as is our custom on an election year, we will do something around politics, the polity, and our place in it. Stay tuned.

Finally, I’ll be leading a conversation at 3 pm on Saturday afternoon, September 15, in Carkeek Park. As part of CoCA’s Heaven & Earth exhibit in the park, Cameron Mason and Lara McIntosh created a room made of silk in the park’s orchard. They’ve been staging performances and other events in the room throughout the summer. This time the two have asked me to have a conversation about the process of making art in a park, and the high probability that art left for several months in an unmonitored but highly trafficked place may be deeply changed over that time. The art may become participatory in ways the artist never envisioned. How does that affect the work and the artist’s role in creating it?

And a plug: this Saturday marks the return of NEPO House’s 5k Don’t Run. Go. http://www.nepohouse.org/nepo5k2012.html

The Guests in Detail

Valerie Curtis-Newton—Currently the Head of Acting and Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and an Artistic Associate at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT), Valerie serves as the Artistic Director for The Hansberry Project, a professional African American theatre lab currently in collaboration with ACT.  She has previously served as Artistic Director of both Seattle’s Ethnic Cultural Theatre and Hartford’s Performing Ensemble, Inc. and worked with Actors’ Theatre of Louisville, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Intiman Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, The Mark Taper Forum, New York Theatre Workshop, Tacoma Actors’ Guild, Southern Repertory Theatre, Capitol Repertory Theatre, and Northwest Asian American Theatre among others. Her credits include the premieres of Constance Congdon’s The Midwife’s Apprentice and Kia Corthron’s The Venus De Milo Is Armed and Slide Glide The Slippery Slope as well as productions of Crumbs from the Table of Joy, Flight, The Colored Museum, Combination Skin, Wedding Band, Spell #7, Zooman and the Sign, Porcelain, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Neat, Santos & Santos, Stevedore, Chain, and Hiro.

Valerie was a participant in the National Endowment for the Arts/Theatre Communications Group (TCG/NEA) Career Development Program for Directors in 1997-1999 and in 2001 she received the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s (SDCF) Gielgud Directing Fellowship. Valerie holds a BA from Holy Cross College, an MFA in Directing from the University of Washington and is a member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers (SSDC). http://www.valeriecurtisnewton.com/

Sheila Daniels has been making theatre as a director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor and producer in Seattle since 1994. She has directed in Seattle for Intiman, Seattle Rep, ACT, SCT, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, CHAC, Baba Yaga, Book-It, On the Boards, ladykiller Productions, UMO, Seattle Public Theatre, Theater Schmeater, Theatre Under the Influence. She has also directed in Austin, Albuquerque and New York City.  Sheila served on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts from 1998 through 2008, and continues to be a Guest Artist on a regular basis. She also has served on the faculty of University of Washington, Seattle University and the Seattle Children’s Theatre.  As a producer, Sheila has served as Associate Director of Intiman Theatre, Associate Artistic Director at CHAC, Artistic Director of Theater Schmeater, and co-founded Baba Yaga and Theater Underground. She is an Affiliate Artist at ACT, a member of Intiman’s Collective, and an Associate Artist with Seattle Shakespeare Company. She is a 3-time nominee and 2-time recipient of the Gregory Award for Outstanding Director. Also a generative artist and performer, she is currently adapting and choreographing a new adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, and a solo show about Helen Keller’s later life, sexuality and politics.

Curtis Taylor (writer/director) is a 2011 recipient of an Artist Trust Performance Fellowship. In Seattle he founded the theater-storefront Vodvil. Under that auspice he created original folk operas, ballets, and concert-installations. More recently he has used film to consider themes of art, life, and time. His short film Bachianas No. 5, based on the final site-specific performance at the Vodvil Theater, premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Taylor has been commissioned to make performances for the Northwest Film Forum, Center on Contemporary Art, On the Boards, and the Portland Institute of Art. In 2011 he completed a year-long artist residency at New City Theater, which culminated in the production of his play “The White Days.”

Matt Starritt is a freelance sound designer for both theatre and dance and a writer from Seattle. He recently designed the sound for A Crack in Everything for the Zoe|Juniper Dance Company, which premiered at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and is touring nationally.  Matt has also designed for the Alley Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Cornerstone Theater Company, Illusion Theatre, Intiman, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Strawberry Theatre Workshop, and Washington Ensemble Theatre. Matt is a part-time lecturer at the UW’s School of Drama.

Jennifer Zeyl has been designing and fabricating visual environment and apparel for live performance for over 20 years.  Local scenic designs include: I am my Own Wife, Of Mice and Men, boom. and My Name is Rachel Corrie (Seattle Repertory Theatre); The Mojo and the Sayso and The Pilgrims Musa and Sheri in their New World (ACT); Miracle!, Hedda Gabler, Romeo and Juliet, Dirty Story and Heartbreak House (Intiman);  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Winter’s Tale, Merchant of Venice and Hamlet (Seattle Shakespeare); Jackie and Me, The BFG, I Was a Rat and If you Give a Mouse a Cookie (Seattle Children’s Theatre); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and This Wide Night (Seattle Public Theatre); Adding Machine and The Trial (New Century Theatre Company); and Little Women and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (Book-It Repertory) and seventeen shows for Washington Ensemble Theatre as Founding Co-Artistic Director and Resident Designer.   Upcoming designs include this fall’s Café Nordo, Antony and Cleopatra (Seattle Shakespeare), The Seagull Project (ACT’s Central Heating Lab), Trails (The Village Theatre) and The Trial (NCTC).  She is the recipient of the 2006 Stranger Genius Award for Theatre, two Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture CityArtist Awards, several ArtistTrust and 4Culture Grants for Artist Projects as well as five Seattle Times Footlight Awards. Jennifer attended the drama schools at UW (MFA) and URI (BFA, BFA).  She is the proud proprietress of Canoe Social Club (http://canoesocialclub.com/), a social club for civic-minded artists located in Capitol Hill, and the proud wife of sound designer Matt Starritt.  Images at http://www.jenniferzeyl.com.

A Brief History of the Conversations

A Brief History of the Conversations

I’ve been thinking that it would be a good idea to list out the titles and guests for the conversations we’ve been having. I don’t have records for all of them, but I have enough.

First, a little background on how the series came about:

When I became editor of Reflex, a regional art magazine, in 1994, I inherited a series of regular panel discussions on art at the Two Bells Tavern (and before that, Italia), effectively a sister project to the magazine. When Reflex folded in 1996, I kept the panel series going for another few months, then let it go. A year or so later, Chris Bruce, longtime senior curator at the Henry and EMP, suggested that I resurrect the discussions as a project of the Contemporary Art Council at SAM. We held those CAC evenings in the back room of Lead, a First Avenue wine bar. When Lead closed, roughly around 1999, the project moved to Otis, a café and bistro in the space where the Hideout is now. Not long after, the project separated from the CAC.

By then, I had evolved the conversations from a panel format to something closer to current roundtable setup. And I began to realize that it would be a good idea to begin to look at art through a variety of lenses: gravity, light, death, circus, community activism, and so on.

When Otis closed in 2004, the conversations moved to the Lower Level, the bar in the basement of the old Capitol Hill Arts Center, and stayed there until 2009, when CHAC closed its doors. The conversation then moved around the corner to Vermillion, the bar and art gallery, and the conversation’s current home.

I have a ready record of the discussions going back to 2002, though 2002 is a little spotty. I can unearth the details of what came before, including the old Reflex panels, but for now, we’ll just look back to 2002.

My thanks to all guests and to all participants who’ve shown up over the years. Regrets to those who were part of the series before 2002. Stay tuned. And please note that guests are identified as they were at the time of the conversation. I know that some may have moved on to new things.

Reflections on Light, Part One—January 28, 2002

  • Astronomer Woody Sullivan
  • Artist and architect Iole Alessandrini
  • Lighting designer Michael Wellborn
  • Architectural historian Henry Matthews

Going Abroad: Inspiration, Appropriation, or What? A look at travel and the dynamics of creativity —March 25, 2002

  • Photographer Eduardo Calderon
  • Writer and television producer Holly Morris
  • Photographer Spike Mafford

Outlaws in the Floating World: Searching for Jan Morris’s Nation of Nowhere—December 2, 2002

  • Artist Susan Robb
  • Artist and curator Greg Lundgren
  • Performer Maque da Vis
  • Radio activist jonathan jay

Sound, Part One—January 28, 2003

  • Composer and writer Christopher DeLaurenti
  • Musician and composer Jeff Greinke
  • Sculptor, composer, and inventor Trimpin
  • Writer and radio producer Feliks Banel

America as Empire—March 18, 2003

  • Writer Charles Tonderai Mudede
  • Writer and philosopher Nicholas Veroli
  • Artist and activist Mary Ann Peters
  • Historian Carol Thomas

Sound, Part Two—May 12, 2003

  • Visual and sound artist Steve Roden
  • Composer and performer Ellen Fullman
  • Choreographer Crispin Spaeth
  • Filmmaker and film activist Jamie Hook
  • Composer and sound artist Suzie Kozawa

The Art of History—October 13, 2003

  • Media arts historian Robin Oppenheimer
  • Art historian Andrew Schulz
  • Artist Astrid Larsen

The Politics of Theater and the Theater of Politics—November 16, 2003

  • Writer, director, and teacher Herbert Blau
  • Actor and writer Susy Schneider
  • Writer and political activist Grant Cogswell
  • Actor, director, and playwright Kurt Beattie

Water, Part One—January 20, 2004

  • Artist Ellen Ziegler
  • Sailor, diver, and printer Robert Horsley
  • Landscape designer Cary Moon
  • Fisherman and food activist John Foss

Art and Community—March 8, 2004

  • Arts administrator and activist Barbara Luecke
  • Artist, activist, and publisher Anya Willow
  • Writer, activist, and art historian Susan Platt
  • Artist, activist, and teacher Beverly Naidus

Resources and Tactics, Information and Action—April 19, 2004

  • Library and Information Sciences student Dianne Ludwig

The Struggle for Common Sense in the World of Tomorrow—November 9, 2004

  • Artist and activist Mary Anne Peters
  • Activist, poet, and teacher Bob Spivey
  • Journalist Cydney Gillis
  • Artist and activist Lisa Bade

Food—February 8, 2005

  • Farmers market manager Karen Kinney
  • Food librarian Matt Nichols
  • Farmer Cathryn Baerwald
  • Poet and painter Alan Lau

Circus!—March 8, 2005

  • Maque DaVis, Cirque de Flambe
  • Lara Paxton, Circus Contraption
  • Kevin Joyce, UMO Ensemble and EnJoy Productions
  • Doloreze Leonard, Teatro ZinZanni
  • And guest host, Meg McHutchison

Persistence of Painting in a Digital Age—September 12, 2005

  • Drake Deknatel, painter
  • Elizabeth Brown, curator
  • Billy Howard, art dealer
  • Margie Livingston, painter

Tools—October 3, 2005

  • Gail Grinnell, artist
  • Chris Vondrasek, sculptor, woodworker, small contractor, and radio producer
  • Sky, tool guy
  • K.d. Schill, weaver, costume artisan, seamstress, and dancer

The Struggle for Common Sense in the World of Tomorrow, Revisited—November 7, 2005

  • Lisa Fitzhugh, founder and then Executive Director of Arts Corps
  • Bill Moyer, founder and Executive Director of the Backbone Project
  • Jennifer Lindenauer, Communications Director for MoveOn.org

Gravity—January 9, 2006

  • Camille Slack, artist
  • Ruth Marie Tomlinson, artist
  • Sheri Cohen, choreographer
  • Ricco Bonicalzi, physicist

Art and Technology—March 6, 2006

  • Jack Dollhausen, artist
  • Kate Seekings, artist
  • Trimpin, artist

Animation—April 10, 2006

  • Britta Johnson, animator
  • Roberta Browne, animator
  • Luke Allen, animator

Encounters with Death—May 8, 2006

  • Randy Engstrom, community arts organizer
  • Jacqueline Barnett, artist
  • Beth Miller Kraybill, hospice nurse
  • Deborah Nimmons, death-row attorney

Giant Puppets in London: A Close-Up Look at Royal de Luxe and the Sultan’s Elephant—July 31, 2006, at the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center

  • Ellen Ziegler, artist

Peace and Justice—September 11, 2006

  • Playwright and performer Edward Mast
  • Artist Iole Alessandrini
  • Teacher and artist Mary K. McNeill
  • Banker and activist Abed Kouttainay

Confidence—November 13, 2006

  • Actor, writer, and coach Susy Schneider

Experiment—December 11, 2006

  • Paul Rucker, composer, musician, and visual artist
  • Ilya Shmulevich, bioengineer and pianist
  • John G. Cramer, physicist and novelist
  • Victor Larson, teacher and child development counselor

Independent Curators: A Look at How They Do What They Do—January 9, 2007

(a special event at Francine Seders Gallery)

  • Suzanne Beal, arts writer and curator
  • Carrie E. A. Scott, art critic, curator, and gallerist
  • Steven Michael Vroom, curator and art historian
  • Greg Lundgen, artist, curator

Money—February 12, 2007, no guests

Collaboration—March 12, 2007

  • Gabriel Stern, designer, contractor, arts activist
  • Diana Falchuk, artist
  • Christine Wallers, cross-disciplinary artist
  • Steve Peters, sound artist and composer
  • George Bullock, program manager and musician

Images—April 9, 2007

  • Robert Zverina, artist
  • Sarah Kavage, multidisciplinary artist and urban planner

Reconnecting Art and Life at Burning Man, April 16, 2007

  • Christine Kristen, aka LadyBee, then curator of art for Burning Man.

Across Generations: Surviving and Growing as an Artist—April 24, 2007 (a special event at Francine Seders Gallery)

  • Amelia Layton, artist
  • Mary Ann Peters, artist
  • Lauren Grossman, artist
  • Julia Gfrorer, artist

Food and Community—October 8, 2007

  • Writer and restaurateur Michael Hebberoy
  • Chef Matthew Dillon
  • Playwright and producer Matthew Richter
  • Anthropologist Roxanne Brame

Arts Education—November 12, 2007

  • Lauren Atkinson, artist and teacher
  • C. Davida Ingram, writer and visual artist
  • Bill Morrison, actor and teacher
  • Martha Worthley, artist and teacher

Confessions—December 10, 2007

  • Jason Puccinelli, artist
  • Jed Dunkerley, artist
  • Greg Lundgren, artist

Freedom and Democracy, December 31, 2007

(at New Year’s Resovolution – Party with a Purpose)

The Life and Death of Cultural Organizations: a Conversation with Anne Focke—February 11, 2008

Dance—March 10, 2008, featuring dancers and choreographers:

  • Crispin Spaeth
  • Vanessa DeWolf
  • Catherine Cabeen
  • Vania Bynum
  • Lara McIntosh

Clowns, Buffoons, and Talented Eccentrics: A Back Stage Conversation—April 5, 2008, at the Moisture Festival, featuring performers:

  • Tom Noddy
  • Frank Olivier
  • Hacki Ginda
  • Trixie Little and the Evil Hate Monkey

Democracy, Part II—May 27, 2008

  • Philip Wohlstetter, writer
  • Olufemi Taíwo, professor of philosophy and global African studies, Seattle University
  • Roger Morris, writer and visiting professor at the Jackson School, U. of Washington
  • Douglas Schuler, faculty, Evening and Weekend Studies, Evergreen State College

Neighborhoods—June 28, 2008, outside the Corson Building, as part of the Georgetown Carnival, then called “Artopia.”

  • Kathy Nyland, small businesswoman and neighborhood activist
  • Holly Krejci, small businesswoman and neighborhood activist
  • Chris Brown, anthropologist and photographer

Seeing Beneath the Everyday—October 22, 2008

  • Dan Hawkins (Dg), photographer and urban explorer
  • no touching ground, artist
  • Emily Gibson, Outreach Coordinator, Wilderness Awareness School
  • Jon Gierlich, artist, designer, educator

The Future of the Future—November 11, 2008

  • Paul Loeb, writer, editor, activist, lecturer
  • Alex Steffen, writer, editor, activist, lecturer

Art and Community Engagement—January 14, 2009

  • Paige Weinheimer
  • Rahwa Habte
  • Cheryl dos Remedios
  • Barbara Luecke

Sculpture—February 19, 2009

  • Jen Graves, art critic
  • Beth Sellars, curator
  • Lauren Grossman, sculptor
  • Cris Bruch, sculptor

Solutions—March 17, 2009

  • Corey Stoerker, sustainability consultant
  • Liz Birkholz, urban planner and landscape architect
  • Dipika Kohli, graphic designer, journalist, and engineer
  • Joel Egan, architect

Looking Back, Looking Forward—April 25, 2009, co-produced by John Boylan and Philip Wohlstetter at the first Canoe Social Club

  • Mark Rudd, activist
  • Alberto Mejia II, youth organizer, hip-hop artist
  • Alex Steffen, founder of Worldchanging
  • Cary Moon, co-director, People’s Waterfront Coalition
  • Hollis Wong-Wear, hip-hop poet, performer, student, youth activist
  • Joselynn Plank, humanitarian aid worker, organizer, performer
  • Lara Davis, Arts Corps community partnerships director, teaching artist, youth activist (tentative)
  • Nick Licata, Seattle City Councilmember
  • Paul Dorpat, historian, editor of The Helix
  • Peter Knutson, fisherman, anthropologist
  • Randy Engstrom, founding director, Youngstown Cultural Arts center
  • Robby Stern, SDS leader at the UW, longtime activist and lobbyist with the Washington State Labor Council
  • Roger Lippman, peace, justice, and environmental activist
  • Toby Crittenden, organizer, Washington Bus Project

Gather, A Community Conversation and Potluck—May 2, 2009, at Kornerhaus, co-sponsored by Design Kompany

Service, a discussion with Michael Bade—June 23, 2009

Public Art—September 22, 2009

  • Barbara Goldstein, Public Art Director, City of San Jose
  • Carolyn Law, artist
  • Greg Lundgren, artist
  • Dan Webb, artist

Art and Alcohol—October 20, 2009

  • Macklemore, musician, writer
  • Diana Adams, artist and proprietor of Vermillion
  • Robert Hess, historian and practitioner of the cocktail
  • Kelly Lyles, artist
  • Tim Marsden, artist

Courage and Confidence—November 17, 2009

  • Elizabeth Rose, aerialist and dancer
  • Storme Webber, poet, performer, activist
  • Deborah Lawrence, artist and activist
  • Toby Crittenden, youth organizer

Drawing—January 9, 2010

  • Jed Dunkerley, artist, teacher, performer, provocateur
  • J.C. Schlechter, artist, teacher, curator
  • Lisa Bade, artist, teacher, and activist
  • Jon Gierlich, artist, teacher

Retreats and Residencies—March 16, 2010, featuring artists

  • Zac Culler
  • Ben Beres
  • John Sutton
  • Paul Rucker

Reimagining Cities—April 20, 2010

  • Sarah Bergmann, artist, illustrator, garden activist
  • Ray Gastil, city planner, urban designer
  • Kurt Kiefer, artist, curator, arts consultant
  • Alex Steffen, writer, editor, activist, lecturer

Art of the Idea—September 14, 2010

  • Amy O’Neal, performer, choreographer, and dance educator
  • Summer Robinson, writer and bookseller
  • Jennifer Zeyl, theatre maker, installation artist, instigator
  • Rob Zverina, artist and advocate

Making Sense of the Handbasket—October 19, 2010

  • Mott Greene, John B. Magee Professor of Science and Values, University of Puget Sound
  • Eric Steig, Professor of Earth Sciences, University of Washington
  • Ellen Sollod, environmental artist

Honor—November 16, 2010, no guests

Food, Part III—December 14, 2010

  • Sarah Kavage, artist and urban planner
  • Randy Engstrom, community organizer, activist, arts advocate
  • Kate Abarbanel, artist
  • Siri Erickson-Brown, farmer, sustainable agriculture activist

Circus! Part Three—January 5, 2011

  • Cathleen O’Malley, actor and clown
  • Elizabeth Rose, dancer and aerialist
  • Erin Brindley, director and producer
  • Terry Crane, circus artist

Style—February 15, 2011

  • Adria Garcia, artist, clothing merchant
  • Robin Held, Deputy Director, Exhibitions and Collections, the Frye Art Museum
  • Laura Cassidy, Style Editor, Seattle Metropolitan magazine
  • Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes, Refuse Alchemist, Maker, Facilitator
  • Kelly Lyles, artist

Art Revisited—March 15, 2011, no guests

On Becoming an Artist in Strange Times—April 12, 2011 (education status as of 2011)

  • Stephen Sewell (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)
  • Rodrigo Valenzuela (UW PhotoMedia MFA student)
  • Leanne Grimes (UW painting MFA student)
  • Christopher McElroy (UW sculpture MFA student)

What’s Up in Ballard’s “Micro-‘hoods?—June 27, 2011, produced by Sustainable Ballard

  • Betsy Kluck-Keil and Roger Kluck, hosts of a monthly “Waffle Sunday” on their super-connected Ballard block (many tales to share)
  • Ron Cole of “David and Ron’s Big House,” the tricycle-clad former church at 20th NW and NW 61st (almost for sure!)
  • Mark Simpson, an architect with a passion for neighborhoods
  • Yuhani Nurmia and Peggy Cleary, who fire up their pizza oven every Saturday all summer and feed friends and neighbors

Making Sense—September 20, 2011, no guests

Imaginary Cities, Temporary Cities—October 18, 2011

  • Klara Glosova, artist, curator
  • Corey Scherrer, artist
  • Mark “Buphalo” Tomkiewicz, earned artist, environmentalist
  • Barbara Luecke, art program manager, arts organizer

In Search of the Fifth Estate—November 15, 2011, no guests

Invasion!—December 3, 2011, at Last Chance Travel, a storefront project organized by Sarah Kavage and Nicole Kistler

  • Anne Blackburn, installation artist, independent curator, and organizer
  • Deanna Pindell, sculptor

Do you love me yet?—December 8, 2011, at Velocity Dance Center, as part of the the NEXT FEST NW festival

  • Jessica Jobaris, artist
  • Mike Pham, artist
  • Koushik Ghosh, economist
  • Jess Van Nostrand, curator

Arts Education—January 17, 2012

  • Robert Eyerman, dancer and teaching artist
  • Julie Trout, teacher and artist
  • Lara Davis, musician, teacher, and activist

You—February 21, 2011, no guests

Fabric—March 20, 2012

  • Anna Rose Telcs, artist and designer
  • Lou Cabeen, artist and teacher
  • Cameron Anne Mason, artist and teacher
  • Luke Haynes, artist

Curators in Transition—April 17, 2012

  • Elizabeth Brown, curator and writer
  • Robin Held, curator and writer
  • Jake Seniuk, curator and artist

Curators, Part II: DIY—May 15, 2012

  • Anne Blackburn, artist, organizer, and agitator (and curator?)
  • Sharon Arnold, artist and curator
  • Klara Glosova, artist and curator
  • Tessa Hulls, artist and curator
  • Sierra Stinson, artist and curator
  • Serrah Russell, artist and curator
  • Jess VanNostrand, curator
  • Amanda Manitech, artist and curator
  • Ben Beres, artist and curator
  • Sally Schuh, artist and curator

Making Theater—September 17, 2012

  • Jennifer Zeyl, scenic and costume designer
  • Matt Starritt, sound designer and writer
  • Valerie Curtis-Newton, director and university professor
  • Sheila Daniels, director, choreographer, writer, educator, actor, and producer
  • Curtis Taylor, writer and director

Damn! I love this town…—October 23, 2012

  • Randy Engstrom, organizer and advocate
  • Anne Focke, writer, advisor, initiator
  • C Davida Ingram, cultural producer
  • Charles Tonderai Mudede, writer, filmmaker

Politics: What Do We Do Next—November 13, 2012, no guests, a free-form conversation

The Art of Intoxication—December 18, 2012

  • Chocolatier Joanna Lepore
  • Perfumer Christi Meshell
  • Poet and Wine Merchant Doug Nufer
  • Distiller Steven Stone

Conversation!—February 19, 2013

  • Guest host: Randy Engstrom
  • Guest: John Boylan, writer, raconteur, provocateur

Inclusion/Exclusion—March 19, 2013, no guests, a free-form conversation

Trash!—April 16, 2013

  • Robin Worley, artist, designer, activist
  • Julia Hensley, artist, teacher
  • Karen Hackenberg, artist

Kicking Seattle up a Notch or Two—May 14, 2013

  • Andrew Russell, Artistic Director, Intiman
  • Andy Fife, independent consultant, teacher, writer
  • Greg Lundgen, artist, impresario, and restauranteur
  • Shari Behnke, creative philanthropist

Art as Adventure, a Conversation with Kesey/Pollock—July 9, 2013

  • Erin Pollock, artist
  • Steph Kese, artist

A Conversation with Julia Hensley (Gage Academy)—August 2, 2013

  • Julia Hensley, artist

Making Music—September 17, 2013

  • Hanna Benn, musician, vocalist, composer
  • Evan Flory-Barnes, bassist and composer
  • Steve Peters, musician, sound artist, producer, writer
  • Dayton Allemann, pianist and composer

Wildness—October 15, 2013

  • Tessa Hulls, artist
  • Siolo Thompson, artist, publisher
  • Phil Bennett, urban forester

The Artist as Entrepreneur—November 19, 2013

  • Joselynn Engstrom, Managing Director of The Acrobatic Conundrum
  • Ben Kerr, attorney
  • Andy Fife, arts consultant
  • Erin Pollock, artist
  • Steph Kese, artist

Taking Stock…—December 17, 2013, no guests, a free-form conversation

The Professional as Artist—February 18, 2014

  • Cheryl dos Remedios, artist, project manager
  • Cyan James, writer, PhD candidate in public health genetics

Cities: a conversation with Mike McGinn—March 18, 2014

  • Michael McGinn, former Mayor of Seattle

Performance—April 8, 2014

  • Lane Czaplinski, Artistic Director of On the Boards
  • Joshua Kohl, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble
  • Haruko Nishimura, co-artistic director, Degenerate Art Ensemble
  • Jennifer Zeyl, theater maker (tentative)
  • Vanessa DeWolf, improviser, writer, and performance artist
  • Paige Barnes, choreographer, movement artist

 

The Episode: “Curators, Part II: DIY”

Event Date: Tuesday, May 15, from 7 to 9 pm

Admission is free. Tell your friends.

This roundtable conversation series happens at Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle (http://www.vermillionseattle.com/). For more information on the series, call John Boylan at 206-601-9848. If you want to link to this announcement, you can do so at https://boylanconversation.wordpress.com/

This time, we’re following up on last month’s spirited “Curators in Transition” conversation with a look at a new wave of independent curators, most of whom are also working artists. Read on below.

The Guests (see below for guest bios)

Anne Blackburn, artist, organizer, and agitator (and curator?)

Sharon Arnold, artist and curator

Klara Glosova, artist and curator

Tessa Hulls, artist and curator

Sierra Stinson, artist and curator

Serrah Russell, artist and curator

Jess VanNostrand, curator

Amanda Manitech, artist and curator

Ben Beres, artist and curator

The Story

Last month, we featured some of the region’s best art curators in a dynamic conversation about art and about the questions and ideas that arise out of what curators do. The focus was on museum curators who all happened to be in transition. The conversation was full of insights and great ideas, and there was a consensus, I think, that the role of institutional curators is complex. Curators are people who, in addition to creating major art exhibits, also work as scholars and writers and serve as fundraisers, adroit politicians, and cultural ambassadors for the institutions they serve.

One of those many ideas that came out of the discussion was the notion that nowadays the term “curator” has become ubiquitous. Everybody’s a curator. But there’s a lot of ground between the idea of the curator as well-seasoned institutional professional, in something close to an art priesthood, and the reductionism that says that we’re all curators, making some generally pleasing sense of the objects that surround us.

In the past few years we’ve seen the rapid rise of a curatorial role that requires good knowledge and skill, but exists well outside of the pressures and standards of a major institution. These are independent curators, usually artists themselves, carving out art spaces in storefronts and fields, in living rooms and on street corners. They are the people we’ll be talking with this time.

Once it seemed that if artists were not represented by a gallery and were not being shown in a museum, the only place left was the walls of bars and cafes. There’s nothing wrong with bars and cafes, but relatively few are designed for showing art. Alternative art spaces came along as one solution for showing art, but over the years have proven very difficult to maintain. Co-op galleries are another option, but are only as strong as the persistence and skills of their members; SOIL is a great example of a successful co-op. Enter the independent curator, operating out of a sense that the world is a potential space for art. Most are artists, most appear to be women, and most seem to have come to the conclusion that a core part of being an artist is learning to see opportunities everywhere.

I’m interested in finding out what curating and arranging shows does for artist-curators as artists. How does it change their perspective of art? Does it help them grow? Or not? Independent or DIY curators are instigators. And all of that instigation can’t help but strengthen and deepen the culture of a place, in ways outside of what museums do. We get a more complex and more durable cultural ecology, with many small spaces, coming and going, creating a web of support for art. There’s something really beautiful in that, and I want to celebrate it.

This conversation is a bit of an experiment, as was last month’s. Usually we go with four guests; this time we have nine. I’m looking to have a range of voices, a multiplicity of experiences, from Klara Glosova and Sierra Stinson turning their homes into art spaces, to Anne Blackburn’s work at Smoke Farm and the old Canoe Social Club, through Jess Van Nostrand’s storefront art space, to Tessa Hulls’s international art gallery under a bunk bed in Antarctica. This will be fascinating.

Do come.

PLUG: Cafe Nordo’s Cabinet of Curiosities opens tonight. Break open the piggy bank and go. http://cafenordo.com/

The Guests in Detail

Anne Blackburn is a local artist, organizer, and agitator who has produced shows at Smoke Farm, Canoe Social Club, Washington Ensemble Theatre, and the streets of Capitol Hill.  She writes, “Whether I can call myself a curator is the subject of this conversation.”

Serrah Russell is an artist and curator living and working in Seattle. Russell received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography in 2009 from the University of Washington, Seattle, WA. She has held solo and two person exhibitions in Seattle at The Hedreen Gallery, The OK Hotel Gallery, Vignettes Gallery, and Gallery 40. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions at: NEPO House, Seattle; SOIL Gallery, Seattle; Roq la Rue Gallery, Seattle; Topaz-Tundra, Tucson, AZ; Show and Tell, New York, NY and Lunchbox Gallery, Miami, FL. Upcoming exhibitions include Can’t Get There From Here at Lawrimore Project (May), Bouquet:Found or Forgotten at Paper Hammer Gallery (August), Pacific Motel with Maggie Carson Romano at SOIL Gallery (December). Russell’s work was also featured in the inaugural issue of Day Night; a recently released Northwest arts publication. Russell is co-founder and curator of Violet Strays; an online curatorial project emphasizing temporality with an aim to forget connections between artists by way of the internet. She has curated locally at City Arts Festival, NEPO House, Cairo Gallery, and is working on an upcoming exhibition at Paper Hammer Gallery. Russell is also a member of the artist collective SOIL.

Sierra Stinson is the founder and curator of Vignettes, an alternative exhibition space on Capital Hill in Seattle. The one-night-only exhibitions take place in her studio apartment and feature artists in many stages of their process and practice. She enjoys exploring the sense of urgency behind concept, creation, and exhibition. The transition from the studio to gallery, as well as exploring and re-evaluating what it takes to live, work, and create here and now.

Sierra has curated exhibitions at Joe Bar, Vermillion, and Cornish College of the Arts as well as co-curating a mobile pop-up gallery “Show and Tell” last August in NYC with Victoria Yee Howe. She co-curated and conceived the visual art programming with Sara Edwards for the City Arts Festival 2011 as well as organized and co-curated ONN/OF a light festival that took place January 2012 in an old sweater factory featuring 30+ Seattle based artists.

Klara Glosova is the founder and director of NEPO House, an alternative project space/ gallery in her home on Beacon Hill. In addition to organizing NEPO 5k DON’T RUN and numerous shows at NEPO House, she has curated exhibitions and events for City Arts Fest, Gage Academy of Arts, Soil Art Gallery and ONN/OF festival. She is a passionate advocate for the arts and a visual artist whose work has been exhibited both locally and internationally.

Tessa Hulls is an artist/writer/adventurer recently back to Seattle after a year spent bicycling across the United States and working at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. While in Antarctica, Tessa started the Under the Bed Gallery and curated both local and international shows. She was surprised that, in spite of the implications of the name, many people still asked where the gallery space was.

Tessa is currently taking a deliberate break from doing anything epic, and is instead learning how to be stationary. She is working on an upcoming talk entitled, “What We Make When We’re Not Making,” which explores the necessity of unproductive periods in one’s ongoing creative process.

She eventually plans to update her website so it no longer says she’s in Antarctica. www.tessahulls.com. You can see pictures of the Under the Bed Gallery on Tessa’s blog: http://growmeaboat.blogspot.com/2012/02/under-bed-outside-notions-of-antarctica.html

Jess Van Nostrand is the Founder of The Project Room, a Seattle-based interdisciplinary arts center. Jess’ projects investigate themes of contemporary life by crossing disciplines and featuring often under-recognized work being made in the Northwest. Jess has worked with artists such as Trimpin, Wynne Greenwood, Margi Geerlinks, Joseph Park, Francis Baker, John Grade, Paul Rucker, Dan Webb, and many others.

From 2007-2010, Jess was the Exhibitions Curator at Cornish College of the Arts. In addition to directing The Project Room, Jess is VP of Programs for the Board of Directors of ArtTable, the national organization for women leaders in the arts.

Sharon Arnold is a Seattle-based artist, curator, and writer. She studied at Pratt Institute in New York, focusing on sculpture, semiotics, and art history; and completed her last year and a half Magna Cum Laude at Cornish College of the Arts in 2006.

Ms. Arnold is founder of Bridge Productions/LxWxH (http://www.lengthbywidthbyheight.com/questions.html), an artist-driven public project based on the discussion and promotion of locally based art and literature. The project’s primary function is to create a bridge between artists, writers, and you in an approachable, accessible, sustainable manner. By virtue of your participation, you support our local community and gain access to collecting original pieces of work by local talent. LxWxH is a box of art featuring original work by two Seattle artists and a short essay by a local writer, stemming from the idea that art should be local, sustainable, and accessible. By collaborating with Seattle artists and writers, LxWxH provides an avenue to bring people together and collect art in an affordable and approachable way.

Her own body of work stems from unique and repetitive applications of traditional and non-traditional mediums on paper. The imagery manifests as fictional cartography or mythology; combining the idea of mapping with suggestions of de-coding, language, and rhythm. Ms. Arnold also continues to maintain the art blog Dimensions Variable (http://www.dimensionsvariable.org/) as an ongoing effort to further discussion of art in the Pacific Northwest.

Ben Beres is one third of SuttonBeresCuller (http://www.suttonberesculler.com/). He curates the art at Joe Bar (http://www.joebar.org/)

Amanda Manitech came into the discussion too late to get her bio. Here is her resume: http://www.amandamanitach.com/index.php?/cv/