Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Edgy Art, Sea Change and Adoption

So I finally got through 4 of the large scale drawings (the soma series). I did a bunch of sample layerings (the drawings are 8'x4' sheets of yellow tracing paper with patterns drawn on them, they are then layered three thick), to test different materials for the adhesive. I finally went with a combination of mod podge paper, glossy and matte. I am still putting on more layers of the glossy to build up the outer surface of the drawings, but that should just take a couple of days to complete. I had scheduled to have them and about 6 of the crystalline series photo'd a couple of weekends ago, and I was busting my bum (and my arms) to get them all finished in time for the photo shoot, then my photog threw out his back (poor guy!) so the photo shoot is indefinitely postponed.
In other news I was asked by a gallerist out in California to send out some works for her to use in the Sunset Magazine "Idea House." Its this house that they build every year that includes interesting or innovative design ideas. (The outdoor house is pretty cool). This years house was designed in conjunction with Popular Science Magazine and is a "house of innovation". The gallerist asked me to send out 'fragile' 'a matter of time' and the 'eccentricites' series of drawings. Unfortunately the installations were apparently too 'edgy' (for a house of innovation?), but the drawings are up in the house, and they are pretty tech looking (ink on film, plexi sandwich frames with exposed hardware). 'fragile' though is currently living in the Design Within Reach studio in Palo Alto for now though. So if you are out on the West Coast, or visiting the west coast and feel like an art diversion, go check it out. (The Sunset House opens September 8).
I have also been learning an awful lot about the grant application process. I have previously applied for grants that were pretty individual (even though some were project based they were studio based work). I have started along the process of a public art proposal (the first of two I have in my head right now). Here's the project descriptions (not final descriptions, which will be better):

Project 1: Sea Change
A sculptural installation which demarcates the high water line that will occur in the years 2050 and 2080 due to global warming, also shows levels of storm surges due to a category 2 storm hitting NYC. This project will occur in conjunction with a public awareness campaign regarding practical tips to improve personal habits which affect global warming.

Project 2: 10,000 Trees Redux (working title)
Based on the Agnes Denes 10,000 trees project which was 'dedicated to benefit future generations with a meaningful legacy.' The redux is an effort to green roofs in the NYC area. The greening of roofs provides a
measurable impact on the 'heat island' affect of the dense urban environment. It also creates unique social spaces which increase neighborly communities.
Both of these projects have interesting environmental and social implications which I will delve into further as the projects develop. Right now I am combing through the different reports on the sea level rise in the NYC region and northeast. There are so many implications with the rise in sea level - storm surge, water supply, seasonal changes, impact on wetlands, coastal erosion... My hope though is to not just bring bad news, but to bring awareness and ways for people to make changes (reasonable) in their daily lives that could have a positive impact on the global warming trends. I also want to provide them and their politicians with an understanding of important infrastructure issues that need to be addressed (can you imagine if ALL of the tunnels - subway, train and car - flooded?)

My plan is to find one or more environmental or community groups with whom to partner to bring this project to fruition. (That in conjunction with the grant applications for the public and community arts grants). If anybody has any suggestions, please let me know, its a daunting task!

I feel fortunate to have come upon two programs which may prove invaluable in this process. The first is the grant application process for the re-grants at Brooklyn Arts Council. They provide a super detailed level of information in their application packet and hold appointments for artists to ask questions. There application should help making filling out others a lot easier! The second program which is really really cool for someone just starting out in the public arts sector is the Creative Time Open Door program. They invite artists to come in and meet with key people for 20 minutes to ask any questions at all which you might have regarding the making and showing of public art. Then they tell you feel free to email if you have further questions. My meeting was helpful in understanding about temporary installations. I plan to follow up with questions about working with the park systems, and installing on city streets...
In the midst of all of this I received a boost of sorts. I have been watching the goings on over at the Fine Art Adoption Network, and have applied for a couple of items. The other day I happened upon a couple of great drawings by Nick Holliday. I applied for one of them, and HURRAY! I was chosen as the lucky adopter. Below is an image of the piece, and you can read some of the adoption story here. If you love art, and think you could provide a nuturing environment for some in your home, make sure to check out the Fine Art Adoption Network for yourself.
Those are the updates such as they are. I am looking forward to the gallery season kicking off again, even though I missed some good shows over the summer. Don't expect to see me on opening night, but I will let you know
what I find when the crowds clear out.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pass the kool-aid!

So I have put in my first 3 weeks (and then some!) at the new job, and have decided to share what I am doing. I made this decision based on a couple of things: 1) I'm not that important there (no decision making power, no influence) 2) it's a fascinating and wonderful program that deserves lots of attention, and 3) their own credo that all of this valuable information should be shared.

So as you can see from #2 I clearly drank some of that delicious kool-aid.
The job I took is that of assistant in the Professional Development Program at Creative Capital. It is a part time low glamour, low wage position. There may be some confusion about why someone with such clear and evident capabilities would take a position like this (the people hiring me were not afraid to ask). Easy, I want a part time job doing something I care about, in an environment that is creative and flexible where I can learn things. One of the first projects I was involved in was preparing for, and then attending the yearly retreatfor the grantees.Here's how the program works: a grant is awarded for a project proposal (all initial funds are the same). After that the artist services kicks in. This includes the retreat, plus additional guidance and opportunities for the artist. The artist can apply for a variety of follow up grants to take advantage of opportunities which ensure the success of the project. The Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times describe it as a 'venture capital model,' and New York Magazine describes it as a 'bohemian boot camp.'

The retreat consists of 2 days of intense professional development, time to meet and network with the other grantees and alumni grantees, and 2 days of panels presented by an array of venues, funders, and others.The professional development program has itself spun off into providing weekend workshops to artists around the country. Now for a little more specifically about the pdp... This program provides informative discussions, practices and one on one consultations which help develop better professional practices-like strategic planning, marketing, time management, fiscal management, pr, writing and talking about your work, budgeting, fundraising. All the things that can help an artist run their 'business' more successfully.

Most of it is not a revelation to anyone with some amount of business acumen, but it does reinforce the need to apply this knowledge to our art practices. Hire assistants, hire fundraisers, one managers, pr help, etc. Sure, it's hard to hire someone when you aren't making any money, but it is the old business adage that you have to invest so grow.The bottom line is that they are breaking down the stereotype of the poor starving artist working alone in a garret. (Which I never bought into anyway- although I would like a garret).
Well I think you get the gist of this whole thing. It's a great program (Creative Capital as a whole, and the Professional Development Program), but I won't go on about it. I will follow with more hints and helpful information that you can apply to your practice, but for now its back to work.

Expect to see new images of the large 'soma' series soon, I have finished 4 of them and a handful of the crystalline drawing series which I am handing over to be photographed. More about art making later...

All photos courtesy of Phototake - a scientific and medical stock photography site. Images are (from top to bottom): Juvenille Nuerons, Marine Diatoms, Nuerons, Colon Cancer and Multipolar Nuerons.