Sunday, May 11, 2008
I will leave this blog alive on blogger for a while since there are still outside links pointing here, but for updated content, see above. The new feed subscription is: http://www.evemosher.com/blog/index.php/feed/atom/
See you real soon!
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The myth of scarcity in the arts is the long held belief that there's not enough X to go around. Where X represents one patrons, audience, venues, whatever. This myth creates a sometimes vicious competitive environment.
The myth is detrimental to both individual artists and the community.
The good news is that it really is BS. But that does mean coming to terms with some understanding and reality checks. The first concept to grasp is that the current system of the arts industry is broken, the pyramid is inverted. Artists, who should be at the top of the pyramid (all other services should be in support of artist) are currently at the bottom (playing the support role to all the services). This is not a complaint, just a statement of (important word choice coming up) current fact. In order to change this, artists will need to begin with reconsidering how to succeed in the art world (more on that later).
Another reality check is that there is only a minuscule number (I've heard rumours that it is 1% of 1% of all artists) make a large amount of money off their artwork. And by large amount of money, I mean rockstar lifestyle. We could probably figure out who they are right now, ummm, Damien Hirst, Olafur Elliasson, maybe Jeff Koons and tangentially Christo & Jean Claude (tan. because they make money off sketches of their work). Am I missing anyone?
Here's the secret, everyone else is making money off alternative sources of income which are funding their work (teaching, speaking, working in the arts, etc). Now, there are probably quite a lot of artists who make a reasonable amount of money off their work (as opposed to the rockstar levels of money), mostly these are artists who can create easy to market & sell work, which, often is not even the work they would consider the most important or interesting. Like the e-bay and painting-a-day people (there's a lot of merit in these methods of funding). If you are doing large scale public projects (say a chalk line around NYC) then your funding might come in a small part from grants and individuals, but in a larger part from speaking opportunities, image rights and some amount of commodification. My painter friend is pursuing painting portraits as a means to fund his work, a couple of my other friends who create non-object based work subsist on teaching and occasional fellowships. It's a good idea to understand that you will be the biggest funder of your own work, so you should find something you can do to make money that will make you happy.
So, about how this community concept can help. It's quite simple actually, so simple in fact that there is a cliche already made for it: a rising tide lifts all boats.
If as a community we decide that we are going to help one another, whether that is sharing knowledge, resources, experience whatever, then we all rise up together. Don't even think it isn't selfish, don't you think that if I help my friend the painter get a show in a gallery or out at Coney Island, well one day he will turn around and help me when I need it. Sharing is a way of creating greater strength in numbers. (What you give is what you get).
Yes we should all be talking about money too. It empowers us all to know what people are paying for services and products so that we can price our own products and services accordingly. (For example, in my experience speaker fees can range anywhere from $200 [for local panel] to $1000 [for individual presentation outside NYC], and stipends for showing work that is documentary in nature [documentation of a project already completed] is about $300). It also helps us all present a more united front, sure there are lots of artists doing things for free (even I admit to that for a select situation), but the more we all ask for the money we rightly deserve, the more likely people will pay for it. The power of a positive no is a great thing.
So think about it, and figure out what you have to share with your fellow artists, and go out there and give that away (while simultaneously asking to be paid for your creativity).
Photos all creative commons license, courtesy of flickr and: (top to bottom)
"Support Starving Artists" by dltq
"Inverted Pyramide" by megafon (ironic that it is at the louvre no?)
"community kitchen" by smallestbones
I was invited recently to participate on a panel regarding fundraising in the arts. I was told by the organizer that I was being invited for my experience in fundraising for the HighWaterLine project. I told them, you know I only raised about 30% of the cost of the project and funded the rest of it independent filmmaker style (credit cards) and am still working on ways to recoup, so I'm not sure I am the best representative. They said, actually that's the other reason we have invited you, we want someone who is honest about their fundraising achievements and challenges.
I'm pretty excited about the panel, since, as you may have noticed, I am really interested in talking about new funding models.
I think there are a couple of important parts of the conversation around fundraising which need to be addressed, I will look at value/integration and support of artistic communities today...
First, how we talk about value of the arts in a community. The argument on the monetary value of the arts, while valuable and of great merit is overused and doesn't fully address all of the facets of a strong arts economy. I just read a good article in the New York Times Magazine about arts in education, it profiles a report which debunks the power of the arts in strengthening skills in the "tested" subject areas. (I've had a problem with this argument for a while). Instead it notes that what was witnessed was: "persistence in tackling problems, observational acuity, expressive clarity, reflective capacity to question and judge, ability to envision alternative possibilities and openness to exploration." (Nowhere has this been made more visible to me than the week I spent at ACPA, where high school students undertook a week long art project with me where they solved problems, collaborated, focused and expressed).Similarly it is important to find ways to talk about the broader impact that the arts has on our community psyche and collective consciousness. What does it mean culturally and socially to be a creative community?
And what does all this have to do with arts funding? It's re-framing the argument and looking deeper at the value of the arts and encouraging broader support, which gets us back to the other facets of a healthy funding environment for the arts. While city, state, and federal support of the arts combined with private support giving money or resources to both organizations and individuals provides fertile ground, an active patronage also needs to exist to help create a sustainable environment (somebody has to buy the work/tickets/etc).
The final (and possibly most complicated) pieces are both government regulation in support of arts (low rent/tax breaks for venues and orgs, housing subsidy for artists, open permitting and city agency support) and integration of arts and artists into private sector economy.
The integration could occur in a variety of ways - one idea I like is to hire artists within the corporate community to inspire creative thinking. I guarantee that if you put me on your board of directors that I would be able to see things from a different point of view and come up with creative solutions. Within the private sector artists have the ability to inspire the creativity necessary to advance companies. I would also advocate for institutions to host, essentially, artist residencies. I could provide a number of inspiring community based projects to help with any variety of Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club or NRDC initiatives.
Tomorrow I will write about creating a supportive artistic community, as an artist, and how we can help each other overcome the scarcity myth.
Images courtesy of Creative Commons on Flickr (from top to bottom):
"Fund Public Art" by bourgeoisbee
"Funds Please" by otherthings
"Creative Hands - Mindy" by Dalydose
"fuck it i'll fund that." by yatta
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
I like to approach projects from an "outside the box" (boy, thats an overused term) point of view. When I mentioned the "Seeding the City" to a friend who works with green roofs, he questioned the value of planting such a small plot of greenery - how is that going to have any real affect on the Urban Heat Island Effect?
May answer, "Each individual module may have a negligible affect, but what would hundreds of modules spread across the city do to both our environment, our awareness and our social fabric?"
When you consider the potential of the project, creating potentially enough greenery on rooftops to recreate a Central Park in the sky? Now it gets interesting.
I have also been considering how to raise money for the project outside of the "normal" channels (i.e. grants). A couple of things have come up recently which I am investigating:
- ThePoint.com is a tipping point model for fundraising and social action. Get enough people to commit to something, and then it can happen. I posted the project on there with enough funds to launch the project, its a pretty high price, so we will see how close I get, but it does allow many people to be involved at a small level - it is a further exploration of microfinancing.
- Another idea is to exchange money for experience or special commodities from the project, this is based on the model of artistshare.com. The funding is given up front and then the funders are invited to participate in interesting ways throughout the project.
- Finally, my own thought of allowing people to "sponsor" grm's throughout the city. Pay $50 and you would sponsor a grm in your choice of one of the neighborhoods. This wouldn't be on your own roof, but would include your sponsorship information on the signage and website.
So, does anyone have any thoughts on any of this? Are there ways you would want to participate financially? Would you give a small amount for nothing in return or prefer a larger amount and a unique experience or commodity (if so what would that experience or commodity be?) or would you prefer to know that your funds are directed at a specific piece of action?
Friday, April 11, 2008
Today it was canceled due to their very busy schedules.
I am sad about that, but it also brings into stark reality something I have talked about before (I don't mean to disparage <>Tag at all, they were very supportive of the artists in the show - offereing airfares, stipends, etc, so please don't think I am speaking badly of their decision), the role of the artist as the hardest working in the art world. Without me producing the materials, flying out to lead the walk, managing the upload of images, searching out designers and managing their work and reposting of all of the images, well, the work just doesn't get done. This on top of already thinking through the idea, writing text, designing signs, creating a website, researching materials... As so often happens, the artist not only must create the work, but also do all the work to get it shown. Often without a living wage renumeration. This while all the other people who work in the gallery system are getting paid either a stable salary or an hourly wage which covers all their time.
Not to worry though, Insert ____ Here is launching next week with the help of PS58 in Brooklyn (check out the kids blog on climate change - Little Grassroots!) and will be at the Sustainable South Bronx Block Party on May 17th. If you are interested in getting a group together to do "Insert ____ Here" in your city, email me at eve at insert-here dot org!
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
This project hits close to home, especially given a couple of recent experiences. As I would hope, as my career grows, I have more opportunities to travel with/because of my work. On the other hand, I don't want to create a negative environmental impact with the work. And airline flights (if you didn't already know) have HUGE carbon emissions. So how to keep the career growing, spread the work and minimize the impact?
Recently I was invited to the Wexner Center to present my work as part of the Art & Environment program. It was a one afternoon engagement. I explained the quandary to the director, and asked if there was a way to broaden my (positive) impact while there, could she work with the school or other organizations to fill up a week? She was happy to oblige. I spent a week working with a local group of extraordinary high school students (more on that later), spent the afternoon at the Wexner, and met with local artists. Believe me the week was packed full.
(I was also reminded - again - of our desperate need for better rail. The only train was a 12 hour trip arriving at 3.30am in a city two hours away, the bus left at 4am. I was totally up for taking on the long trip and early arrival, but as anyone who has ridden any distance knows, the freight trains are given priority and passenger trains are notoriously late. If I missed the 4am bus I would have been awkwardly stranded).
So in the case of Wexner it opened up lots more opportunities for me to meet with and work with people.
The other instance was that I was invited to participate in the EcoAesthetics exhibition at < > TAG platform in The Hague. They were interested in bringing in an artists who would get out into the public space and create interventions or activate public participation. Well, thats me for sure! Unfortunately I *really* couldn't justify a flight to The Hague for a weekend project*. So instead I suggested that I create a project that could occur in the public realm, but which they could produce, organize and promote all themselves. I would provide the creative idea, the structure and the electronic files, everything else was (mostly) up to them. From that was born the "Insert ____ Here" project which will launch in The Hague this weekend, Brooklyn next weekend and then Miami and the Bronx soon after. I would love to see it happen in neighborhoods around the world, so certainly contact me, or watch the project site (totally in progress- just a theme place holder for the moment) for more information.
In light of this, I have been talking with Michael Mandiberg and Tiffany Holmes (of ecoviz.org) about creating a group of artists who are interested in participating in and promoting an electronic panel. We could be in our homes, in front of a web cam participating in a panel anywhere in the world. If Andy Revkin can do it, so can we.
*It's not that I don't want to go to these places - I definitely do, I love travel and I love meeting people around the world, but I am trying to be conscientious about my travel footprint - reducing the flights and if I do fly, packing the time full of opportunities.
Images (from top to bottom): Michael Mandiberg's Real Cost plugin for Mozilla Firefox, Eve S. Mosher's "Insert ____ Here" project
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
But wait, its been kinda quiet out there so far. Sure the opening is Thursday, and the press preview probably the night before, but I haven't heard a peep. Here's my guess why--
This year's biennial is going to be good. Yep you heard me - good. I think it is actually going to be a what it is supposed to be - a look at what is happening in the contemporary arts. And having a peruse through the artist list, it may actually achieve that. They have Fritz Haeg, Ellen Harvey, Spike Lee, NPR, Ruben Ochoa, Phoebe Washburn. There are also artists whose work looks like I won't like it, or it will challenge me - and those are both good things, since I would hope the contemporary art world would support diversity.
So, I think I will actually go this year. Will let you know what I think of course.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
And then I imagined talking to one of the politicians (I'll pick Anthony Weiner, because he's reasonable. So reasonable that he has been the closest to making me second guess congestion pricing), and asking, "Do you really believe that? I mean, have you actually taken the time to go around and talk to them?" and I thought about talking to Letitia James (my rep) and being able to say that I could name the people on my block who support it. And those I know who might be opposed, well I could just talk to them and maybe change their minds.And thinking about that reminded me of "the power of one" - the ability of just one person to make a difference. The idea that if we each go out and have conversations with our neighbors, if we engage one-to-one then we really can make a difference. The "power of one" is a really powerful tool that is so often overlooked by political and environmental campaigns. Sure a big rally can motivate a lot of people - but aren't the people showing up already the motivated ones?
I hope to keep working with my artistic practice, on realizing the power of one. One investigating and expanding our own particular powers to make a difference.
Image courtesy http://www.sethwhite.org/ through whom I plan to live vicariously for a little while....
Friday, February 08, 2008
CommunityWalk Map - I See You in Me / The Path of Water in NYC
I did it mostly to get a guess of how long the project will need to be, about a mile. Sure after a more than 70-mile long project, it seems easy, but this one is a little more work intensive...
More images/information on the project.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
I will start by offering what I know here in these pages...
I will start with the basics, some good places to get reference materials-
- Fractured Atlas: Good place to learn more (professional development), get more (fiscal sponsorship, health insurance, liability insurance [for events, film production & public art], publicize (promote & learn marketing), and get some member discounts.
- Sellout: Participate in an ongoing discussion regarding artist issues.
- Chicago Artist Resource: a fantastic site with loads of information and interviews for artists everywhere (most of the content is not location specific). Check out articles and links to other resources on your practice (incl. health & safety, health insurance links, public art, community & social issue arts, magazines & journals, and a great collection of artist and art professional's stories), career (incl. strategic planning, marketing & promotion, community, organizations & unions) and business (incl. branding, financial planning, legal issues, and advocacy)
- NYFA: New York Foundation for the Arts is a great site (you have to register to use it) which provides an international listing of resources, called NYFA Source. It is a searchable database of residencies, grants, space, apprenticeships, etc). They also list classifieds - jobs & opportunities.
- International Sculpture Center: Given that the definition of 'sculpture' has expanded to include installation, video and some time-based works, these resources are for more than sculptors. They host a sculptor community forum, artist's registry, and resources.
- Artists Space: The most useful (anecdotally) non-fee based, uncurated online image registry.
- Artist Career Guide: Right now it is mostly a promo site for Jackie's upcoming book, but she is posting interviews with professionals semi-regularly (currently there are interviews with two curators), but it also lists workshops she is teaching - and she can definitely whip your under-promoted butt into shape.
Note to self, other posts should include: grant writing tips, making sticky websites, the theory of becoming an expert, online fundraising...
In trade, anyone know a financial planner who works with artists (needs to know our particular situation) based here in NYC?
Found the image on: http://www.business-improvement.org/.
Don't get me wrong, there are some really smart and clever artists working out in the world, and I really like a lot of what I see.
But last night I went to see the Agnes Denes lecture at the Drawing Center and found out just how complicated her work is. She was "making the invisible visible" by using math, symbolism and structure to investigate human relationships. That all sounds really simple until you hear her explain it. I think about the other big things that artists were investigating in previous generations, and it all seems to be heavy on the the thought and, well, conceptual end. I'm not saying that climate change, or human emotions or other topics aren't big, we just don't seem to present them in the same manner.
I was thinking that maybe this is because those artists who came before us, already broke it down. They erased the barriers between art and math, science, philosophy, psychology, etc., so that basically we don't have to go to the trouble of adding all the language on top of the work. We move fluidly between lots of different circles of study because the bridges between them already exist. So what is the new frontier, what hasn't been done?
I'm most interested in creating interactions between web 2.0 and artistic practices. How can they inform one another and use one another. I know there are lots of other artists out there doing this, I'm certainly not claiming pioneership (in fact I am probably a little behind the times), but I do think it holds the most interesting exploration opportunities.
Just think what Agnes Denes (and her little man pyramids) could do with social networking.
"thoughts are like crystals, one builds off of the other"
"art as an incubator of disiciplines"
I also really was touched at how she referred to the works as "my" wheat field and "my" forest. And hearing her talk about the beauty of the wheatfield was so moving.
Apologies for the more rambling and incoherent nature of this post (more than usual) - I have the "I feel woozy and incoherent" head cold going around.
Friday, January 25, 2008
I was having a conversation the other day about the art market (yeh, i have those conversations a lot). This one was about the fact that artists aren't willing to invest in their careers in order to grow. Its a common practice in pretty much every other business on the planet. Invest in new equipment or software to increase productivity and boost profits. Invest in a consultant to create a strategic plan to grow and boost profits. Invest in hiring more people to increase productivity and boost profits. You get the idea.
There is also the personal investment for growth. Loads of people every year go into massive debt to subsidize their law degree, medical degree of MBA. They do this with the belief (usually true) that with this degree their earning potential will be much higher.
We were talking about why artists don't believe in paying the high price for learning the skills to grow their careers. In particular we were discussing professional development programs. At first I agreed, thinking why don't artists pay for this kind of training? Especially if they see proven results from those who have taken it. Well, here's why they don't: the system is broken.
All those other people investing, are pretty much guaranteed a return on their investment (with work). Artists just aren't. The return on investment (ROI) is just not that high. Even if they do succeed at getting more shows and grants, and can negotiate better deals the pay still isn't that significant (unless you are the 1% of 1% who become art stars). Sure, its enough to live on and continue doing your work, but its no doctor, lawyer or CEO salary.*
Here's another problem. A lot of us already did invest. A LOT. A lot of us have our terminal degree (until this PhD in Fine Arts fad hits critical mass), we have the MFAs. And we paid dearly for them. Probably as much as some MBAs (I know my debt until I retire is enough to rent a small house in some urban areas). So we have made that investment and it probably hasn't paid off. I know my school did no such thing as professional development which actually prepared you for creating what is, essentially, a business.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed and learned a lot during my MFA, but really, it was like a really really expensive 2 year residency program. A time to focus on your art and develop your work.
And another thing - I know plenty of artists who are feeling really tapped out from giving away work for auctions, getting underpaid to put on great shows for non-profit arts organizations or state agencies. We won't pay entry fees or subsidize the gallery system. We won't pay for consulting or promoting or transport or framing or any of the other things to do with a show we may or may not sell from.
So how can we change all this. Well thats something that takes looking at the entire landscape. The system really is broken. From a misconception by the public and the government about the value of arts. To the hierarchy that exists where the artists are at the bottom instead of the top. To our own undervaluing of what we give to the world.
Where to start? Start with your own circle of friends. Start with talking about it, come up with some creative solutions and help each other grow and learn. Share your knowledge of marketing, planning, fundraising, negotiating, etc. A rising tide and all...
*I have been able to observe and attend a few professional development programs and some are really effective. I also have a pretty good background in business and when I applied that to my art - plus just took the discipline and commitment up a notch (all investment), I have reaped tangible rewards.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
So I have written a couple of different summary statements. Which do you like better?
“Seeding the City” is a public art project that seeks to plant “seeds” of thought in the urban environment on challenges of climate change and potential for remediation. Social networking will determine the location for installation of individual green roof sample sites. Included with the installation will be educational and community building tools, and methods to trace the growth of the network. Online resources will include mapping of the project, tools for tracking local urban heat island effect and resources to recreate the project worldwide.
“Seeding the City” is an art project that utilizes social networking to site urban interventions in the form of green roof modules. It capitalizes on community building to introduce urban environmental issues and remediation tools. The modules and their accompanying flags and street level signage will track the growth of the network throughout the neighborhood. Online resources will include mapping of the project, tools for tracking local urban heat island effect and resources to recreate the project worldwide.
Let me know in the comments!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Just an update on what is "in progress" around here...
- Most of my energy right now is devoted to the new green roofs project, for which I just launched a new (very beta!) website: http://www.seedingthecity.org.
- There is also a lot of thought going into a project I am doing at Highbridge Park, that follows the path of the Croton Aqueduct as it came into Manhattan. There is some cool facilities based architecture up there. And I am reading an interesting book called "Water for Gotham." (I love urban history - just ask me about Five Points!)
- I want to do a soundwalk/audio tour based on water in NYC - either it will follow the Croton Aqueduct Path (from Highbridge, to Central Park and ending at NYC Public Library at Bryant Park [which used to be a resevoir]) or along the original shoreline. And through this project link history with the present and future. All this inspired by And While London Burns.
- Keeping up with upcoming shows around HWL: Screening of the film by Justin Lange at "Eco-centric" @ Sonoma County Art Museum, and at "EPA: Environmental Performance Actions" @ Exit Art, and - this should be a fun one! - a showing of how the project was created as part of "Feedback" at Eyebeam. (I am hopeful that we can show the maps, tricycle and chalker as part of this exhibit).
I did get a chance to see a couple of notable shows in London this month. Besides partaking in the hauntingly informative and moving "And While London Burns" I also stopped in to see "Shibboleth" at the Tate. I have to just put this out there - I love the Unilever series. I really really do, big corporate infusions of cash and a truly massive space and freedom for talented artists to create something, well, great is really powerful. Doris Salcedo has done some pretty powerful works (including the Atrabiliarios) and the Shibboleth is profound for more than its technical wizardry (and the funny signs warning people not to fall in). I think viewing the crack in the floor in that space when there are just a few people in there with you would be moving (unfortunately it was packed when I was there), even with the crowds there is something interesting about watching people follow along this line - strangers walking side by side, but divided by the crack (making it okay to stand that close), or couples walking one on either side, thus divided by the crack.
I also saw Anthony McCall's show at Serpentine Gallery. Another technically compelling show that was able to reach beyond the wonder of how into a world of exploration of body and space. I enjoyed just standing in the space and letting the lightworks move across me, changing my relationship to the surrounding gallery and people. And one last stop (I love that the V&A was open until 10am) was at the "Out of the Ordinary: Spectacular Craft" show, which featured some interesting and obsessive works - highlights of which were Lu Shengzhong whose paper cutouts were astounding for their sheer magnitude and Susan Collis for her sublime almost ridiculous understated work.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Deborah Fisher has launched a new blog, Sellout. (Thanks to AFC for the heads up). It is looking good so far. Deborah has a great way of writing and considering things and I am glad to see she is putting her critical eye on the "artists career" it is something that I tend to think about a lot both for personal and professional reasons. So far she has discussed Seth Godin (who I admit to enjoying reading too), the myths of the artist and money. A lot of what she is asking for is discussion by readers, so it should be interested to troll the comments. I may pick up and expand on some of her threads here...
As regards to talking about money. Not only do I not have a problem talking about it, I don't have a problem blogging about it, and have even started a "working group" to come up with more business savvy ways to address funding. I also am not afraid to ask to be paid for what I do (mostly).
Artist myths? I don't believe any of them. I think they are all complete bullshit and anyone who buys into them is either a liar, doesn't really believe in themselves or their work or is so enamored with the "artist image" as to not consider much beyond that. Do you really think the top artists in the contemporary art world believe in the myth of the poor lonely deranged flaky starving artist toiling away in the studio. Neither do I.
I doubt that by reading Deborah's blog I will come to any conclusion close to "sellout" I am more likely to enjoy what she is writing about and be glad there is someone else out there talking about some ideas "whose time has come."
Image coutesy of: http://williehewescomics.blogspot.com
Friday, January 11, 2008
Another moment of brilliance...
Chris Doyle has done it again. I know I talk about him a lot on this blog, much to his chagrin, but he's done it again with some pretty clever thinking. This time its a self marketing idea that is simple, beautiful, brilliant and I hope (for his sake) succesful.
Chris created a limited addition set of drawings called Subscribe. They are some of his personal but not too precious drawings of suburban homes. And they are for sale. (That's not the clever part, tip is:) Each sale benefits one of a handful of non profits that he has chosen, like Creative Capital, Creative Time, Public Art Fund, Smack Mellon and Socrates Sculpture Park. Why is that so brilliant? Because each of those organizations (and their huge mailing lists) is going to promote the work too!
So everybody wins, the organization and the artist.
I will post images of the work and links soon (writing this from the phone). And if there are some left, go buy one!