I believe in a government's responsibility to the citizens of the nation it serves including fast and full response to emergencies that endanger lives and communities and infrastructure. I believe in that responsibility as it extends to healthcare for all and equal rights for all. I believe in the responsibility of the many to the few and of the elected to the many. If this makes me a "socialist" then so be it. It's a fine day to drop a ballot in the mailbox!
The Arts and Social Change Symposium coming up October 12 and 13th with Seattle's 4Culture and other state and city institutions looks interesting and germaine not only to culture in the Pacific Northwest. I think it's important to a wider, national and global view of art's role in contemporary life.
Art at this moment is more important, relevant, active, volatile and full of potential to effect change as well as remind us of our expressive humanness than at any time in recent memory at the same time that support for it is challenged and eroding.
Whether or not I can attend this symposium I'm glad to live in a town where art is valued, pushed, kneaded, kicked around, tossed up, questioned and challenged to reach new audiences and explore potentially far-reaching possibilities.
Here's a studio glimpse of a new collage painting for fellow Sprout Seattle presenter and grant winner, Todd Jannausch's Small Voids coming up this Thursday. The show is up for one night only before moving to other cities.
Small Voids, a collection of 100, LED-lit plexiglass boxes filled with the work of 100 local artists, is an exciting contribution to an evolving picture of how the future of art representation and outreach might look.
As artists continue to move away from conventional galleries toward self-representation, online venues, pop-up spaces, artist co-operatives, shows in private homes, storefronts, digital exhibits, ideas that border on street art and as-yet unnamed methods percolating this minute in resourceful minds, it's inspiring to see how Todd challenges the status quo with yet another of his ingenious inventions to put art in the way of an audience and the audience in the way of art.
His previous projects such as Gallery 40, a 40 square-foot mobile show space, and Gallery (206), a converted phone booth and phone book full of work by Seattle artists have already expanded the conventions of how and where art is shown and who gets to see it while questioning the very concept of a "gallery".
If the progress shots on Todd's Facebook page are anything to go by, this display will be as elegant in execution as it is innovative in concept. I can't wait to see it in person.
See you there!
Small Voids (Link to preview in City Arts Magazine)
Thursday, October 4 from 5-9
Outside the Toshiro Kaplan Building in Pioneer Square
115 Prefontaine Place South Seattle, WA 98104
JelLo-Fi | Gelatinus Vulgaris LoFilia (to give both its common and tongue-in-cheek Latin names) is an installation of Jello, molded in classic 1950's forms and grouped in the grass at the Rubicon Foundation’s Lo-Fi Festival at Smoke Farm, a 360-acre former dairy farm on the Stillaguamish River in Arlington, Washington.
Walking along a woodland path you happen across an outcropping of colorful wiggly dessert in the grass like a strange plant or fungus.
You don't need to know anything more in order to enjoy the installation. But conceptually, the project goes deeper.
It's a bit of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (about the meat packing industry in Chicago at the turn of the century) meets Willy Wonka.
While Jello is made from rendered cows' hooves this fact is masked by the artificial fruity flavors and cheerful colors and the way it's marketed.
Most people probably don't think too much about where it comes from or what makes it wiggly (I was fascinated to learn it has to do with the triple-helix structure of amino acids that make up the protein and how they trap water).
Meanwhile cows are a problematic element of our agricultural system taking vast amounts of resources to raise, particularly water, and contributing to global warming as well as pollution of rivers and streams.
While it's difficult to find a consensus on the exact figure, the number of gallons of water used to produce a single quarter-pound beef patty hovers in the area of 2,000*. In a year of record high temperatures and drought we continue to suck water out of the Ogalalla Aquifer in part to feed beef cattle, steadily draining this precious, non-replenishable resource.
JelLo-Fi is a gently ironic reference to our general urban disconnection from the source of our food as well as the sustainability of its production and the ecological effects of factory farming, in particular water consumption and depletion.
Here the molded Jello sits directly on the ground near a stream where cows once trod, thus returning the rendered cows' hooves symbolically to their source.
Since the Jello deteriorates in sun, rain and air its absorption into the landscape will become an entropic, transient sculpture that gradually disintegrates.
It's important to me to create a project that works both visually and conceptually; I'm extra-excited to make a work of art that is not permanent but exists as a one-day experience, after which it belongs to the slugs and squirrels and the elements.
The installation will be seen by over 400 attendees of the Lo-Fi Festival over the course of a single day along with works by over 60 other artists and performers.
My project obviously involves some considerable logistical challenges (Jello outside in August!) and on a shoestring budget it will take all of my creativity and ingenuity to make it happen.
But I will. It's important to me to make a work of art that makes its point by surprising and delighting the eye and if it makes people laugh, even better.
Interested in contributing to my project (Jello, Jello molds, other resources) or responding to my idea? Please contact me or leave a comment, I am happy to hear from you! Thanks, Julia
I'm fascinated with the story of Sixto Rodriguez, the Mexican-American musician from Detroit whose album Cold Fact, not a big success in the States, made its way to South Africa where it was bigger than Abbey Road. It helped to inspire the white anti-apartheid movement, though he had no idea of this till recently.
Meanwhile South Africans assumed he was dead and circulated stories of his onstage suicide.
Malik Bendjelloul's film about Rodriguez just debuted in New York.
I can't wait to see it and hear more about The Sugar Man, especially his impact in South Africa.
And as it happens Rodriguez (not dead after all) is playing today at the Newport Folk Festival broadcast LIVE on NPR.
NPR | An Unwitting Folk Hero Finds A Spotlight at Last
This is a belated update but I want to report that from my perspective the Sprout dinner was a blast.
From researching my subject (cows water Jello) to making the slideshow and video (my first experience using iMovie) to staying up till 4:00 am the night before making a giant cow-and-Jello poster to use as a backdrop I thoroughly enjoyed the project.
There were stressful moments for sure - packing up my iMac, bags of potting soil trays of live wheatgrass coolers of molded Jello business cards boxes of Jello bowls spatulas measuring spoons clipboards Sharpies blue tape rolls of paper and pretty much the kitchen sink for the display and media presentation into a Zipcar, driving it to the venue, unpacking (thanks Ben), getting the car back on time and getting myself back on the bus to set up.
Once I saw the set up and met everyone and got underway I started to really have fun. I found myself laughing out loud as I demolded "live" Jello onto a pile of dirt on a tin tray full of potting soil and wheatgrass. I designed the display to inform and suggest in as real terms as possible my proposed installation at the Lo-Fi Festival.
The venue is a giant white arc of a room in a brick church with lots of light and a spacious, old-wood feel. My fellow presenters and I each had a narrow folding table on which to set up our "science project" and it was fun to see each of the approaches and the diversity of ideas.
While of course each of the six presenters myself included naturally wanted to be awarded the cash and while each one of the projects was worthy and interesting, the winning presentation, Todd Jannausch's Small Voids is so engaging and was so compellingly presented it seems fitting he got the funding.
Clear LED-lit boxes installed outside that will enliven dull spaces and enable 100 artists to have their work seen and bring art to people who wouldn't otherwise see it? Fantastic. The more ways artists can come up with of getting art out of galleries and museums and into the wild where it will be encountered and enjoyed, the better I say. I love this way of thinking.
Not to mention being invited to participate as one of the contributing artists to Small Voids. Thank you Todd and congratulations!
Thank you also to all of the wonderful Sprout organizers for the opportunity to present, it was a winning experience all around and a great evening. And a huge and heartfelt thanks to my wonderful students and friends who came and supported me and voted for me, you are simply the best.
Finally thanks to everyone who came to the dinner. It's heartening and energizing for us artists to see and hear and feel such warm support for what we do. I think Sprout is a truly satisfying and effective way for art lovers to show their direct support for artists.
Stay tuned for the next adventure as I attempt to find other ways to accomplish my project. Because I'm an artist and that's what we do.