Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Art as a Weapon

An original documentary about art, politics, religion and war. Everything that makes us human. -Jeff Durkin / Director

"Art as a weapon" will look at the connection between street Art, Buddhism and the struggle for Democracy by using the closed country of Burma as a case study. The film will follow a Buddhist monk poet who's building a library, artist Shepard Fairey painting a 30' tall mural, and a elementary school art class learning how to use spray paint- giving the audience a peek into the the lives of artists and how art has the power to move people. Interviews include Shepard Fairey and Nobel peace prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

This will be a “connections film” looking at the collision between the big forces that shape humanity- Art, Politics, and religion in both the eastern and western worlds. By combining beautiful cinematography, with Buddhist philosophy the project will illustrate the power Art has in the bloody fight for Democracy. Part art film, part political film, the goal is to continue spreading the word by using art as a weapon for peace in Burma.

2 simple ways you can help. 1. Donate to the film while your here on the kickstarter page (tax-deductible) 2. Spread the word on facebook, twitter, blogs and to your network. Just use this link http://kck.st/qkUTKX

This is more than just a movie, it's a movement that will help MILLIONS of people.....and be seen by MILLIONS of people worldwide. Below is a video of how this unique project began.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A+ Art Blog: Audience Engagement

I was glad to see the James Irvine Foundation publication Getting in on the Act as they made a very good case for the value of the policies at SDVAN. They reported that building support for the arts in the future depends on encouraging more participation from our audiences.
The study identifies three main types of involvement; curatorial where the public makes decision about the content or direction of the project; public co-producing with the collaboration of professional artists; and finally when the public is asked to create their own works of art.
We have found that SD audiences want to meet the artists and love to sit down for a meal with them and even share in the process of making the work. We know that art gives people a way to identify their community, take pride in it and thus protect and improve it.
SDVAN continues in its efforts to gain more and more participation from our community. During the Art Meets Fashion 2011 public launch in April of this year, we invited the public to strut their stuff on our catwalk with fashions made by them or their friends. This popular part of the program helped to build the number who attended this event to 1000 and it was one of the most well attended events of the NTC Liberty Station complex.
Hats Off to Life is a project where we will be going into retirement communities and basing hat constructions on the life of some of the residents. We hope to hold a hat making workshop for them as well. We will strive to introduce participatory components into the DNA of Creativity project in the next two years.
However, having spent 6 weeks looking at art in London with very little personal participation, I can testify that this was an immensely satisfying experience. Not all art needs to be displayed with a participation element although a little education is never amiss for those who might want it. The new show at the SDMA, Mexican Modern Painting from The Andrés Blaisten Collection (through Feb 19, 2012), is wonderful to see just for the varied styles and high quality of the work on display. There are two educational rooms within the show space. One has a time line with four ways to listen and interact with the information presented. The other has specially commissioned drawing benches with a chance to create right there.
For SDVAN, not having our own brick and mortar venue has become one of our strongest strategies. We do not consider this a disadvantage or even something to strive for in our future plans. As we work alternatively online, in loaned spaces and even work to get into people homes, we see this as a cost effective and innovative way to go forward.
Today’s artists are collaborating, remixing and repurposing not just with their materials but with their cultural views. At SDVAN we encourage that and try hard to do it internally within the organization. We are a 100% volunteer organization with no salaries or building cost to cover. All our donations go into the funding of projects for the community. This is an alternative way of running a non-profit and one which has grown out of the needs of those we serve.
I was astounded when I first came to SD to see the hundreds of art association that exist here. Although they have not perhaps been very proactive in creating an art market, they have certainly been responsible for supporting the many cultural resources of our neighborhoods. The SD region has this incredibly rich pool of amateur and part time artists and their impact is underestimated, I believe. It is heartening to learn that a total of 33% of all adults create and attend art events. Add to that 17% who attend and 12% who make art but don’t attend and you get a whooping 62% of American engaged in creative processes.
Here are a few examples of visual arts project mentioned in the study that I thought you might enjoy:
  • The Art Gallery of Ontario’s In Your Face was an open-submission art exhibit featuring 17,000 portraits collected from the public
  • The Davis Art Center’s Junk2Genius program celebrates the community’s commitment to reduce, reuse and recycle. This annual competition features 15 teams of community members competing in a timed sculpt-off using recycled materials

Friday, November 18, 2011

Converstations on Beauty at the Mingei and Raymond Elstad at SD Dance Place, SAF Blank to Beauty

Conversations on Beauty: Uniting Matter & Spirit, Creating a Whole Student, presented by the Ilan-Lael Foundation, is an ongoing discussion forum that examines the concept of beauty and the role it plays in shaping our society and our world. On Tuesday, November 15 the Mingei International Museum hosted the panelists moderated by Dirk Sutro.

Christine Brady - Founder, Colegio La Esperanza pushed hard to create a building designed by James Hubbell to house her school in Tijuana. Her clever idea was to create something so wonderful that it would get wide support with little chance of it ever being destroyed. She and Hubbell succeeded.

Maestro Jung Ho Pak - Orchestra Nova seconded this idea that we have to produce to an excellent level to make the case for the value of the arts. I loved his description of the role of the arts to connect us to what life is about like a “spiritual equivalent of the slow food movement.”

John Eger, J.D. - Professor of Communications and Public Policy, SDSU, once again reminded us of the need for arts being added to the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) movement to make it STEAM. He uses stealth marketing to trick the UCSD administration into thinking he is just teaching a communication class. He is actually teaching creativity and wants to “rehydrate” the arts with a sense of urgency to help our economy.

James Hubbell - artist, environmentalist, humanitarian was the professor emeritus of this group and I hung on his every word as he has a way of going right to the heart of each question. As an architect he sees the role of buildings not as shelter but as a way to arrange the world so people bump into each other. He spoke of not only eliminating the silos separating those in our society, but the need not to think in terms of left and right brain or the truth of science and mystery of the arts. Collaboration does not need these divisions. It is the role of the artists in each of us, to actually influence the rhythms of the world. He urges a little less control and a lot less isolation.

I thought everyone on the panel was caught off guard a bit by the question from the audience, "What can we do?” I am happy to refer people to the article we posted on the SDVAN site which was edited from “The Arts. Ask For More” Children’s Arts Campaign by Americans for the Arts. We have condensed it into Ten Simple Ways Parents Can Get More Art in Their Kids’ Lives with suggestions for projects at home and in the general community.

I wanted to ask a question of the panel but there was not time, so I have decided to ask it here. The James Irwin Foundation is funding projects with an audience engagement element. They urge that the survival of art support depends on active participation by the public defined as: 1. curatorial, 2. collaborative with existing artists, and 3. the public becoming creators of art themselves. This was part of the party line at the panel. However, it seems to me that the act of contemplative looking at art of excellence could be undermined by this participation emphasis. How do we achieve the balance for both things to occur?

Raymond Elstad is the professional seducer in his show of dance photography at Mandell Weiss Gallery of the SD Dance Place at the NTC Promenade of Liberty Station running the entire month of November. Jean Isaacs San Diego Dance Theater was the sponsor of Seduced by Dance but you will see dancers from all the companies resident in this facility. Elstad uses all his skill to compose dynamic images that leap off the page like a dancer’s jeté.

Synergy Art Foundation’s fundraiser From Blanks To Beauty was a fantastic evening with high energy, lots of laughter and fun. Over seventy local artists participated creating over 150 ten inch square canvases. These were displayed at the Mosaic Wine Bar in a silent auction format. A real steal for collectors with the opening bid at $50! The bargain of the night was a James Hubbell watercolor acquired for only $250. All monies raised will benefit Synergy's Emergency Artists' Support League (SD-EASL), which continues to help visual artists in our county through major crises.


Saturday, November 5, 2011


Extraction: San Diego Art World Insiders


Extraction_Episode Two Promo

Episode Two Starring:
Starring Seth Combs, Dennis Paul Batt, Ian Ashley, & Anjela Piccard

Daily Art Nag: REQUIRED VIEWING - "The Curse of the Mona Lisa"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Ambush Event

We are pleased to see the coverage that the SDVAN sponsored Ambush Event received in the press after the October event held at Horton Plaza.

It seems to be agreed that Antoinette Ransom who brought this show down from LA and added lots of local talent, is to be commended.

We especially like the participation aspect of the evening. Antengo were teaching the guests how to download the "Exhibit Ambush" app for free. They had artists painting live and teaching the importance of color theory and creativity and they had a catering company that made the appetizers to resemble the Amazon Rain forest theme and gave out a booklet on how to make them at home.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011