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.


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