I was recently asked to be on a panel in El Cajon at Studio C Contemporary where artists, journalists, writers, university professors, critics, and business people discussed the role the arts play in bettering East County and its diverse population. The panel was mediated by Justin Hudnall, creator and leading operative of The Far East Movement. One question he asked was, “Do you think East County can host and support an art community?” My answer, in looking at the healthy crowd in attendance, was that it was already supporting an art community. I would rather see a “fake it til you make it” can do stance than the inferiority complex driven attitude that is still all to prevalent in SD. But having said that, here are three suggestions to challenge every reader into action. (you can watch the video of the panel at this link https://vimeo.com/41384166)
Curators: Commercial and
University Galleries and Museums should hold, at least once a year, an
open call for curators to propose exhibitions. I don’t mean artists
submitting their work for showing or even grouping together with friends
to show. I mean really interesting theme shows which showcase what happening
here in the underground spaces and pop up galleries. Alexandra Moctezuma
is open to these kinds of proposals at the Mesa Collage Art
Gallery and the students from her Gallery case are often putting
together exhibitions at other venues like Space4Art. She
offers the only hands-on program in Museum Studies and Gallery Management. We need to encourage independent curators and I
might as well put in a plug for more independent art critics as well.
should be made to put together exhibitions so that each has at least two
venues for display – North, East, South or Central. Making the effort to
organize a really wonderful exhibition is wasted if it is not seen by more
people. It makes sense to travel
shows around the community especially when it take anywhere from 45
minutes to an hour and a half to get from North to South in our county. I
miss lots of local events, as I do try to cover the whole county, but with
fuel cost so high and public transportation so difficult, why not bring
the art to the people. These collaborations would also help unite our
community and I believe that is a strength that can produce more funding,
more energy and more audience. Maybe
this is happening somewhere in SD, but I have not noticed it.
Projects for Schools: Artists
should be proactive in organizing art initiative for schools, especially
those with under privileged students.
We are excited that the Artist
Teaching Institute is funded by the SD Foundation and should start in the fall. Bravo to Jennifer Oliver for working so
diligently to enable more artists to be professionally trained to teach.
But there are many spontaneous projects that could be happening as well.
For example, take a look at Janet Cooling and her latest
commission for the Harriet
Tubman Charter School in the SDSU College Area. The glass mosaic
painting will be 7’x19’ over the entrance of the school auditorium. She is
paying for supplies herself plus fundraising by selling works from her own
studio and SDSU students' art to fund this display which will add a level
of creative energy to this school that almost looks like a prison.
And speaking about funding, how about this new idea for SD called Pizza Parlay. Up until the Thursday before each Parlay, you can send proposals for creative projects that could use a bit of funding to raise them off the ground or to the next level. Pizza Parlay will take place one Sunday a month, usually the last. Parlay-goers will each receive a packet of proposals to review over pizza, and everyone will vote on site. Proceeds from the $12 per person cover donation will be granted to the winning proposal. The more people attend, the bigger the grant. Urbanistguide.com will announce the winner the Monday after the Parlay, and unlike most grants, winners will receive the award immediately. The locations vary each month but the next is Sunday April 29th, from 5-7pm at URBN Coal Fired Pizza & Bar 3085 University. At the last one $460 was awarded to Elias Sidney Blood won for a short film.
Artists every where should raise the bar and be challenged to make better art work…work that is challenging, exciting, emotionally saturated, honest, enlivening and reflective of our wishes and desires.
There are many who are taking the initiative and working on projects. Hats off to: Jolee Pink who started her own Encinitas Foodie Fest: to showcase artists and sustainability; Sandi Cottrell of Mission Federal Art Walk for giving student scholarships, this year to Stephanie Wang (SDVAN sponsors this with mentor training); to Sherri Fox of Trios Gallery for transforming an Encinitas storefront into a mini Trios a Go Go; to SmartSpace Gallery a brand new idea to locate art in modern executive office suites; to Girl Fest San Diego at Art Lab Studios for providing a space for individuals to create a vision of freedom; Sixteen Plus One Art the first show of a new space at the On Assignment Studios and Gallery. These are just a few of the items listed in our RAW column for April.