Conversations with a Curator: Douglas Laustsen (Part 2)

Posted by Ian David Moss On August - 16 - 2011

Ian David Moss

In the spirit of the recent conversation on ArtsBlog, Emerging Ideas: Seeking and Celebrating the Spark of Innovation, I thought it would be interesting to talk to a curator about how he makes room for the unfamiliar in his work.

Douglas Laustsen is a music educator and trombonist based in New Jersey who runs a radio program called “Endless Possibilities” on WRSU, Rutgers University’s college radio station. We decided to continue a discussion we began on Twitter a few months ago about curatorship and new music.

Our discussion was published in two parts here on ARTSblog:

You mentioned that the recordings people send you tend to be more polished than you expected. On the one hand, that perhaps makes for a better listening experience, but on the other, it perhaps gets away a little bit from the original vision for Explorations. How do you negotiate that tension in your curation process?

It is interesting, to me at least, that I’ve had to be more concerned with creating a ceiling for the segment than a floor. Luckily, I have space during the rest of my show to feature music I don’t find appropriate for Explorations, and I have played submissions outside of Explorations as a way to promote a piece and maintain the spirit of the segment. Clearly there is a lot gray area in making this determination, but over time my familiarity with the new music world has made this judgement a lot easier. Read the rest of this entry »

Conversations with a Curator: Douglas Laustsen (Part 1)

Posted by Ian David Moss On August - 15 - 2011

Ian David Moss

In the spirit of the recent conversation on ArtsBlog, Emerging Ideas: Seeking and Celebrating the Spark of Innovation, I thought it would be interesting to talk to a curator about how he makes room for the unfamiliar in his work.

Douglas Laustsen is a music educator and trombonist based in New Jersey who runs a radio program called “Endless Possibilities” on WRSU, Rutgers University’s college radio station. We decided to continue a discussion we began on Twitter a few months ago about curatorship and new music.

Our discussion will be published in two parts here on ARTSblog:

Tell us a little bit about your radio show – what is it? How did it come to be, and how did you get involved?

“Endless Possibilities” is a weekly radio program I have hosted since 2008 on WRSU, the college radio station of Rutgers University. I began hosting shows on WRSU in 2005 with a wildly free form show called ‘Trivial Pursuits.”

My initial motivation was to interact with music in a very non-academic way because I was beginning to feel some conservatory burn out. As fun as it was to segue Pierrot Lunaire into London Calling into Hauschka, I eventually limited the format of my show and renamed it “Endless Possibilities.” While I don’t restrict myself from playing any specific genres, the core of each show is decidedly contemporary art music. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Salon Wrap-Up: Leading Through Innovation

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On July - 29 - 2011
Stephanie Evans Hanson

Stephanie Evans Hanson

Innovation happens at the local level. Despite budget cuts and debt ceiling debates that currently seem to take over our news media, we have seen strong examples of impactful innovation in our field through the projects profiled this week on ARTSBlog. I use the term “impactful innovation” because if a great project or idea is created and doesn’t have impact, what was the point? Ryan Hurley gives a great example of an innovation that may not have resulted in lasting impact or change.

This week we have learned about innovative fundraising strategies that leveraged more dollars for youth in an underserved community, a theater experience that is engaging communities in a new way, and a dance company that serves not only the community at large, but builds the career capacity of the dancers and choreographers themselves.

We’ve also discussed some of the challenges in finding the resources to support innovative work, learned about a local arts agency that is partnering with the healthcare industry to serve a wider community, and we’ve got proof that innovation doesn’t just happen in big cities on the coasts. We also celebrated the curators of our field whose job it is to seek out innovative ideas and develop strategies for supporting them. Read the rest of this entry »

Blog Salon Reflections: Art, Enterprise, & Equity

Posted by Ebony McKinney On July - 29 - 2011

Ebony McKinney

“We are witnessing new practices and challenges to old assumptions.” ~ Ben Cameron during the closing keynote at this year’s Americans for the Arts Annual Convention.

A sector transformation is underway. Today’s arts administrators, activists, and cultural entrepreneurs are fashioning new routes to mission fulfillment, while contending with diminishing grant funds, demographic and technological shifts, and audience erosion. The relevance of institutions is being challenged as much of the sector experiments with new opportunities for practice and participation. The expanding definition of ‘the who, how, and where’ is evident.

The role of enterprise in this shift is of great interest to me. This fall I’ll begin a graduate program focused on how to create the infrastructure and environment needed for cultural and creative enterprise to flourish. I know for some arts and enterprise are conflicting ideas – enterprise represents the commercial, the shallow, the crude and calculated manipulation and manufacture of cultural, creative, or artistic product, but I think that enterprise can encourage resilience, flexibility, and empowerment inside and outside of institutions. Read the rest of this entry »

Having a Girl Living in a Bubble Inside My Apartment for a Week Changed My Life

Posted by Philippa P.B. Hughes On July - 29 - 2011

Art Really Can Change Your Life! from The Pink Line Project on Vimeo.

“For one week, artist Agnes Bolt moved into the home of the very sociable and curious Philippa Hughes to playfully explore the dynamics between an artist and an art collector. With a naive optimism and subtle social critique the project manifested itself with a large obtrusive structure situated within Philippa’s home in which the artist lived.

The presence of the artist was impossible to ignore. A series of rules, exercises, communication systems, and bonding experiences dictated the interactions between the two and video cameras were given to both parties. Both were required to follow the rules but mischief and expectations of an open spirited dynamic was highly encouraged. Read the rest of this entry »

Leadership: Through the Eyes of Youth

Posted by Angela Harris On July - 29 - 2011

Angela Harris

Prior to starting my company, I worked at a couple of places, which will remain nameless, where leadership meant ruling the company through one set of eyes.

On one occasion, I was told by the board president that I couldn’t come to meetings because of my youth and (assumed) inexperience. There was another time where I was reprimanded by a boss for suggesting alternative ways to market, because she thought I was putting her ways down.

I have always said that I am thankful for all of my work experiences, especially the dysfunctional ones, because I have learned exactly what NOT to do. Now, leading my own company, I often take the time to reflect on my past experiences, and this week, I had the chance to observe 20 incredibly talented youth demonstrate the power that creativity has on transforming and developing leadership capabilities.

As a leader, sometimes being part of the team is just as important as delegating. Building up other members of the team to feel confident in their leadership abilities should enhance the company, not serve as grounds for a power struggle. Working as a cohesive unit sometimes requires leaving your tenure at the door, and being open to hearing, learning, and communicating with everyone in your organization, without letting your status trump that of someone younger or less experienced. Read the rest of this entry »

The Simplicity Approach

Posted by Shelby Morrison On July - 29 - 2011

Shelby Morrison

Hello again! It’s been so exciting to participate in this blog salon; to connect, to engage, and to exchange.

Writing and thinking about innovation is interesting. I think on an individual level and an organizational level, I/we haven’t always sought out to be “innovative” and much as we’ve strived to be “creative.”

The two concepts tend to go hand-in-hand, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard of an innovative idea that wasn’t creative, and vice versa. It’s a hard thing to constantly strive toward innovation and creativity. Sometimes these things just happen – that magic “Aha!” moment.

Those moments seem to come from having a conscious approach to the way we do our work; a conscious approach to considering the goals, outcomes, objectives, and constituents. Some solutions are simpler than others, and these are our favorite innovations. Read the rest of this entry »

From Art Auctions to Art Lotteries: A Better Way to Fundraise?

Posted by June Rogers On July - 29 - 2011

June Rogers

Reading the blog entry by Stephanie Evans Hanson that focused on the beginnings of new methods through close observance of our conversations reminded me that changes employed by Fairbanks Arts Association (FAA) on the issue of art-for-sale at fundraisers started with conversations.

One of my previous posts told of FAA’s new direction for art auctions and our concern about the value of an artist’s work in local galleries and the success that was realized with the new direction. However, we’ve gone a step further and paid heed to suggestions from two of our members, each bringing the same suggestion from two different cities – an art sale by lottery.

One person had attended an event in Denver and the other had attended a similar event in San Francisco. The event is simple and focused – art is for sale. The innovation that puts a spin on the event is offering the work for sale through lottery. (In Alaska we need a gaming permit from the state to conduct this event so check on your state requirements before embarking on this idea.) Read the rest of this entry »

Diversity: Not Just for White Guilt Anymore

Posted by Robbie Q. Telfer On July - 29 - 2011

Robbie Q. Telfer

An important principal to the Encyclopedia Show is diversity. I had mentioned earlier diversity of artistic genre – we try to get not only poets, but solo performance artists, visual artists, creative nonfiction and fiction writers, musicians, comedians, live animals, experts on the topic, jugglers, etc…

Demographic diversity is also extremely important to us. We have youth perform in every show, as well as people coming from as many different communities as possible – and in hyper-segregated Chicago, that might mean more. A larger goal of our show is to replicate all human emotions, so we’re trying to bring in all humans.

The key to diversity, though, is not to tokenize people from outside my demographic (white guy), but to try honestly to understand the values of the different communities I am pulling from and featuring only excellent representatives.

It makes for a bad show if you don’t care how the non-white guy’s pieces turn out just because you feel guilty about institutionalized racism. Also, tokenism is infantilizing and deeply insulting. Read the rest of this entry »

Why I Do the Work: Virtues, Bones, & Tolerance

Posted by Naomi Natale On July - 28 - 2011

Naomi Natale

Last September, I went to East San Jose Elementary School here in my hometown of Albuquerque, NM. While there I spoke with over 200 fourth and fifth grade students in six classes.

For the three weeks before I visited, the students had been studying “virtues” under the guidance of their teacher, Amy Sweet, who heard about One Million Bones, loves the project, and wanted to bring it into her classroom.

Together we began the lesson by asking the students about their virtues — which ones they possess, which ones their friends possess, etc. — and asking what acts they do that show them off. We then asked the question,  “How do we find the virtues in people that we don’t really like?”

All of us together decided that virtues are very much like bones, that though we cannot see them we know that they exist and that they make us who we are. We also decided that EVERYBODY has virtues just like EVERYBODY has bones. And then we began the process of art-making. Read the rest of this entry »

The Nexus of “The Arts” and “Entertainment”

Posted by Angela Harris On July - 28 - 2011

Angela Harris

I read Robbie Telfer’s insightful post about the tie between the arts and entertainment. I am reminded of a conversation that I recently had about the effect that So You Think You Can Dance and similar commercialized entertainment has had on the dance community.

For many years, I was so frustrated with how dance was being portrayed on television. I disliked the judges’ comments. It would irritate me that the show would highlight those dancers that could do tricks and entertain the crowd by kicking their leg to their head, instead of the technically trained dancers.

I feared that the new interest by the general public in these shows would make audiences under-whelmed if they were to experience a live concert dance performance and not see back flips. If this trend was taking over the public’s perception of dance, would other artists begin conforming? Would we in jeopardy of losing the artistry of our discipline?

But, after numerous questions from the general public, such as, “Do you watch So You Think You Can Dance?” and “What do you think of Mia Michaels choreography?” I realized that not only could this show be a teaching tool and an opening to dialogue about dance, but it could be a great promotional tool to get audiences to see live dance performances. Read the rest of this entry »

Entertainment is Survival (and a crowbar?)

Posted by Robbie Q. Telfer On July - 28 - 2011

Robbie Q. Telfer

I often encounter so-called “serious” artists who scoff at the idea that what they’re doing is entertaining. Art should raise up its audience, not stoop to meet them.

I certainly agree that art must challenge audiences, but if you’re not considering the entry points for your audience, then you’re not a serious artist at all. You might just be an insecure gatekeeper.

Essentially, entertainment is a contract of considerate communication with strangers. Entertainment is not a distraction or empty goal. Entertainment is noble; it is the way we survive our mortality without slipping into depression.

To produce events with entertainment in mind means you are interested in your audience enjoying and receiving the messages you want to proffer. This is what I’ve learned from the initial concept behind the poetry slam created by Marc Smith, and used as a foundation for the Encyclopedia Show: if you are not creating art to commune with an audience, then you are creating art that you think people should be obligated to digest. Read the rest of this entry »

The 53rd Street Community Garden

The goal of the 53rd Street Community Garden was to create a sustainable community garden with colorful artistic components and outdoor classrooms. Students would utilize this outdoor space to discover scientific exploration of plants, insects, and animals, while fostering a respect for the neighborhood.

Although this project is still pretty fresh and constantly evolving, we have seen an amazing community effort in building a space where education, cultivation, and neighborhood come together. It has been beautiful to have a place where teachers can bring their classrooms outside to plant vegetables, where community members tend to their plots and interact with the youth, and where two schools that rarely socialize now have some common ground.

We are currently working with the school on plans for developing a culinary arts program, installing a gazebo, and scheduling a community harvest event. We are excited about expanding the school/community garden model, which we’ve named Growing Great Gardens (3G), to other Milwaukee Public Schools. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for Examples of Innovation Outside the Arts

Posted by Jaime Austin On July - 28 - 2011

Jaime Austin

ZER01 is an arts organization based in Silicon Valley, a place renowned globally as a hub of entrepreneurship and innovation. So lately I’ve been pondering the questions: How can the arts more visibly contribute to this culture of innovation? And how can we as an arts organization better reflect the area where we are based?

One of the main projects I work on is organizing the ZER01 Biennial. The fourth iteration of the biennial will take place in September 2012. Any organization that plans a biennial should always ask the question “why another biennial?” each time they embark on another planning cycle.

Recently, biennials are a dime a dozen. There are the longstanding biennials like Venice and Sao Paulo, and then there are a growing number of new biennials that are often used as vehicles to put non art centers on the map.

In my mind, one key to a successful biennial is that it reflects the location and history of where it is based. For example, the ZER01 Biennial in San Jose is a relatively new biennial. San Jose isn’t Venice or Istanbul or Sao Paulo. It’s the capital of Silicon Valley. Being situated here has inspired me, as the curator/organizer, to experiment with models outside of the arts so that the structure of the biennial more closely reflects the modes of operation that thrive here. Read the rest of this entry »

Oklahoma: A New Frontier for Arts, Culture, & Innovation

Posted by Tiffany Barber On July - 28 - 2011

Price Tower Arts Center

One of the wonderful things I’m re-discovering about Oklahoma is that art, culture, and innovation aren’t just thriving in OKC, but all across the state!

Tulsa, the state’s second largest city, is chock full of arts and culture innovators – from the Greenwood Cultural Center to the Philbrook Museum, which is currently exhibiting a collection of Robert Rauschenburg’s iconic prints, multiples, and other projects that resulted from his long-term relationship with Los Angeles-based publishing workshop, Gemini G.E.L.

Tulsa’s Living Arts, a unique contemporary art space, organizes an annual New Genre Festival with the support of the Warhol Foundation and the National Performance Network. Going on its 19th year, the New Genre Festival brings provocative contemporary art and performance to Oklahoma and endeavors to challenge the preconceptions around the role of art in culture by supporting artists working in nontraditional media, action-based performance, and unsanctioned guerilla methods. Read the rest of this entry »

Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.