Thursday, November 06, 2008

MA Creative Economy Council leaves out artists

From my report on Massachusetts’ landmark Creative Economy Council law:
On October 8, Governor Deval Patrick signed a bill into law establishing the first state-level Creative Economy Council in the US. The formation of the 25-member board to support businesses "providing creative services" is a victory for a movement that's lobbied for government support for the arts, because they are an economic engine — not just a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

But the legislation, which was sponsored by long-time creative economy backer, Democratic representative Daniel Bosley of North Adams, left something out — any guaranteed seat for the architects, artists, filmmakers, computer-game creators, designers, and advertising folks it defines as the creative part of the creative economy.

The council's landmark status, people fear, could make the exclusion of creative workers a national model.
Read the rest here.

Read the 3-page law yourself here (pdf).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama victory party at GASP

In recent days, GASP gallery in Brookline, Massachusetts, solicited statements from people around the world about the change Barack Obama represents. Tonight the gallery projected the texts onto a building across Boylston Street from the gallery. And inside Obama supporters gathered to watch the election results – which just showed a victory for Obama.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

Mark Tribe’s political art

From my report on Mark Tribe’s “Port Huron Project”:
In the fall of 2005, when the artist and curator Mark Tribe began teaching at Brown University in Providence, he was struck by how little protest there was on campus at a time of war.

“My students appeared initially to me to be really apathetic,” Tribe, who is in New York while on sabbatical from Brown’s department of Modern Culture & Media, tells me. “I learned very quickly that they weren’t — that they in fact cared passionately about everything from Iraq to global warming to immigration policy, labor exploitation, in terms of outsourcing manufacturing to Southeast Asia. But they seemed to believe that resistance was futile, or at least that the kind of standard forms of protest that became well known during the Vietnam era were ineffective.”

Instead, his students taught English-as-a-Second-Language classes to “undocumented workers,” fought restrictions on music file sharing, and made documentary videos about Central and South America.

“I started just thinking about how protest had changed in the 40 years since the ’68 national Democratic convention in Chicago,” Tribe says, “or since 1966 when I was born.”

This led Tribe, who is best known for founding the prominent new media art news and archive Web site in 1996, to launch a series of six re-enactments of “New Left” Vietnam-era protest speeches by the likes of Stokely Carmichael, Angela Davis, Cesar Chavez [re-enactment pictured above], and Peter Potter, with actors delivering the original text at or near where the speech was first given. Tribe called it “The Port Huron Project,” after the 1962 manifesto for social justice, peace and community building by the Students for a Democratic Society when they formed in Port Huron, Michigan.

The project — part art, part protest — began in September 2006 with an actress standing before a modest crowd in New York’s Central Park, reciting a speech that Coretta Scott King gave three weeks after her husband was assassinated in 1968: “The work of peacemaking must continue until the last gun is silent.” The speeches (view them at Tribe’s Web site: call for racial equality, aid for the poor, and an end to the Vietnam War.

The speeches are moving — and disorienting. Tribe purposely selected texts that are alive in their parallels with today — particularly to the war in Iraq.

“Port Huron couldn’t be more timely,” says New York artist and curator Lee Wells, who included The Port Huron Project in an exhibit at New York’s Pace University last fall and is bringing it to upcoming exhibits in Russia. “Outside of them saying Vietnam, these same exact speeches could be given today.”
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Shepard Fairey in Cambridge

Shepard Fairey (above) postered Cambridge on Oct. 13. Here’s my report:
Fairey and his crew of three punky glue-spattered assistants (plus an art curator) pour out of a maroon mini-van and unload buckets of paste, brushes, a ladder, and a wheeled suitcase full of his screenprinted posters onto the sidewalk. It’s around 2 pm on a sunny, crisp October Monday. And the guys are preparing to poster two walls in bustling Harvard Square.

Fairey is one of the most famed street artists (the refined term for people who do what used to be known as graffiti) in the world. His work seems to be everywhere these days — and it actually is in the case of the iconic red-white-and-blue Barack Obama “Hope” poster that he produced this spring. The 38-year-old Los Angeles artist first gained notice nearly two decades ago as a student at Rhode Island School of Design when he began (illegally) plastering Providence — and then the world — with stickers featuring the wrestler (and actor in the 1987 film The Princess Bride) André the Giant. Later versions were amended with the word “Obey.”

“I realized that getting people to question all the imagery they’re inundated with daily,” Fairey says, “was something that was actually somewhat important to, I think, the way people communicate, and the way people can either question the use of public space or just passively submit. So then that’s why the idea of making an image that confronted people with the idea of obedience.”

Fairey is in Boston to check in with the Institute of Contemporary Art, which is scheduled to present his first solo museum show in February. “It’s now been almost 20 years that I’ve been doing street art, and using street art both as a way to showcase my art and put my politics across and I guess bypass the bureaucracy of the gallery system. Now I’ve been embraced by the gallery system, but it wasn’t because I pandered to the gallery system. It was because the gallery system relies on supply and demand, and I created a demand for my work by doing street art.”
Read the rest here.

In addition to the Harvard Square posters, the ICA lined up officially approved spaces for Fairey to poster at a Montgomery Street fence in Boston’s South End; the International Bicycle Center in Allston; the boutique Grand in Somerville’s Union Square; the graffiti wall around the corner from Central Kitchen in Cambridge’s Central Square.

Photos by The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research. A few more are here.