Day After Reading: Around the USA

Through a fun grapevine of New York professionals &  friends, I got connected with a graphic artist named Luodvic Balland to help with publicity for his project Day After Reading. Balland is traveling with a team of journalists, historians and supporters to interview people about the news. What is your earliest memory of the news? How do you get your news? etc. They started in New York City, went to Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis (where they got to be on the Washington University (aka WUSTL) campus during the debate that was also held there.

Now, I am helping to arrange interviews around the country, an exciting, fast-paced job for someone in a small town. I’ve gotten to speak to folks all around the country to see if they or a colleague or friend could be interviewed. Julie from Robert’s in Nashville is THE best! Jesse Lee Jones has a great story to tell, and I bet Julie does too.

The following city, in Memphis they were interviewed for a post on The Atlantic’s CityLab.

Today we interview the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, then go to the Texas State Fair! What do you recommend we eat while there, fellow Texans?

Afterward, they will head west to go to Marfa and Fort Davis to visit the Chinati foundation and McDonald Observatory, respectively. I would love to go out west with them, but I will stay in Waco for about 5 days, then go off to Columbus, Ohio for a community leaders initiative of NeighborWorks America.

They will then go on to New Orleans, Miami, and DC for the election. More to come!

Image: Claire Sexton, Dr. Tiffany Anthony, abdominal transplant surgeon, during her interview 10/12/16 at Baylor Medical Center Dallas.

The World We Live In

Mostly written July 8, finished and posted later

I was ruminating about doing a post on how arts fundraisers are done differently here in Waco than they are in NYC. Then, there was news of a man in Baton Rouge, Louisiana being shot and killed, on video. Discussing with a fellow board member of Cultural Arts of Waco, I said, “I don’t watch the videos.” I read about outrage, I read people’s accounts of the incidents but as much as I watch murder mysteries and action adventure movies with lots of fighting and shooting, I cannot bring myself to watch someone die in real life. And it is so unfortunate that I have a personal policy on this, because people kill people, and that we are in a place technologically to document everything. Then, Philando Castile was shot in his car in Minnesota. Now, there has been a mass shooting at a rally in Dallas. I am numb. I have a lot of things to do that have little to do with extrajudicial killings around the country, but it’s all I can think about.

Disproportionately, police officers kill black people. In numbers that don’t even close to match the numbers of white people killed by police. It is time for white people, especially white people in power  to admit that they have been conditioned to think of black people as scarier, more dangerous than white people. Or any race, if you think about it.

As Waco has recently commemorated 100 years since one of the most visible, documented lynchings in the area in history, I think about how far our society still needs to come. No, we don’t have regular hanging/burning/mutilations in public squares watched by half the city, but black people are regularly killed by police for seeming the slightest bit scary after doing a simple little thing that white people get away with all the time. Not that our justice system is exactly fair, but for fuck’s sake, give people the opportunity to go through it before just up and shooting them.

One thing I can and will do is put my body in addition to my voice out there to say that #blacklivesmatter. I will do as my friend Abbey suggests and observe any police interactions with people of color that I come across, especially men of color. I will support artists like Dread Scott who engage with issues of race and brutality, as with his “A Black Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday.”

The world we live in is one where I, a white, middle class hetero, cisgender woman, don’t have to engage in issues of prejudice very often. But I must, and I hope you will too, no matter who is reading. I have so many privileges based on where, when, how, and to whome I was born, that many others do not have, based on the same factors – none of our own choosing. Right now, I am poor. My husband is in school and I am working with a wonderful organization that pays me when it can, which is not always. I am so privileged to have this luxury, to work at a place that I love as mostly a volunteer and be able to survive. Why? Because we’ve got two sets of generous, loving, middle-class parents. My in-laws have housed us for nearly a year now and are now rearranging their entire house to make room for our son to have his own room. We buy groceries sometimes, pay our own phone & insurance bills (thanks Obama for the ACA!), and have the grandparents to babysit. My parents will be paying for part-time daycare in the fall so that our young son can have some time with other kids. This is all because of our privilege, most of it unearned. We are nice, honest hardworking people, but so are many, many people from other socioeconomic classes and skin colors who do not get the benefit of the doubt that kept us out of serious trouble when we were young and reckless. Rather than deny my privilege, I will use it as best I can to get basic human rights for other people too.


In Memoriam

In September 2011 a young man I had known as an intern at Art in General, Nicolas Djandji, died in a bike wreck. Neither of us were working at Art in General any longer, I had been laid off before he finished there, but he had landed an excellent curatorial internship at Dia Foundation and was impressing people there. I think of Nick often because he was a big fan of coffee and once told me he had his morning coffee in the shower. I scoffed and made fun of him at the time, but soon adopted the practice, and still do it occasionally, thinking of him every time. The story about him that sticks in my head is that he would often go on coffee runs (as an excuse to smoke a cigarette or two along the way) and always checked with everyone in the office if they wanted some. He usually went later than I liked to drink coffee, and he mostly went to Starbucks, not my favorite, so I generally said no thanks. Finally, one day I did want coffee, and when I said yes and gave him my order, he was so excited that he insisted in buying it for me, though he was the 23 year-old unpaid intern and I was earning a salary there.

He was sensitive, creative, kind, enthusiastic, and is greatly missed by all that knew him. I remember thanking the colleague who had interviewed and hired him at his memorial. Nick enriched many lives in his short time, and it’s odd to have only known him a little over a year, and not really know his very close friends. The early thing that we had in common was that he spent his formative tween & teen years in Sugarland, Texas (a suburb of my hometown, Houston) though his family was Egyptian and (I think) had lived in Montreal. While we were working together his family, including one of his two younger brothers moved to Dubai. His father worked for the oil industry and an opportunity had come up. Nick was pretty concerned for his younger brother, he’d been no fan of coming of age in a Texas suburb, but he felt that Dubai would be weirder/worse. So his family had to travel from Dubai for his memorial.

My brother died about 3 years later and we traveled to the rest of our family in Texas from Brooklyn. Both were senseless deaths, could have been prevented, if only…
But those are thoughts I cannot have, as there is no more “if only” in their cases just the reality of loss. Each of these young men is a great loss.

Photo via Art in General, from a performance art work by Božena Končić
Badurina. Nick Djandji is on the left.

Link Round Up #6

This is a very interesting article on Artsy about where art is really happening these days.

I think this is true, about factory jobs & unions.

This would have been a long way to travel, even when I was in Brooklyn, but it looks neat and the fact that they serve La Colombe coffee is all the reason you need to stop by if you’re in the area. (Holy crap, you can subscribe to get their coffee beans delivered to you weekly. Ultimate marvelous, delicious bourgeoisie luxury.)

Late-career artists you may never have heard of, from NYTimes.

A mid-career artist whose NewMu show I’d loooove to see.

Both turrible and hilarious.

Cleveland is big in the news lately, no?


Great advice for artists.



Having left New York City in the past year, I’ve been especially attuned to people I know and know of going to new cities from NYC. First, before me, was my grad school classmate & pal, Christina Vassallo leaving NYC and Flux Factory for Spaces Cleveland a couple years ago. Now, another Brooklynite is leaving, for Philadelphia. My former coworker (via Art in General) Andria Hickey leaves NYC and the Public Art Fund for Cleveland – this time to the MOCA. Cleveland folks – go see the Mark Mothersbaugh* show when it opens. I caught the Contemporary Austin version last month and really enjoyed it!


New to Waco, but already coming from Texas are some Baylor Museums people – Alison Chew Syltie came to the Martin Museum of Art from Corsicana, where she was previously at Navarro College’s Pearce Museum. The Mayborn Museum welcomed a new director around the same time, Charles Walter from San Antonio’s DoSeum.

Speaking of migrations – is there any news from DMA about who will replace Max Anderson?

*fun fact: I walked down the aisle to a Mark Mothersbaugh composition – from Royal Tenenbaums – at my wedding.

Top photo by Nan Palmero via New York Magazine. Texas photo via The Crazy Tourist.


Art on Elm Avenue: April 9, 2016


Old Waco architecture on Elm Ave, the historic main street of the local African American community during times of segregation, subsequently neglected. This building can’t be used for Art on Elm, a pop up art festival & exhibition April 9 – because it is tagged by the city as unsafe. We will however be using other buildings nearby for exhibitions, and closing down the street for the bands and vendors and art activities at the 1-day, all-day (10 am-5 pm) festival. 


Linksies #5

It’s been a while. Finally went to the Gustave Caillebotte show at the Kimbell, it was fantastic (open until Feb. 14, go!).
I’ve been saving links for a while though, so enjoy:

I’m Waco famous!

Guerilla Girls interviewed on Stephen Colbert.

Made me laugh  (via Go Fug Yourself).

David Bowie GIFs (via ArtFCity).

Black Thought on his early days  (New York Mag feature it is a part of via Cup of Jo).

A very specific scenario re: saving for a rainy day.

Relationship advice.

Common nonprofit terms & what they really mean (too true!)

Great Bill Cunningham piece about blizzard fashion (via Brent Burket).

Photo: Selfie with Piano Pavilion. Note: no coat on Jan. 30!