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 whom 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 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?

Top image: Lakwena‘s BE BAD UNTIL YOU’RE GOOD. AND GOOD UNTIL YOU’RE GREAT

Great advice for artists.

Migrations

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!

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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

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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!

Vanity Fair Lists, Polls, JMB

Spotted a magazine cover of Jean-Michel Basquiat in the grocery store last week and obviously had to have it, even though it was $15 damn dollars and I’m making peanuts at two part time jobs that don’t even add up to 1 half-time job.

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Look at that face. I luff him.

Vanity Fair’s Art and Artists 2015/16 Special Edition, which I resolved to read by Friday and review shortly after. But I was put off to start, they start out with an article about a poll they did of 100 artists and art tastemakers on the most important living artists…in 2013. I guess it’s really a 2015/16 collection of articles that have appeared in VF – it includes many articles by Ingrid Sischy, who died in July 2015. And it says “display until February 2016” so for all I know it’s been on display for 6 months.

I hate narrowing down lists so I know it would be hard to pick 100 people to ask but I had my issues with those they asked (only 54 of whom participated). I am tempted to come up with a list of people I’d like to ask who I should look out for. So, not who is most (or least) anything, but who are you – someone I admire – interested in, excited about, wanting to share. Things rumbling in the brain, more soon.

Image via @StArtEverywhere.

 

Link Roundup, Issue 4

I had a great, relaxing holiday season, how about you? The 3 of us hung out at my parents’ place in Arlington, TX with my brother and small cast of assorted old friends for Christmas. (Through all kinds of weather, see above photo for proof, the Friday pictured was Xmas Day.) Then for New Year’s Eve just us adults went down to Austin and spent time with other assorted old friends then hopped down to San Antonio to kick it with sister- and brother-in-law. God bless happily babysitting grandparents! Then yesterday we went and saw Kehinde Wiley: A new Republic at the FW Modern. So good, and closes Sunday! The show was at Brooklyn Museum earlier in 2015 and will subsequently travel to the Virginia Museum of Fine Art later this year.

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Below, a The Toast-heavy linky list:

Confession: New York City took my marshmallows.

The most powerless people in the art world, from Hyperallergic.

On emotional labor, revelatory on its own but do some more reading, mmkay?

Best of Art F City in 2015.

18 Children’s books with female main characters, from Cup of Jo.

Catching up with friends in other ways than getting drinks or coffee.

Hot dudes…of color, helloooo nurse!

Marvelous cousin doing important research, quoted in WaPo, and the original HBR article that piqued their interest.

Recently hooked on Jessica Jones – article contains sorta spoilers, but watch the show and read the article.

Houston, Part 3

It was a beautiful Tuesday morning in Houston in September. Auntie Julie and I went for a swim at her local outdoor pool (which stays open year-round! New Yorkers take note). After a shower and lunch I was off to the musum district again, this time to go to Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, or CAMH, where a longtime acquaintance now works. The show was Texas Design Now, timed, I suspect, with Design Week. It was a great show, full of wonderful stuff in nearly every media by people I’d never heard of. The Houston Chronicle did a nice review (though unfortunately they have a subscriber paywall).

I first encountered Dean Daderko, now a curator at CAMH,  when he was helping friend & colleague Tara Mateik install an exhibition at Art in General and I was Tara’s intern, around 2006. Dean has been at CAMH for 4 years and loves Houston. Another mark in the “pro Houston” camp! I was very impressed with the exhibition in the basement, Whispering Bayou, a collaboration between  Carroll Parrott Blue, Jean-Baptiste Barrière, and George Lewis. An interactive video installation, when you walk up to a screen it begins to play interwoven clips of people talking about growing up around the bayou, a phenomenon I’m familiar with.
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We bumped into another curator friend of Dean’s, coming over from MFAH because of the excellence of CAMH’s packed shop. Networking!

Though I was set to head off to Waco again that afternoon, I could not resist popping in to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (aforementioned MFAH) to see their recently opened Mark Rothko show (open through Jan. 24!). With a stop in the James Turrell tunnel installation it made for the second Turrell I experienced in as many days.

Houston and Mark Rothko, of course! It was great, I’d never seen his early, more figurative work. It was a lovely show and a good visit to the museum. The last time I was there was while MoMA was renovating and sent parts of their collection on a tour. The first time I ever saw Starry Night was there.

A semi quick stop in the museum shop and 3 Christmas presents later, I was on my way to my old neighborhood of Sharpstown for a cruise. On the way out of town I stopped for a Vietnamese iced coffee and a Doughssaint (aka Cronut, my first!) in Chinatown, which I’d forgotten was so close to my childhood home. Another mark in the pro column for Houston.