Literary District in Boston

August 22nd, 2014

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Good news, word-lovers:

This week the Massachusetts Cultural Council voted to approve the Literary Cultural District in Boston – the second state-designated cultural district in Boston and the nation’s first cultural district dedicated to literary activity. The effort to create the district was spearheaded by Eve Bridburg of the literary service organization GrubStreet. GrubStreet’s offices reside in the district, which “runs from Copley Square to Downtown Boston and is also home to the Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, and the annual Boston Book Festival.”

Read more about the district.

Media: “Read any good books lately?” by Challenger23.

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Studio Views: Judith Klausner

August 22nd, 2014

Judith Klausner work revels in the minutia of the world. She has recently taken a great artistic and personal risk with her new series Coming Out of the Medicine Cabinet.  Here she graciously offers us a peek into her studio.

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Lorazepam (view 1); 2.75″×1.5″×1.5″; prescription pill bottle, Swarovski crystals;
2014

I have not naturally been an organized person with my space, but over the last year I’ve really been trying to turn that around. After nearly 3 years of my “studio” mostly consisting of taking over the dining room table, I finally did an overhaul of the space intended to be my studio since I moved into this apartment 3 years ago. It’s a small but beautiful nook full of natural light; I’m very lucky to have two skylights and a big window overlooking the neighborhood.

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The windows help particularly on days when I’m working nonstop and never make it out of the house; I don’t feel like I’ve missed it quite as much when I can see the sky and feel the breeze.

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I took a page from my partner’s book (and borrowed his label-maker), and sorted all of my supplies into labeled plastic bins (visitors are often amused by the sometimes bizarre labels my odd materials have produced.) A customizable Ikea shelving unit provided the perfect storage framework while not taking up too much of my limited footprint, and I was even able to include a little display case. The case has been especially helpful with the new series I’ve been working on, “Coming Out of the Medicine Cabinet.

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The work tackles issues of taboo around medication use and chronic medical conditions, using the visual vocabulary of jewelry to transform medical ephemera from objects often hidden away and viewed with shame into glittering showpieces meant to be seen. Because of the materials I’m using (Swarovski crystals and gold leaf, among others) having the lighted case helps me view the pieces in an appropriate context.

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Red Albuterol Inhaler (view 1); 2.5″×1.25″×1.75″; albuterol inhaler, Swarovski crystals; 2013

Because I tend to work with many media within a series (with my previous series “From Scratch” it included all different types of food, while current materials include crystals, resin, clay, and leafing), my worktable does get a bit incoherent looking. One thing all of my work processes seem to have in common is obsessive detail (and neck pain.) Right now my windowsill is lined with prescription pill bottles, I have what looks like a tiny clothesline across the back of the table with resin-dipped pills on pins hanging from it, and periodically bits of the floor sparkle with renegade rhinestones.

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While my workspace can look like a bit of a glitzfest, this series is actually the most personal work I’ve done. Because I’m publically displaying my own health conditions (including chronic pain and psychiatric conditions), I’m making myself vulnerable with my art in a way I never have before. It’s both terrifying and exhilarating in a way I feel speaks to the root of what it means to me to be an artist.

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Image credits: Images of studio courtesy of Judith Klausner. Photograph of Red Albuterol Inhaler (view 1); 2.5″×1.25″×1.75″; albuterol inhaler, Swarovski crystals; 2013, by Steve Pomeroy. Photograph of Lorazepam (view 1); 2.75″×1.5″×1.5″; prescription pill bottle, Swarovski crystals; 2014, by Steve Pomeroy.

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Artist Opportunities Grand Prix

August 19th, 2014

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Navigate ArtSake’s radius at your own speed.

Free Memoir Class and Publication Opportunity for Dorchester Senior Citizens. Grub Street Writing Center and Mayor Walsh’s Memoir Project class returns to Dorchester. The Memoir Project honors the stories of Boston’s residents aged 60 and older by teaching the basics of memoir writing. Learning these skills will give participants a practical and meaningful way to turn memories into coherent narratives with lasting value. An essay from each participant will be published in a collected volume. The free class will run September 18 – November 13 on Thursdays from 10:00am – 1:00pm (with lunch provided) at the Irish Pastoral Centre (15 Rita Road in Dorchester). There is no writing experience necessary, just life experience. Must be a resident of Dorchester. Space is limited. Call to reserve a seat with Greg Josselyn at 617-635-4250 or gregory.josselyn@boston.gov. For more information: cityofboston.gov/elderly

Digital Documentary Storytelling The MIT Open Documentary Lab is now accepting applications for its Fellows Program. Visiting Fellowship positions are non-compensated appointments established to provide the opportunity for artists, technologists, and scholars to participate in a rich exchange with members of the Open Documentary Lab, the wider MIT community and other visiting fellows and artists. Learn more.
Deadline: September 1, 2014

Photographers The Center for Fine Art Photography in Fort Collins Colorado is now accepting entries for their international call. The juror is Shane Lavalette. Learn more
Deadline: September 3, 2014

Call for Performers Applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Vermont Performance Showcase to be held on Thursday, November 20th at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT. Learn more.
Deadline: September 3, 2014

Performing Artists’ Grants The USArtists International provides support for American dance, music, and theater ensembles and solo artists from across the country who have been invited to perform at significant international festivals and, new this year, performing arts markets anywhere in the world outside the United States and its territories. Learn more.
Deadline: September 5, 2014

Printmakers The IPCNY is now accepting entries for New Prints 2014/Autumn, their 49th New Prints Exhibition. Juror is Nicola López, an artist and printmaker who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY and teaches at Columbia University. Only original fine art (limited edition and unique) prints are eligible; reproductions of other artwork such as drawings or paintings are not acceptable. Videos, installations and other projects using printmaking as a major component are acceptable. Learn more.
Deadline: September 15, 2014 (11:59 PM)

Fiction Author Rick Bass will serve as the judge for Whitefish Review’s fiction prize — “The Rick Bass/Montana Prize for Fiction.” First place winner of the fiction prize will receive a $1,000 and be published in #16 to be released December 2014. All submissions will be considered for publication, but only one story will be awarded the prize. Learn more.
Deadline: September 15, 2014

Visual Artists Fund The Clark Hulings Fund for Visual Artists considers proposals from professional artists who have secured tangible prospects for advancing their careers, but lack sufficient financial resources to capitalize on those opportunities. Examples include but are not limited to: the completion of work due to a gallery, museum, or private collection, the transportation of work or of the artist to an exhibition of that artist’s material, the management of logistical or technical requirements to realize a project, etc. Learn more.
Deadline: September 30, 2014

Filmmakers The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship is now accepting applications. The fellowship assists emerging documentary editors by developing their talent, expanding their creative community, and furthering their career aspirations. Emerging documentary editors who have cut at least one feature documentary (longer than 60 minutes) but no more than three and are based in the U.S. are eligible to apply. Learn more
Deadline: September 30, 2014

Image credit: Image of Keith’s bicycle track, 1901, from the Museum of the City of New York

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Three Stages: Charlotte Meehan

August 15th, 2014

Charlotte Meehan, Artistic Director of the interdisciplinary theatre group Sleeping Weazel, is about to premiere her play 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues (8/30-9/13, 8 PM, at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre), the second in a trilogy of plays called The Problem with People. Here, she traces the sometimes nonlinear journey of creating that trilogy, through three stages in the process.

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Inspiration

It seems I do everything out of order – or at least sideways. My mother always says I got around until 14 months old by scooting backwards on my butt. When I started writing the first play of my trilogy, The Problem with People, for a long time I just jotted down phrases and then lines until, finally, I attributed them to characters whom I called A, B, C, D, E and HER. Looking back, it makes sense that I didn’t name those characters, as that play, Sweet Disaster, was inspired by my late husband David Hopkins’ animated film series of the same title, by our having lived in downtown Manhattan during the tragedy of 9/11, and by his subsequent diagnosis and death from terminal cancer. Although those characters are very much individuals in many ways, they are also shards of all of us who have experienced the kind of trauma that marks one’s life to the extent that some parts of memory never return. It’s as if there’s a large puzzle in the brain, the pieces one day get tossed up in the air, and even after they’ve landed again, they never quite fit back together the same way. The image I’ve always dreamed into Sweet Disaster is one of my having taken words off all the papers that flew out of the two buildings on 9/11 and re-purposing them as ruins of scenes put together for the survivors.

The second play, 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues, currently in rehearsal for an August 30 opening at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, was inspired by my need to look at depression, which Isd_detailpic1-1 have myself, from an aerial view. In conducting my research, dollar store books such as Banishing the Blues, Happiness, and Why Your Life Sucks and What You Can Do About It took equal billing with sociologist Eva Illouz’s Oprah Winfrey and the Glamour of Misery. I also watched many episodes of Dr. Phil, The Millionaire Matchmaker, and even Maury Povich. Of course all of these sources make a delicious recipe for satire, but on top of that I became more and more aware, through television commercials for new anti-depressants and many products designed to “make you happier,” that in America’s free-market enterprise system even people’s sadness and pain can be preyed upon by opportunists looking to make a buck. While 27 Tips is indeed a very funny play, it’s also a searing indictment of a system that allows the mentally ill to be cheated by promises of healing that only line the pockets of those selling the “cure.”

The final play, Real Realism, is a microtonal view of the lives we are living today in minute-to-minute, ADD-causing increments rather than the two-hour, real-time dramas that continue to be called Realism since the days of Eugene O’Neill, Arthur Miller, and Tennessee Williams. In Real Realism, the five characters mostly pass right by whatever is said to them with an expression of their own immediate need, or by giving advice via string theory and Evolutionary biology, in a style of associative response rather than linear conversation. Basically, the play acts as a mirror to the cultural psyche splitting caused by a bombardment of too many things to do and too much information overcrowding our daily lives. These five characters, who are eventually named, find themselves in some kind of undisclosed treatment center where there is no therapist and they are left to sort themselves out on their own. Essentially, there is no hope for them except in coming to terms with their own demons and that is a tall order in the late Capitalist paradigm they – and we – inhabit. Still, in Real Realism, the five characters eventually become named, as they are meant to represent us in the most full-bodied way of the three plays and we are meant to recognize ourselves in the need to take responsibility for making a better world.

Challenges

For a long time I said to myself that I get what I deserve (very few productions) for writing these doggedly idiosyncratic plays that very few people understand on the page. Yet each time one of my plays has been produced, audiences largely do understand them, relate to the characters, and experience the kind of emotional transformation I am seeking to create through my writing. After the successful 2008 premiere of Sweet Disaster at the former Perishable Theatre in Providence, I sent the play to numerous theatres in New York and around the country, but gradually came to realize (after receiving high level rejection letters and, in some cases, no response at all) that it was simply not going to be taken on by any of them. If only they could have seen Kenneth Prestininzi’s visionary production, they would get it, I thought. But that’s not how it works.

En route to the Sweet Disaster premiere in 2008, I was lucky to be nominated for the Alpert Award, to receive a Howard Foundation fellowship in playwriting, and to be sent by the Alpert Foundation for a MacDowell Colony residency where I wrote the first draft of 27 Tips for Banishing the Blues. So, before the discouragement of no further productions for Sweet Disaster came upon me, I had already embarked on another play populated by character shards and fractured narrative. Aside from an artist residency and workshop production offered me at Dixon Place (NY) in 2010, 27 Tips was met with the same enthusiastic rejection that Sweet Disaster had received.

Stubborn as I am, I set out to write Real Realism anyway. After all, I had the idea to do it and there was no stopping me in spite of the fact that this play would surely not be produced. At the beginning of my writing process, playwright Jeffrey Jones asked me to submit something to his Little Theatre salon that takes place monthly at Dixon Place and I sent him the first nine pages. In June 2011, director Vanessa Gilbert and I presented the first fifteen minutes of the play there with a group of actors we brought with us from Providence and Massachusetts. It was that summer I realized I must re-launch Sleeping Weazel, the company my late husband and I had founded in 1998 to put on our productions in New York and the UK. Three former Wheaton College playwriting students and I worked toward a January 2012 launch party, Adara Meyers has stayed on as Managing Director, and the rest is history.

Culmination

RealRealismflower_modThe Problem with People trilogy has been ten years in the making. My means of writing plays, which is essentially to create interdisciplinary dramatic collages for the stage, necessitates that I design a unique means of production to match each of them. In keeping with my non-linear mindset, I decided to unveil the plays of The Problem with People in reverse order, and Sleeping Weazel premiered the final play, Real Realism, directed by Vanessa Gilbert in June 2013 at The Factory Theatre. 27 Tips is about to open, under Kenneth Prestininzi’s direction and with scenic and projection design by Seaghan McKay, through a residency generously provided by Kate Snodgrass at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. As always, I am sitting on the precipice of culmination rather than resting at the end of its passing shadow, but perhaps that is the nature of my own life drama – or the way I have invented it. Nonetheless, culmination implies death for me, so it’s probably best to keep living in the middle of the scene. I am already thinking about my next play, Cleanliness, Godliness, and Madness: A User’s Guide, a multimedia hootenanny that will have no fans in the Tea Party.

27 Tips for Banishing the Blues by Charlotte Meehan opens at Boston Playwrights’ Theatre (8/30, 8 PM), and will run through 9/13.

Charlotte Meehan is Artistic Director of Sleeping Weazel and Playwright-in-Residence at Wheaton College (MA). Her stage works have been presented in Providence at Perishable Theatre, in Bristol (UK), and in New York at Dixon Place, the Flea Theater, La MaMa, Bleecker Street Theatre, and Pratt Institute, among others. She has been a resident artist in HERE Arts Center’s HARP program and Perishable Theatre’s RAPT program, was a 2008-09 Howard Foundation fellow in playwriting, and was awarded an Alpert/MacDowell Colony residency through the Herb Alpert Foundation.

Images: photos of 27 TIPS FOR BANISHING THE BLUES (l-r, Stephanie Burlington Daniels (Astrologer), Elise Morrison (Nutritionist), and R. Bobby (Famous Chef), photo by Steven H. Bell; SWEET DISASTER (l-r, Elise Morrison, Luis Astudillo, Elizabeth Keiser), photo by Sara Ossana; and REAL REALISM (l-r, Andrew Tung, Alex Dhima, Jennifer Welsh, Veronica Wiseman, James Barton), photo by David Marshall.

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Real People in Your Art

August 14th, 2014

Roughly once a month, we pose questions to artists about their work and lives. We recently asked a group of artists, What special challenges do you face when incorporating real people from your life into your art?

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Paris Visone, photographer
I feel to photograph truly, you should be engulfed in your subject. I have always felt more comfortable photographing people I know. The realest moments can be captured when they forget the camera is even present. I try to make photographing the least intrusive as I can, but still consider it a collaboration between the subject and myself.

I guess the biggest obstacle is them not liking themselves in the photos. As much as I am here to document and tell the truth, I don’t feel good about releasing a photo that the person doesn’t approve of. Once you lose that trust, you lose the real moments. I don’t like when taking photos gets in the way of photography.

Whether photographing my family, friends or bands that I tour with, I treat it all the same. They are all just people I’m happy to be around.

Steven Edwards, writer
When I write, I’m searching for the truth of an experience. My allegiance is to the work itself and not necessarily to whether it might hurt someone’s feelings. But sometimes it does – and it always has the potential to – so as I write along there are questions I have to reckon with. Is this my story to tell? Is what I’m writing something I would have the guts to say to someone’s face? Am I writing from a place of generosity or from a place of judgment? This question is especially important, I think, because every portrait is a double portrait. When you write about people from your life, you reveal your character. Whether kind, cruel, or indifferent it’s you on the page – your innermost life – as much or more so than whomever it is you’re writing about. The challenge, then, as I see it, lies in committing yourself to a process that leaves you totally exposed and vulnerable. But if you can do that, and do it well – hey, who could stay mad at you?

Christine Rathbun Ernst, poet & solo theatre performer
Respecting and honoring the unwitting participants in the story can be tricky. My work is all autobiographical – peopled/informed/illuminated by the family/friends/random strangers in my day-to-day – do I tweak her age? Do I use his real name? Have I overstepped? Should I ask her permission? Does it matter since he will never hear this poem?

I strive for candor – to accurately but compassionately portray folks (and myself), warts and all – not always flattering. I have many pieces that I needed to write but can’t perform – too upsetting, too scathing, too soon.

All personal interaction is fodder – rich stuff – where else does story happen? Mostly, I try to cull the funny bits, the bald fact, the crux (if I can find it) in these relationships – verbatim is best – never embellish – write true – sometimes mundane is sublime. The guy in the Salvation Army who said “nobody ever talks no more.” The neighbor who called me a fat ass cancer b****. The man who asked me which of my breasts was “the fake one.” The 5-year-old daughter who had an epic tantrum. So much material! So many leaping-off points! I just have to listen for the right stuff.

Molly Segal, painter
For the last year, I’ve been working on a series of portraits of men in my life. Each sitting begins with an uncomfortable conversation about sex. Then I paint their portrait.

I sat on this idea for about five months because I was terrified of incorporating real-life relationships into my work in this way. I feared it would hurt people I cared about and wreak havoc on my personal life. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I knew that anything that hit such a nerve in me was worth pursuing.

The first portraits were definitely the hardest. I stumbled and stammered through them. But the more I made, the smoother things went. The process began to feel more like work.

One of my biggest considerations in incorporating real-life relationships into my artwork is being as upfront as possible. Because of the implicatory nature of the paintings, I try to be transparent with each sitter. I emphasize that this is more about my perception of men more than any individual. I don’t want to water down the work, but I don’t want to railroad anyone either. It’s a delicate balance.

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Related reading: How do you incorporate the “true” in your art?

Steven Edwards is the author of the memoir, Breaking into the Backcountry. His writing can be found in recent issues of Orion, Electric Literature, AGNI Online, Terrain.org, and The Good Men Project.

Christine Rathbun Ernst is a poet and solo theatre performer who recently completed a string of performances at the Cotuit Center for the Arts.

Molly Segal is in the group exhibition Out of Bounds at iartcolony in Rockport (8/23-9/23) and in the exhibition I Want to Smell Your Hair at New Art Center in Newton (11/21-12/20).

Paris Visone is a documentary photographer whose work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions, locally and internationally. As a music photographer, she has traveled with performers including Marilyn Manson, Blondie, Toto, Godsmack, Staind and Limp Bizkit.

Images: photograph by Paris Visone (2013); installation view of Molly Segal’s paintings for The Man Project.

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Tips on Applying for an MCC Artist Fellowship

August 14th, 2014

The Massachusetts Cultural Council 2015 Artist Fellowships guidelines are now available. Here are some tips for grant seekers.

In the MCC Artist Fellowship Program, we instruct our panelists to make their grants decisions based on two criteria*: 1. Artistic quality, and 2. Creative ability.

Given that all decisions are based solely on artistic excellence, you might conclude that the best advice might be, as Neil Gaiman put it in a commencement address at the University of the Arts, “Make good art.”

And Mr. Gaiman has a point. Do make good art. But we thought we’d share some ideas on optimizing your application, which really means avoiding choices that might distract panelists from how well you’ve adhered to Neil Gaiman’s advice.

(We’re not even going to mention that you should carefully read – and follow – the guidelines, and that you should familiarize yourself with the guidelines and instructions ahead of time, so you’re not rushing on the evening of the deadline. You know all that already.)

Which work samples should I submit?

Since the work sample(s) you submit are the only evidence the panelists will have to understand you as an artist, what you decide to include is an important choice. That said, don’t overthink it. Rather than trying to guess the judges’ tastes, just send your strongest work. Truly. Individual panelists have stylistic preferences, but you can expect arts professionals working at a high level to be able to recognize excellence in a style not their own.

How do you know what’s your “strongest” work? If you have any question, enlist the opinion of a trusted peer, whose objective distance from the work could be helpful.

We ask for recent work (past four years), but it doesn’t necessarily have to be your brand-spankin’-newest. You might be most excited about your newest work, but is it your strongest? (And maybe it is! Here’s where the opinion of a trusted peer might be useful.) What if you want to send the same work you sent the last time you applied – work that didn’t win you a fellowship? If you still consider it your strongest, send it again. The panelists change every cycle, and plenty of times, we’ve seen work that was passed over one cycle be successful the next.

One question we often get is whether it’s better to send a group of excerpts from different work (to show range) or a longer section of just one. In visual arts, the equivalent might be five images from different series vs. five from the same series.

Illustrating your range as an artist can be helpful, but in your hierarchy of considerations, “showing range” should come second to “giving the panelists a great artistic experience.” Ideally, your sample will compel the panelists as it would any audience, while conveying your unique voice as an artist.

Start strong. The beginning of your sample – first image, first pages, first few minutes – makes an impression that impacts the entire experience. Also, if you’re sending an excerpt of a longer work, send a meaty part. If the portion you send is all set-up, the panelists might say, “Well, it’s good craft, but how do I know this artist can effectively develop this?” If you’re sending a group of images, keep in mind we project all five at once. Successful applicants tend to excel at demonstrating a cohesive vision – with room for variety.

Which media?
Most categories specify the required media (i.e. images, video, audio, text) in which to submit work. But in certain categories, such as Sculpture/Installation/New Genres, you have a choice between media (in that case, images or video). Which one is “better?”

It all depends on your work, the quality of your documentation, and the story you’re trying to tell with your work sample(s). If the imagery is the key aspect of the work, and showing it in video wouldn’t add anything to the experience (and in fact, may take away in quality), go with images. On the other hand, your work may have interactive, dynamic, or conceptual elements that are best conveyed through moving image storytelling, in which case, go with video. (And yet! If the camerawork or picture quality or some technical aspect of your video infringes on your ability to tell that story, images with explanatory text may be the better choice after all. As always, it’s a balance between several considerations.)

(Further research: the Creative Capital blog has some great tips on choosing your work sample. While some of the advice is tailored for that organization’s grant application, much of it could apply to any artist grant.)

Preparing Your Work

Please note that for visual arts disciplines (Crafts, Drawing & Printmaking, Painting, Photography, and Sculpture/Installation/New Genres), we’ve switched to the CallforEntry (CaFE) application system this year, so image and media specifications have changed. Read our tips on preparing/uploading images to the CaFE application system and/or our tips on preparing/uploading video for Sculpture/Installation/New Genres.

If you need to adjust the size of your images but don’t have software, there are online services you can use. For tips on photographing your art, check out Saatchi Online’s easy-to-follow tutorial video.

In disciplines that ask for pages: readability is your friend. Avoid diminishing margins and fonts just to fit more in. More is not better.

In disciplines that include CD or DVD submissions, tracks/chapter marks are highly encouraged.

If your work is time-based, think hard about how to best convey to the panel in a compressed time period what your intended audience experience is. A past Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow who did this really well was Brian Knep.

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This clip makes great use of video to convey the experience of an interactive installation, Healing Pool. For one thing, it’s shot with an artist’s eye. And by showing numerous variations in the way its audience interacts with the work, the video successfully captures the depth and richness of experiencing Healing Pool.

(Further research: read ArtSake’s post on documenting your work.)

Work Sample Description

In all categories, applicants have the opportunity to include a brief work sample description to give, if necessary, context to the submitted sample(s). We believe the Work Sample Descriptions can be useful. But sometimes panelists complain that descriptions are distracting when they read like self-promotional marketing copy, or when they spell out themes or emotional responses that should be implicit in the art experience.

Well then what is the MCC looking for with this Work Sample Description? We just want the panelists to understand your work sample; invite us into the world of the work, as one panelist put it. Put yourself in the panelists’ shoes: sitting in a meeting room, reading a sample or experiencing your work projected or played. Things that would be obvious in a book or a gallery or a performance venue may not be obvious in that context. Any time panelists spend wondering how they’re “supposed” to be experiencing your work is time they’re not discussing its good qualities. Even details that seem self-evident to you – for instance, whether your work is a full piece or an excerpt from something longer – may not be clear to someone approaching your work without context.

Beyond that? Be brief, including only enough information to allow reviewers to understand the piece. And if your work needs no explanation, don’t feel you need to fill in the box. No description is fine, if none is needed!

The X factor

There’s always a touch of mystery to what makes a particular work click with a particular audience. It’s a given that the level of artistic quality should be high, but what makes a juror (or any audience) love love LOVE it? To some extent, it’s an X factor, out of your control. So we’d suggest you control what you can, avoid distracting application choices, and continue to do your great work.

And email us or add a comment below if you have a question not covered here.

Image and media: Holly Lynton (Photography Fellow ’13), FAIREST, CUMMINGTON FAIR, MA (2010), photographic c-print, 30×40 in; video of HEALING POOL by Brian Knep (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’11); installation view of SPIRALING WATER by Georgie Friedman (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’13).

* Except in the case of Traditional Arts, which has additional criteria.

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Creative Space 8/13

August 13th, 2014

While MCC’s ArtistLink Initiative is being re-worked, creative space opportunities that previously would have been listed on artspacefinder.org are going to be shared here on ArtSake.

Here are the most recent as of August 13, 2014:

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ART STUDIO SUBLET STARTING OCT. 1

$200 per month per person. 86 Joy Street, Somerville near Union Square.
I am looking for 2 other artists to share the 300 square foot space with me. Dimensions of the room are 25′ 7″ x 11′ 8″. Each artist will have around 100 square feet to themselves. Plenty of wall space because it is a skylight room. Beautiful, loft-style white wall room in an old industrial building (Joy Street Studios) with tall ceilings. Free parking, 24 hour access, Ethernet. At least 3 month sublet preferred. Artist materials needing ample ventilation are not suitable for this space. $200 deposit required. Inquiries, georgiadkennedy@gmail.com.

 

Live/Work Studio in Historic Waltham Mill Building

Live/Work studio with large north facing windows available in an historic mill building in Waltham. Hardwood floors, central air, garbage disposal among other amenities.
Looking for professional, respectful artist to join artist community. http://www.wmaastudios.org/
The space is approximately 1,140 sf (plus additional lofted live space) and the rent is $1,250/mo. (plus electricity, heat included) for the remainder of the term to December 31, 2015. There is an additional fee.
Pictures available upon request. If you are interested please respond a little about yourself, a phone # and a link to your website if possible.
Contact walthamstudios4thfloor@gmail.com

 

If you’re interested in listing a Massachusetts creative space on ArtSake, send us a 100 word or less description, with links and images, if applicable. If you’re interested in finding one, check posts tagged in the blog’s creative space category to find the latest listings.

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Artist Opportunities Under the Radar

August 13th, 2014

Bill Fecych and Don Johnson in control room in 1959.
A sneak peak at the top secret ArtSake headquarters.

Playwrights The Yale Drama Series is seeking original, unpublished, full-length plays written in English. No translations, musicals, or children’s plays. The winner will receive the David C. Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of the manuscript by Yale University Press, and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater. Learn more.
Deadline: August 15, 2014

Call for Artists The Golden Thread Gallery in West Hartford CT seeks work for their exhibition Surface and Depth. The exhibit will be showing from September 13 to November 1. Learn more.
Deadline: August 26, 2014

Poets Over 60 The Off the Grid Press Poetry Prize offers a prize of $1,000 and publication by Off the Grid Press for a poetry collection by a poet over the age of 60.  Tam Lin Neville and Bert Stern will judge. Learn more.
Deadline: August 31, 2014

Printmakers Residency The Lower East Side Printshop provides emerging artists with free studio residencies to develop new work and explore printmaking, for residencies beginning October 2014. Learn more.
Deadline: September 1, 2014

Craft Artists CraftBoston is now accepting exhibitor applications from both established and emerging artists making original work that shows exemplary execution of design, quality craftsmanship, creative use of materials, and superb aesthetic qualities. Learn more.
Deadline: September 12, 2014

Short Plays The Exit 7 Players New Short Play Contest will produce short plays by twelve playwrights in an audience-participation format, awarding two winning writers a prize of $150 each. Learn more.
Deadline: September 13, 2014

Call to Artists The Kingston Gallery in Boston is seeking at least two new artist members this fall. The gallery is governed and run by dues-paying, exhibiting artist-members and showcases a diverse range of contemporary art in a mutually supportive environment that encourages experimentation and growth. Learn more.
Deadline: September 25, 2014

Call for Outdoor Installation The Heritage Museums & Gardens in Sandwich invites artists, architects, designers and creative people to design one person shelters in which a single person could observe nature, contemplate the stars, write poetry, meditate, or simply take a nap. Learn more
Deadline: September 29, 2014 (5pm)

Call to Artists The Seligmann Center is currently accepting entries for their exhibition, Magical Events: A Small Works Exhibition, on view November 14-January 3. Two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of any medium accepted. No width restriction, however works may not exceed 10” in height or depth, including frames and peripheral elements. Learn more.
Deadline: October 3, 2014

Image credit: Photograph of Bill Fecych (seated) and Don Johnson work in the reactor control room during its operating days in 1959. After an ad hoc committee study in 1977, NASA Headquarters decided that the reactor would never be put back into operation. Reactor equipment was then “cannibalized” for other programs.

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John Kuntz Goes Epic

August 6th, 2014

Theatre artist John Kuntz has an epic imagination, whether for inhabiting the turmoil of a 600-lb man as an actor or for conjuring the interwoven stories surrounding a mysterious hotel as a playwright.

But until recently, he hadn’t written plays on an epic scale. Intriguing then that the Circuit Theatre Company, the troupe producing John’s latest play The Annotated History of the American Muskrat (running through August 16), makes it their mission to produce “epic, wild, adventurous theatre.”

We asked John about the play, and about his wild and wooly adventures as a Boston-area theatre artist.

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ArtSake: It’s always interesting to trace a play from its initial spark to its first production. How close is The Annotated History of the American Muskrat you’d initially conceived to the play being performed?

John: The play is a commission from The Circuit Theatre Company, so it was developed in rehearsal with the company of eight actors, the stage manager and the director, Skylar Fox. So there was very little separation between the writing of the play and the performance of it. I did have the initial idea of what I wanted the play to be about, but I really didn’t begin the writing process in earnest until I met the cast and got to know them. The first rehearsals began in mid-May, so I needed to provide a script very fast! The Circuit does epic plays, and wanted a three act play that explored American History in some way. This was a challenge, because I typically write 90 minute one-acts. But I love doing things I’ve never done before, and it was very interesting to work with such a large canvas. I wrote the first act and they began to rehearse it while I wrote the second act. Then I wrote the third act while they staged the second. I would visit rehearsals to watch how the actors responded to the text, and I would use the things they were doing in rehearsal to inspire the rest of the play.

ArtSake: One of the fascinating things about your new play is the wide array (and strange juxtapositions) of its references. The Captain & Tennille and The Ford Administration, Little Debbie Snacks and muskrats. Is there a through-line, do you think, to the topics that interest you as a playwright?

John: Actually, there really IS a connection to The Captain and Tennille and the Ford Administration. In 1976, the Captain & Tennille performed “Muskrat Love” at the White House for Queen Elizabeth II during the bicentennial celebration. So Gerald and Betty Ford, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip, Henry Kissinger were all sitting in the East Room together listening to “Muskrat Love.” I stumbled across that piece of information and I said “That’s It!” More often then not, I’m working from dreams or emotions or instincts. I’ll be drawn to certain characters or scenarios and I can’t explain it, they just feel right, like Little Debbie or the BTK Killer.

ArtSake: What comes first in your writing process: voice, character, or plot? Or something less tangible?

John: It’s strange but I think my plays spring forth from some sort of structure or event or image: an airplane, a hotel, a song, an image on a container of salt. There is a spark that helps me see the world of the play. Once I imagine the rules of the world, and what’s inside it, I begin to imagine what sort of people might be in it, and what they might be doing.

ArtSake: Were any artists – theatrical or otherwise – particularly influential to you as you wrote Annotated History?

John: Well, The Captain and Tennille, I guess! I was listening to “Muskrat Love” a LOT!

ArtSake: You’re also highly regarded for your work as an actor. When you’re approaching a project from one angle (actor, writer, etc.), do your other performing arts “hats” inform the way you work?

JohnKuntzJohn: I think being an actor helps me immensely as a playwright. Actors just instinctively understand what works on stage and what doesn’t. They understand character, and action, and how people go about getting what they want, and the different tactics they can employ. When I’m acting in my own plays (which I love to do) it actually helps me understand the play. It’s like being inside a gigantic clock: you can see all the cogs and the wheels turning and if something is broken and needs to be fixed.

ArtSake: What’s the most surprising response you’ve had to your work?

John: I can never tell how someone might respond to what I’m doing, or if they will have a response at all, so I guess I’m always surprised. I remember once during a talkback of Waiting for Godot, amidst all the recondite commentary on Beckett, a woman in the audience remarked that I had “nice legs.” I didn’t know what to say, so I said “thanks!”

ArtSake: I’m sure you’ve had many, many memorable experiences as a theatre artist, but is there one that stands out from all the others (for good or for ill)?

John: There is a great story when I was performing The Pillowman at The New Rep. It’s a pretty upsetting piece of theatre and towards the end of the play this man in the front row just stood up and cried “That’s it!” and he stormed out into the lobby and pulled the fire alarm. It was a pretty crazy thing to do: all the lights came on and sirens went off and this recorded voice was telling us all to evacuate. It was a Friday night. A full house. Everyone scurried outside, and the actors and the audience were just hanging out together waiting for the firetrucks to show up. When they did, all the firemen ran towards me, because I was covered in stage blood and they thought I was injured. We cleared that up and the alarms went silent, but we weren’t allowed back into the theatre for some reason. I forget why. The funny thing was: half the audience thought that the play actually ended that way: with sirens and an evacuation. But about 20 or so audience members hung around: they didn’t want to leave, because they wanted to know how the play ended. So the actors all got together in the lobby and we performed the end of the play for them, and took our bows. It was something I will never forget.

ArtSake: The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:

John: “You’re Not Going To Do It That Way, Are You?”

ArtSake: What’s next?

John: My new play, Necessary Monsters, will have it’s world premiere with Speakeasy Stage Company in December!

The Annotated History of the American Muskrat by John Kuntz will be performed by Circuit Theatre Company at the Calderwood Pavillion at the Boston Center for the Arts (thru August 16).

John Kuntz is a a playwright, actor, director, teacher, and solo performer whose accolades include Elliot Norton and IRNE awards, New York International Fringe Award, and the Michael Kanin and Paula Vogel National Playwriting Awards. He is a founding member of The Actors Shakespeare Project and has performed with the A.R.T., SpeakEasy Stage, Huntington Theatre, Boston Playwrights Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Co., and many others.

Images: still from THE ANNOTATED HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN MUSKRAT, courtesy of  The Circuit Theatre Company; John Kuntz, photo by Joe Mazza of Brave Lux Photography.

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Fellows Notes – Aug 14

August 6th, 2014

Italy may take off the whole month of August, but past MCC Fellows/Finalists are busy bees! Here are this month’s news and notes from past MCC awardees.

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John Cameron and Timothy Coleman both have work on exhibit at the Furniture Masters pop-up gallery, 127 Newbury St. in Boston (thru 8/15).

Joshua Meyer and Dawn Southworth join Lizbeth Firmin for an exhibition at Rice Polak Gallery in Provincetown (7/31-8/13, opening reception 8/1, 7 PM).

Ben Berman‘s book Strange Borderlands won the 2014 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Poetry. He’ll be reading in the Newton Library Poetry Series (9/16).

Congratulations to Kelly Carmody, who won the inaugural Walter Feldman Fellowship from the Arts and Business Council of Boston.

Jay Critchley‘s experimental one-act musical Planet Snowvio will be performed at the Provincetown Theatre (8/23, 7:30 PM).

Carrie Gustafson has work at the North Water Gallery in Edgartown (thru 8/20).

James Heflin won the Poet’s Seat Contest (and actually gets to keep the chair through the duration of the post).

Santiago Hernandez won the The Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) 2014 Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation Grant.

Joel Janowitz has a solo show of paintings, Great Spruce Head Island, at gWatson Gallery in Stonington, Maine (thru 8/23).

Scott Listfield was recently featured in La Crème de la Crème.

Mary Bucci McCoy is in the two-person show Reconfiguring Abstraction at the Fort Point Arts Community Gallery (thru 9/18, reception 8/21, 5-7 PM). The artist is now represented by Gray Contemporary in Houston, Texas. She’s in a group exhibition (8/15-9/25). She was awarded a residency and merit-based grant from the Vermont Studio Center for the month of February 2015. Also, she will be the Visiting Critic for the Senior Fine Arts Seminar at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA for the fall semester.

A story by Deborah McCutchen was selected for inclusion in the Fish Prize Anthology.

Caleb Neelon‘s new mural will be the centerpiece of an upcoming celebration at Worcester PopUp (8/15, 4-6 PM), marking the completion of the mural and featuring young artists of the HOPE Coalition.

Anne Neely has collaborated with sound artist Halsey Burgund to create Water Stories: Conversations in Paint and Sound, at the Museum of Science. The exhibit, an exploration into water’s unifying role in our world and the many ways humans affect it, will be on view until January 2015.

Jo Ann Rothschild is in the group show The Intuitionists at The Drawing Center in NYC (thru 8/24).

Read past Fellows Notes. If you’re a past fellow/finalist with news, let us know.

Image: Anne Neely, BENEATH (2012), oil on linen, 60×80 in.

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