Artist Opportunities On the Vine

June 30th, 2015

800px-Duroia_eriopila_by_Merian

Nibble away on these goodies.

Of Note: Free Creative Ground Webinar series.

Photographers Entries are now being accepted for the 2015 Somerville Toy Camera Festival. Learn more.
Deadline: July 1, 2015

Free Music Recording Sessions Converse Rubber Tracks Boston is a brand new state of the art recording studio located on Boston’s Lovejoy Wharf. Beginning on July 1st, it will be open five days a week for eight-hour sessions, usually from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. New applications will be accepted on July 1st. Learn more.

Call for Art Gallery X in New Bedford invites artists to take part in their exhibit, From Meadows to Mystical which will explore the theme of the landscape. All mediums welcome. Learn more.
Deadline: July 5, 2015 (drop off)

Call to Artists, Designers  Cambridge Arts in Cambridge, MA is seeking qualifications from artists and designers interested in creating temporary site-responsive public artwork(s) of variable duration. The site will be a newly constructed King Open Elementary and Cambridge Street Upper Schools in East Cambridge, to be completed by 2019. The City seeks artists and designers with public art experience and encourages artist-led interdisciplinary teams. The $325,000 commission will cover all services from design through final installation/implementation, including artist fee, travel, community meetings, fabrication, insurance, transportation, installation, and coordination with City staff. Submit images of past work and biographical information
Deadline Extended: July 13, 2015

Exhibition Proposals The Curatorial Proposal Series at Gallery 263 in Cambridge is now accepting proposals for their Fall ’15 Exhibitions.  All media and experience levels accepted. Open to solo and group proposals. Online submissions only. New England artists eligible. Learn more. Questions, email contact@gallery263.com.
Deadline:  July 19, 2015  (11:59pm)

Event Proposals ArtWeek Boston is now accepting event proposals. (Sept 25 – Oct 4). Visit www.artweekboston.org to complete our simple application. Questions, contact artweek@citicenter.orgLearn more.
Deadline: July 24, 2015

Speculative Literature The Speculative Literature Foundation is currently offering two grants for writers of speculative fiction, the Diverse Writers Grant and Diverse Worlds Grant. Both include a $500 award. Learn more.
Deadline: July 31, 2015

Boston Plays SpeakEasy Stage Company has issued a Call for Proposals for the 2016 Boston Project: a new works initiative supporting the creation and development of plays set in Boston. The goal is to create more plays that explore what it means to be in this city at this moment, and tap into the full breadth of experiences and identities that make up life in Boston. Seeking proposals for currently unwritten full-length scripts set in contemporary Boston. Learn more.
Deadline: August 10, 2015

Call for Art  The Augusta Savage Gallery at UMass Amherst is now accepting entries for the exhibition A Change Is Gonna Come, featuring digitally projected handwritten words. Borrowing from iconic singer/songwriter Sam Cooke’s 1965 hit by the same title, artists are invited to find inspiration from his refrain:
It’s been a long long time coming, but I know A change is gonna come, oh yes it will! Each entry must be handwritten on one page, using white paper with black pen or markers.  1-5 entries per person. Submissions should be sent either as PDF files (Jenoure@admin.umass.edu) or mailed to Augusta Savage Gallery, 16 Curry Hicks, UMASS, 100 Hicks Way,
Amherst, MA 01003. Learn more.
Deadline: August 15, 2015

Call for Art The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) and Boston Cyberarts are issuing the fifteenth call for media art to display on the Marquee at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Learn more.
Deadline: September 7, 2015 (midnight)

Image credit: Duroia Eropila, hand-colored engraving on paper by Maria Sibylla Merian.

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Fellows Page to Screen

June 24th, 2015

The Massachusetts Cultural Council is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by delving into the Commonwealth’s history of support for Massachusetts individual artists.

We have awarded many superb literary artists since 1975, and one fun sidenote to this history is the number of past Artist Fellowships awardees who’ve gone on to have novels adapted into films.

Here are the page-to-screen adaptations we know of:

Andre Dubus (Fellow ’76) wrote Finding a Girl in America (1980). One of the stories, “Killings,” is the source material for the 2001 movie In the Bedroom.

Tim O’Brien (’76) wrote the short story “Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,” included in his seminal book The Things They Carried (1980). “Sweetheart” was later adapted into the movie A Soldier’s Sweetheart (1998), which starred Kiefer Sutherland.

Rita Mae Brown (’77) is the author of the Mrs. Murphy “cat” mysteries, and she adapted her novel Murder, She Meowed (1996) into the 1998 TV movie Murder She Purred: A Mrs. Murphy Mystery. (Fun fact: Brown has written a number of other screenplays and teleplays, including the script to the 1982 film Slumber Party Massacre. According to IMDB, she wrote the script as a parody, but the producers decided to film it straight-faced!)

Denis Johnson’s (’83) Jesus’ Son (1992) became a movie of the same name in 1999. Johnson himself has a cameo as a man who arrives at an emergency room with a knife in his eye.

Sue Miller’s (’84) novel The Good Mother (1986) was made into a movie in 1988; same goes for Inventing the Abbotts (1987) in 1997.

Stephen Dobyns (’85) wrote the novel Cold Dog Soup (1985), which was adapted to an American film of the same name in 1990 and a 1999 French film called Doggy Bag. Also, his novel Two Deaths of Senora Puccini (1988) spawned the film Two Deaths in 1995.

Tom Perrotta (’98) published Election (1998) while the movie version was being made (it was released in 1999). Little Children (2004) became a movie, too, in 2006.

Michael Downing (Finalist ’08) wrote the book Breakfast with Scot (2000), which was adapted into a 2007 film starring Tom Cavanaugh. Read about this process.

Other Literary Adventures in Film
Mary-Louise Parker is connected to a proposed TV series adaptation of the life and writing of Mary Karr (’87). Rumor has it that Parker, the former Weeds star, would not only executive produce, but actually portray the past Massachusetts Poetry Fellow!

Sabina Murray (’02) wrote the lauded short story collection The Caprices. While her books have yet to be adapted to the screen, film director Terrence Malick commissioned her to write the screenplay for the film Beautiful Country.

Regie Gibson (’10) and his poetry appear in the 1997 movie Love Jones. According to a Taunton Daily Gazette interview, the film was actually loosely based on events from Regie’s life.

Steve Barkhimer (’11), along with being an award-winning playwright, is an accomplished actor who has appeared in feature films such as The Fighter.

Are there other Fellows-to-film stories we’ve missed? Tell us.

Images: Cover art from the original edition of BREAKFAST WITH SCOT (Counterpoint, 2000); cover art from the movie tie-in edition (Counterpoint, 2008).

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Frisky Artist Opportunities

June 23rd, 2015

Henriette-Ronner-Knip-Painting-Lesson

Make every stroke count, or else into the draw with you!

Poets The Fifth Annual Pat Schneider Poetry Contest, sponsored by the Amherst Writers & Artists, is currently accepting submissions. First prize is $1000 and receives publication in Peregrine Journal. Learn more.
Deadline: July 1, 2015

Call for Artists  Miranda’s Hearth is seeking presenters for the #WhatIMake Conference on October 17, 2015 at Groundworks in New Bedford, MA. They are looking for makers in the broadest sense including, but not limited to, those who practice programming, robotics, gardening, cartooning, art, physics, cooking, biology, mapping, canning, writing, web design, framing, counseling, and music. Since presenters will lead a hands-on workshop in the afternoon, they are especially seeking speakers who are skilled at teaching. Selected presenters will be awarded a $50 honorarium plus up to $30 to cover supplies for workshops. They will also be asked to participate in at least two practice sessions before the event. To apply, submit the following to mirandashearth@gmail.com :a paragraph describing the subject of your talk; a paragraph describing the structure of your workshop, including your past teaching experiences; short bio and a resume.
Deadline: July 1, 2015

Call for Art Entries are now being accepted to Uforge Gallery’s Juror’s Choice Award exhibition. The juror is Judy Blotnick (’04 Painting Finalist). Will accept works in any subject and media, including ready-to-hang 2-D pieces within 36×48 in. and freestanding 3-D pieces within 24x24x24 in.
Learn more.
Deadline: July 10, 2015

Photographers Emerging and established photographers who live or work in New England are invited to submit work to the New England Photography Biennial, Danforth Art’s highly-selective exhibition of innovative, contemporary photography. Learn more.
Deadline: July 13, 2015

Temporary Public Art The Fort Point Arts Community, Inc., with the support of the Friends of Fort Point Channel and the Fort Point Operations Board is seeking proposals for a temporary work of public art for installation in conjunction with its annual fall Open
Studios event in October 2015. Learn more.
Deadline: July 26, 2015

Exhibition Proposals The Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC) Gallery in Boston seeks proposals in all media for five two-person or group shows for their 2015/2016 season. Artists selected to exhibit video/film work must provide their own equipment. Learn more.
Deadline: July 31, 2015 (5pm)

Call to Artists The artist-run Bromfield Gallery in Boston is seeking emerging and established New England artists to become members. Free application process. They plan to accept up to 5 artists this fall. With an emphasis on New England artists, its three gallery spaces exhibit contemporary art in all media, including printmaking, sculpture, painting, and drawing, as well as video, installation, and new media. To apply, send a link to your website to info@bromfieldgallery.com with this subject line: “Your Name: Membership Submission to Bromfield Gallery for September 1 deadline.” Finalists will be asked to bring 3-5 pieces from one recent body of work to a monthly meeting. Members receive a solo show every two years, in addition to showing work regularly in Gallery III and in their flat files, and being represented on their website. Their exhibitions are reviewed in Art New England and Artscope, among other publications. Monthly dues are $60 for Associate Members and $100 for Members. Duties include sitting or helping with a reception once a month, assisting with general gallery operations, and serving on ad hoc committees as needed. Bromfield staff includes a Manager, Bookkeeper and Installer. Learn more. Questions, contact Gary Duehr, Manager, at info@bromfieldgallery.com.
Deadline: September 1, 2015

Crafts Artists Artists Entries are now being accepted for the exhibition Materials: Hard & Soft, February 5 – April 1, 2016 at the Patterson-Appleton Center for the Visual Arts in Denton, Texas. The juror is Elizabeth Kozlowski, Curator of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. Learn more.
Deadline: September 4, 2015

Musicians Scholarships are available for musicians to attend the Future of Music Policy Summit to be held in Washington, D.C. Learn more.
Deadline: October 18, 2015

Image credit: The Painting Lesson by Henriette Ronner-Knip.

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Merli V. Guerra on the Movement and Light of Luminarium Dance

June 19th, 2015

Luminarium Dance Company performs at Night at the Tower (2014), photo by Maria Fonseca

Luminarium Dance received funding from the Arlington Cultural Council for “Night at the Tower,” which transformed the Arlington’s Park Circle water tower through film projections and live dance. That project subsequently received a prestigious Gold Star Award from MCC’s Local Cultural Council Program. Luminarium will be presented with the award at the 5th Annual Gala and Showcase at Arts at the Armory in Somerville on Sunday, June 21, 2015, 5-8 PM.

We asked Luminarium co-founder Merli V. Guerra about the award, the unique voice of Luminarium, and what’s next for the daring, interdisciplinary dance artist and her collaborators.

What are the origins of Luminarium Dance?
My co-director (Kimberleigh A. Holman) and I first founded Luminarium Dance Company back in June of 2010, based on our shared passion for exploring the intersections of light and movement. Between her skills in theatrical lighting design and my work with video projection, our company quickly took off, and we’re now just days away from celebrating our 5th anniversary as an award-winning modern and contemporary dance company that is regularly hailed for its unique work in the arts.

Merli V. Guerra, photo by Shane Godfrey
Is there something that unifies all of the work that Luminarium collectively does; what aspect of your “voice” can be found in all of your own work?
The work Luminarium creates – be it conceived by myself or my co-director – continues to be linked to the company’s mission. The word “luminarium” literally holds two meanings: 1. a body that gives off light, 2. sheds light on some subject or enlightens mankind. At times, our work delves into the physical mechanics of merging dance with new lighting onstage; at others, the work seeks to metaphorically enlighten the audience on the subject at hand.

The voice question is one that I frequently ask myself as well. One of the most amusing (and at times baffling) experiences I regularly encounter is when audience members approach me after one of Luminarium’s split-bill performances and proceed to rattle off which pieces were “clearly” choreographed by me, and which were “clearly Kim’s.” This past year, our printed programs didn’t offer scene-by-scene choreography credits, and our followers still greeted me post-bow with the words “I’m guessing you choreographed scenes 2, 3, and 5. You always have such a clear choreographic voice!” (They were right.)

So what is this voice? Stylistically, my movement stems from the two very classic trainings of ballet and classical Indian dance in the Odissi style. Modern dance offers a platform for me to freely integrate these two backgrounds through a mixture of intricate gestures, expressive faces, and clean lines, though most importantly – and I can really only attribute this to my own natural way of moving – I seek out dancers who bring elasticity to the stage, luxuriating in the movement one minute, then sharply recoiling the next.

While I am visually most driven by light, movement, and textiles, I’d have to add that my artistic voice goes beyond the physical telltale signs onstage. It’s often the subject matter that’s the largest unifier of my work. I find I gravitate towards creating pieces that are loosely narrative – pieces that personify themes of memory and connecting with one’s “past self,” achieved through interpersonal connections onstage, duets between dancer and light, and projected film across performers as canvas. It is an underlying current that keeps my creative mind running, whether intentional in its presence or discovered later on, and it has led to the creation of some of my key works, among them: Synchronic; What seems so is transition; Casting Shadows, Tearing Holes; Andromeda; Hush; The One I Keep; and The Woolgatherer.

Luminarium company members Jennifer Roberts and Katie McGrail perform Guerra's Hush (2013), photo by Ryan Carollo

What does it mean to you to receive the Gold Star Award for the Night at the Tower project?
Often as artists, we find ourselves working in a very insular world. Feedback – be it from mentors, press, or best of all the public – is a valuable commodity, as it gives us the chance to rework or expand upon our visions. That being said, never have I experienced such a steady outpouring of positive (and creative!) feedback from the public over one of my projects as I have for Night at the Tower. The production was centered around the celebration of Arlington: its residents, its artists, its history. While rooted in the architectural and historic importance of the Arlington Reservoir (water tower) at Park Circle, Night at the Tower continuously grew to encompass a broader spectrum of the town, and – in the end – brought more than 300 viewers and participants young and old, professional artist to amateur, together for a celebration of what it means to share this town.

Since the event took place in September 2014, I’ve received emails, calls, and letters thanking Luminarium for envisioning this project. I’ve received poetry and artwork inspired by the event, and have helped facilitate new collaborations between musicians and performers who reached out due to something they saw, heard, or felt that evening. In fact, not a month has gone by (now June of 2015) that we haven’t received an outreach related to the event!

I could not be more grateful (and frankly, relieved) to receive this positive outpouring from the public. Yet to receive the Gold Star Award from the Massachusetts Cultural Council takes that gratitude one step further. When I was first informed of the award, I learned that our project had been selected as one of three out of 5,000+ government-funded projects across the state in 2014. This number was staggering to me, and served as a reminder of where the initial funding for our production originated, let alone how important it had been. It’s a wonderful feeling to discover that while my work was being realized – thanks, in part, to funding from the Arlington Cultural Council and the MCC – so were five thousand other artists’ visions becoming a reality.

What’s the best/worst day job you’ve ever had?
Let’s pick “worst” since that’s always fun to look back on… Graduating college, it quickly became apparent that my graphic design skills would likely be the best route to sustaining myself as an artist. I answered a Craigslist ad (always a smart move) looking for a designer and soon found myself creating those delightfully tacky full-page car ads you find on the back of newspapers. I became used to hearing the line “Wow, you’ve got such a good eye; this is gorgeous. But you know what this needs? A big yellow burst… behind every car. And let’s make all the type bigger, bolder, and red – Oh! And let’s add a Santa popping out of the sunroof.” (It was not December.) I escaped after three months with my artistic integrity hanging by a thread, but had gained the super power to correctly name every car color on the road, from Electric Wasabi Green to Blackberry Pearl.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
While I’m not sure how the outside world would title my biography, a few years back I dubbed the title of my imaginary autobiography “Glue-free and toothbrush in hand.” (Find out why on my blog!) Yet having successfully completed Night at the Tower and similar projects in more recent years, perhaps I should toy with titles such as “You want to project what onto what? The true tales of an interdisciplinary artist.” or “How watching 7 seasons of Parks and Recreation finally paid off.”

Luminarium company member Jess Chang performs Guerra's The One I Keep (2013)

What’s next?
What isn’t! The sky’s the limit, as far as I’m concerned. (But until our hot air balloon funding comes through…) In our immediate future the company is gearing up for its 2015 feature production Spektrel, which debuts October 27, 29, 30, and 31 at the Multicultural Arts Center in Cambridge, featuring new works that accentuate Luminarium’s powerful theatricality through otherworldly shadows, light play, and colorful abandon. We’ve also just selected this year’s 24-Hour ChoreoFest participants – our annual overnight festival with performances on Saturday, September 5.

And for me, personally, my focus is currently turned towards this year’s Cultural Community Outreach Project – an annual project I lead that uses dance and art to highlight a local historic or cultural landmark. Last year’s project was the aforementioned Night at the Tower. This year, Luminarium is partnering with the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, to create a new children’s storybook using images and writings submitted by the community, which Luminarium will reinterpret with a video projection/choreographic twist. Artists and writers of literally all ages in the greater Amherst region (or Pioneer Valley) should visit http://www.luminariumdance.org/#!amherst-storybook-project/cup5 to learn more and submit their work for inclusion. The deadline for artwork is June 30, and the deadline for writers will be in August. The grand unveiling (along with a 20-minute performance and Q&A with the company) will take place at the Eric Carle Museum on Sunday, November 8 at 12:30 and 1:30pm. Many thanks to the Amherst Cultural Council and the MCC for giving us the initial funding for this project!

Merli V. Guerra, photo by Kristyn Ulanday Luminarium Dance Company receives the MCC’s Gold Star Award at the 5th Annual Gala and Showcase at Arts at the Armory in Somerville on Sunday, June 21, 2015, 5-8 PM.

Merli V. Guerra is a professional dancer and award-winning interdisciplinary artist with talents in choreography, filmmaking, art, and graphic design. She is co-founder and artistic director of Luminarium Dance Company and production manager of Art New England magazine in Boston. Guerra has performed lead roles on international tours to India (2007, 2012) and Japan (2009), with Brazil on the horizon, and is a senior contributor for The Arts Fuse, as well as the writer behind the blog Arts into Motion. Guerra frequently acts as a panelist, judge, guest choreographer, critic, speaker, and advocate for the Boston dance community. To learn more about her work, please visit merliguerra.com or luminariumdance.org.

Images: Luminarium Dance Company performs at Night at the Tower (2014), photo by Maria Fonseca; Merli V. Guerra, photo by Shane Godfrey; Luminarium company members Jennifer Roberts and Katie McGrail perform Guerra’s Hush (2013), photo by Ryan Carollo; Luminarium company member Jess Chang performs Guerra’s The One I Keep (2013); Merli V. Guerra, photo by Kristyn Ulanday.

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Photographer Rania Matar: Telling Women’s Stories

June 18th, 2015

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships by sharing video interviews with some of the extraordinary artists who have received Artist Fellowships since the program’s inception in 1975.

We’re thrilled to share our first interview, with Rania Matar (Photography Fellow ’11, ’07).

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“Every single person here has a story.” Lebanese-American artist Rania Matar tells women’s stories through exquisitely personal photography, and we were honored to discuss her work and career in the making of this video. Stay tuned for future videos in the 40 Years of Fellowships project.

In the meantime, here’s how you can participate:

Video Credits: all photos by Rania Matar, courtesy of Carroll and Sons Gallery; title animation by Basia Goszczynska (Film & Video Fellow ’13); music by Laura Andel (Music Composition Fellow ’99), Sao Dao, music by Laura Andel, BMI ©1997, performed by the Laura Andel Orchestra. Recorded on March 12th, 1997, Boston, MA. Full credits on the video’s YouTube page.

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Celebrating 40 Years of Fellowships

June 17th, 2015

Film reels from LOST IN THE BEWILDERNESS by Alexandra Anthony (Film & Video Fellow '81, '87, '07)

In 1975, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts awarded its first Artist Fellowships for excellence. This year marks the 40th anniversary of those initial state-funded grants to artists. We at the Massachusetts Cultural Council are pleased to say that the program is still going strong.

Why does that matter? Forty years of public support of artists is worth noting not just because of the impact it has on those artists – more on that in a moment – but because of what it says about the Commonwealth: that we value artists. Not just those social, educational, environmental, or other benefits that might accompany their work (though we do value those things), but also, the artists themselves. Most often, artists work in challenging circumstances. They balance art with day jobs, family, health – with already full, complicated lives. When artists find a way to excellence despite all obstacles, that’s an accomplishment we value.

Janet Echelman (Fellow '99, '09), SHE CHANGES, NET NO. 2 (2008) Polyester fiber, steel, 50x150x150 meters

When a community values artists, what is the impact? We know that, on an individual level, it can be profound. No award can take credit for the success of an artist, of course, but Artist Fellowships can be catalytic. Past Fellows have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Guggenheim, MacArthur, and Pulitzer foundations. They have been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Book Awards, the Sundance Film Festival, the Whitney Biennial, the Smithsonian Institution, TED, and the Academy Awards. They’ve been U.S. Poet Laureates, they’ve been Oprah’s Book Club Picks, they’ve been on PBS, HBO, in Time Magazine and Off-Broadway, they’ve been in galleries, stages, institutions, and publications throughout the Commonwealth, the U.S., and the world.

We’re taking this opportunity to explore what can happen when a community values artists. In the days and months ahead, we’ll be sharing videos, blog posts, and other stories from these past four decades, as part of the 40 Years of Massachusetts Artist Fellowships project.

Melinda Lopez (Dramatic Writing Fellow '03) meeting with MCC staff in her office at the Huntington Theatre Company

Here’s what you can do:

Images: film reels from LOST IN THE BEWILDERNESS by Alexandra Anthony (Film & Video Fellow ’81, ’87, ’07); Janet Echelman (Fellow ’99, ’09), SHE CHANGES, NET NO. 2 (2008) Polyester fiber, steel, 50x150x150 meters; Melinda Lopez (Dramatic Writing Fellow ’03) meeting with MCC staff in her office at the Huntington Theatre Co.

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Tracy Slater, The Good Shufu

June 17th, 2015

Cover art for THE GOOD SHUFU by Tracy Slater (G.P. Putnam's Sons 2015)

Tracy Slater, founder of the Four Stories literary series (and past ArtSake contributor), is about to publish her memoir The Good Shufu. We asked her about the book, her trailblazing work in the local literary community, and the surprise twist in her life story.

Why The Good Shufu (the title)?
“Shufu” in Japanese means “housewife,” and it’s a title that is both tongue-in-cheek and also a true descriptor of my official role as it was at certain times in Japan. The “good” part is pretty much always tongue-in-cheek; Unfortunately, I’m a terrible cleaner and not much better as a cook. But the book explores in part what happens when a highly independent American academic moves to Japan and becomes, essentially, an illiterate housewife.

“Shufu” is the job description most married women – even university-educated ones who had careers before marriage, and even ones with no children – have in Japan. A majority of women here quit working when they marry. It’s a future I never in a million years would have envisioned for myself. But it’s also the job description that existed on a number of official documents for me when I moved to Japan, such as my bank account record, my gym membership, and my medical forms. Since I married my husband and moved to Japan, I’ve worked off an on as a freelance writer for US publications and universities, but, especially once I started going through medical treatments there to try to have a baby in my 40s and let much of my freelance work slide, I essentially contributed nothing financial to our life in Japan and for all intents and purposes had the role of keeping the house and cooking for both my husband and my father-in-law (whom I absolutely adored). When I needed money, my husband gave it to me. When I needed to go to the bank or the doctor or sometimes even the post-office, he (or my father-in-law) went with me, because I didn’t speak the language (and still don’t speak much of it).

Another thing the book explores, though, is how surprised I was to find that this role didn’t bother me nearly as much as I would have expected back in my days as a single, independent Boston academic, and that the reason for that, I came to realize, was two-fold: 1) Because it was a role I essentially chose and knew that, If I needed to, I could back out of by returning to my own country and my old way of life, and 2) because much of the time, it felt like (and sometimes still does) just a role I was playing out of respect to my father-in-law and his old-world Japanese upbringing and even for my husband and the mores of his world. Because it was something I felt like I “played at” in my life in Japan, it felt separate from my real essence, my real American self, and thus didn’t feel threatening to me or what seemed like my “real” identity. And that ironic mix of “real” and “just role” was – and still is – fascinating to me, that something can be an actual, common, time-consuming part of ones (or my, at least) current life and even marriage and feel like just a role, and the reason for that was because the culture in where it was all happening, and where it was all coming from, wasn’t “mine.”

One thing about Japan is, there’s a strong sense here of who is Japanese and who isn’t, and if you’re not Japanese, you will never really belong. I’m OK with that, because I like being American. And one interesting way that belief system has ended up impacting me is to provide a sort of buffer in my sense of self between the things I do and the way I live in Japan, on one hand, and my sense of my “true” self (i.e., my “American” self) on the other. I realize this is all just a psychological state of affairs, and that therefor some might say the buffer is illusory or even self-delusion, but frankly, it works and it feels real to me – and I’m not sure I buy the equation of psychological vs actual anyway, so…

Tracy SlaterHow has being part of (and leader within) a local community of writers impacted your work?
Four Stories has given me so much as a writer. When I started the series, I’d only ever written as an academic. I knew I wanted to start writing narrative, writing more creatively, and I knew after 6 years in a PhD program that I wasn’t going back to school to get an MFA, so Four Stories in many essential ways became my MFA program, I learned so much about writing narrative and telling stories from the writers whom I listened to as they read at Four Stories or whose work I became exposed to through the events. I still have a ways to go in learning how to tell masterful stories, but I believe I never would have gotten the start I’ve had if it weren’t for all I learned from Four Stories’ past authors.

The series also kept me afloat in my sense of myself as a writer in a way that became invaluable when I moved to Japan. It enabled me to stay in touch with the incredibly vibrant and exciting and supportive Boston literary community, even though I was literally halfway across the planet. I wonder if a little piece of myself might have just shriveled up and died without this, the piece of myself that fueled my energy and motivation to keep writing from so far away. For that as well, I’m deeply grateful.

How has the experience of living in a non-English-speaking country impacted the way you write?
Well, for one, I write a fair bit about being in a marriage where neither one of us shares a complete fluency – and all the surprising things I like about that. So I suppose if we lived in an English-speaking country, my husband would eventually become totally fluent in English in a way I don’t think he will just by being married to an American and speaking English with only me and only in our home.

There’s a lot more about this in the book, but I love his malapropisms and his totally charming – to me at least – way of speaking a language that isn’t his native one. To take an instance that isn’t in the book: the other night, I was totally exhausted, washing the dishes after dinner and after a long day where our toddler (who still hasn’t learned the meaning of “sleeping through the night” in either English or Japanese) hadn’t napped at all, and my husband was reading bedtime stories to her in the living room. So I hear him reading about the “itchy bitchy spider.” (Japanese substitutes a “chi” sound for our “si” or “sy” sound.) Well, that cheered me right up – in a way I don’t think even an understanding murmur from him or an extra hour of sleep could have.

The unauthorized biography of your life is titled:
The Bad Shufu. Of course, that would also be the more accurate title, too. If you could see the laundry piling up – or the poor state of affairs of my daughter’s bento’s (lunchboxes) when she goes to Japanese daycare, especially in comparison to the other mothers’ little cartoon character-shaped rice balls – you’d know what I mean.

Share a surprise twist in the Tracy Slater story.
A funny thing happened on the way to my fulfilling a book contract to write, in part, about sustaining a fruitful and meaningful marriage despite not being able to have children.

I wrote The Good Shufu after an editor (my dream editor, actually, but that’s another story) at Putnam read something that I wrote in the New York Times online and contacted me, asking if I’d be interested in submitting a memoir proposal. The article she’d read was about my struggle to have a baby in my 40s in a country where I didn’t speak the language and with a man whom I both loved deeply and who came from a very different culture – with very different views about parenting – than my native one. So when I submitted the proposal and Putnam accepted it and I started writing the book, it was supposed to end with me turning 45 and my husband and I being in a childless but still very meaningful marriage. Then, six months before I was supposed to turn in the whole manuscript, when I was 45 and a half, I became pregnant – naturally, if you can believe it. (I sometimes still cannot. And let me digress a second here in case anyone is reading this who is trying to have a baby and struggling: I’m thinking of you. You are incredibly brave for what you are going through. Not all stories end happily, I know, but not all the dire statistics or the “do’s and don’ts” are true, either. Here’s something I recently wrote with you in mind: https://thegoodshufu.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/getting-through-to-getting-pregnant-at-45/. I will be keeping you in my thoughts.)

In any case, obviously the ending of the book had to change with my pregnancy. I handed in the final manuscript, and two weeks later, at four months past my 46th birthday, I gave birth to our baby girl. As I write in the acknowledgements of the book, our daughter gave me a happier ending than I could have ever dared to dream.

What’s next?
I’m working on 1) getting our baby to sleep through the night, and then 2) cultivating the time and energy to write a book about raising a child in a culture so radically different from my own – especially a child who is a citizen of a country that will always, eternally and inevitably, consider me a foreigner. As I write in the last pages of The Good Shufu, which ends halfway through my pregnancy, “In a sense, [Japan has] now become an irrevocable part of my body, the flesh of my flesh deriving from a foreign world. How does one reconcile such paradoxes?”

Hopefully, while writing the next book, I can at least start to reconcile a paradox such as this.

The author will read from the book at a Four Stories event on June 26, 6:30 PM, at Middlesex Lounge in Cambridge. The book launch takes place on June 30, 7 PM, at Newtonville Books in Newton Center.

Tracy Slater is the author of
The Good Shufu and founder of the award-winning global literary series Four Stories. She has published essays in The New York Times online, CNNGo, Best Women’s Travel Writing 2008, Boston Magazine, the Boston Globe, and more. Tracy earned her PhD in English and American Literature from Brandeis University and is the recipient of the PEN New England 2008 “Friend of Writers” award.

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Couched Artist Opportunities

June 15th, 2015

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Choreographers Proposals for the 2015-16 season at The Dance Complex are now being accepted. Proposals for Winter into Spring are especially being sought, although they have a few weekends open for Fall into Winter. Learn more.

Jewelry Artists Entries are now being accepted for Art Jewelry: New Voices, a juried exhibition at Dedee Shattuck Gallery in Westport. Questions, contact Gabrielle@dedeeshattuckgallery.com
Learn more.
Deadline: June 20, 2015

Call to Artists and Graphic Designers Brockton Gateway has issued a call to artists to design the 2015 Farmer’s Market logo for use in all marketing efforts, including totes, tee shirts, and art posters. Logo design should include “Brockton Farmer’s Market” and “2015.” Selected artist will receive $1,000. Submit two jpg files, one b&w and one full color, of proposed design, by email to Rob May, Director of Planning and Economic Development, City of Brockton, at rmay@cobma.us. Learn more.
Deadline: June 23, 2015, noon

Call for Art ArcWorks invites artists from Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire to submit 2D and 3D works to the juried exhibit Dog Days of SummerLearn more.
Deadline: June 27, 2015

Women Poets, Creative Nonfiction Writers Grant Applications are now being accepted for the Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Individual Artist Grants for Women. Grants of $500 to $1,500 each are given twice yearly to feminist writers who are citizens of the United States or Canada. The current round of grants will be awarded to women poets and creative nonfiction writers. Learn more.
Deadline: June 30, 2015

Poetry Bauhan Publishing is now accepting submissions for the 2015 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Learn more.
Deadline: June 30, 2015

Call for Children’s Artwork Children ages 0 through end of middle school are invited to submit their artwork to be included in Luminarium’s Amherst Storybook Project. Selected images will be highlighted on Luminarium’s facebook page, and at the end of the gathering period 12 images will be selected to be projected onto Luminarium’s company members for the creation of a new picturebook. Applicants must be from the Greater Amherst area (or Pioneer Valley). Learn more.
Deadline: June 30, 2015

Call for Art The Nave Gallery Annex in Somerville seeks artwork that explores the idea of Who Might I Be. 2 or 3-D work will be considered, including but not limited to photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, and mixed media. The juror is Mara Brod. Learn more.
Deadline: July 1, 2015

Call for Events Citi Performing Arts Center has issued a call for events for ArtWeek Boston Fall 2015. ArtWeek is a 10-day biannual celebration of the arts that showcases the work of arts and cultural organizations with unique experiences. Submit arts and cultural programs to participate in ArtWeek, which takes place September 25-October 4, 2015. Learn more.
Deadline (Early Bird): July 24; Deadline (Final): August 7

Of Note: Find or list creative live/work or work space in Massachusetts on ArtSake’s Creative Space Classifieds. And to find ongoing, available rental opportunities for creative space, visit SpaceFinder Mass.

Image credit: Photograph of the band the Levis by Chuck Cramer. From The Basement Walls.

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Fellowships History Project

June 15th, 2015

Sachiko Akiyama (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow '05, Finalist '15), WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? (2014) wood, metal, paint, resin, 46.5x46x24 in

We at the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) are working on a history project. We want to highlight and celebrate the storied history of Artist Fellowships funding in Massachusetts.

If you are a past awardee of the Artist Fellowships program, please help us illuminate this history by submitting a response to our Artist Fellowships Alumni Book. The Alumni Book is our way of staying connected (or reconnecting, as the case may be), and giving you a chance to tell your story of the award’s impact.

In the weeks and months ahead, we may ask to share your story here on ArtSake as a way of growing support for artists in Massachusetts.

Visit MCC’s Artist Fellowships Alumni Book.

Image: Sachiko Akiyama (Sculpture/Installation/New Genres Fellow ’05, Finalist ’15), WHERE DO WE COME FROM? WHO ARE WE? WHERE ARE WE GOING? (2014) wood, metal, paint, resin, 46.5x46x24 in.

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Artist Opportunities Netminder

June 9th, 2015

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Take your best shot!

Of Note: SpaceFinder Mass is like an Airbnb for creative spaces.

Of Note: The Massachusetts Cultural Council is hosting a series of webinars for the UP inclusive design initiative. A webinar on Wednesday, June 10, 1-2 PM, explores Inclusive Theater, followed by a discussion of Inclusive Exhibits on Monday, June 15, 1-2 PM. Both webinars will feature representatives from Massachusetts cultural organizations discussing their work in inclusive theater and exhibits, share tips and lessons learned from their experience, and spark ideas for simple things you can do to make your work more inclusive to all. Learn more and register.

Choreographers Luminarium Dance has announced their call to artists for The 24-Hr ChoreoFest, an opportunity for Boston’s diverse and varied choreographers to unite through an equally shared experience, while pushing each other to our personal limits and to create new work. Learn more.
Deadline: June 12, 2015

Printmaking Residency Zea Mays Printmaking, one of the premier green studios in the USA, is now accepting applications for residencies which would provide artists an opportunity to learn the latest developments in safer and non-toxic printmaking. Learn more.
Deadline: Rolling basis

Women Filmmakers, Directors, Producers Entries are now being accepted for the Loreen Arbus Disability Awareness Grant,  a film completion grant of $7,500 to a woman filmmaker for a film on physical or developmental disability issues. Director and producers are eligible to apply. Films may be of any length or genre, and must be works-in-progress that have completed principle photography. Filmmakers must be U.S.-based.  Learn more.
Deadline: June 15, 2015

Call for Art The Jonathan Ferrara Gallery is accepting entries for their annual exhibition NO DEAD ARTISTS,  open to living, emerging to established artists working throughout the world. All mediums are accepted including, but not limited to, painting, sculpture, design, glass, metalwork, photography, video, mixed media and installation art. Learn more.
Deadline: June 15, 2015

Fiction Entries are now being accepted for the New American Press Fiction Prize. The winner receives $1,000 and publication by New American Press. Larry Watson will judge. Using the online submission system, submit a collection of short stories or flash fiction, a novella, or a novel between 100 and 500. Learn more.
Deadline: June 15, 2015

Poets Entries are now being accepted for the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s Poetry Competition. A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a poem that has not won a national competition. Sascha Feinstein will judge. Submit up to three poems totaling no more than five pages. Learn more.
Deadline: June 19, 2015

Women Playwrights The Athena Project is now accepting submissions for its Plays In Progress Series (PIP Series). This series will take place in Denver over the course of 3 weekends, in March 2016, as part of a larger arts festival celebrating women artists, including the yet-to-be named world premiere, winner of this year’s PIP Series. Four new plays will be selected based on a blind submission process and given a dramaturg, director, designers, cast and workshop presentation during the festival. One play from the 2016 PIP Series will win a full production to be produced in March of 2017, based on a combination of audience vote and board input. Learn more.
Deadline: June 19, 2015

Playwrights The North Park Playwright Festival in San Diego, CA, is seeking new short plays (15 minutes or shorter) that are easily staged, have casts of 4 or fewer, and have minimal set requirements. Plays should be complete (no excerpts from longer works) and preferably unproduced. Festival directors will choose plays. Any themes and subjects are welcome; the only regulation is no nudity. Include a title page with complete contact information, a character summary, and the script in proper format. Only one submission per playwright. NOTE: No e-mail submissions. No Fee. North Park Vaudeville and Candy Shoppe, 2031 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego, CA 92104, Attn. Summer Golden, Artistic Director .
Deadline: June 30, 2015

Filmmakers The Broad Humor Film Festival (September 24-27, 2015, Los Angeles, CA) features funny films written and directed by women. Entries must either be written or directed by a woman, and the subject matter must include “a healthy dose of humor.” Learn more.
Deadline: June 30, 2015

Photography Entries are now being accepted for the 2015 Somerville Toy Camera festival at Nave Gallery, Nave Gallery Annex and Washington Street Art Center. The juror is Aline Smithson. Learn more.
Deadline: July 1, 2015

Artist Grants The Artist’s Resource Trust provides grants to talented mid-career visual artists who have demonstrated substantial commitment and who have a financial need. A.R.T. supports artists (aged 35 or older) living in New England, or Columbia or Northeast Dutchess Counties, NY. Learn more.
Deadline: August 1, 2015

Image credit: Photograph from Bread City.org.

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