Archive for the ‘environmental art’ Category

Sept. 20 Artist Fellowships Deadline Fast Approaching!

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Composers, dramatic writers, and sculpture/installation artists: the deadline to apply for a 2011 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition, Playwriting, or Sculpture/Installation is this Monday, September 20, 2010 (this is a postmark deadline for mailed materials).

In other words: there’s still time! Read full program guidelines and apply – pronto, ASAP, and post haste.

The fellowships are anonymously-judged grants of $7,500 and finalist awards $500, based solely on the artistic excellence of the work submitted.

In this post you can see/hear some of the work that’s been successful in this grant; the image is a still from the performance piece Bailout by TRIIIBE (Sculpture/Installation Fellows ’09); in the audio clip you can hear Company One performing a scene from Reservoir by 2009 Playwriting Fellow Eric Henry Sanders.

And check out our tips for applying, based on feedback from past Artist Fellowships panelists and our own observations.

Image and media: Still from the performance piece BAILOUT (2008) by TRIIIBE; Company One performs a scene from Reservoir by Eric Henry Sanders (Playwriting Fellow ’09), directed by Shawn LaCount, with Fedna Jacquet as Psychiatrist and Brett Marks as Hasek.

Dog Power: Matthew Mazzotta’s Park Spark Project

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

ArtSake’s extreme fondness for all things canine has lead us to share with you a most wonderful public art project created in partnership with the Cambridge Arts Council. Tired of looking for a trash barrel to deposit the daily waste created by Fido or Poochie? It is a waste of waste. So Matthew Mazzotta has created the Park Spark Project, a public methane digester in Pacific Street Park that uses dog waste and turns it into energy. It is the first dog park methane digester installed in the U.S. (yeah Cambridge)! We caught up with Matthew to have him to tell us more. 

What inspired you to create this project?
“Actually, I was walking down the street and I saw my friend Clay, who I don’t see that often, walking his dog. He said he was going to the dog park so I went with him to catch up with how he was doing. I had recently gone to India, with MIT’s D-lab program to study appropriate technologies. Having been interested in methane digesters for years, I was able to see them being used firsthand in India. There, women collect the cow dung with their hands and mix it up with water and then dump it into their digesters. Somewhat similar to what people do at dog parks, but the women in India don’t wear bags on their hands.

Sitting at Pacific Street Dog Park watching the dogs, I saw an almost overflowing garbage can full of dog waste and said to Clay ‘In other countries, people use that for fuel to cook with, that can is just a pile of energy.’

Even though we don’t see many small-scale digesters in the US, we are starting to see them on farms. As the issues around climate change are becoming more debated, methane is now being seen to be 30-70 times more potent as a green house gas than Carbon Dioxide. That means animal farms are being targeted as environmental polluters.

The Park Spark project is making visible how we as the city handle the waste from the animals of our communities and what the potential can be. Although, in India, the methane collected goes to a stove to cook with, I started imagining what a community of a city would use their energy for.”

What has been the most surprising thing to result from this project?
“Although, I wrote a grant to MIT to fund the project, I have been in conversation with the city about doing this for almost a year. There have been many discussions about this project, sometimes hopeful and sometimes not so much. The most surprising aspect, and the one I find amazing, is that I was able to work with the city and realize something so new and experimental. With many different parts of the city giving advice, I think the project was actually improved from what I had initially proposed. It was inspiring to see that someone can work with the city and achieve great results.”

What do you imagine dogs think about this?
“Well, I think that every dog that has entered the park has blessed the project (by peeing on it), so even if they don’t understand the implications of the Park Spark, it is nice to see that they are more than willing to live with it.”

The Park Spark Project Location: (Sidney St. between Pacific and Tudor), Cambridge, MA
Dates: August 25 – September 25, 2010

First Meeting: Wednesday, September 1st at 7:00 p.m.*
Livable Streets Alliance
100 Sidney Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
*Humans only
Learn more about the Park Spark Project
Image credits: All images courtesy of Matthew Mazzotta

In Worcester, a Splash of Public Sculptures

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Art in the Park, Worcester features sixteen sculptures by New England artists placed around (and in) the ponds of historic Elm Park. The public exhibit, which is free and on display through October 1, 2010, is organized by the Worcester Arts Council.

Learn more about the sculptures, the artists, and the series of related events for Art in the Park.

Images: Ken Reker, WATER; Lu Heinz, LEAFBOMB; Fernando DeOliveira, JELLYFISH; Kathryn Lipke Vigesaa, MELT/WATER. All images from the 2010 Art in the Park, Worcester exhibition, on display in Elm Park through October 1, 2010.

Fellows Notes – June

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

June 2010

We compile a monthly list of presentations, honors, publications, and events featuring past and present MCC Artist Fellows & Finalists. As you’ll see, the news is good – not just about these award-winning artists, but also about the breadth and vitality of contemporary arts throughout the Commonwealth.

Two past fellows are featured in Solstice: a Magazine for Diverse Voices. Poetry by Ben Berman (Poetry Fellow ’08) and short fiction by Grace Talusan (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’02) were included in the Winter/Spring 2010 issue.

Patrick Donnelly (Poetry Fellow ’08) joins stage/screen writer Sinan Ünel (Playwriting Finalist ’07) for a reading at the Lesley University MFA Program summer residency, in the Marran Theater in Cambridge, on Sunday, June 27 at 7 PM. The full reading series schedule also includes Rachel Kadish (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction ’08) on June 28 at 7 PM, and later, NPR writer David Rakoff.

Two past fellows/finalists recently received funding from The LEF Foundation’s Moving Image Fund. Marlo Poras (Film & Video Fellow ’05) received a $15,000 production grant to work on The Mosuo Sisters, about two sisters who lose their jobs in Beijing and return home to a remote Himalayan village to help keep their family afloat. Jeff Daniel Silva (Film & Video Finalist ’09) was awarded a $25,000 post-production grant for his film Ivan and Ivana, about a couple from war-torn Kosovo, now making a life in the US. Congratulations!

Irina Rozovsky (Photography Finalist ’09) is among the artists exhibiting in Familiar Bodies at Carroll and Sons Gallery in Boston. The exhibition, which includes the work of photographers who focus their cameras on the nearest people in their lives, also includes Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison (Photography Fellow ’01), Camilo Ramirez (Photography Fellow ’09), and Sage Sohier (Photography Finalist ’05). The show runs through June 26, with an opening reception June 4th, 5:30-7:30 PM.


Brian Corey (Painting Fellow ’08) has a solo show at Kingston Gallery in Boston, called The Terrain That Remains. The show runs June 2-27, 2010, with an opening reception Friday, June 4, 5-7:30 PM, and an artist’s talk Saturday, June 12, 4 PM.

Denver Office of Cultural Affairs: we applaud your good taste in public artists. They recently commissioned Janet Echelman (Crafts & Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’09) to create a Biennial of the Americas installation.

Ralf Yusuf Gawlick (Music Composition Fellow ’09) premiered Kinderkreuzzug, his dramatic cantata for children’s voices and small chamber ensemble, in April (read about it on ArtSake). Boston College has put together a fabulous audio slideshow about the performances.

Michael Hoerman (Poetry Fellow ’04) will read on June 17 for ThoughtCrime, a reading series at Khon’s Wine Bar and Darts, 2808 Milam in Houston, Texas. He joins the roster of the 5th Annual Word Around Town Tour for a weeklong series of readings around Houston in July. On September 10 and 11 he will be a featured performer at Houston Fringe Fest, an annual performing arts festival presented by FrenetiCore at Frenetic Theater in Houston’s East End.

Lisa Kessler’s (Photography Finalist ’05) solo exhibition Seeing Pink is at the Davis Orton Gallery in Hudson, NY. The show, which explores the idea of the color pink in American, runs June 3-June 27, with an opening reception Saturday June 12, 6-8 PM.

Yanick Lapuh (Painting Fellow ’10) is among the artists in Eye Spy: Playing with Perception at the Peabody Essex Museum, June 19, 2010 to June 1, 2011.

Jane D. Marsching (Photography Finalist ’03) has a host of Spring/Summer exhibitions and events. She’s part of Resurrectine at the Ronald Feldman Gallery, NYC, through June 28, a large-scale group show that embraces the notion of transformation. In April, Jane opened a dual photo exhibition (with Andrea Juan) called Tribute Phase II: Polar Encounter. Sites for the exhibition, which was curated by Veronica Willenberg, CEO of Art in Lobby, include the International Book Fair, the PanAmerican Hotel, and Botanica Gardens, all in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Jane will also take part in an alumni exhibition of art at Hampshire College’s Johnson Gallery (June 11-July 30, 2010, reception June 12, 4-6 PM).

Tara L. Masih’s (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Finalist ’96) Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction was awarded a bronze medal from the 2009 ForeWord Book of the Year Awards in the writing category.

Congratulations to Cynthia Maurice (Drawing Fellow ’02), who received the Jurors First Prize from the Danforth Museum 2010 Off The Wall Juried Exhibit. The prize was selected by Jen Mergel, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, MFA and Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator of the ICA.

Nathalie Miebach (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’09) is among the artists exhibiting in The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft at the Fuller Craft Museum, through February 6, 2011. Artists in this show use new technologies in tandem with traditional craft materials – clay, glass, wood, metal and fiber – to forge new artistic directions.

Liz Nofziger (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’05) has a solo show, Underwater, at the Melle Finelli Studio, June 4-July 16, 2010, opening reception: June 4, 5 – 8 PM.

Monica Nydam (Painting Fellow ’10) has a solo show of new paintings at LaMontagne Gallery in Boston, through June 19.

Linda Price-Sneddon (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’01) has a solo show at HallSpace in Boston, Soon… Our Salvation. The show, which opens Saturday, June 5 (reception 3-6 PM) and runs to July, is inspired by the UFO Mythos, Armageddon evangelism and small town parades.

Monica Raymond’s (Playwriting Finalist ’07, Poetry Finalist ’08) radio play The Telemarketer will be performed on Shoestring Radio Theater on KUSF 90.3 FM in San Francisco. The performance will air at 6:30 PM Eastern time, June 30, and listeners outside the San Francisco area can access a live Internet stream. The performance will also stream for one week following the live broadcast, on Shoestring Theatre’s Web site.

Salvatore Scibona (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’06) was named as one of The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 fiction writers to watch.

Leslie Sills (Crafts Fellow ’95) has a mixed-media sculpture in a furniture exhibition at the Mobilia Gallery in Cambridge. The exhibition runs June 15-July 31st, with an opening reception June 17, 6-8 PM.

Orbiting Mars, a full-length comedy by Peter Snoad (Playwriting Fellow ’09), will receive a staged reading at the Penobscot Theatre in Bangor, ME June 23 in its Northern Writes New Play Festival. The play recently won the annual new play contest of Santa Cruz Actors’ Theatre in Santa Cruz, CA. Several of Peter’s short plays have been staged recently or are slated for upcoming productions. The Greening of Bridget Kelly and My Name is Art will feature in the London Fringe August 11-14, part of a repeat of Liminal Productions’ “American Bytes” series by emerging American playwrights that was first produced in April at the New Wimbledon Studio in Wimbledon, London. Stone’s Soup Theatre in Seattle included The Greening of Bridget Kelly in its short play festival in May, and My Name is Art can be seen at the Raconteur Theatre in Columbus, OH through June 12. Boston Actors’ Theatre produced Either Or in its SLAMBoston festival on May 19. Peter has a new website where you can check out his work: www.petersnoad.com.

Cam Terwilliger (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’08) was featured in a recent Boston Globe article by Danielle Dreilinger about a memoir writing workshop he ran for seniors living at the Somerville Home. Cam was supported in the effort by a Somerville Arts Council grant.

Debra Weisberg (Drawing Fellow ’08) is among the artists in By Hand at Brickbottom Gallery, Somerville, June 6-26, opening reception Sunday, June 6, 6-8 PM.

Rachel Perry Welty (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’09, Drawing Fellow ’04) was commissioned by the Museum of Fine Arts Boston to create a limited edition benefit artwork.

Deb Todd Wheeler (Sculpture/Installation Fellow ’03) has a solo exhibition, BLEW, at the Miller Block Gallery in Boston. The show, which runs through June 26, features blown film polyethylene – aka plastic. Read a nano-interview with Deb on ArtSake.

Tracy Winn’s (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’08) short story collection Mrs. Somebody Somebody comes out this month in paperback, and she’ll be reading at the Salem Athenaeum on June 11 at 5 PM, at Newtonville Books on June 17 at 7 PM, at Barnes & Noble in Lowell on June 18 at 7 PM, at The Book Rack in Newburyport on June 19 at 3 PM, and at Gibson Books in Concord, New Hampshire on July 1 at 7 PM.

Jeff Zimbalist’s (Film & Video Fellow ’05) documentary The Two Escobars, a film about the convergent stories of murdered soccer star Andrés Escobar and Columbian drug baron Pablo Escobar, will have a Hometown Screening in the historic Academy of Music in Northampton on Sunday, June 20 at 7:30 PM, followed by a post-screening Q&A. The film, which was commissioned to celebrate ESPN’s 30th anniversary with 30 documentary films, will have its ESPN premiere on June 22. It also premieres in Florida and screens at the Los Angeles Film Festival this month (on Friday, June 18th and Sunday, June 20th) and recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival and the Cannes International Film Festival.

Past Fellows Notes
May 2010
Apr. 2010
Mar. 2010
Feb. 2010
Jan. 2010

Are you a past fellow or finalist with an event, honor, or other bit of news you’d like to share? Tell us about it.

Images: Linda Price-Sneddon, drawing from the SOON…OUR SALVATION suite; Brian Corey, COORDINATES UNKNOWN (2010), Ink, Acrylic, on Paper,7×8 in; Lisa Kessler, CODE PINK, from SEEING PINK; Deb Todd Wheeler, image from BLEW.

Exports/Imports: a round-up

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

Exported (temporarily): If you spent last Wednesday searching up and down Massachusetts for master balafon player Balla Kouyate, here’s why you couldn’t find him. Balla, a recent Artist Fellow in Traditional Arts, was in D.C. performing at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, and later at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Our sibling blog, Keepers of Tradition, has the scoop on this unique honor.

Exported (less temporarily): Jason Schupbach, the state’s very first creative economy industry director, is also D.C.-bound, but for more than a visit. He’s been named Director of Design at the National Endowment for the Arts. Jason, who’s also the former director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council’s ArtistLink project, introduces himself in a Q&A on the NEA Art Works blog. Full of surprises: who knew Jason has a cheese-themed video blog?

Exported (virtually): Evan Garza, who recently served on our Painting panel in the Artist Fellowships Program and is an editor at large at New American Paintings and curator/gallery manager at Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, is guest blogging at the Art21 blog.

And: the New Yorker’s Book Bench blog talks with Cambridge author Allegra Goodman (on the occasion of the publishing of her Cambridge-set short story “La Vita Nuova”).

Imported: we recently covered Hannah Barrett (Painting ’04) and her artistic partnership with the historic Gibson House in Boston. Another historic Massachusetts site, Hancock Shaker Village in the Berkshires, has caught the contemporary artist-in-residence bug, and is hosting a master woodworker from Syracuse.

Locally made (and played): at the Huntington Theatre blog announces an intriguing series of site-specific audio plays by its Huntington Playwriting Fellows. A sampling: Kirsten Greenidge “eavesdrops” on two sisters outside the Co-op in Harvard Square, Martha Jane Kaufman slips between different types of “tea parties” at the Boston Harbor, and Ken Urban orchestrates a meet-up (set up online) at an MBTA station.

Looking for perfect synchronicity between a documentary subject and its screening venue? Just follow the green arrows behind Fresh Pond Cinema. A free rough-cut screening of Foreign Parts, a documentary by Verena Parvel and J.P. Sniadecki, will take place at Aladdin Auto Service, 162 Alewife Brook Parkway in Cambridge, on Saturday, May 8th at 6 PM (reception at 7 PM). Verena Parvel will be on hand to discuss the film, about a New York junkyard under the threat of demolition.

Arts blogger Greg Cook continues to do yeoman’s work (not that I understand precisely what a “yeoman” does – but I mean it as a compliment), covering the region’s highs, such as art inspired by Boston’s recent aquapolypse, and lows, such as the sad news of the impending closure of the Judi Rotenberg Gallery on Newbury Street.

New to the whole artist/gallery partnership process? The GYST blog has your starter kit: everything you ever wanted to know about galleries.

Finally, we thought you might enjoy this quote from writer James Arthur, from the Ploughshares blog, on the notion of “experience” as a writer:

At 19, I interpreted experience as mild psychedelic adventures and having a girlfriend. At 22, after a lackluster undergraduate career, I felt that I needed more job experience: more experience of what I then called “the real world.” At 27, I was in an MFA program, and I knew that a writer is someone who sits at a desk and writes.

Yep. To paraphrase what the wise man – or was it the massive transnational corporation? – once said: “Just do it, artists.”

Image: Balla Kouyate on balafon and Markane Kouyate on talking drum. Photo by Maggie Holtzberg.

Fellows Notes – April

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

April 2010

We compile a monthly list of presentations, honors, publications, and events featuring past and present MCC Artist Fellows & Finalists. As you’ll see, the news is good – not just about these award-winning artists, but also about the breadth and vitality of contemporary arts throughout the Commonwealth.

Three MCC Fellows/Finalists are featured in an exhibition of Artadia Boston’s recent awardees at the Mills Gallery in the Boston Center for the Arts. Work by Claire Beckett (Photography Fellow ’07), Ambreen Butt (Drawing Finalist ’10), and Eric Gottesman (Photography Fellow ’09), along with that of Caleb Cole, Raúl González, Amie Siegel and Joe Zane, will be on exhibit through April 25, 2010.

Steve Almond (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’08) visits the Brattle Theatre (hosted by Harvard Bookstore) on Friday, April 16 for a musical celebration of his new book, Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life, an ode/confessional for the musical superfan in all of us.

Congratulations to S. Bear Bergman (Playwriting Fellow ’05). Bear’s essay collection The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You is a finalist for a 2010 Lambda Literary Award.

David Binder’s (Photography Fellow ’01) documentary Calling My Children is screening at the Sacramento International Film Festival on April 19. The film recently screened at the Bermuda International Film Festival on March 24.

Martha Jane Bradford (Drawing Fellow ’85) is creating an exciting educational exhibit for the Cahners ComputerPlace at the Museum of Science, Boston, on digital and virtual art. The exhibit, an immersive installation with sound and video projections that emulate the environments Martha creates in Second Life, will further visitors’ understanding of digital images and of making virtual art. You can find more information, as well as a video tour of Martha’s Second Life creations, on her blog. Incidentally, the Museum is currently accepting applications for a Technical Designer Internship for this exhibit.

Alicia Casilio, Sara Casilio, Kelly Casilio, and Cary Wolinsky, aka TRIIIBE (Sculpture/Installation Fellows ’09) will have a solo show at Gallery Kayafas in Boston, April 15-May 29, 2010. Dates to know: Saturday, April 17, opening reception, 6-9 PM; Friday, April 30, Crime Night, 6-9 PM; First Friday, May 7, Multiples Night (for look-alikes and like-a-looking), 6-9 PM; Friday, May 28, Last Chance!, 6-9 PM.

Michael Downing (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Finalist ’08) wrote an essay for Huffington Post about his experience as an “embedded reporter” in the healthcare debate.

Kurt Cole Eidsvig (Poetry Fellow ’04) is taking part in x/o: a visual/sound/spoke word installation on Saturday, April 24, 7 PM, at the Fort Point Theatre Channel, Fort Point, Boston. The free event, created by Kurt, Martin Cockroft, and Brendan Murray uses art, sound, poetry, and projected imagery for a 90-minute performance on opposites, building blocks, and the relationships between things. The event will include the premiere of X-and-O.com, an Internet installation created by Eidsvig, Murray, and Claude Keswani.

Vico Fabbris (Painting Fellow ’06) will have a solo exhibition of watercolors and works on paper, called Floralies, at Gurari Collections in Boston. The exhibition continues Vico’s exploration of the precariousness of the natural world through invented botanicals. The exhibition runs April 2 through May 2, 2010, with an opening reception April 2, 6-9 PM.

Ralf Yusuf Gawlick (Music Composition Fellow ’09) will premiere Kinderkreuzzug, his dramatic cantata for children’s voices and small chamber ensemble, on Saturday, April 10, 7:30 PM, at St. Ignatius, Chestnut Hill and again on Sunday, April 11, 3 PM Trinity Episcopal, Concord. The cantata, which takes as its source material Bertolt Brecht’s extraordinary and grim anti-war poetry, will be performed by two New England choirs and a German boys choir sponsored to fly to the region specifically for this piece. The choirs will record the cantata for the label Musica Omnia. Read more about Ralf and Kinderkreuzzug in an ArtSake profile.

Congratulations to D.M. Gordon (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’08), who won first place the Glimmer Train Short Story for New Writers Prize!

Liza Johnson (Film & Video Finalist ’03, ’07) has won a Cinereach Grant for her film Return, which follows a female soldier home from a tour of duty.

Masako Kamiya (Painting Fellow ’06, ’10) has a solo show at Gallery NAGA in Boston: “Masako Kamiya: New Work 2009-2010,” running April 3-May 1, with an artist reception on April 2 (6-8 PM) and an artist talk on April 10, 2 PM. The show is presented in conjunction with the mid-career retrospective of Masako’s work at the Danforth Museum of Art, Masako Kamiya Outspoken: 2002-2010, through May 16.

Yanick Lapuh (Painting Fellow ’10) is among the local artists whose work will light up a gallery at the Boston Children’s Museum with “their yellowy best.” The Yellow Show will run April 22-June 20, 2010.

Melinda Lopez’s (Playwriting Fellow ’03) play From Orchids to Octopi: an Evolutionary Love Story runs at Central Square Theatre through May 2, 2010. The play was commissioned by the National Institutes of Health to celebrate the 150th anniversary of “On the Origin of Species.” From Orchids to Octopi is a project of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT – Underground Railway Theater’s science theater initiative with MIT. Read an interview with Melinda on ArtSake.

Julie Mallozzi (Film & Video Finalist ’07) wrote a fascinating essay on The Public Humanist, a blog of Mass Humanities, about her documentary-in-progress Lalita.

It won’t be your average artist talk when Jane D. Marsching (Photography Finalist ’03) presents 7 Stories & a Dance: Feeling Data at Upgrade! Boston on April 6, 7-9 PM, at MIT-ACT. Jane will “weave together an evening of storytelling, dancing, and conversation as part of her talk about recent projects that seek to translate abstract climate data and depressing climate news into sensory experiences.”

Anne Neely (Painting Finalist ’10) has a solo show of paintings called Waterlines at the Danforth Museum in Framingham. The show runs through May 16. Anne will give an artist talk on May 9 at 3 PM.

Mary O’Malley (Drawing Fellow ’06) has a solo show, called Super Natural, at Sam Lee Gallery in LA, through May 13.

Jim Peters (Painting Fellow ’08) is among the artists in an artSTRAND exhibition at Fort Point’s FP3 Gallery. Jim Peters’ mixed media piece of oil on canvas, photo and glass, “Blue Bath,” is part of a new series of works done in Paris and Provincetown and is inspired by French poetry and fiction. The show runs through April 30.

Monica Raymond (Playwriting Finalist ’07, Poetry Finalist ’08) will be participating in the Cambridge Poetry Festival in Jill Rhone Park (Lafayette Square, Cambridge, corner of Main and Columbia). The festival runs 12-5 PM on Sunday, April 18.

Evelyn Rydz (Drawing Fellow ’10) was featured on the website Artist a Day.

Vaughn Sills (Photography Fellow ’09) is among the artists in Shoot’n Southern: Women Photographers, Past and Present, at Mobile Museum of Art April 30 – July 18, 2010. The show will feature photographs from Vaughan’s series “Places for the Spirit: Traditional African American Gardens.”

Peter Snoad (Playwriting Fellow ’09) has two short plays, The Greening of Bridget Kelly and My Name is Art, in the “American Bytes” series by Liminal Space Productions at the New Wimbledon Studio in Wimbledon, London, UK. There will be four performances the week of April 5, 2010. My Name is Art will also be produced by Edgemar Theater Group in Santa Monica, CA April 23-May 16 as part of their “Acts on the Edge” series. And two of Peter’s other short plays are being staged this month: Apple Pie by the Boca Raton Theatre Guild in Boca Raton, FL April 23-25; and Resistance by Actors’ Refuge Repertory Theatre in Boston April 23-24.

Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz (Drawing Finalist ’06) was recently featured in The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley College’s Five from Around exhibition.

Jeff Warmouth’s (Sculpture/Installation Finalist ’05) solo exhibition, Food Court, was recently featured at UMASS Lowell’s University Gallery (closing April 2, 2010). The show consisted of three video installations — two of them interactive food stands that battle for your media-starved attention: JeffuBurger and the brand new Il Jeffuria Pizza. For a sense of what a JeffuBurger entails, visit Jeff’s website.

Past Fellows Notes
Mar. 2010
Feb. 2010
Jan. 2010

Are you a past fellow or finalist with an event, honor, or other bit of news you’d like to share? Tell us about it.

Image: TRIIIBE, PAINT BY NUMBERS, 50×42 in; images from FLORALIES by Vico Fabbris; Anne Neely, SURPRISE (2009) Oil on linen, 45×60 in (photo by Clements/Howcroft).

Artist Opportunities Beyond the Clouds

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

I was blue, just as blue as I could be
Ev’ry day was a cloudy day for me
Then good luck came a-knocking at my door
Skies were gray but they’re not gray anymore

Blue skies
Smiling at me
Nothing but blue skies
Do I see
from Blue Skies by Irving Berlin

Call to Artists: APOCALYPSE FOOD, an exhibition from the University of West Florida Art Department with a 20-year timespan, is holding an open call to all artists for food items and contraptions. From the call: “For this Exhibition we are looking for food items that discuss the possibilities of sustainability and shelf life while being creative with elements of design and structure. Contributors should have a curiosity in the manufacturing of food. We will accept any medium but encourage artists to work with food or closely related substances.” After the exhibition, all works will be locked in a time chest for 10 years, after which they will be unlocked and exhibited again. Then in for another 10 years in the time chest. Deadline is April 19, 2010. More info here.

The New Horizons Band program has chapters all over the country, for seniors who want to make new friends and share their love of music. The band is for those who have never before played an instrument and would like to learn in a group setting or who used to play but haven’t in some time. The band rehearses at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod every Monday at 3:30. If you’re interested in joining or would just like to learn more about the band, stop by on a Monday afternoon or call for more information. New members are always welcome. The Cultural Center of Cape Cod is located at 307 Old Main St., South Yarmouth. Call 508-394-7100.

Call to Artists: The Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (seARTS) invites artists to develop and implement public art projects for Partner With an Artist 2010, seARTS’ signature artist grant program. Artists are invited to submit proposals for Partner With an Artist 2010. Artist grant: $1,000; three grants will be awarded. The heart of Partner With an Artist is artists partnering with businesses in new and creative ways to develop public art. A different theme, or focus, is chosen for each cycle of the program. The focus for Partner With an Artist 2010 is the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) murals located in Gloucester City Hall. Innovative and bold ideas are welcome. For an application, click here.  Questions, contact seARTS.pwa@gmail.com or call 978-281-1222.
Deadline: Proposals due April 5, 2010.

Seeking Proposals for Exhibitions: The Northampton Center for the Arts is accepting proposals for upcoming monthly exhibits in its East Gallery. Submissions for individual and group shows will be considered for exhibitions to be scheduled from October 2010 to June 2011. The Center for the Arts is committed to showing the works of community artists from the greater Pioneer Valley area. Questions, contact: Penny Burke at ncfa@nohoarts.org or 413-584-737
Deadline: April 15, 2010

Call to Artists: Participate in FIGMENT BOSTON 2010
In collaboration with the Cambridge Arts Council, FIGMENT, an arts event featuring participatory arts projects in every conceivable medium, including interactive sculpture, performance, music, social experiments, games, and lectures, will take place alongside the Cambridge River Festival on Saturday, June 5 along Memorial Drive. Artists are invited to submit project ideas.
Deadline: Submissions due Saturday, May 1, 2010.

Call to Artists: The Cape Cod Fine Arts Festival will be held on August 28 and 29 on the Hyannis Village Green. Go here for more information.  Questions, call Elizabeth Wurfbain, Interim Executive Director, Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District, 508-775-7982 x 2.

Image credit: photograph by Paolo Neo

Nathalie Miebach: weaving science, sculpture, and music

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

For Nathalie Miebach, the mysteries of art and science are best engaged by their individual components: colors and temperatures, reed and wind speeds. Through a time- (and hands-) intensive weaving process, she creates sculptures that visually interpret scientific data. The resulting sculptures – intricately crafted yet curiously natural – invite new understandings of astronomy, ecology, meteorology. Nathalie’s work, recently seen in a solo show Sarah Doyle Gallery at Brown University, is now on exhibit in 185th Annual Invitational Exhibition of Contemporary American Art,  at NYC’s National Academy Museum (through 6/8). Locally, you can see her work in Transformations in Wellesley College’s Jewett Gallery (through 4/4).

Her explorations of art and science go one step further in her latest project, which first translates weather data into musical scores, and then into sculptural forms. The project will reach a peak this Sunday, March 14, 3 PM, at the Lily Pad in Inman Square, Cambridge, when the Axis Ensemble performs “Hurricane Noel,” one of Nathalie’s weather data musical scores, and she’ll present sculptural work from the same score.

We asked Nathalie about this project, the pull of the sciences, and her relationship with music composition.

ArtSake: Your recent works – including those that won you a 2009 Artist Fellowship – are woven sculptures derived from weather data. What sparked the addition of musical scores?

Nathalie: It’s a hard question for me to answer, because I’m still trying to figure it out myself. It has to do with nuances that are embedded in numerical behaviors that scientific instruments don’t pick up, but the human mind does. In that lies an imperfection/perfection of the human mind I find incredibly fascinating and beautiful. I’m becoming more interested in the way humans understand weather as opposed to how instruments record it. Musical notation has been a type of mediator in helping me give these nuanced, idiosyncratic ways of understanding weather a larger voice.

It was, in part, my growing interest in the nuances of behaviors I was observing in weather. After looking at meteorological data collected from weather stations and my own daily observations collected from a specific environment, I began to notice how I was relying and beginning to trust my own observations more than my instruments. Observing weather by looking at a computer screen versus daily observations taken from one’s own backyard yields a completely different understanding of the environmental interactions of weather. While I think both are important, I began to notice that my own observations were a lot more nuanced by the things I was observing in the environment around me. Weather never happens in isolation, but always in the context of an environment. Thus, observing weather is about observing an environment reacting / influencing weather.

That nuanced reading wasn’t coming through in my translations from numbers to sculpture. This is how I came to reach for musical notation, as a vehicle to allow me to integrate and give voice to that little glimmer of nuance that was creeping into my observations. Just like a composer can tweak and shape the notes of a melody, I can use tempo and rhythm to nuance the musical translation of the data into musical notes. The notes themselves are still based on actual numbers I collect.

I am beginning to realize how important it is to me to feel a little naive about what I’m working on. I seem to constantly gravitate towards that stage in learning where you don’t really know what you’re doing, cross your fingers and somehow intuitively hope for the best. I certainly feel that way about music and have been lucky enough to work with such patient (and polite) musicians who are both very forgiving and honest about my musical inabilities.

ArtSake: The sound clips from the project you’ve posted on your website are fascinating. What has surprised you about the musical performances? And how have you found the process of collaborating with musicians?

Nathalie: The biggest surprise to me is how it all comes back to sculpture. I got into musical notations because the sculptural language I was using was no longer reflecting the way I was interpreting and understanding the data. Translating scores into sculptures and listening to musicians interpret the data has made me rethink sculpture in so many ways. After sitting in on a rehearsal with the Axis Ensemble, I went back to my studio and just stared at my sculptures for two hours. I was blown away by the ease at which music can express so elegantly nuances of behaviors. Rather than feeling discouraged, I feel my respect for sculpture has been deepened because of music.

There is something very liberating about inviting other voices into the translation process. When I give musicians the score, I tell them what it’s about, what portions of the score are flexible and those that aren’t. Then I pretty much withdraw and give them lots of freedom in determining rhythm, tempo, number of instruments, etc. For me it’s important that they make it their own, for this is the whole purpose of inviting others into the translation process. It gives me other examples of interpretations that I can then use to reevaluate my own sculptural translations of the same score.

ArtSake: I’m curious about your background in the sciences. What drew you to weather in the first place?

Nathalie: I don’t have a background in science in that I was never formally trained, aside from a few continuing education courses I took / am taking at Harvard Extension School. However, I love science and the fact that the whole premise of it rests on doubt. I’m learning about the ocean right now and can’t get over the fact of how amazing barnacles are!

My first sculptural interpretations of data began with astronomy. Weather came into the picture in 2006 when I had two consecutive artist residencies at the Fine Arts Work Center. Zach Smith, a climate educator from the Wright Center for Science Education, knew of my work and approached me about a project on climate change. At the time I knew I wanted to figure out a way for me to collect my own data to see how the sculptural translation process would change. Until then I had relied mainly on data sources from the web. I was to field-test one of their instruments for the Wright Center on the beaches of Cape Cod, while I would be tutored on how to collect science data. I knew very little about weather and only the most basic Climate Change 101 information. I soon realized that if there was any hope for me to truly understand the complexity of climate change, I had to first understand weather. That’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since.

ArtSake: What is it about weaving that allows you to access and explore such complicated material?

Nathalie: Weather is not really complicated when you break it down to its components. It gets messy when you draw back and watch this cacophony of variables interact. And even worse when you look back in time as well. That’s what meteorologists do on TV with their complicated models. I stay safely in the realm of just a few variables, so that things never get too complicated.

Weaving is incredibly versatile and allows you to pretty much build anything you want. As a Lego fanatic, there is nothing that brings me more pleasure than building something with my hands. Weaving is the next best thing to that. Weaving also takes time, which allows the questions I am addressing to evolve and change over time.

ArtSake: This is a question we sometimes ask in our nano-interviews, and I always find the responses interesting: what artist do you most admire but work nothing like?

Nathalie: Since I barely play the recorder, this should qualify. My biggest visual influence has actual been classical music, particularly Minimalism. I’m particularly drawn to Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Arvo Paert and John Adams for creating music that has always felt to me extremely sculptural. Incidentally, it is also the kind of music I reach for when I am trying to figure out some structural problem I am facing or when I am looking at data and trying to discern behavioral patterns. I guess it helps me think.

Spending time with these composers for days and days in my studio has also made me very aware of the very act of listening and how important it is in sculpture. So much of understanding sculpture and weather seems to be the act of simply listening – for materials, for behaviors, for structure, for meaning. And there is nothing simple about that.

When music finally did enter the process, I had this keen sense that it was this presence in my studio that had been sitting there for a long time, asking itself what took me so long.

Nathalie Miebach is the winner of the Blanche E. Colman Award and a 2009 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Sculpture/Installation. Her work is included in the upcoming book publication of Data Flow 2: Visualizing Information, from the Germany-based publisher Die Gestalten Verlag. Nathalie will give artist talks at Salem State College (March 22nd, 11 AM) and the Montserrat College of Art in Beverly (April 22, noon), and will participate in “The New Materiality: Digital Dialogues at the Boundaries of Contemporary Craft” at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, May 29, 2010 – Feb 6, 2011.

Images: all work by Nathalie Miebach; detail of URBAN WEATHER PRAIRIES – SYMPHONIC STUDIES IN D (2009), Reed, wood, data, 16x15x15 ft; SHOULDER WEATHER THROUGH NEW URBAN FRONTIERS (2009), Wood, data, reed, 45x45x27 in; score for STORMY WEATHER, INTERNAL STORMS; EXTERNAL WEATHER, INTERNAL STORMS (2009), Reed, metal, wood, data, 33x40x60 in; URBAN WEATHER PRAIRIES – SYMPHONIC STUDIES IN D (2009), Reed, wood, data, 16x15x15 ft; score for HURRICANE NOEL.

Artist Opportunities Here and There

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Of Interest to Public Artists: NEFA‘s next brown-bag lunch topic for artists is called An Insider’s View on Image Submissions. This session will focus on preparing images of your work for public art submissions. Art and architectural photographer Charles Mayer will share tips and suggestions on how to get the best photographs of your work. December 10, 2009 from 11:30 A.M. – 1:00 P.M. at The Cellar, located at 319 A Street (in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood of Boston). Space is limited. RSVP to ljohnston@nefa.org

Photographers: Smithsonian magazine’s seventh annual photo contest. Contestants may enter photographs in five categories: The Natural World, Americana, Altered Images, Travel, and People.
Deadline: December 16, 2009

Hamptons International Film Festival – Screenwriters’ Lab. The Hamptons Writers’ Lab pairs established writers with up-and-coming screenwriters. The mentors advise in a one-on-one laboratory setting while additional daily events bring the participants together with board members, sponsors, the local artistic community, and other friends of the festival. They are seeking a broad selection of screenplays addressing a wide subject matter including works that explore science, technology, mathematics, invention, and engineering. Fore more, contact the Hamptons International Film Festival – Screenwriters’ Lab, 3 Newtown Mews, East Hampton, NY 11937, (631) 324-4600, programming@hamptonsfilmfest.org
Deadlines: December 23, 2009 (regular); January 8, 2010 (late)

Call to Cambridge area artists to exhibit  in the CAC Gallery
Cambridge Open Studios Preview Salon Exhibition. For more information contact Jeremy Gaucher, Public Art Administrator, at jgaucher@cambridgema.gov or 617-349-4388.
Deadline: Registration due December 31, 2009

Image credit: http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/htmls/anta0050.htm
Photograph of An Antarctic fur seal pup and a Gentoo penguin. Image ID: anta0050, NOAA At The Ends of the Earth Collection. Location: Antarctic Peninsula. Photographer: Dr. David Demer, NOAA/NMFS/SWFSC/AMLR. From NOAA Photo Library.

Erika Zekos on Shedding Light

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

On December 5, at 5 PM, a tobacco shed in Amherst will transform with light.

Shedding Light is a public art project conceived and created by artist/architect Erika Zekos and supported by, among others, the Town of Amherst, the Amherst Cultural Council, and the Swartz Family Farm, where the project will be on display December 5-31. Erika’s past projects include Greetings from MY City, which plays off the familiar concept of the tourist site postcard to allow young artists to engage and depict their own communities. Similarly, Shedding Light starts with a familiar sight of the Pioneer Valley – an aging tobacco shed – and illuminates it with a new vision.

We asked Erika about the origins of the project, her background as an artist and architect, and the makings of a truly public work of art.

ArtSake: How did the concept behind Shedding Light, lighting up a tobacco barn from the interior “like an architectural lantern,” first occur to you?

Erika: When my family moved to Amherst five years ago we would drive around to explore back roads and hidden places. The very first thought I had when I saw the tobacco sheds for the first time was, “We grow tobacco here?!” and the second was, “Wow, these buildings are so beautiful!” Seeing the sunlight streaming into a shed through the long, vertical panels I knew immediately that I wanted to switch it up and let the light stream out and into the landscape at night.

As with much of my work, the idea is to call attention to the environment (both built and unbuilt) and create a forum for the questions that arise as a result of the work. The more I’ve learned about the uniqueness, simplicity, and single-use design of the tobacco sheds the more intrigued I’ve become. It’s not my intention to celebrate smoking, but it’s certainly an interesting history. Believe it or not, Connecticut Valley shade-grown tobacco is among the best in the world and is used as the wrapper layer of fine cigars. In the peak growing years of the 1920′s to 50′s 30,000 acres were planted… now it’s more like 3,000 acres. It’s no surprise then that the sheds built to dry the crop are quickly vanishing as they fall down or the land is developed into shopping malls and housing. I wanted to do something that would highlight the distinctiveness of this architectural vernacular and the vision of the shed filled with light in a winter landscape was a clear idea from the very beginning.

ArtSake: How does your use of a tobacco shed on the hydroponic Swartz Family Farm relate to the core premises of the project?

Erika: Shedding Light is about appreciating the ingenuity and sustainability of our farming history while simultaneously looking ahead to the future. These sheds are 150 year-old examples of the kind of simple, sustainable design that everyone is talking about today; they harnessed the wind to naturally ventilate and dry the tobacco.

Collaborating with the Swartzes is perfect really because it conveys both sides of the coin. Joe and Sarah Swartz are third generation farmers dealing with the realities of bringing their product to market and working 24/7 to make a living. This doesn’t leave much for preserving aging tobacco sheds (and the shed that I’m using for Shedding Light is in pretty rough shape at the moment). But at the same time the Swartzes are very forward-thinking farmers themselves: leasing much of their land to neighboring farms and growing lettuces and herbs year round in their greenhouses, using only 1/10th the water that conventional farming requires for the same product. They also operate a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that invites the community to participate in the success of the farm and share in the harvest.

While the physical aspects of illuminating the shed (light and shadows) will be the easiest to understand, it’s the underlying connection to the community (farming, local history, etc.) that I hope keeps this project in the memories of those who experience it.

ArtSake: Nora Maroulis of wunderarts called your project “public art at its best/most impactful.” Both Shedding Light and your Greetings from MY City project use artistic creation to enhance and build awareness of one’s community. Is it this interaction between art and community that appeals to you, as a public artist? And is it the same appeal that drew you to architecture?

Erika: Absolutely! The interaction between the cultural and physical landscapes is such ripe territory for exploration in both architecture and art. Architecture is about designing a better built environment, but ultimately, it’s about the experiences of the people who live in it… my public art projects deal with the architectural too, but tend to be more hands-on with regards to the interaction. They invite you in and ask you to think. Greetings from MY City (a collaboration with my great friend Gretchen Schneider) is a perfect example of that. We invited kids from neighborhoods in inner city Boston and Holyoke to create photo essays of the places and spaces that are important to them. Ultimately we create postcards with a selection of those photos, creating a document of their stories for the wider community.

ArtSake: The Shedding Light project has become a community event, in every sense. The December 5 shed lighting includes a book event, a panel exploring sustainable living and green architecture, and a concurrent art exhibit including your photos of the shed and drawings by Scott Tulay. Can you describe how the project built to this exciting level of public involvement?

Erika: Well, every project that I’ve ever done as an architectural designer, teacher, or public artist has invited collaboration and the sharing of ideas.

In the case of Shedding Light, the conception of the piece was the easy part; actually seeing it to fruition has been an incredible journey. As soon as I talked with Terry Rooney, the chair of the Amherst Public Art Commission, it was clear that this would blossom into something bigger than the original idea. Terry suggested the idea of offsetting the energy used by the lights with a solar array, which was a perfect fit with the original concept. I then began the work of finding a shed to work with, talking with a professor at UMass Amherst about involving his students in the photovoltaic design, to a lighting designer, electrician, historians, etc. I’m also working with the Amherst Young Artists Coalition to have students document the installation in photos and film.

We were just about to go ahead with the photovoltaic panels when the state ended its rebate program (two years earlier than anticipated due to high demand) so at this point we won’t be installing solar array, but we’re optimistic about bringing this to the farm in the spring.

All that said, a public education and exhibit component has been a part of the project from the beginning. Scott’s drawings are gorgeous and compliment the installation perfectly.

This is Amherst’s 250th birthday year and it’s a great opportunity to bring a celebration of agriculture and architecture and art to the public in this way.

Shedding Light will be on display at the Swartz Family Farm, evenings from December 5 through December 31, 2009. There will be numerous events on Saturday, December 5, at the Nacul Center in Amherst. At 2 PM will be a lecture by Dary Purinton and Dale Cahill, co-authors of Tobacco Sheds of the Connecticut River Valley; at 2:45 PM is the panel discussion “Living Green from the Past to the Future;” 3:30 is the opening reception of a concurrent exhibition of new drawings by Scott Tulay and Erika’s photos of Shedding Light. At 5 PM at the Swartz Family Farm, the shed will be lit up for the first time.

Erika H. Zekos is an architectural designer, teacher and artist committed to projects in public art, education and architecture. She has completed numerous public art installations in Boston and western MA, as well as practiced residential, institutional and educational design. She is currently the western MA Program Coordinator and master teacher with Learning By Design in Massachusetts, a non-profit design education program. Erika has also taught architecture at Roger Williams University, Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is also a dedicated community member, serving on the boards of the western MA chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the Amherst Education Foundation and the parent organization of her children’s school.

Images: photo from a test lighting of SHEDDING LIGHT by Erika Zekos; Scott Tulay, BARN INTERIOR (2009), ink, pastel, charcoal, 22X30 in; Scott Tulay, SHED AT NIGHT (2009), ink, pastel, charcoal, 30×40 in.