Archive for the ‘storytelling’ Category

Of Slams, Fruitlands, and Shiny Things

Friday, September 7th, 2012

A quick round-up of some of the interesting things happening in the Massachusetts art-o-sphere…

Big Red & Shiny
Big Red & Shiny is back! This region’s art scene is shiny indeed, and it deserves the thorough – and idiosyncratic (see video art, above) – exploration this online journal/blog is known for.

A little background: until 2010, Big Red & Shiny was a key force in the New England art scene. The online journal and blog delved into this region’s art from the POV of its artists. It explored news, offered reviews, discussed issues, and wittily observed the local scene, all with a unique and at times fiery collection of sensibilities. But by 2010, after more than six years of publication, BRS’s founders announced they were discontinuing the journal.

Now it’s back. Its founders are now board members, and the editorial staff is new. They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to support the relaunch, and there will be events at Boston Center for the Arts (Mills Gallery, 9/29, 6 PM) and MIT (Bartos Theater, 10/27, 4 PM).

Schooled by massmouth
In this land of hallowed academic institutions, we appreciate a good schooling. Massmouth wants storytellers to consider the theme “schooled” for its next story slam. Similar to poetry slams, massmouth holds story slams that encourage storytellers of all experience levels to lay it all out, in narrative fashion, before a live audience. Their fourth story slam season begins Sept. 9, 2012, 6:30 PM, at Doyle’s Café in Jamaica Plain.

Ten audience members will be selected at random to tell a real-life story. Future story slams will take place at Club Passim in Cambridge, Rosebud in Somerville, and Puppet Showplace Theater in Brookline.

Congratulations, Creative Activists
Congratulations to Clara Wainwright, textile artist and founder of First Night, and Eryn Johnson, director of Cambridge’s Community Art Center. Both were honored with Creative Activist Awards by ArtCorps. From ArtCorps: “These two outstanding leaders are being recognized for using the arts to engage, educate, empower, connect and inspire.” ArtCorps will honor Clara Wainwright and Eryn Johnson on September 20, 2012 at the Raising Spirits gala at the Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, MA. The event will also mark the launch of Clara Wainwright’s Welcoming Quilt.

Transcendent Landscapes
Meanwhile, art is transforming the landscape of the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Massachusetts. Artist-in-residence Andy Moerlein has created large-scale sculptures inspired by the natural world, installed throughout the premises of Fruitlands, the former utopian community founded by Amos Bronson Alcott (father of Louisa May!). This month, a panel discussion of “Art and the Transcendental Landscape” will feature a host of prominent curators and New England artists (including Moerlein, his partner Donna Dodson, and others). The discussion is on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, 1 PM.

Help Assets for Artists help artists
Assets for Artists is a great program to help artists grow their careers, with grantees participating in an innovative matched savings grant program, financial/business training, and home ownership assistance. Now you can help the program (which is administered by MASS MoCA) help artists. To continue and expand their funding and service, they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign.

Media: Kickstarter video for Big Red & Shiny.

Mass. Abundance

Friday, April 15th, 2011

In our modern world, mysteries abound! On the other hand, so do plastic water bottles. And twist ties (see above). In fact, lots of things abound. Information. Celebrities. Blog posts and websites. Haters and their hatin’. Makers and their makin’. All abound.

It’s been suggested that curation will be increasingly key to our navigation, as a culture, of the overly abundant information-scape in our lives. In that spirit, we thought we’d round up some of the abundantly intriguing, or mysterious, or just plain keen stuff going on.

On The Public Humanist, blog of Mass Humanities, Natasha Haverty and Adam Bright share the backstory of their radio documentary-in-progress about a debate society formed in the 1930s by inmates in a Norfolk, MA prison – and how the team defeated debate squads from more hallowed MA institutions like MIT and Harvard.

Why should James Franco work at Grub Street, the Boston-based writers service organization? Answer this question by 5 PM today (Friday, April 15), and you may win a pair of tickets to Cocktail Hour with the Francos, an unscripted conversation with writer/actor/conceptual artist James Franco and his mother, writer Betsy Franco, at Grub Street’s great Muse and the Marketplace Conference. Just tweet “James Franco should work at Grub Street because…” and your answer, and include @GrubWriters and #musefranco in your tweet.

How big a wave could one week’s worth of plastic bottles create? The good folks of Citizens for Salem/Beverly Water Resources suspect it will yield A Mighty Wave. They’re encouraging artists to converge at Salem Common in Salem on the morning of May 7 to create a one-day public art display, creating a wave of plastic from bottles collected in just one week in Salem. All will be broken down in time for a recycling truck to break (and recycle) the wave by afternoon. Find out more.

Not since the Mayors’ Arts Challenge have two MA cities had so vigorous a rivalry! Responding to a remark by a Cambridge city councilor that Somerville doesn’t have many interesting places, Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone has challenged Cambridge to an “Interesting City Challenge.” He even invokes the arts:

It’s called authenticity, and we’ve got it in the arts too. The City and local businesses weave art into everything we do. Public art absolutely needs to be part of this Challenge, though it’s not fair because most of the artists Cambridge had long ago moved to Somerville. And we’re talking everything from painters to sculptors to comic book artists. Oh, if you happen to catch a band in Cambridge anytime soon, make sure to ask them where in Somerville they live.

(As a state agency, we are not taking sides.)

Speaking of rivalries: watch Governor Deval Patrick go head to head with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart! Actually, it’s a really friendly conversation. They talk about Gov. Patrick’s new book, former MA governor Mitt Romney, and why The Daily Show should move production to Massachusetts.

New England Film has a terrific article on five films from New England talent screening this month at the International Film Festival of Boston (April 27-May 4, 2011).

GO SEE ART. Where? Find out at GO SEE ART. It’s a compendium of New England art exhibitions. So go there. And then go. You know. To see art.

Will it surprise you that the Boston chapter of the Awesome Foundation, which funds projects it considers awesome (that’s really the only criteria), funded a group that describes itself as “Boston’s mysterious playmate?” Banditos Misteriosos won a $1000 “Awesome” grant for its plan to create a giant puzzle to be put together by the Boston community sometime this summer. Past efforts by the Misteriosos, who aim to answer the questions “Who are these people we pass in the street?” and “How could we use those big open public spaces?” by staging whimsical public events, include massive pillow and water gun fights and a live, “Choose Your Own Adventure” game.

At the recent TransCultural Exchange Conference, attendee Ilana Manolson (Painting Fellow ’08) shared her experiences exhibiting her paintings through the ART in Embassies Program, which places American art in U.S. diplomatic residencies worldwide. Through that program, Ilana’s paintings have been on exhibit at American embassies in The Hague and Sarajevo.

I really like this post by the Our Stories literary journal that lists short stories that employ a very specific device, then carry it off with skill. Massachusetts literary rawk star Steve Almond (Fiction/Creative Nonfiction Fellow ’08) is on the list twice!

Finally: arts funding is one thing mentioned in this post that’s not nearly abundant enough. On a federal level, the NEA’s budget is under threat, and here in MA, we have our own issues. Read this testimony by Tim Robbins about how a small investment in the arts can yield a bounty – not just in terms of the tax revenues, but culturally and personally.

Image: Rachel Perry Welty, LOST IN MY LIFE (TWIST TIES) (2009), Pigmented ink print, edition of 3, 90×60 in, Courtesy of the Artist, Barbara Krakow Gallery (Boston), Gallery Joe (Philadelphia), and Yancey Richardson Gallery (New York). Rachel’s solo show RACHEL PERRY WELTY 24/7 is on exhibit at the deCordova Sculpture Park + Museum in Lincoln through April 24, 2011. Currently, Rachel’s video work KARAOKE WRONG NUMBER 2004-2009 is featured in Videonale 13 at Kunstmuseum Bonn, through May 29, 2011.

massmouth Story Slams

Monday, October 4th, 2010

massmouth is an organization committed to the art of telling stories. Founded by professional storytellers Norah Dooley and Andrea Lovett (read an interview in the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine), the group runs a series of Story Slams, inviting the public to bring stories to share, poetry slam-style, to an audience of fellow tale-lovers and -tellers.

Tonight (Monday, October 4, 2010, doors open at 6:30 PM), massmouth hosts a Story Slam at Kennedy’s Midtown in Boston. The theme of the evening is “games people play.” Intrepid storytellers are encouraged to bring a five-minute story about games – “from tennis to trash talking; from baseball to backstabbing” goes massmouth’s description. Ten storytellers will be picked at random to tell their tales; a team of judges awards the top two stories. Bill Littlefield of NPR’s Only a Game co-hosts.

Upcoming Story Slams include: Sunday, October 17 at Bella Luna in Jamaica Plain, theme: “getting there;” Tuesday October 26 at Johnny D’s in Somerville: “horrified;” Monday, November 8, Kennedy’s Midtown: “service!”; Tuesday, November 16, The Precinct in Somerville: “a Boston T Party;” and Sunday, November 21 at Bella Luna: “medical madness.”

The slams will culminate in a best-of-the-best championship round – the BIGMOUTHOFF – on April 26th, 2011 at the Boston Public Library. So check out the group’s tips on story slams and start limbering up your story-sinews and tale-tendons; massmouth promises a fabulous prize for the grand champion.

Image: Stacey Alickman (Drawing Finalist ’10), THE MOUTH IN MY GUM (THE SPEECH THERAPIST FIXED MY LISP) (2009), Gouache on paper, 12×13 1/4 in.