The Unbearable Lightness of Curating

As the installing date and exhibition deadline fast approach of The Unbearable Lightness Exhibition (opens at BAYARTS)  on June 8th, I must tell you just how enjoyable curating exhibitions has become for me. It is an absolute extension of the buzz of endorphins I receive when I make my own work. Assembling a group of people who work in various disciplines and corralling their work to make sense in a space is the ultimate challenge. Themes must be open and lofted enough so artists solicited can grapple with new ideas for the work they anticipate to present.  This proposal for The Unbearable show was made last June. 

Often times, artists circumstances change and the nature of what they made when first asked, shift and wobble. It is the curators job to check in on artists and cheer them on throughout the months leading up to the show. So communicating throughout  the year and updating artists through studio visits, emails and other meetings is par for the course. The curator is like an encouraging coach and is the representative that supports the individual artists intentions and profiles their work in the best light. We are the behind the scenes representatives who prep the artists for the  BIG GAME.

I have curated many shows at my home field, Zygote Press, but it is wonderfully refreshing to make a proposal in a space that is new to me.  My own negotiations and decisions can be in limbo and the tango of moving works, finding their correlations with other works in the show, is the most rewarding part of the experience for me. Curating allows you to see something meaningful come together from nothing. It organically grows out of the trust of the artists you have selected for the show. I find personal satisfaction to include artists whose work I know “fits”, gets into the soft spot of the crux and angle I am going for….and the other positive, is that artists included are so stinkin appreciative to have the opportunity. 

The curator must be the go between for the exhibition venue coordinators, supply the PR to get other people to the show, and drum up excitement for the artists they have chosen. Bios and statements are submitted and presentation decisions and installation become the moment of truth to how the show is going to flow and how people will navigate through the physical space.

All this minutiae can keep you up at night so  I am so happy and excited as the show draws near.

Please grab a friend or a few friends, and come on out to the gorgeous BAYARTS campus on June 8th from 7-9pm  to see this great round-up of mid career and emerging artists works. Profiling them in this show is an absolute joy for me and it is a pleasure to present them in their best (and most Imageunbearable) light.

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Zygote-a prized possession in Cleveland

I haven’t won many prizes in my 44 years other than trophies and ribbons for my many years of playing tennis and other organized sports back in High school. I was also honored back then with two special honors, speaking at Commencement and getting awarded in the yearbook as having the Most School Spirit. Recently, Bellamy Printz-co-founder/Board Chairman and I  received a very special prize called The Martha Joseph Prize for Distinguished Service to the Arts from the Cleveland Arts Prize. I understand that people on the recommendation panel really went to bat for Zygote. It has been heartwarming and humbling to be honored for what I love to do. It is beyond me how I  get paid for working with a terrific staff, creating programs and exhibitions that pull amazing artists through our doors, am able to demystify the process of printmaking for new comers, teach kids why prints are so way-cool, bringing in and working with artists from beyond our region, all while making and developing my own work as an artist in this town. So…with my best, most spirited cheer, I am so excited and deeply fortunate to have such a wonderful mission at Zygote. Thanks to everyone who rallied for Zygote. We very much appreciate the validation and salute.Image

Labored thoughts

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 I have had the pleasure to be in the company of many labor and union organizers, historians and activists recently. Zygote is presenting an exhibition in November (timed perfectly for the election) to show work from three private collections of New Deal prints. These prints detail art that fights. I am looking forward to programming events around this exhibition to draw the rank and file from unions and engage the many workers from locals in our neighborhood.

 It has been an eye opening experience and I find great connection and interest with their philosophies and campaigns- building awareness and organizing solidarity among workers. (Oddly, this interest has percolated at the same time as we connect and formulate the Collective Arts Network  and my experience co-founding Zygote Press-so there are many cross-overs). Young working people don’t have a sense that they have a very optimistic looking future.  There is an assumption that they are screwed (with no social security left for them, not doing better then their parents generation, incredible debt from student loans, the environment etc) and this leads to fatalism and an emphasis on  individual isolationism. They have solidarity in their alienation. It is clear to me that real education needs to happen about labor history-about the working class. How the generations who preceded us striked, had sit ins, picketed and died for their rights to good wages, benefits and fair treatment. 

I am finding that these Labor and Union folks are not crazy lefties or any more or less progressive thinkers that anyone else I hang out with…in fact they are teachers, postal workers, steel workers and tile layers. They are the most important people who have built this country from the ground up. These community interests, more then ever need to be emphasized to our kids. With big bank bail outs, lack of regulation, skyrocketing debt and a bleak forecasts ahead (especially with the unfolding European economies), it is more imperative then ever that we need to revise our connection to activism for the working class.

 

 

In Desperate Need of…

 

I have always been  fascinated with people who can endure great tragedy and challenge and somehow still persevere with some semblance of personal pride and dignity. I cannot help but read the various classifieds, signs in storefronts, posts I see on Craig’s List…and read an enormous amount of information in them. 

 

Here is a good example of one:

Had to quit job temporarily for maternity situation and boyfriend and I are having problems paying bills. So I have a few things I can sell-
I have a working Nintendo 64 with cords and controller
Have a possibly working super Nintendo without cords or controller
Have a sega genesis without cords or controller
A bunch of good condition juniors shirts
Two Hugga bunch dolls (Huggins and Impkins) in fairly good condition
Anime drawing instruction books
Beads and assorted art supplies
I also make rosaries, custom if interested. 
I have some paintings I’m working on, of anyone is interested in darker, morbid type paintings. 
I can clean houses, my boyfriend and I can paint houses also.
Any offers are considered, I’m getting a bit desperate. 

 

Makes you want to take a chance on the morbid type paintings, doesn’t it? The range of emotions and judgements I make (just reading through this) is remarkable. Is her boyfriend giving up HIS coveted gaming systems to help out the cause? Is he resentful about this? Since the baby came, do the junior shirts no longer fit her stretched, post birth body? Is she still young and selling her prized Hugga dolls-and is this an expression of her Innocence lost? Rosaries that are no longer needed because the Catholic  church is no longer an option since the arrival of her baby and out of wedlock living conditions? But yet she is a fighter, wiling to do some hard work and make huge sacrifices for her family. 

 

This one was found on Craig’s list from Birmingham.Image

 

So this and other signs, tags and communications from various different sources have become my interest. Let me know if one of these posts presents them selves to you- and send it along. Here is one sent by a friend