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#womeninleadership: A Guest Blog by Jessica Ferey, EALS Committee Alumna

According to a 2014 AAMD (Association of Art Museum Directors) study, women led 42.6% of museums surveyed, and those women earned 79 cents to the dollar of men’s salaries.[1] While the pay gap is alarming, the near-parity of women and men leading museums is somewhat reassuring… until we look at budgets. For museums with budgets over $15 million, the gender gap widens significantly, with only 24% of women leading museums and making 71 cents for every dollar their counterparts make.[2]

AAMD Gender Gap Report Cover

While comparable studies are rare for other arts institutions, a 1998 article entitled The Effect of Gender on the Career Advancement of Arts Managers by Herron et al. reported that only 33% of upper-level positions in medium-sized arts/cultural institutions (art museums, theatres, dance companies, operas, and symphonies) were held by women.[3] Compared to 2014, the tides are indeed changing, but a 50/50 balance has yet to be seen.

It’s not all bad news, though. There is actually quite a great phenomenon happening right here in our backyard (the DC/Maryland/Virginia area): A significant amount of arts institutions in the area are led by women, as we learned from a Washington Post article last year (The Directors) and a Georgetowner article (Women Cultural Leaders). Reading about all of these incredible women sparked my curiosity about the gender gap, so I decided to make it my capstone topic.

What can we learn from these inspiring women who have “made it” at the top? I wanted to find out…and then share with my peers and other young women who may feel there are barriers to our success in the field. Therefore, for my capstone, I have created a website that will serve as a resource for emerging women leaders in the arts: http://www.equalarty.com. The website will feature interviews with established leaders, will house articles and links about the topic, and will be a launching point for further discussion about gender [in]quality. To kick it off, I am distributing a survey to women studying/working in arts and cultural institutions to gather information about educational background, career aspirations, and perceptions of the gender gap in the field. Feel free to take the survey, here: http://www.equalarty.com/#!survey/c3qc

So, why am I writing about this here? Take a look at the EALS Committee: it’s made up of an incredible team of women leading an important event that helps emerging leaders grow and learn from each other. In 10 years, I bet they’ll be on the cover of the Georgetowner leading those cultural institutions. Therefore, I decided to kick off the interviews section of my website with insights from these leading ladies!

EALS ladies
2015 EALS Committee at Fall Silent Auction Event

Here’s what they have to say:

J: Erin, What are (if any) the challenges of leading a team of only women?

E: Leading this team of women is no different than if there were male committee members in the mix. We have a wonderful team atmosphere and work ethic, which I attribute to each member’s constant positivity and drive. Each committee member has a unique personality and perspective, making our team well-rounded and exciting to lead. I will admit that the only difference may be dancing with a hint more abandon during mid-meeting dance breaks. If there were men around, we might not show our most expressive movement.

J: Laura, to what do you attribute your current successes?

L: I attribute much of my success to my genuine nature. I am truly lucky to be pursuing a career path that I love so much. Whether raising money or planning an event, I feel that people respond positively to my innate excitement and enthusiasm. I also feel that I wouldn’t have the motivation to work as hard or feel as proud of my accomplishments if I didn’t wholeheartedly believe in what I am doing.

J: Tori, how would you describe your leadership style?

T: I like to describe my leadership style as more of a facilitator and guider. I believe a key component of being an effective leader is listening and keen observation, so I try to bring those qualities into my leadership positions.

J: Colleen, who are your role models?

C: I had some pretty amazing female role models growing up. All leaders in their field, they showed me through actions that I could do whatever I wanted to do. As a child, it never even crossed my mind that women couldn’t do or be certain things. (Though I certainly recognized that there was a shocking lack of women in certain professions — as a 7 year old, I decided it was high time we had a female president, and I was going to be her.)

Another person I attribute some of my success to is my sister. I have an older sister with a developmental disability. Watching her succeed in her own way is inspiring. If she – at 4’10” and with limited vision – can sink a basketball in a 9’6″ hoop, over my outstretched hands (and I’m 5’10”), what’s stopping me from achieving success in my own way?

J: Helene, we recently heard from Monica Jeffries Hazangles (President of Strathmore and AU Arts Management alum) about fantastic failures. What are yours?

H: My first job was a fantastical failure. I was working for a new university in the Middle East in their US office. It was all a blur. After 6 weeks on campus, I was told there was a job for me if I wanted it. I came home, started to pack my life, say my goodbyes and everything. Four days before my departure and on the day I was to sign my contract with them, I get an email saying they appreciate my application and decided to hire someone in country. I was crushed, depressed for weeks. I learned that I should always have everything in writing and to never believe it until paperwork is signed. My first job would have taken me to a far away country with only a handful of people I just met. In the end, I stayed in DC for another 5 years spending 4 of those years working the hardest I ever have for the United States Institute of Peace. I grew up so much from my fantastical failure and I’m thankful that they did this to me. I would not be here if they had hired me.

J: Amy Jo, to what do you attribute your current successes?

I attribute my success to my parents, but since this is about Women in Leadership, I want to share a note for my mom:

Mom, thank you for proving that beauty is a brilliant mind and the ability to laugh at yourself. Thank you for never letting me skip a synchronized swimming practice because I learned the true meaning of teamwork. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and letting me choose my own path. Alongside Dad, you’ve proven that, with determination, the stars are at our fingertips. 

J: Jenni, as you prepare to move beyond a graduate career, what are your aspirations? What are your fears? Do you think being a woman will impede your ability to climb the ladder?

I aspire to become a dynamic leader. I want to inspire people. I dream of owning my own theatre venue with strong aims at enriching the community of which it is a part. It is important to me to see art, in all its forms, taken seriously as a cultural necessity. I do often worry that I won’t find a position I love and that I won’t be paid what I deserve, but I won’t let that stop me from trying to achieve my dreams and if I can’t climb the ladder, maybe I can find a trestle or a tree to climb instead.

I want to thank the EALS ladies for taking the time to speak with me. The Symposium is in great hands and I hope you will all join me in attending what is sure to be a most excellent day of learning and inspiration (March 22nd, 2015). Bonus: Jane Chu, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts – and an incredible #womaninleadership – will be a keynote speaker!

Ferey Headshot

Jessica Ferey is a second year graduate student in the Arts Management program at AU. She is currently Project Manager for the Global Cultural Districts Network, an initiative established to foster collaborations among those planning and leading cultural districts around the world. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys pursuing her hobby as a culture vulture, discovering all of the great art and cultural offerings here in D.C.

[1] Association of Art Museum Directors. 2014. The Gender Gap In Art Museum Directorships. https://aamd.org/our-members/from-the-field/gender-gap-report.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Herron, Donna G., et al. “The Effect of Gender on the Career Advancement of Arts Managers.” The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society 28 (1998): 27-40.

Proudly Announcing the 2015 EALS Committee!

Hello blogosphere!  Erin here, your new Executive Chair.

As my first imperial decree humble proclamation, I hereby introduce you to the newly formed EALS Committee 2015.  Not only are they insanely talented in their respective art forms, they are a bunch of smart, savvy, inspiring emerging arts leaders.  Oh, and did I mention… we’re all ladies?  That’s right.  2015 is the year of the female committee promising to bring you a sensational year of programming culminating in a symposium like you haven’t seen before.  Plus, we’ll do our best to keep the Spice Girl references to a minimum.  No promises on Beyonce though.

Without further ado, let me introduce you do our committee.  So that you and I could get to know these fearless leaders a little better, I asked them some not-so-common interview questions and here are their answers.  Enjoy!

Bethesda, MD
Tori Sharbaugh, Marketing Coordinator

Tori grew up singing, but veered toward arts management in undergrad at Gettysburg College.  She was a stage manager for two years and is now a graduate assistant at the Greenberg Theatre here at AU.  Tori’s go-to karaoke song is Wagon Wheel by Old Crow Medicine Show and she warns us not to take her to Vegas because she is severely unlucky.  Get this- she has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and can karate kick through a wooden board.  Watch out, y’all, we’ve got a new bodyguard!

 

Jenni Amis, Program Coordinator
Jenni Amis, Program Coordinator

Jenni is from Minneapolis, MN and joins AU from a background in ticketing, stage management, and marketing.  If she could throw a parade, it would be just like the one in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with a musical number.  She says the definition of the internet is “the key and portal into the madness, kind of like the magic wardrobe to Narnia, the rabbit hole for Alice, or The Doctor’s Tardis.”  I’m gonna go with her on that.  Lastly, if you ever need a movie trivia nerd on your team for Trivial Pursuit, she’s your gal.  But… DIBS!

 

Helene Genetos, Finance Coordinator
Helene Genetos, Finance Coordinator

Helene originally hails from Indianapolis, IN but has lived in DC for 9 years.  Read: if you’re looking for a foodie place to eat, she knows all.  She is admittedly not an artist by trade but she is in love with museums.  Her karaoke song of choice is No Diggity by Blackstreet and she has an embarrassing enviable talent of memorizing lyrics to bad one hit wonder songs.  If she could design a rap battle it would be between Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj because “their skills at slinging lyrics and making you think while rapping are top notch among female rappers. Plus we’ve seen all the male battles but the ladies know how to do it! ”

 

AmyJo Foreman, Program Coordinator
AmyJo Foreman, Program Coordinator

AmyJo Foreman is from Friendswood, TX and worked at the Alley Theatre in Houston and as her artist friends’ personal assistant before joining us.  When asked if she is a hunter or a gatherer, she chooses hunter because the poison potential is too great for gatherers. Risk management, folks.  Though, she does have an adventurous side because she says she’d wash the windows of the Washington Monument from the outside for a gift card to Whole Foods.  Last fun fact, but one we must fix is that AmyJo has never been to karaoke.

 

Zenia Simpson, Marketing Coordinator
Zenia Simpson, Marketing Coordinator

Zenia (pronounced like the end of “Tanzania” she tells us) is from NYC.  She comes from a background in arts marketing and public relations and, we should mention, is a talented film artist.  Her biggest fear is falling down the Metro escalators, but has no fear identifying as a hunter because in the words of Frank Underwood, “Hunt or be hunted”.  The rap battle she designs is too good not to give you the entire masterpiece of a description so check this out…

Disclaimer: I know everyone hates Kanye but: Kanye ascends on top of a cliff saying “Yeezus is back.” All of a sudden, purple rain and glitter falls from the sky and all you hear is “dearly beloved, we are gathered here to get through this thing call life.” Prince descends from a cloud and starts playing his electric guitar on top of a giant speaker. The speaker starts blaring one of Kanye’s beats and knocks Prince down where he gracefully lands on top of a piano. Prince starts singing “The Beautiful Ones” and Misty Copeland starts performing her ballet piece. Kanye jumps on top of the piano and starts screaming “Runaway” at the top of his lungs. Misty starts performing the ballet piece for that song. Prince looks at Kanye and says “impressive.” Kanye fan girls out. Everyone wins.

Sarah Robinson, Production Manager
Sarah Robinson, Production Manager

Sarah is our well-travelled delegate, originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia but she claims Banner Elk, NC as her hometown.  She is experienced in music, theatre and opera and combines all three at her job at Ford’s Theatre.  Her karaoke song is Ace of Base’s “The Sign” and identifies as neither a hunter nor gatherer, but as a builder.  Watch out!  We have an out-of-the-box thinker over here!  She considers herself very lucky to be marrying the love of her life next month so we’ll all be sure to bother her a lot until then wish her all the best!

 

Colleen Holroyd, Finance Director
Colleen Holroyd, Finance Director

Colleen is from upstate New York and comes from a long history in folk music (she started working on the junior crew at a festival at age 6!).  If she could throw a parade she’d politely decline, but her special talent is having a song for everything.  I think I see parade potential there.  She’d wash the windows of the Washington monument for the remaining balance of her school debt… any takers?!  Her ideal epic rap battle would be “Julie Andrews vs. _________  …oh let’s face it. Julie Andrews would win.”

 

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Laura London, Vice Chair and Development Director

Laura calls Bethesda, MD home and has a musical background in cello performance and teaching.  When she’s not dreaming up new ways to appeal to EALS donors, she works with the Embassy Series here in town too.  She would throw a low brass parade because “who wouldn’t want to hear 5,000 tubas plowing down the street?”.  She says she’s lucky for being an official adult and getting to eat chocolate whenever she wants.  She is a real bargainer because she says she would wash the monument windows for  “no amount of money. I would only do it if Brad Pitt did it with me, making sure I didn’t fall of course … or Yo Yo Ma … or Obama.”

Erin Clark Quinlan
Erin Clark Quinlan, Executive Chair

Hey, that’s me!  I had to cut the handsome guy next to me out of the photo because, you know, it’s all about me, #womeninleadership.  I am a proud Kentucky native and have a background in modern dance and art education but have a newfound passion in conferences and special events.  My karaoke song is “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and I am most definitely a gatherer.  I gather everything: fresh produce, good friends, my emotions most of the time.  I am terribly lucky to have been granted the honor of being this year’s EALS Chair and to have these wonderful women by my side.

Salutations for a great year and be sure to check back as this is just the first of many fun reads to come from EALS 2015!

Tickets now on sale for EALS Benefit

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

Tickets have official gone on sale for the 2013 EALS Benefit. Buy them HERE.

The EALS Benefit is a soiree designed to support the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium.  The benefit will pay homage to the era of AMC’s hit series, MadMen.

Guests are encouraged to dress accordingly and enjoy an evening of socializing, refreshments, and dancing worth of a 1960’s era Madison Avenue. So come dressed in your slickest suit or hippest dress and drink fine white wine. The benefit will be held at the hip Hamiltonian Gallery (1353 U Street NW, Washington, DC).

A superb jazz trio will provide live music. Also, take part in the silent auction to benefit the 6th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium that will take place on April 7. Items include tickets to shows, restaurants, and art.

So come join us for an evening of art, jazz, food, wine, and fun at the EALS Benefit on February 23, 2013.

Admission to the benefit is only $20 (for unlimited wine, food, art, and jazz?!? WOW!), and you can register HERE.

Benefit Banner image

The Everyday Artist

An essay by Steven Dawson

 

Art making at its best...

“Engagement with art—real participation in art making—could be a source of meaning, satisfaction, and success powerful enough to shape character and behavior….But the benefits of a vibrant expressive life—the autonomy, engagement, and achievement over a lifetime that can only come from music making, painting, writing, or acting—can’t be reserved for the super-talented few.” – William Ivey

The term “art” has evolved over the decades into an exclusionary one.  “Art” is now seen as something that you dress up in a tuxedo or gown and go to an institution to partake of.  However, the World English Dictionary defines art as “the products of man’s creative activities; works of art collectively, esp. of the visual arts, sometimes also music, drama, dance, and literature” (dictionary.com).  In other words, “art” is something that comes from a person’s creativity, whether it be Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or little Tommy’s crayon work; Mozart’s Requiem or the song you wrote and played for your girlfriend.  A person does not need to be at the pinnacle of his or her field to engage in art-making.  I can remember my family gathering around the piano every year at Thanksgiving.  My aunt would play and the rest of us would sing in harmony.  At my in laws’ house one year, we gathered in the family room will my mother in law played the ivories, my sister accompanied on the violin, and my wife and I sang.  In college, a group of friends would get together and just play music.  And as Ivey pointed out, even the participants of the Lewis and Clark expedition “fiddled and danced” (Ivey, 3-4).  Notice there was no mention of Frederick Chopin or Luciano Pavarotti or Joshua Bell in these stories.  These were all everyday people who used art to enjoy their time with each other.

There is also evidence that a person can be extremely successful at their non-artistic career and still enjoy, even master, a field of the arts.  Richard Kogan is a successful psychiatrist in New York, but has a mastery of the piano, even having accompanied Yo-Yo Ma.  Another of Yo-Yo Ma’s accompanists, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, plays the piano in a chamber ensemble with four friends (Tommasini, New York Times).  And who can forget Bill Clinton and his saxophone?  All of these people did not pursue the arts as a career, but they do find happiness in their engagement in the arts.

Front porch jam with the family

“Happiness,” that is an interesting word.  Can the arts make a person happy?  Of course, most artists out there will shout a resounding “Yes!”  But let’s take a closer look at it.  In general, people focus so intensely on their work because of the perceived need to constantly make more money, which will supposedly lead to happiness.  But I believe there is a threshold of effectiveness for wealth.  Once that certain level—the worry of having the basic necessities in life—is conquered, money ceases to be a factor in a person’s happiness.  One could even argue that it begins to have the reverse effect, causing more stress and frustration.  Ivey supports this thinking by stating that once a person eliminates what he calls “absolute material scarcity,” other areas, such as religion, work-life, and family, become more important.  He also says that happiness is achieved only when a person’s basic societal needs—family, friends, and achievement—are satisfied (Ivey, 103).  I tend to agree with him.  I believe that happiness comes from a high self-worth, and achievement is a big part of that self worth.  Pride in one’s self can come from many things; a hole-in-one, finally learning that guitar riff, first place in the science fair, a sports trophy, or self-made art hanging on a wall.  I also think that the arts can play a large role in connecting people to family and friends.  In the age of disconnection through technology, the arts provide opportunities to dance, jam, act, and create together.  They can also connect one to and make one more engaged in the past.  For example, a person who is passionate about the guitar will most likely know who the great guitar artists were, and the same goes for pianists, actors, dancers, writers, etc.  Engagement in art-making can lead to a more fulfilling life.

So how do we as a society get there, where people are not simply spectators but participators and creators?  The common answer that keeps popping up is through arts education.  However, the arts education model is broken and needs badly to be, not fixed, but changed altogether.  Arts education should not be thought of, like it is today, as a means to train tomorrow’s professional artists, though it will inevitably do that.  It should be used as a vessel to help those “non-prodigies” engage in the arts—once again, not as spectators, but as creators.  As Ivey says, even though schools have music and visual art programs, they are set up to find the extra talented students, train them, and leave all others behind.  It is these “left behind” people who are not interested in learning art for high art’s sake.  They simply want to learn their particular art for their own pleasure, to earn compliments, or for the satisfaction that comes from creation.  In short, they would like it to enhance their everyday lives.  After one “doesn’t make the cut,” why would they ever want to engage in it again?

Another argument for another day...

One change that could help is to alter the high school elective system.  Ivey points out that many high schools have made arts electives academically neutral, meaning they do not count toward a student’s overall grade point average.  So when a student is looking for electives that will help raise his or her gpa, it stands to reason that counselors will lead them away from that dance class in favor of one that does count, even if they had an interest in dance.  If the policy were changed at the state level making at least one arts elective mandatory, in conjunction with reinstating the electives’ correct gpa weight, it would remove the barriers for every student who wished to take an arts course as their elective.  This, in turn, would create an appreciation for art-making that would spread exponentially over the years.

But what about the schools that, because of lack of funding, do not have many – if any – arts electives?  The answer is simple, right?  Just bring in guest artists to teach the students.  However, there is a problem with this idea.  The Music Educators National Conference has made it perfectly clear that they do not approve of the use of artist-in-residencies in schools.  They argued that it will lead to cutbacks and displacement of certified arts educators.  In essence, it was a fight for their jobs, not for arts education.  While this is a valid point, I would argue that the status quo that they fought so hard to maintain has, in turn, created the exact situation that the MENC was attempting to avoid.  Every year, arts programs are being cut from school curriculums because of budget issues.  Using guest artists and artist-in-residencies would, however, reduce the amount of funds required for the programs, and would allow many to be saved.

It is becoming clearer and clearer, however, that the government is not interested in taking the necessary steps to save arts education.  Whether you agree with government action or not, the question stands, if the government will not continue arts education through schools, should the task be taken up by non-profit organization and private businesses?  Just like the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago (Ivey, 113), non profits can provide the instruction and diversity that would benefit a wide span of the arts-interested public.  Granted, not all of the lessons will be free, like they were in schools, but, since non-profits receive outside funding, the lessons can be provided at an affordable rate.  Besides, non-profits can provide a much wider range of instruction than schools, because they are fundamentally based on community needs.  So while one class can teach piano on Tuesday night, another can teach the mandolin on Wednesday, while another can teach the harmonica on Saturday.  And since the NEA contributes to many non-profits, it becomes another avenue for government funding of arts education.

An old US School of Music advertisement

Private businesses can also provide instruction in the arts.  Ivey tells of the US School of Music, which offered a training book in the musical instrument of the customer’s choice by mail order.  The idea was that self-instruction with the help of their book would allow you to become proficient enough to enjoy playing at social gatherings.  This is a very early example of what has grown as a rather large industry today.  Self-instruction books can be found—for a price, of course—at most bookstores, music stores, and websites.  However, Ivey argues that these resources are not a part of arts education and the price of the books or digital files are too expensive.  This is where I disagree with him.  Does it really make a difference if this is not a part of the established “arts education?”  I strongly feel that it doesn’t.  If the established avenues are struggling to provide for the public, they should be encouraged to find the books, DVDs, YouTube videos, or CDs that will help them capitalize on their interests.  (Besides, that’s what American capitalism is all about, right?).  And as far as the costs, I would argue that a book and DVD set that costs $50 and can teach you the basics of an art is a far better deal than attending private lessons at $15 or $20 per class.  Besides, books, classes, lessons, etc. only teach the fundamentals of an art-form.  The artistry comes from the artist.

The cultural landscape is currently shifting.  It will be interesting to see where everything settles.  While funding for arts education has taken a hit due to the recession and budget crisis, there are other ways to effectively teach a vast array of cultural arts to those who are interested.  I predict there will be a trend of movement to non-profit organizations for arts education in the future, allowing people to engage in a diverse creative life.  Hopefully, this will then lead to a shift from the current idea of passive reception of culture to engagement in culture by participation.

Resources:

Ivey, Bill. Arts, Inc. How Greed and Neglect Have Destroyed Our Cultural Rights.  Berkeley,       California: University of California Press, 2008.

Tommasini, Anthony.  “Condoleezza Rice on Piano.” The New York Times. April 9, 2006.             http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/09/arts/music/09tomm.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1328   645920-tTbNMkL2UW6GfUbfnhnEiw.

Art. Dictionary.com. Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.   HarperCollins Publishers. accessed February 5, 2012.     http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/art.

Gallery Artist Elizabeth Grusin-Howe

Artist Elizabeth Grusin-Howe

The Studio Gallery on R St has graciously allowed the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium to host a benefit for the past two years.  In doing so, they have exposed our patrons to the wonderful world of local artists.  The Studio Gallery features American and International artists residing in the greater Washington, DC Metro Area who are as diverse as they are talented.  The Gallery also takes part in First Fridays, a coordinated open house of the galleries on R St.

I had the opportunity to attend this past month’s open house and to my delight found a new medium of visual artistry.  I also met the artist who created these works which will be exhibited during our EALS Benefit Reception.  Featured on the first floor of the Gallery, Elizabeth Grusin-Howe’s work is, from every angle and lighting possible, in a word: stunning.

Basillica de San Marco, 2011 - Courtesy of E. Grusin-Howe

Although I am not myself a visual artist, I know true art when I see it (or should I say feel).  Her collection of prints inspire and remind without unnecessary nostalgia attached.  The works are created starting with a photograph, then are transformed with a process involving layers of wax and powders.  This layering and finishing gives the prints the appearance of eternity, an otherworldly effect that relates not to your outright self, but the inward expressive self.

View from the Campanile, Venice, 2012 - Courtesy of E. Grusin-Howe

 

Pictures of these works do not do justice to the emotive quality and vibrancy they produce.  While there are many prints of the same original photograph, the treatment with which Grusin-Howe applies varies the feeling and the purpose of the piece.  A few works are done in burnt-orange and sienna wax and powder that you see to the left, and above – which give these an unusual quality of familiarity while remaining intangible.

Basilica di San Marco, 2011 - Courtesy of E. Grusin-Howe

Grusin-Howe’s work invites the audience to transport themselves to an alternate reality.  I can remember as a child wanting to make the old new again, whether that be by polishing silver until it shone or repurposing old clothing.  What Grusin-Howe has done is similar – making the old new but in a not so gentle fashion.  Her work, though incredibly pleasing to the eye is challenging to thought.  With the introduction of blues and silvers, Grusin-Howe opens a world of stark contrast and transparency.

Laguna Veneta, 2012 - Courtesy of E. Grusin-Howe

 

I had the chance to chat with Elizabeth about her work and the upcoming EALS Benefit Reception.  When I spoke to her I asked what her favorite work in the exhibition was.  (To me that would have been impossible to decide).  Her answer was, “They’re all my babies, but if I had to chose, it would be this one [featured at left].  It’s serene.”  And serene it is, this piece along with many others are immersive.  She has created dreamscapes from reality and asked us to step into them.  The subtlety of her inquiry is not light, as it is impossible to be disenchanted by these prints.

You can see all of these prints and many others from the collection at the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium Benefit coming up on February 25th from 8PM – 10PM.  Tickets include an open wine bar, hor d’oeuvres, live jazz, creative conversation, and of course access to a collection of art that you will remember for years to come.

Please purchase your tickets now at: http://ealsbenefit.eventbrite.com/

All proceeds support EALS.

Rose Parade 2012 – Art Promoting Art

After waking up at 3:15AM this morning, driving 2 hours to Pasadena, and waiting in a 57 minute line for a cup of Starbucks coffee; I enjoyed two hours of full sunshine in the Grandstands on Colorado Blvd.  That’s right, basking in the 80 degree weather at the 123rd Annual Rose Parade.

First let me say that the Parade was wonderful, and as a California native, it was on my bucket list.  The bands were awesome, the spirits were high, and the floats were far enough away as to not set off my allergies.  There were a total of 44 floats this year and 23 trophies (it is a competition after all).  While there were floats that were obviously marketing their sponsor’s product (ahem – Paramount and XBox), others went more toward the theme of imagining – one included a wave pool for doggie surfers (that won the Extraordinaire Trophy).

LA Concept Drawing

The cities in the upper LA basin usually enter a float each year in support of the parade and to encourage tourism.  With the budget cuts in the SoCal area, I sadly report that there were fewer cities represented this year than in all previous years.  To give you an idea of the floats, La Canada had three pigs in a wooden rocket ship which won the Bob Hope Humor Award and the City of Glendale had a pretty elephant harnessed to a carriage, but both had nothing to do with the events of either city.

LA Parade Float

The City of Los Angeles, in stark contrast, chose to promote the new (and amazing) dinosaur exhibit at the LA Natural History Museum.  The float prominently featured the LANHM building, the logo, and three fantastical dinosaurs (also the only of the parade).  The float went on to win the Crown City Innovation Trophy for best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of float design.  Not only advancing the art of float design, but advancing art itself – even if it is prehistoric.

My question is:  How many of you saw the dino’s this morning?

That’s effective marketing.

You Are What You Do

Or are you?

The Holiday Season means holiday parties which mean wearing spangles, eating weird things skewered on toothpicks (olive, ham, cheese on a single toothpick: gross), and making hideous small talk. I’m pretty sure an elf dies every

time I fill an awkward silence between me and a holiday-sweatered-stranger with, “Sooooo, New Friend, what do yoooou doooo?”

This is a common question. We ask each other what we do because that’s often how we define others and ourselves; by our publicly recognized profession. When someone asks me what I do, I launch into a long winded explanation that essential boils down to: “although I’m a database manager, my path is arts administration.” Because that’s what I want to do and how I define myself.

Now the question itself is an ambiguous one. If someone was legitimately asking me what I do I could answer with a variety of things that have absolutely no affect (I hope) on my paycheck. “Well I’m an avid breather, in fact I’m doing it right now, I compulsively doodle in the margins of books whether they’re mine or the library’s, I bake cookies while watching reality television and when I run I fantasize about being a cage fighter.” Those are all things I do. Pretty regularly, nearly daily (and in fact constantly as far as the breathing bit is concerned). However here in the US of A that is not a satisfying answer. See when we ask someone “what do you do?” the question really means “where do you work?” not “what are your hopes and dreams and how do you enjoy spending time?”

It’s been said in the US we are what we do. We perceive ourselves and others by our job description. So how does that affect us as arts managers and artists? I’ve spent a significant portion of my life sitting around and painting but that never comes up when I’m asked what I do. 

How do you define yourself in a society that defines itself by the job position? Artist? Arts Manager? What do you do?

I Like My Art via Smartphone

You can do just about anything on your phone these days. Play games, pay bills, jam to music, watch sports and movies and kittens farting, get news, test knowledge, keep track of to do, to don’t, to decree and keep in contact via Facebook, twitter, Skype, yelp, text, and lets not forget old fashioned voice on voice action (that’s how you know I really like you, when I chance you’ll answer my call and receive my dulcet tones into your ear canal); it seems there’s 1,002 “apps” that creatively enable us to connect with, presumably, another human being (I’m not convinced some of my Words With Friends pals aren’t actually sad robots who humiliate me in scrabble in attempt to steal a pittance of an emotional human experience. I read a lot of Asimov).

These days with codes, videos, apps etc even your artistic experience is one that can be titillated via smartphone. So what does this redefinition of access mean for the arts?

Emerging Arts Leader Extraordinaire, Ashely Paulisick, 2011 graduate of Art Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London wrote an article on the 18th A Visitor’s Experience: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Smartphone Apps in Art Museums. She goes through the good, the bad, the ugly and the “around the corner” of smart phone apps in Art Museums. She talks about the benefits of access, connection, and the bad of “data gluttons”and audience alienation of those who don’t have smartphones.

What she doesn’t talk about is the integrity of the artistic experience. I believe, as an arts traditionalist, that there is something to be said for experiencing the arts though our natural given gifts: touch, smell, sight, sound, taste. I worry that increasingly as we burst forth into the working world, newly formed arts managers with ideas about accessibly and expression, we leave behind our art in the pursuit of audience.

But what is art without an audience?

We’re told increasing that we must bring the arts to the people and as our tech savvy planet spins ever closer up the sun it’s becoming obvious that whether we like it or not, smart phones are the future.

How do you think mobile access fits into the future of the arts? Read the article here and tells about mobile apps and the technological future of your arts organization.

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