Monthly Archives: February 2012

Communicating About Art Online with Hyperallergic

I’ve mentioned it numerous times before: Hrag is the biggest art whore I’ve ever met. He’s the best in supporting the art community both online and off, talking about it and giving all his participatory energy into it. He’s so good that he’s recently received an award for it, which he passed on to #OWS. He’s also my gay dad.

As editor of the art blogazine Hyperallergic, Hrag is particularly engaged in how art lives online, how it’s communicated on social platforms and how media art translates on a screen. He recently taught a class on communicating about art online as part of the Skillshare Creative Arts Program I’m helping build. Here’s an interview where he rabbles on about how you can engage your audience as a writer, artist, and curator. He’ll be teaching more of these classes soon.

How is the way an artist might engage online different from that of curators or art writers?

It depends on their medium and what they want to get out of their online presence. The online world is not a one size fits all thing. But for artists it’s important to know that it’s their images that sell their work so they must seek an effective way to showcase visuals online. Art writers and curators often get ideas from the online world so it can be as (if not more) important than a gallery show as more people will engage with the world online than offline.

It’s pretty easy for an art enthusiast to explore all shows and gossip they’d want to find online but more often than not it’s a passive experience. What are some tips you can provide to engage with art online?

I think the key is to be discerning. There’s a lot of garbage online but there are also gems (even if they are statistically fewer than the bad stuff). You should also trust you friends and associates to help you find the gems. Curate your friends list, that’s crucial. We don’t have limitless time to peruse the online world but if you have a circle of 100 people who regularly look at art online, imagine how much more work your circle will be seeing and the potential to find great work increases.

How did you successfully stimulate conversations online on your very first blog before Hyperallergic was born and before social media platforms like twitter was used to spread your thoughts like a disease?

Disease?! HAHAHA! Well, there was a little bit of luck involved in the process and, of course, linking to others was more crucial than it is now. The audience then was different than now, and frankly I think people today have more respect for online writing than they did then.

How has twitter shaped the way you experience art online as opposed to other platforms like blogging and commenting?

Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr are quickly replacing feed readers. I use them to gauge interest in topics, I use them to find breaking news, interesting perspectives, etc. They are my network news and more effective for me than Al Jazeera, BBC or MSNBC. For instance, during the art fairs — whether in New York, Miami or elsewhere — social media
is a better way to gauge what’s happening and who is seeing what.

The art world has a long way to go in engaging with the public through digital platforms. Where there are apps every other day being created for the food industry for example there are only a handful that enhances the art experience both viewing and creating. What do you think will be the future of communicating about art online?

The art world is smaller than the food industry or those other fields. It’s a matter of time though. Museums, art schools and online art publications will be at the forefront of that innovation since galleries, who rely on older collectors, have less of a reason to innovate.

In terms of the future, I think memes will be more important in the art world than they are now.

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Feed Your Baby Food from the Farm

Lauren and I go way back, like four years or something crazy like that. We met on a double date kind of thing and then I ran into her camping out at Queens County Farm (yes, Queens has a farm). It was right when I was about to launch Greenpoint Food Market and she was stoked to use it as a medium to sell her wicked boiled peanuts and bourbon pecan pies. She sold in many of the markets with her plaid tablecloth and vintage apron, and we even had a catering stint together under the moniker Three Blind Catering.

Lauren’s a tall southern hospitality guru and has since then attended French Culinary Institute, worked the grueling farm stands, tested recipes in the Saveur test kitchen and last but not least, launched a company making and delivering food for babies in the heart of Greenpoint.

Farm to Baby is the latest iteration of the current local, farm fresh, farm-to-table sustainability food movement to hit New York. Lauren takes produce from local farms and cooks up something healthful and delicious, grinds it all up, jars it in cute little mason jars, and delivers it to your baby’s mouth. Launching NEXT WEEK in North Brooklyn she’s on a mission to make it easy to choose the right food for your baby so he/she doesn’t develop mutant toes and brain dysfunctions due to pesticides and whatever weird stuff your kid will experience consuming food and culture in New York.

Read this interview with Lauren, forward to your mommies and mommy-to-bes and try not steal a spoonful when the babe isn’t looking.

What is Farm to Baby in 140 characters or less?

New York City’s first fresh, local and upright food for babies made by hand and delivered right to your door.

What’s the mission and goal that drives Farm to Baby?

Our primary concern is creating the best ever food for babies. Nutrition, flavor, texture and variety are paramount. Making it as easy as possible for parents to feed their children the best nature has to offer is what matters most to us.

Why should parents switch to Farm to Baby food?

Parents concerned with providing their kids with the best nutrition available will recognize the value of a fresh food for babies. Plus, numerous studies have shown that the varied, seasonal menu that Farm to Baby provides makes for less picky toddlers. Finally, parents can trust that Farm to Baby avoids synthetic pesticides and herbicides and plasticizers like BPA and phthalates, which means better, safer food for their babies.

Who makes the food?

I do! I make it all by hand in a certified kitchen. I went to culinary school at The French Culinary Institute and studied nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Where do you source the produce?

All of our food is sourced from local farms. We work hard to find farmers who use the best growing practices. That means that our produce is free from synthetic herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. What’s more, these farmers are good stewards of the land, ensuring the health of our planet for the next generation.

Why food for babies? Why not food for dogs, or hipsters, or old people?

Because babies deserve better.  It shouldn’t be hard for parents to feed their babies food that tastes good and is good for them.

What are your pick up/delivery locations?

We’re scouting convenient pick-up locations throughout Brooklyn right now and asking parents for feedback on their ideal locations. We want to make it easy for parents to get fresh and healthy food for their babies.

Where and when are you launching?

Our first deliveries will go out March 2nd in Williamsburg and Greenpoint.

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Make Shit (like Ideas) Happen in Chloe’s Skillshare Class

I’ve attended Bushwick Open Studios for about 4 years in a row. If you’re not familiar, BOS is a weekend event in June where hundreds of artists open their studios to the public and show off their work. It has deeply inspired my efforts in creating an art community in Greenpoint and directly influenced the production of Greenpoint Open Studios. Chloe Bass is one of the main organizers of Arts in Bushwick, the volunteer based organization not only responsible for BOS but also SITE fest and other art events, and I’m proud to have reeled her in to the creative arts program for Skillshare, teaching a 5 session course on Making Shit Happen.

There is no better person that will guide you from idly ideating and turning those daydreams in to actual, factual, creative projects. She’s help you pitch, document, sustain, and manage your project from vision to execution. This is interview will help you itch a bit more about your nagging curiosity to jump off the safety bandwagon and Make Shit Happen!

When is an idea a bad idea? As in, at what point is a new idea nothing but a hindrance to current ideas-turned-into-projects? At what point do you let these bad ideas become moot?

I have a lot of ideas, and I don’t follow through on many of them. This isn’t because they’re bad ideas per se, but rather because I’m trying (in the interest of personal sustainability!) to stick with the development of new ideas that fold nicely into my existing projects and goals. I think ideas should become moot if they’re way outside the ballpark of the creative life you’re planning for yourself. But write them down anyway. They might be useful later.

Other categories of actually bad ideas usually include: ideas that cause harm to befall yourself or others, ideas that don’t really interest you as anything other than provocation, and ideas that you stole from someone else without a sense of your own investment in them.

What is one solid beginning step in transforming an idea into a project?

Tell someone else about it. There’s nothing like putting something out into the world to make it real.

What is creative project visioning & realization? Is it like a business plan or more an informal brainstorming session with the self?

For better or for worse, I’ve never written a business plan. Creative project visioning and realization starts with an informal brainstorming session (in spite of the New Yorker’s recent claim that brainstorming doesn’t work) and something that probably best falls under the rubric of “wildest dreaming” — i.e. what are your wildest dreams for this project? After that, though, it’s time to get rigorous with yourself. If your brain is anything like mine, you won’t have trouble coming up with new ideas or dream upon wild dream, and you can always throw dashes of these things into the process later. But the emphasis should be on just that: process. What is the process that you want to lay out for realizing your project, step by step? How does the process feed back into the project (or product) itself? Set something up that you’re actually excited and able to do, not some creative behemoth that you grow, day by day, to dread.

At point would I know that this idea for a creative project will need a team? There are ambitious folks out there unwilling to yield their power which results in becoming crazy and an unsuccessful project.

I think creative projects need teams from the moment they step out of the idea phase. That first person who you tell your idea to? That person is part of your team, even if informally. Any friend you tag as an expert to teach you about some fabrication process you need to achieve your project is a consultant. Everyone does this, even the power hungry.

The trickier question is really one of authorship. I am doing a project called the Bureau of Self-Recognition, and while there are people who have been working with me on this project in various capacities (Mitch McEwen and TJ Hospodar, to name two), the project itself is mine. It has collaborative aspects, but in and of itself it’s not collaborative.
Other projects, like Arts in Bushwick, are obviously impossible without a team: equal collaborators who have a shared sense of vision and ownership for the collected ideas, process, and products.

I don’t know if there’s really a tried and true rubric. I guess I employ more of a common sense, touchy-feely approach to this question: what feels right for the project? But if you come up with a rubric, let me know. Actually, that’s a great idea.

What are methods and ideas to turn your project into a monetized project?
I think that any project for which you need to buy even a single item becomes a monetized project, whether you like it or not. If the question is how to bring money back to you, that’s a bit more complicated.

What type of project idea should students come prepared with? I for one have an idea for a 3 day tech festival. Someone might want to open a salon while another might want to start a drawing series.

I know that one student who has already signed up for the class is coming in with some ideas for a residency program that she’s been awarded for the fall of 2012. She wants to plan out in advance how best to use her time there, and get started with that process ahead of time. I really respect that!

But really, any kind of creative project is fine. I’m not an expert in everything, but I’m interested in most things, and I’m happy to research alongside you to help you discover pretty much anything that falls outside the few “bad idea” categories listed above. What I really care about is why. Why do you want to do this? If you have a good why, I’ll be hooked.

What are some basics to project building structure?
Here are just a few out of many. I don’t want to give everything away before the class!

Think big for a little while (about the first 1/10 of the time you intend to spend on this project from soup to nuts), and for the rest of the time, think clearly. Streamline your idea, focus your efforts, and target your output.

Acquire some externally imposed deadlines. Nothing like being under the gun (and someone else’s gun, at that) to help you get things out of your head and into the world. Internal deadlines are terrific, but external deadlines are somehow a little more inspiring for most people.

Document your process. Even if you think it’s drivel, it still has content, and that content may come back as useful material in surprising ways down the line.

 How do you find motivation and gumption to turn an idea into a project? I witness so many people with amazing ideas that never follow thru because of lack of confidence, lack of time, lack of support.

Percentage-wise, I think I realize about the same number of my ideas as anyone else. I just appear to realize more of them because no one knows how many unrealized ideas I still have. I think I’ve been very lucky to work within a community that supports my efforts with their own corresponding work. That kind of vitality can be hard to come by, but it’s amazing if you can get it. It helps to keep your work honest, and it also helps you to build confidence.

The time issue is a big one. I haven’t figured out how to build a machine that inserts more hours into the day, but if I do, I’ll let you know. A more important thing to remember is that you won’t do your best work if you’re working constantly. Make clear choices about what’s work time, what’s play time and what’s rest time, and do them all hard and well. It may sound corny, but it honestly makes the work more fun, too.

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How to Write About Art and Sound Like You Know What You’re Talking About


I first met Kyle during his stint at the world’s most amazing art blogazine Hyperallergic and I’ve since fallen insecure and envious of Kyle’s talent as an editor and art writer. His work is the perfect blend of smart and lyrical, void of eye-roll worthy art jargon and filled instead with razor sharp clarity and on pointedness. He is taking this covetous skillset and his recent title as assistant editor of Artinfo and sharing it with you in this Skillshare class. The class is actually TONIGHT and there are a few seats left so if this interview tweaks your curiosity and you’re thirsting to know the secrets to successful art writing, check it.

Why are artists so afraid of/hate writing about their own work and process?

I think it’s because writing about any art is really intimidating, and even more so when you’re so close to your own work as an artist. You have to have that critical distance to help people to better understand the artwork you’re talking about.

Can you share one tip for artists as they write or revise their artist statements?

Avoid “artspeak” whenever possible — that means don’t use generic, overused terms that pop up in every artist and curatorial statement. Offenders include “interrogate,” “explore,” “question,” and more.

What is the current trend or voice that you’re reading in art reviews these days? Is there a stark difference between what you read in the pages of say ArtForum’s review section and a review by Paddy Johnson? Is it possible to gauge relevance between the two?

Artforum reviews may be what critics and curators read, but if you want to communicate with anyone in the mainstream, your review needs to be concise, clear, and powerful, while remaining accessible. I tend to think that the more populist writing is more relevant, with critics like Paddy really reaching out to their audiences and speaking to them.

What is the one thing that you look for in a well written art review? Personal voice? Formal descriptions?

I’d say that both personal voice and formal description are important. You have to have both an interesting angle on the work (your own personal opinion) and the writing chops to describe a show or a piece of work clearly. Having only one or the other makes for a pretty boring article.

What is one way to pitch a story to an editor without getting a cold shoulder? Let’s say I’ve written a draft of a great interview with an underdiscovered artist. Do I write a one page summary of the summary and hope for the best?

One page is too long! Keep your pitch emails polite, to the point, and short. I suggest no more than 2 sentences, 3 sentences maximum, for story pitches, and always pitch at least 3 stories at once. I will definitely be covering this in the class.

I absolutely hate writing introductory paragraphs. Any tips on how not to spend 3 hours writing the same sentence over and over again?

Intro paragraphs can also be called “leads,” and there are a few great strategies for creating them. My favorite is to start with a powerful image or narrative, then return to that image over the course of the article.

How much of my opinion and voice should I keep out of an article? How about a blog post that is not my own blog?

On your own blog, you can be as mouthy as you want. The more august the publication, the more you might have to tone down your writing. Here, the difference between criticism and reporting is very important. Reporting means no opinion, but you can still have a voice if you do it right. Criticism means express your opinion loudly.
Any other comments?

Writing about art might seem like too much work to even attempt, but it can actually present a great creative outlet for writers and a source of income (!!) for artists.

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Events and Vendors Needed at Dekalb Market

Calling all Vendors, Producers, Organizers, Artists, Musicians, Shakers and Movers!

I need you!

I’ve officially signed a contract (Can you believe I’ve never signed one before?!! A HUGE freelance no no!!) to manage vendors and lead the marketing, programming and events front at Dekalb Market. If you haven’t been to DM in the past year, it’s an amazingly designed outdoor space with 60 container vendors cut out to house various vendors from clothing and food to toys and art installations. There is also room for outdoor table vendors for special events. It is a magical outdoor space and will be fully stocked as the go-to summer beer garden destination.

Jen Lyon, of MeanRed Productions fame, and I have partnered up and will be spending the next couple months preparing for a great year at Dekalb Market and would love for you to join us in one form or another! Some things we have planned:

– Beer & Wine Garden
– Programming & Events
– Ticketed evenings for music and nightlife entertainment including a DEKALB NIGHT MARKET!
– Happy hour specials
– Weekly CSAs and farm based events
– Movie Screenings (Bike Ins!)
– Classes & workshops for retailers
– Weekends
– Highly curated weekend markets
– Free daytime events
– Local bands
– Food competitions
– Supperclub dinners
– Marketing
– Updated website & newsletter
– Revamped social media
– Media partnerships
– Updated roster of vendors featuring the best in their field: food, crafts, art, music, clothing, accessories

If you’re looking for a space to host your performance, food competition, or product please let me know. Anything goes, if you want to showcase your best wood planer, or the latest gizmo. If you’re a vendor and would like either a permanent container space or participate in vendor specific events please let me know. If you know folks who’d love to take this opportunity to use Dekalb Market as a venue for any fun activity, please let me know!

Any questions? Let me know. 🙂

updownacross@gmail.com

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Brainstorming Session for a Meta Multi-Media Performance // February 29th

The last few weeks I’ve been toying with the idea of producing a meta multi-media performance where all creative cultures converge. Think: a live performance where the stage is built by artists setting the tone for various acts of dance, video, theatre, musical, what have you, accompanied by live music played by a full program of bands, composers, orchestras, what have you. It would be hyper immersive and interactive where viewer is participant through crowdsourced manuscripting with the use of multiple social  media platforms. So Act 1 might consist of a stage built byan installation artist with a dance troupe frolicking in and around in tune with a song performed by a local band. An ongoing crowdsourced dialogue influences Act 2 which then influences the crowd to build something for Act 3, on and on. There are loads of moving variables and it’s such a gargantuan idea that I don’t quite know how it would work but I like thinking about it.

So much so that I’ve emailed a few very talented creatives from screenwriters and fashion stylists to dancers and composers and was surprised how receptive they were. We’re planning a brainstorming session on February 29th to see where this baby can take us. I’ve named it BRAIN STORM! due to a lack of thinking of anything better to call it. It’s open sourced so I would like to welcome anyone interested to join us in the first session. It might get roudy and very very interesting.

Email me if you’ve got an idea to share, no idea is wrong, and would like to come.

Bring your own drinks and snacks as it might be a wild night.

Brainstorming Session I

February 29th, 2o12 @ 7pm

Church of Messiah

129 Russell Street btw Nassau & Driggs

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

updownacross@gmail.com

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Margaret Raimondi on Going Back to School While Working

I met Margaret a few years ago and have always admired her ability to manage a full time job (at MoMA no less) and grad school. As Greenpointers I’d often run into her on the walk to the G train and we’d talk about her experience studying at CUNY and writing that dreadful thesis paper. We’d also talk about all the old timey films her and hubby would watch and how she should quit stalling and invite to her house for dinner. I’ve been toying with the idea of going back to school to study either journalism because I suck at writing or curatorial studies so I can be the next Nancy Spector. However the thought of taking notes and writing papers while working on a various projects is daunting just because I know it uses different parts of the brain and I don’t know if I can handle that right now. I’ve considered attending part time but then I’d feel like I’d be getting a half-assed experience.

Margaret will be discussing all these issues and concerns in her first Skillshare Creative Arts class titled Back to School! Getting your MA/S While Working Full Time, to be held this coming MONDAY at Maccarone Gallery. I asked her a few questions to loosen up to the class and perk up your curiosity. Tickets and details can be found here.

What’s the golden rule (without giving away too much info!) to staying alive while tackling both school AND work?

I’m not sure there is a golden rule, but patience and balance are imperative. School and work can both be very demanding. You can still put forth your best effort and attain great success in both, but don’t go crazy trying to achieve perfection. Give yourself lots of breaks!

Were there skillsets that you built from work that were utilized into school? Vice versa?

The great thing about returning to school after working for several years was that I developed a really good sense of project management. That is, I learned how to break down a large task into smaller, manageable bits with real deadlines. I did not approach my undergraduate career in the same way. By the time I went to graduate school, I could say to myself, OK, I have 100 pages to read this week. I won’t go out Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday — I’ll read on each of those 3 nights and a bit on the weekend. And I will try to have fun on Friday and Saturday nights! From work, I learned the importance of collegiality and how to maximize my resources and make the best use of my time.

Is it important or is there a difference that your job role and school criteria be aligned? You worked at MoMA and studied art history so they were aligned. What if I were a hedge fund bro and wanted to study art history? Are there any pitfalls? Does it matter?

It really depends on your personal and professional goals. If I worked in finance, and wanted to exercise a different part of my brain to learn art history, then how cool is that? On paper, it may not advance your career, but you never know. There are plenty of financial jobs within art, especially in the auction houses, and this could be great for pursuing that path.

People go to graduate school for many reasons, but the great part about going as an adult (rather than as a petulant 18 year old doing what you think you should be doing), is that the purpose of going is hopefully to achieve your goals, whether they are to earn more money, study a subject in more depth or gain credentials.

How many classes are too many classes when you’re working full time?

Again, it depends on your job and your program. It’s easy to get ambitious and impatient and try to finish your degree in record time. But I think it’s really important to remember that you don’t want to hate your life. If taking too many classes is a burden, then you will resent your work and school. Take your time, make it easy on yourself. You already get a gold star for advancing your education while working full time!

There is a hefty demographic of folks who decide to go back to school because they can’t find a job. How successful do you think it is, or how much of a gamechanger is it to pick up a wholly new skill in hopes to develop the knowledge to apply to different jobs?

I think the current economy is so unpredictable that it is hard to make heads or tails out of anything! Personally, I think it is a tough expectation to think you will earn a masters degree and then get job x. I would wager that most of us have learned that flexibility is incredibly important for work in the 21st century. The world still needs very specific professions, like graphic design, or nursing or finance. But having a masters in something related, or not, makes you a very attractive candidate for work. It represents a commitment to learning new things and advancement; and what employer doesn’t like that?

How much is school just a useless timesuck?

Hopefully not too much! There were definitely classes that I was reticent to take (e.g. research methods, ugh) and I have friends getting their MBAs that shudder at the thought of their statistics classes. Some classes will be better than others, of course, and then you just have to grin and bear it. As I mentioned earlier, the hope is that because you chose the program because you wanted to, not because you had to, it won’t suck your time too much.

I notice that my memory fails me as I get older. Also, my attention span has short circuited. I can’t possibly imagine reading a textbook or writing a 10 page paper anymore. What are some tips of encouragement you can provide to adults who actually fear going back to school lest they fail?

It sounds really daunting, doesn’t it? When I first had to write a 20 page research paper in graduate school, I got nauseous. Your first semester back will be a transition for sure, and it’s important for you to keep that in mind. I think it helps to give yourself lots of time (but not too much). For something like a 10-page paper, make yourself a little timeline of when you’ll work on it. Be sure to finish a draft a few days before the final is due, set it aside and edit it a day later. Professors told me this all the time as an undergraduate, and I thought they were crazy. But your writing will really improve if you can get some distance from it. Also, set aside blocks of time for school work, and then have fun. When I first returned to graduate school, I would set aside entire weekends to work on papers. Then I would work for 3 hours a day on it, and spend the rest of the time watching “Clean House” and not letting myself go out because I felt too guilty. You’ll have way more fun if you study from say, 12-3PM and then go out and enjoy the day. You’ve earned it!

Any more tips or ideas or suggestions please add!

Be patient! Ask for help! MAKE SURE YOU HAVE FUN!!!!

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