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Crusade for Art Chicago Mixes Pork and Photography

Reposted from the Crusade for Art Chicago blog (original post, October 15, 2015)

The members of the Crusade for Art Chicago Chapter held their first-ever Art-B-Q event on Sunday October 4, 2015. Taking over Heritage Bicycle General Store’s picnic area, the chapter’s members hosted a well-attended outing that included food, drinks, prizes and art photography.

The lot across the alley from Heritage was transformed into an outdoor installation of 34” vinyl prints from each of the chapter’s members. Artist and Crusade for Art Chicago member, Garrett Baumer dedicated nearly the entire 48-hour period before the event reducing more than 40 pounds of pork into about 15 pounds of pure barbeque gold.  The pork was served with sauce and homemade seasoned potato chips. When asked about the quality of the food, invited guest Nolan Narut, executive chef for the Windsor Restaurant summed it up in one word, “awesome!”

The Art-B-Q attendees purchased raffle tickets which also granted them free food and beverages. Each ticket was placed into a box next to editioned prints, yearlong postcard subscriptions and a bottle of Brand X, Baumer’s delectable barbecue sauce. Many of the guests stayed to see crusade member, Joseph Wilcox use his “teacher’s voice” to announce the winners. Matthew Crowther, who leads the Crusade for Art Chicago chapter remarked that the first Art-B-Q was a success and “it was so fantastic to see so many people getting together on a Sunday to have a good time and talk about art."

Crusade for Art's mission is to engage new audiences with art. Our work is about developing and supporting innovative initiatives that create demand for art and opportunities to collect it. The members of Crusade for Art Chicago include Garrett Baumer, Matt Crowther, Barbara Deiner, Jonathan Lurie, Julie Weber and Joseph Wilcox.

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2015 Engagement Grant Winner Launches Project

Danielle and Joseph Wilcox won our $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant for their installment-based newsprint publication, which pairs artists and writers in each issue and is distributed to commuters on Chicago's Red Line train. The post below gives the inside scoop on last weekend's project launch.

Project Launch and First Issue Debut

by Danielle Wilcox
originally posted October 9, 2015 on the LDOC blog

This week LDOC sees the light of day, or, the light of Chicago’s Red Line.

Last Saturday we launched with a celebration among friends, colleagues, photographers and writers in Chicago’s own CHI PRC. We had a blast, drank custom-made Red Line Rye-PA, listened to the words of our featured writers, and previewed photography from issues to come.

 Eric Hazen reading from Issue 01.01

Eric Hazen reading from Issue 01.01

 Left to Right: Sahar Mustafah, Danielle Wilcox, Eric Hazen, Joseph Wilcox, Amy Giacalone

Left to Right: Sahar Mustafah, Danielle Wilcox, Eric Hazen, Joseph Wilcox, Amy Giacalone

Thank you all who came out and supported LDOC! We feel lucky to have garnered such a large network over the last three years. Check back here for future events pertaining to the publication.

Monday the 5th marked the first distribution of LDOC, featuring artist Nathan Pearce and writer Eric Hazen.

Joe and I started at the Red Line’s 69th St. station on Chicago’s south side at 7am. There’s nothing like handing out something, for the first time, to a stranger. Luckily after two issues were delivered to hands, the job was a breeze.

 Joseph at 69th St. Red Line Stop

Joseph at 69th St. Red Line Stop

All of our volunteers were warmly received at their locations and look forward to next Monday when we’ll distribute the second installment of October’s artist and writer.

Last, missed an LDOC? We’ll be publishing a list of coffee shops near the Red Line stops where you can pick up an LDOC if you miss a distribution, and, as always, subscriptions are available for purchase here.  

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Crusade for Art Brooklyn Rocks Photoville

Constructed Identities, a Crusade for Art Brooklyn exhibition at Photoville
by Sara Macel, co-director of Crusade for Art Brooklyn

 Photoville's shipping container exhibitions

Photoville's shipping container exhibitions

Back in early 2015 when Liz and I were conceiving of Crusade for Art Brooklyn, one of the dream events we thought would be a perfect partner to our mission to engage new audiences with photography was having a group show at Photoville, the annual outdoor festival organized by United Photo Industries in Brooklyn Bridge Park every September. Photoville was seen by 71,000 in 2014, and we couldn't think of a better way to make a splash and announce ourselves to our Brooklyn audience and to the photo world .

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And so, early one morning just before the deadline for Photoville exhibition proposals, I submitted our proposal for Crusade for Art Brooklyn. Being a brand new non-profit, we knew we might be a long shot since the competition is fierce for this festival. Then, we got word back that Sam Barzilay and Laura Roumanos from UPI/Photoville wanted to get us on a video conference call. It sounded promising, but again, we didn't want to get our hopes up. In preparation, Liz and I called Jennifer. During that brainstorming session, the amazing-idea-machine that is Jennifer Schwartz, came up with the idea that we'd take instant Polaroid portraits of our audience and install those images in a mural to be made over the course of the festival in real time by all 10 members of our local chapter. It was the perfect combination of showcasing our members' work and interacting with our visitors that we needed. We also decided that the three of us would curate the show featuring the work of our 10 members: Liz Arenberg, Mia Berg, Nicholas Calcott, Sean Carroll, Maureen Drennan, Sara Fox, Sara Macel, Minta Maria, Tim Melideo, and Charlotte Strode. On the call, Sam and Laura couldn't be kinder or more excited about our ideas. I think it was about halfway through the call that Sam came right out and said "So, you're in." Somehow, I was able to wait until the call ended to jump around like a maniac in my studio. And then the real work began...

 hanging the show

hanging the show

This was the first time I personally had ever helped curate a show and organize it from the written proposal to the finished exhibition. At times, it was overwhelming. But our member artists are really amazing and just when I thought there was no way I was going to be able to get all this done, we had a group meeting and everyone excitedly stepped up to take on tasks and jobs. As co-directors, Liz and I have these moments when we look around at these incredibly hard-working, talented folks and thank our lucky stars that we get to be part of Crusade for Art Brooklyn with them.

 Crusade for Art member artists setting up

Crusade for Art member artists setting up

Carl from Luxlab made all of our prints. I spent two mornings in August hanging out in his studio. Seeing our prints in exhibition size was pretty great. GL mounted all the prints, and Sean helped us find foamcore for our mural wall. Installation day was hot and sweaty, but with half the team there, we were able to get the work up on the walls (first with magnets, then with velcro) relatively smoothly. I have to pass by the festival from the BQE on my way to teach photography at Kingsborough College, and it felt like leaving my child at daycare the next day when I drove by Photoville on my way to work. 

At the opening party on Friday, Sept 11th, 2015, I stood outside our container/gallery watching my friends and strangers mingling among our prints and having their portraits taken for the mural. The WTC Tribute in Light shown over lower Manhattan, and I took a moment to take it all in. I was a beginning photo student at NYU on September 11, 2001. I had just started dating my boyfriend, and I don't often like to talk or think about that day. I almost left New York for good after that. But I stuck around. And I never gave up on New York or photography or that boyfriend. And in that moment, all of those things that I love were right there in the same place, and it filled me with pride. And that was all before the festival even started!

Over the next two weekends, our members took turns interacting with our visitors and taking their portraits and engaging with fellow artists and Photoville participants. What Laura and Sam and Dave have created with Photoville is a community in every sense of the word, and it felt great to be a part of it. We talked to visitors about our goals as a non-profit and about our ideas for upcoming events. People signed up for our mailing list, and other photographers asked when they could submit work to become members (in the future, we promise!) I got to see so many amazing artists I love and share our work with them: Anna Beeke, Jeff Jacobson, and Jennifer McClure to shamelessly namedrop a few. It was kind of cool to come back after a few days away and see the portraits we all made and how the mural started to, almost organically, take on the shape of the continental US. 

But for me, the best moment was on my last shift on the last weekend when a group of 20-somethings came in to our gallery. I told them a bit about us and asked if I could take their portrait. Immediately, they assembled into perfect "band photo" poses. It was hilarious and perfect. I took their portrait twice because they were so fun. And then, one of them asked me if we could re-take it with them holding up a sign that said "Photoville", so I did. I gave her that Polaroid to keep. On their way out, one of them told me that our gallery was their favorite because "you interacted with us and made it fun." And that right there is what Crusade for Art Brooklyn is all about. Thank you, Brooklyn! And thank you Photoville!

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Do you make art for passion or praise?

Would you make photographs if you knew no one would ever see them? How important is validation to keep you motivated?

Making art is hard. You put so much of yourself into your work, and sometimes it can feel like you are working in a vacuum. So if you don't get validated - by compliments or facebook likes or print sales or whatever validation means to you - does the work feel less important?

There's not an answer - it's just something I've been thinking a lot about lately. The other day I was watching a movie where the main character wants to be a poet, and she writes and writes and submits to every literary publication imaginable. She gets rejected over and over again and is devastated. Then she finds out that someone she works with is a painter. She asks him where he is trying to exhibit his work, and he says he isn't. He just does it for himself, because he loves it. He asks her, "don't you ever write something just for you?". She says no. Bewildered. 

Two extremes, and the guy who is painting for himself is clearly happier than the girl who is writing to get famous. But most of us cannot be so pure in our intentions all of the time. Look, I started Crusade for Art because I truly and passionately believe that we need to connect new audiences to art - we need to cultivate the next generation of art lovers and collectors so that artists can thrive. But it's hard. At least half the time I feel like I'm killing myself to do this thing that maybe no one even cares about. But I do it, because I care. Would I love encouragement and accolades? Of course. But we don't do our best work for other people. We do our best work when it comes from the heart - when we create something just because we have to do it. So maybe that is the answer. 

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FOCAL POINT Q3.15 Interview: Lily Brooks

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.  

I was lucky to find photography early. My mother had studied at a commercial school in the 70’s, so there were cameras around when I was a kid–I made my first pictures in high school. 

During my second year of college I took a class with Doug Dubois at Syracuse. He encouraged me to continue with photography (I had somewhat blindly chosen illustration as a major)–but I took the next year off to figure things out. It was 2002, and a weird, anxious time in the world–suddenly I wasn’t sure what I wanted. I remember looking over and over again at The Americans during that year off–a friend had given me the book–I found it to be completely mysterious and yet so descriptive. Looking back, I think it was the medium’s potential for this tension that interested me. Frank's America seemed just as dark as the one I was living in, decades later.

I decided to finish my degree at Massachusetts College of Art and Design. It was the best decision of my academic life, and the people I worked with there (both faculty and fellow students) continue to influence me today. After school I worked as an assistant for Abelardo Morell and Laura McPhee, my former professors. I then took a job in the libraries at Harvard, photographing manuscripts and photo albums from the archives. I still see the impact of those six years of professional experience in my practice as an artist; they certainly cemented my decision to pursue an MFA. 

Moving to Texas to study at UT Austin was hugely pivotal for me–both academically and personally. I felt like a stranger in a strange land moving from Boston to Texas. Relocating forced my work to change in a major way and led me to the subject of the weather (it was just so bloody hot!). I had three years to think, concentrate, and experiment in an environment that was both supportive and rigorous. The interdisciplinary program shifted my practice in a way I couldn’t have predicted, even though I’m still as “straight” a photographer as ever. I felt free to explore and was challenged in a very productive way by my faculty and peers.

I’m still early in my career and am focusing now on getting my work in front of people…self-promotion has never been my strong suit. I attended Review Santa Fe in 2014 and am taking what I learned there and putting it to use. I’m currently in the process of applying for grants and residencies, which will hopefully allow me to finish working on We Have to Count the Clouds

If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

I feel extremely fortunate to be where I am now. I’m starting my first full-time teaching job this fall at Southeastern Louisiana University. Teaching is incredibly generative for me as an artist, and I’m hoping this will lead to the career I want­–one where I have the stability and time to continue my work and the support to have it seen in publications and exhibitions. I can't overstate the gratitude I have for my supportive network of family, friends and colleagues.

What are your goals for the next 12 months? 

This New England girl has fallen in love with the South, and my first order of business is settling into my new city, Baton Rouge, where I have a few friends and am in close proximity to my job, New Orleans and the coast. I’m getting to know this place and its complexities. I want to continue the work I started last spring, photographing along the Louisiana coast and looking more closely at flood-control structures in what I think will be the last “chapter” of this body of work. I’m hoping that this year will allow me to finish We Have to Count the Clouds and begin working towards getting a book together. I’d love to show a more comprehensive edit of the work in an exhibition this year.


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FOCAL POINT Q3.15 Interview: Sara Macel

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.  

I took my first photography class when I was 15, and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a photographer. In high school, I exhausted every possible outlet to learn more about photography that I could find in my school and town of Spring, Texas to the point of writing the Houston Chronicle and pitching photo stories to them (it worked!). At eighteen, I moved to New York to study photo at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. It was a wonderful program full of talented students and great teachers like Tom Drysdale, Deb Willis, and Phil Perkis. I loved being surrounded by people who liked to talk about images.

After graduation, I lucked into a job as Bruce Davidson's studio manager. Working for Bruce taught me what the life of a working artist looks like. He taught me his method of darkroom printing and gifted me my Mamiya 7II, which is still my favorite camera. Almost as soon as he gave me that camera, I left to go make my own work for a few months. That began my on-going series "Rodeo Texas" about my home state. Upon returning to New York, I got a job working under photo agent David Maloney at Art Department. There I learned all areas of production (bidding on jobs, budgets, building crews, on-set production, travel, billing, contracts, etc.) and worked my way up to being one of his two head producers for his roster of photographers. When I wasn't head producer, I had time to work on my own fine art photography on nights and weekends. Slowly, I started getting into shows and winning small awards like Jen Bekman's Hey Hot Shot. I was using all my vacation days to travel for shooting personal work. But it wasn't enough. I knew I needed to shake things up if I wanted to get to where I wanted to be with my own photography. 

So, I applied to grad school and decided to quit my job and attend SVA for my photo MFA. That decision changed my life in incredible ways. While in school, I began what became "May the Road Rise to Meet You," a road trip photo series about my dad's life as a traveling telephone pole salesman. Grad school also changed my relationship to images and how I view myself as an imagemaker. After graduation, "May the Road..." started getting a lot of exciting attention. I was awarded the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer's Fellowship and signed with Daylight Books to publish "May the Road Rise to Meet You" which was released in 2013. I was very fortunate to be asked to join a Flash Powder Projects retreat right before my book came out, and there worked on ideas for pushing the book and taking my photo career to the next step. And since then, I've had a traveling exhibition of that work shown all over the country and in some international photo festivals, my collector base has grown, and I was selected as one of PDN's 30 Emerging Photographers to Watch for 2015. And just two months ago, I self-published a small edition of my older series "Kiss & Tell" that sold out in 2 months, so now, in addition to my latest work-in-progress, I want to revisit that series and see how it has evolved since I started it over 10 years ago.

I've also been teaching photography for 3 and half years now at SUNY Rockland Community College and am starting this fall to teach at CUNY Kingsborough Community College. And I've been shooting more and more commercial and editorial work, which has been great and something I'm looking to push more in the coming year.

I feel really fortunate for all the good things that have come my way and grateful for all the experiences that helped inform my skill set and creativity. The advice I tell my students is: be humble, be grateful, be hungry and just don't stop.

If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

That's hard to answer. I don't know that I'll ever be EXACTLY where I want to be, because each new wonderful achievement opens new doors and leads to new goals. But it sure would be nice to sell out of the editions of a series!  And a definite new goal of mine is to partner with a gallery for representation.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

In addition to gallery representation, my goals for the year are to create a "Kiss & Tell: Volume II", make a significant amount of progress with my newest series, explore more exhibition opportunities for "May the Road Rise to Meet You," and seek out more editorial and advertising clients. And get a dog. I'd really like to get a dog.

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FOCAL POINT Q3.15 Interview: Raymond McCrea Jones

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.  

The arc of my career really started with my education. In 2004 I enrolled in a technical photography program in North Carolina at Randolph Community College. The program has a storied and influential history in the North Carolina photography world yet I knew very little about it when I enrolled. All I knew was that photography was the one thing I hadn’t got bored with yet. So I went for it.

RCC requires all students to start with a medium format film camera. I went on to learn film processing, color printing, lighting theory and large format photography. This technical training really created and still serves as the foundation of all of my work. Although I primarily shoot digital today everything I learned there has influenced how I work today.

I went on to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with Pat Davison and Rich Beckman. All the while I was doing internships every summer. This allowed me to put my education into practice as a working photographer while still receiving guidance from excellent editors like the late Bruce Moyer of the Hartford Courant. 

My big break came when I landed a job at The New York Times. I was 26 when they offered me an internship at the website as a photo producer. This soon led to a full time position and a truly unbelievable experience. Somewhere along the way I learned one of the most valuable skills a photographer can have and that is the skill of self-promotion. I began developing relationships with the picture editors I worked with and I began showing them my work. Then I started working on my own stories and sharing them with those editors. People like Michele McNally, Jim Estrin, Clinton Cargill, Meaghan Looram and others gave me great feedback and support, the kind that is invaluable when you are a young in experienced artist. It wasn’t long before I had my first personal project published. Then I began shooting assignments through the metro desk. It was all truly a dream come true and an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

At some point along the way my family situation “expanded” and I decided I want to branch out a little bit with my career. I was fortunate enough to meet Marcel Saba and Redux Pictures who invited me to become part of their extended family. I relocated to Atlanta and began the second chapter of my career as a freelance photographer.

 September 1 my photobook “Birth of a Warrior” will publish and this will be one of the proudest points of my career so far. I have to say that if it weren’t for the relationships I’ve built and maintained with those I work along side with in the photography industry I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am today.


If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

I believe that never being satisfied is a healthy way to stay motivated. I’m thankful and gracious but I am absolutely never satisfied with the work I produce. I like it that way. 

If I were exactly where I wanted to be with my career I would have multiple gallery representations, my book would be hardcover, I would be shooting covers instead of inside portraits, I would have my own studio, I would have a full time assistant and I would have the opportunity of hearing my name mentioned in the same sentence as Richard Avedon’s. If I had all of those things what would I have to work toward?


What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Over the next 12 months I have several goals the first of which is to see the successful launch of my new book. I also want to do several super rad talks and presentations of this work around the country. I want to shoot at least 4 cover shoots and begin shoot my next book project. I want to learn how to manage my business finances better and I want to elevate my exposure in the industry through better publicity. I also want to shoot at least 3 more music videos and be a better dad to my kids than I was in the last 12 months. Not that I wasn’t a good dad or anything but it’s all about progression.

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FOCAL POINT Q2.15 Interview: Deb Schwedhelm

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.  

After 10 years as an Air Force Registered Nurse, I began teaching myself photography in 2006 and launched a child and family portraiture business in San Diego in June 2006. I continued on that path until we relocated to Kansas for one year (my husband is in the Navy). It was at that time that I decided I was going to take a break from the portraiture business and get back to photographing my children. That was a significant time in my photography career because it was a period of experimentation and growth. 

Next was an assignment to Tampa for four years. Having a pool in our backyard and relatively nearby beaches, I decided to purchase underwater housing. I loved photographing in the water and it was almost as if the photographs spoke to me, pulling me in and having me longing for more. After about a year, I decided I would take my FROM THE SEA series to the PhotoNOLA Portfolio Review. I was extremely nervous and really had no idea what to expect, other than looking forward to receiving some constructive feedback. To my huge surprise, I ended up receiving first place, which resulted in a solo show and self-published book for the following year’s reviewers. To say that I was blown away would be an understatement. This was the start of my work really being recognized within the fine art community. 

I also have had the incredible opportunity to be mentored by Jock Sturges. He is honest and thoughtful, yet doesn’t sugar coat things, which I find refreshing. He has encouraged and pushed me in the best way possible. Jock was instrumental in the launch of my Werkdruck book with Galerie Vevais, produced by Alexander Scholz, which can be viewed and purchased here:  http://galerievevais.de/products/item.werkdruck_20.html.

While often tough, I truly believe that being a military family and relocating every few years is a gift. Each relocation offers new challenges and opportunities. It was our recent move to Japan, which was the impetus of my most recent series, HOME AWAY. 

I also cannot leave this question without mentioning that there have been so many individuals who have offered thoughts, suggestions and advice along the way. I am grateful for each and every one of them and wouldn’t be where I am today without their influence. As the African proverb states, “it takes a village ” and I so wholeheartedly believe that. 


If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

I really am grateful for where I am today and for any and all opportunities that come my way. I believe that with really hard work, dedication, commitment and patience, great things can be accomplished and opportunities will present themselves — and it is this that I hold on to.  I hope to never stop creating. I hope that people continue to enjoy my photographs. I hope that I am able to inspire and teach others. I am pretty new to fine art photography and so I’ll simply say -- I will continue to dream big and setting new goals along the way. I dream of one day having gallery representation but for the moment, that takes me back to working hard and continuing forward momentum. And with that, I may have just written circles around your question.

 

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

Photography-speaking, my goals for the next 12 months are to keep photographing and pushing myself. I plan to review and possibly revise my online photography workshop offerings. I want to begin exploring collage and mixed media, with my photography, along with looking into some alternative printing methods. I hope to photograph in the waters in Japan this summer. I’m also thinking about unique presentation of my HOME AWAY series.  Lastly, I would be beyond thrilled to have a solo show in Japan, while I am living there. 

This most likely will be our last year in Japan, so I hope to do a lot of traveling around Asia along with embracing all that Japan has to offer me and my family.  I’m homeschooling while living in Japan and my oldest is attending college in the US, so with that said, I simply hope to survive the next 12 months. 

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Crusade for Art Brooklyn's Print Sale Event a Huge Success!

 Tiered print sale, photo by Sean Carroll

Tiered print sale, photo by Sean Carroll

post by Sara Macel, Crusade for Art Brooklyn Co-Director

Friday night, June 26th, was Crusade for Art Brooklyn's Pop-Up Party & Print Sale, our inaugural event to introduce ourselves to the Brooklyn community. Each of our ten artists presented one image for sale in an edition of 3 8x10s (priced at $20 for the first print in the edition, $40 for the second, and $60 for the third) as well as a 20x24 print for silent auction (starting at $100 to bid).

In the weeks leading up to the event, our ten Crusade local members (Liz Arenberg, Sara Macel, Sean Carroll, Charlotte Strode, Nicholas Calcott, Maureen Drennan, Sara Fox, Mia Berg, Minta Maria and Tim Melideo) met to work out the details and volunteer for different event planning duties. It really was a team effort, and everyone's contributions are what made the night such a success. Through our efforts, we were able to get Sixpoint Brewery and Langdon Shiverick to donate beer and wine, our member Sara Fox kindly donated the use of her amazing studio space, Nowhere Studios, and Luxlab in NYC gave us a generous discount on our prints.

 Crusade for Art Brooklyn member artists, photo by Porter Fox

Crusade for Art Brooklyn member artists, photo by Porter Fox

On the night of the event, all our members arrived early to hang prints in the front gallery space of Nowhere Studios. The gallery opens up into a larger room with couches and a kitchen space where we set up all the food and drinks as well as a slideshow that showed a broader range of each members work and explained more to the crowd about the pricing of the editions and how the profits from that night would help fund our next group show in September 2015. Sara and her husband Porter opened up the rooftop to our guests and did an amazing job with the tunes. 

 large print silent auction, photo by Sean Carroll

large print silent auction, photo by Sean Carroll

We were thrilled to see our promotional efforts for the event pay off with nearly 100 guests throughout the night and many of our artists selling out of their editions, and the rest coming close to it! By the end of the night, there was an all-out bidding war for Mia Berg's 20x24 print. It was so fun seeing all our respective friends and supporters mingling and collecting the work of our fellow members. We were thrilled with the evening's success, and I think all in attendance would agree: Crusade for Art Brooklyn throws a hell of a party. We can't wait to kick off summer with another print sale party next year! Thanks Brooklyn and see you at our next event in September!

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FOCAL POINT Q2.15 Interview: Rebecca Drolen

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

 

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.  

I would say that my photography career found its beginning while working towards my MFA during graduate school at Indiana University. Prior to returning to school, I had concerned myself only with making beautiful photographs.  In school, I realized the potential of communicating ideas through my images and working more conceptually, which now guides my process.   After grad school, I began showing my work mostly through group and juried exhibitions which eventually led to more opportunities for solo exhibitions.  One major pivotal experience was the year that I spent at the University of Georgia as a Post MFA Faculty Fellow.   In this role, I taught classes, recognizing my passion for teaching photography, and I was also responsible for making and showing a new body of work.  The environment of devoted and hardworking faculty, colleagues, and students helped form a model for me of how academics and creative research can collide with harmony.   I have found continued community and support in organizations like the Society for Photographic Education (SPE).   These relationships with fellow artists and educators are invigorating and inspiring.  Finally, I would be remised  not to mention the role that showing my work via blogs, news sites, and photography organizations on the internet which has dramatically increased my audience and recognition of my photographs.   While not a traditional gallery space, experiences such as having images on the Huffington Post, have allowed for new opportunities to show work amongst people who may have otherwise not known it existed!


If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

My goals are always shifting on where I would like to be in my photography career.  As I reach one ideal, the next presents itself!  I would love to be represented by a gallery, and of course, continue showing work in varied types of spaces.  Generally, I always want to be in the middle of a productive and successful current project or body of images!


What are your goals for the next 12 months?

In the next 12 months I will be beginning a new teaching position at the University of Arkansas that carries emphasis on research.  I plan to begin a new project while seeking opportunities to show some of my other bodies of work.  I have some ideas on the new work, but also hope to give myself a chance to respond to my new place via the work that I begin.  

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CSA Photographer Interview: John Brinton Hogan

In our Crusade Supported Art program, we commission six photographers to make an image in an edition of 50, and we sell 50 shares. Shareholders receive an original, signed and numbered photograph from each of the six commissioned photographers. We have had two CSA cycles so far, and they have been a huge success. Photographer John Brinton Hogan's image (below) was part of the second round CSA. We asked him a few questions to let you get to know him a bit better.

   Climber on the ascent, Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness Area, near Blythe, California, 2013 (Yellow Dot) by John Brinton Hogan

Climber on the ascent, Palo Verde Mountains Wilderness Area, near Blythe, California, 2013 (Yellow Dot) by John Brinton Hogan

Had you heard of an art CSA before? What were your impressions of the idea?

No. I was familiar with the concept with regard to farming, but not pertaining to art.  Right away, though, it struck me as a good idea, and was happy to participate.

What about the program made you interested in being one of the participating artists?

Many of those who'd like to purchase contemporary art face the obstacle of price.  The CSA seemed to me a democratizing force.

How has your experience been so far, and what else do you hope will come as a result of participating?

The experience has been rewarding, in that I'm able to connect with an audience I might not have been able to reach through my current network. I hope people can connect with the work they purchased, whether on an emotional or intellectual level; ideally both.

Please tell us about the piece you created and how it fits within your larger body of work?

From a practical standpoint, this project forced me to change my normal workflow when it came to creating the object itself. 

Visual Aphasia, the body of work I've been producing for the last couple of years, has been comprised principally of mixed-media pieces, and their physical composition makes them impossible to replicate.   The CSA was going to require a fairly substantial edition, and in order to create it I had to design an efficient process for producing the work. 

For some background, construction of Visual Aphasia pieces involves various embellishment techniques which are performed by hand. The works start as somewhat straightforward documentary photographs of figures and equipment in landscapes, which are then transformed into otherworldly tableaus via software manipulation. 

Once a print has been made, the human elements are "redacted" (see below) using various ingredients normally associated with lighthearted craft: glitter, gold leaf, holographic foils, etc., which by their nature require painstaking efforts both in application and handling.

For the CSA, I needed to formulate a system wherein I could deliver an edition that included the elements of the more complex Aphasia pieces, while still being practical from a time/cost standpoint. So, with a wink at Baldessari, I covered the figure of the Palo Verde Climber with a simple yellow dot, and created a glitter "paint" that could be applied in a just a couple of coats (image above). Hand-painting a small circle consumes less time than an intricate human figure, so, by employing a makeshift production line (last image below), I was able to deliver a picture that fits in well with other contemporaneous pieces.

Creating work in this manner allows me a small but meaningful tactile reward, which, with the demise of darkrooms, scanners, etc., I'd come to miss in my studio practice. 

To view more of John's work, please visit his website.

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Crusade for Art Announces 2015 Engagement Grant Winner

Jennifer Schwartz, Executive Director of Crusade for Art, is excited to announce the winner of the second year’s $10,000 Crusade Engagement Grant, awarded annually to the applicant with the best idea for engaging new audiences with fine art photography.   

 

Jennifer said, “Last year’s project has been so successful that I am especially pleased to have another grant project this year with the potential to achieve that level of attention and overall success.”   

The 2015 Crusade Engagement Grant winning project is called “.LDOC,” the centerpiece of which is a free weekly newsprint publication developed by Danielle and Joseph Wilcox. .LDOC will put 2-part photo essays and creative writing directly into the hands of Chicago Red Line commuters, creating an accessible, installment-based art experience for the Chicago commuter. “Our target audience, the 9-5 Chicago employee, would have .LDOC with them on their way to and/or from work, creating for them a moment of respite, artistic awareness, and as Picasso says, a moment to wash away the dust from everyday life.”

Out of hundreds of initial applications for the grant, a group of ten finalists were selected.  These finalists all proposed promising and innovative projects.  The entire list of finalists can be seen here. These finalists’ proposals were reviewed by an esteemed jury of photographic professionals, including Alison Zavos (Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Feature Shoot), Brian Sholis (Associate Curator of Photography at Cincinnati Museum of Art), and Ann Jastrab (Gallery Director at RAYKO Photo Center of San Francisco). .LDOC was selected was selected for its wide scope of engagement, giving a large number and variety of people exposure to art on an on-going basis.

Juror Brian Sholis says, “LDOC was the proposal that best balanced effective cost management and distribution with artistic quality. It imagined a captive, repeat audience for the publication and has the potential for long-term sustainability. It is an ambitious but exciting project.”

The Crusade Engagement Grant was created to foster the exploration of innovative programs to connect new audiences to photography. The grant will underwrite the full execution of the Wilcoxs’ idea. Danielle and Joseph say, “We are humbled to be given the opportunity to showcase Chicago photographers and writers to such a wide audience, and we look forward to helping the 9-5 commuter find time in their daily life for art.”

 Sample .LDOC publication that will be distributed to Chicago Red Line commuters

Sample .LDOC publication that will be distributed to Chicago Red Line commuters

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Welcome to the Neighborhood

Welcome to the Neighborhood is proposed by Sharon Lee Hart

How did you come up with the idea for your project? 

I have lived and taught in South Florida for 2 years and have been impressed by the number of talented (and often under-recognized) artists in the area. I wanted to find an avenue to promote regional up and coming fine art photographers who are making exciting images.

While working with a real estate agent viewing homes, I thought about the welcome gift that was given to my family when we moved into the neighborhood I grew up in, and I thought that it would be a warm and inviting gesture to provide new homeowners in Palm Beach County with photographs from regional artists to the benefit of both the recipient and photographer. 

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I became aware of the grant last year, near the cut-off date, so I followed the project.  The engagement grant is such a unique and brilliant idea, I knew I wanted to participate. When the call was announced this year, I submitted "Welcome to the Neighborhood" because I feel that it embodies the heart of the grants' goal by exposing new homeowners in the diverse communities of Palm Beach County Florida to vibrant artists in South Florida. The gifts would not only enhance an existing art collection, but also spark an interest in collecting fine art photography.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to? 

Girls’ Club in Ft. Lauderdale, FL puts on their annual Art Fallout for one night in October. This art event is an interactive art crawl with pop up galleries, mural painting and tons of special events. The most engaging exhibition called Unframed takes place at Girls’ Club itself. Works on paper by South Florida artists are displayed on the walls for a panel of gallery owners, dealers, curators and museum professionals to review. They provide feedback via post it note placed under each piece. Last fall, it was standing room only and the energy was palpable. The public is also invited to share handwritten comments. It is democratic and allows for direct audience engagement. Many of my students participated last year and all left with feedback via a pile of handwritten notes. Several students sold their work. I foundUnframed to be a great way for the public to discover new artists, and the benefits for the participating artists are invaluable.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

After I read this question, the Einstein quote, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” popped into my head. I think artists need to take responsibility for explaining their ideas and motivations in understandable terms. We need to determine who our audience is and formulate strategies to engage that group. Artists should actively interact with audiences by giving talks, exhibiting work in all types of venues, attending openings and engaging audiences in person and online.  As artists, we have the power to evoke an audience's deeper understanding and appreciation for our work through directand compelling statements and talks. From my experiences, I believe the standard for artist talks should line up more with TED talk time limits or Pecha Kucha and the remaining time reserved for questions and conversation.

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Photography Accademy

Photography Accademy is proposed by ACCADEMIA DC

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

One of ACCADEMIA DC’s founders was introduced to Jennifer Schwartz through Tim Hyde, the President of the Board for the Crusade Team. Over dinner, we shared ideas about how to engage young professionals in the arts community and learned about the Crusade for Art grant. For several months prior, ACCADEMIA’s co-founders were brainstorming ways to better engage young collectors in the DC area and testing some strategies among our peers with artist talks, gallery tours, and private collector visits. Our goal was to create a deeper engagement with emerging artists (specifically photographers) and young collectors and this grant sparked the formalization of the Photography Accademy model. 

How did you come up with the idea for your project?


The Photography Accademy concept is a hybrid of a traditional artist talk, a silent auction / raffle, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art’s ARTINI (a yearly event which enlisted mixologists across the city to create a creative cocktail inspired by a piece of art in the museum’s collection). ARTINI was one of the most popular social art events in DC year after year so there has been a desire among not only the guests but the mixologists as well (who benefited from incredible exposure and increased patronage) to keep this concept alive. In our model, the traditional time-tested artist talk gets a revitalizing twist with creative food and beverage pairings and the added bonus of one lucky guest receiving a work of art to add to their collection. By limiting the number of guests at Accademy events, we can facilitate more intimate conversations between the guests and the artist thus making entry into the art community less intimidating for new collectors.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?


The most engaging art event that the ACCADEMIA team has attended has been the most recent Armory Art Fair in New York City. While the fair itself was interesting, the team connected with a renowned DC artist who spent nearly a half of a day walking through the fairs, discussing the works, and identifying trends he’s seen in collecting over the years. This intimate engagement with an artist created a deeper understanding of not only the artist’s works but also those of other artists on view. By removing traditional barriers to entry (lack of knowledge, intimidation, etc.) we were able to truly enjoy the fair and learn more than we could have on our own. As a result of this conversation, two ACCADEMIA founders commissioned works from the artist, something that would not have happened without such an intimate interaction. The Photography Accademy attempts to recreate this experience and make collecting more accessible to young people – only through continued dialogue can collectors become more willing to invest in and support artists.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?


Ease of global market access is both one of the greatest threats and opportunities for artists and the art community. Specifically, social media and the Internet allow artists to reach the farthest corners of the world in a fraction of a second. At times, this can cause oversaturation that makes it difficult for artists to stand out as unique. It also means that the joy of experiencing art in person, to really closely look at a work of art, is replaced by the ease with which you can view it online without ever leaving your home. Successful artists are those that can communicate and inspire from afar but still demand the viewer’s attention in person. If an artist can find the right balance to differentiate himself/herself from their peers then technology can be a tremendous catalyst for an artist’s future.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?


Curators, gallerists, and art critics have a wealth of knowledge but there is no one more suited to discuss a work of art than the artist. We believe that artists should play a big role in educating their audience about their work and this can take on many forms depending on the artist – writing articles, doing gallery talks, being active on social media, etc. This is especially true for abstract or more challenging work that might not be so easy to understand on first glance. By engaging more directly with their audiences and potential collector base it removes the barriers often associated with galleries or a museum show and makes the work more accessible. Deeper connection with the artist will lead to increased respect, support, and even patronage.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?


There is a misconception that to fully participate in the art community you have to have an extensive, scholarly background in art. People often feel they need to justify why they like a particular work and don’t always have the vocabulary necessary to do so. This combined with the perception that art is not affordable makes art that much more intimidating, especially for emerging collectors. Photography serves as a terrific entry into collecting art – in general, photographs are more easily identifiable, collectible, and affordable. The Photography Accademy further demystifies collecting as it introduces emerging collectors to artists in an intimate atmosphere, allowing them to understand the artists’ works while removing the fiscal barrier to entry.

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Sleep On It

Sleep On It is proposed by Sarah Keeling and Anna Nelson

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

We first heard about Crusade for Art last year in an email from a friend and we've been following Crusade for Art's programs ever since. When the application for this year's Engagement Grant came out, we got to talking. As two young artists, we are passionate about developing creative solutions to the types of questions proposed by the grant. Cultivating a wider audience and breaking down barriers to accessing contemporary art will help to create the type of environment we and our peers need to thrive.

The idea for our proposed project, Sleep On It, arose from a desire to integrate fine art photography into locations outside of traditional art venues. We want to bring the art to the people and using hotel rooms as alternative galleries is a win-win. Hotels improve the quality of the experience they are offering to guests, guests learn more about contemporary art in a comfortable setting, and artists’ work is exposed to new audiences. By incorporating the experience of viewing a unique piece of contemporary photography into guests’ hotel stay, we aim to pique their interest and provide an intimate setting in which to view the work. We believe that when people experience the positive value of living with contemporary photography, they are more likely to begin purchasing contemporary photographs for their own home. Guests may also be intrigued by a specific photographer and find joy in following his or her career's progression.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Sarah: The most engaging project I've seen has to be "Art for the People," which took place during the 5th Auckland Triennial in 2013. New Zealand artists Evan Woodruffe and Catherine Ellis gave away 85 pieces of contemporary art to the public at the Auckland Art Gallery downtown. They set up a booth, which was open for two days, three hours each day, and gave away art donated by New Zealand artists on a first-come first-serve basis. Each piece was wrapped in brown paper so the recipients didn't know what they would be receiving. Woodruffe and Ellis kept track of where each piece of art came from (home address of the artist) and where it was going (home address of the recipient). At the end, they created a map of where art was being produced in the city and where the art collectors (or potential art collectors) where located. The audience response to this project is what really made it a phenomenal success. The public came out in droves and lines wrapped around the block. Woodruffe and Ellis ended up extending the project and collecting more art to meet the public's demand.

Anna: One project that I really admire for the way it engages with an audience is the Conflict Kitchen. This project functions as both a restaurant and a method of raising awareness about the U.S.'s international conflicts. The Conflict Kitchen, located in Pittsburgh, PA, serves ethnic cuisine from countries with which the U.S. is in conflict.  It is currently serving Palestinian food. The food wrappers have text from interviews with Palestinians living in Palestine and the U.S. who responded to questions about Palestinian politics and culture. Food brings people together and the texts spark conversation, transforming a simple meal into a discussion about international politics. 

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

We believe one of the greatest challenges artists are facing today is the ease in which images are communicated digitally. Cell phone cameras, Instagram, and other photo-sharing sites have led to the creation of a new environment that contemporary photographers must learn how to navigate, to both gain recognition and also to translate internet popularity into sales and shows. 

This is also where the greatest opportunity for expansion of photography as medium lies. We're interested in taking the wide-spread digital access to photographs and channeling it toward developing new ways of collecting, experiencing, and promoting an understanding of contemporary photography. Having an on-screen presence can work hand-in-hand with marketing physical photographic objects and creating a greater perceived value of these objects. Sleep On It relies on these new mediums of communication in conjunction with in-person encounters with the art to connect photographers to each other and to new potential collectors.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

We'd say as creatively as they approach their own work. We think artists can only stand to benefit from communicating the intent, inspiration, content, process, etc. of their work and believe that more invested interest in the field of contemporary photography will come through a greater understanding of its nuances. It's not artists alone who can or should tackle this. We think galleries, museums, and writers can help in the process of creating a more productive dialogue.

While we don’t believe that all artists must also fill the role of educator, we’ve found that when more effort is required to understand a piece, fewer people are likely to put in that effort to engage with the work. Most people receive an insufficient education in the arts, which can sometimes make the entire field seem like a private club. When artists put time into making their work accessible, more productive conversations arise. That said, this transparency doesn’t have to come in the form of a blurb on a website or wall text in a gallery. The approach to communicating information about the work can be as creative as the work itself, or even a part of the work.

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Art Heist Detroit

Art Heist Detroit is proposed by Andria Watha

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

In late 2014, I decided to clear out all the subscriptions in my RSS reader and start anew. I wanted to keep it lean and follow only those with enriching content. One of my top favorites quickly became Lenscratch. I spent weeks reading old Lenscratch articles. I came across a post from March 2014 featuring Jennifer Schwartz and the Crusade Engagement Grant, and it instantly grabbed my attention. I spent months looking for a way to fund my project and after reviewing the Crusade for Art website and reading the grant guidelines I knew our missions aligned.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

My project started from a desire to gift my images to the people who live in, visit and contribute to the city I take pleasure documenting. Searching the internet for inspiration, I came across Zoe Strauss, a photographer based in Philadelphia who photographs her city, hangs unframed prints of her work under a highway underpass, and allows people to take the images they want. She inspired my own project and Art Heist Detroit was born. 

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Art X Detroit 2015, presented by The Kresge Foundation, was by far the most engaging event I have attended. Featuring Kresge fellows from the 2013-2014 calendar years, this 10-day event provided an explosion of art and culture. Various art genres were presented through museums, artist and panel discussions, screenings, multimedia performances, concerts, an all day gallery crawl with over 25 leading galleries participating, and even an artist conversation over a bonfire! The icing on the cake – every event was free to the public!

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

There was a time I found art intimating and it took a long time to call myself an artist. I felt galleries were places the rich and famous went to for an evening of cocktails, finger foods and to buy expensive fine art. I still remember the changing point for me. There was an opening exhibit and artist discussion I wanted to attend but was to intimated/nervous to go alone. So I grabbed my sister and dragged her with me. While the delicious cocktails and yummy finger foods were present, it was not filled with the stereotypical crowd I expected. As a matter of fact, it was filled with people from all economic classes, race, religion, and ages. I had an amazing night and experience.

I hope to do my small part to help break down the barrier I once felt by offering people an easy way to start collecting art through Art Heist Detroit.

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Student Loan Photo Program

Student Loan Photo Program is proposed by Julie Delliquanti

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

Student Loan was inspired by a program that I have long admired at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center.

After having raised two children who lived in dorms at college, I observed that the self- determination they exercised creating their own spaces was empowering and an important transitional moment in their foray into adulthood.

Also, I recognized that so many young people grow up in households without original art and this prompted me to think about what it would take to demonstrate art’s value, and acknowledge that saying it is valuable is not enough.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

I enjoy community based events like Northern Spark and Art Shanties -- both Minnesota-based projects that provide opportunities for artists to interact and engage with the public in a setting that is outside of the gallery experience and encourages and rewards adventurous behavior, curiosity and openness to new experiences.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

In many cities, artists behave like they are in competition with one another for audiences, collectors, funding. They need to be more willing to work together – collaborate, partner, identify opportunities for synchronicity, educate the community, and catalyze an informed citizenry who shares their belief that art is an important component to the individual and common good.

Artists and photographers need to socialize and involve themselves in circles that extend beyond the creative community if they want greater exposure to broader publics. Fortunately, we live in a technologically advanced age unlike ever before, where connecting to people across the country and across the world has never been easier. 

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)? 

I don’t agree that people find art intimidating. I think people find the art world intimidating – the museum and the commercial gallery being the primary spaces. In my experience as a museum educator, people do not fear the art or even worry that they won’t like it or understand it. They fear that if they admit that they don’t like it or don’t understand it, they will be judged by others as being unsophisticated, uneducated, common. We have put in place systems that often discourage curiosity, vulnerability and a willingness to be brave enough to participate in an experience that asks you to look longer, engage deeply, think differently, or consider ideas that you hadn’t before. As educators we also have to do a better job in helping the public to understand that making photographs is not about the technology or the equipment, it is a way of seeing the world.

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: Alternative Photo Share

Alternative Photo Share is proposed by Linda Lyons

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I initially heard about the grant last year via a call for entry, and then more recently, I saw Crusade for Art postcards at the national Society for Photographic Education conference in New Orleans. 

I really enjoy alternative photographic processes and I’m especially drawn to their tactile, hand-made qualities. I appreciate the extensive time and labor that is needed to make these images and I love how they provide a different perspective on photographic work. My inspiration came from the desire to promote this type of photography in a unique way. Essentially, I wanted a project that shared my excitement about alternative process photography with artists and non-artists alike.

How did you come up with the idea for your project?

As I developed my project idea, I considered several areas that are important to me. I knew from the outset that I wanted to incorporate alternative process photography, due to my personal interest in the area and due to the lack of general knowledge about it. As an educator and artist, I often feel that digital methods are dominating the experience of viewing photography in our contemporary time. I wanted my project to deal with a tangible sharing experience, which utilized physical, hand-made prints. Even as a child, I always loved receiving mail and it seemed ideal to use the U.S. Postal Service as a distribution method. I also know many talented photographers who are underrepresented and I wanted my project to assist them in their artistic endeavors. It was important to me that the project provide ample opportunities for connection between participating artists and potential collectors.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

Maryland Art Place in Baltimore, MD, hosts an annual event called Out of Order in which any artist (during one day only) is invited to install one of their pieces in MAP’s galleries. The work is hung salon style and the event attracts artists in all stages of their careers, from emerging to established. A few days after the install, there is a huge gala and silent auction for the exhibiting artists. This is major community event and has been a wonderful way to see art, buy art, and sell art.

What do you think is the greatest struggle/weakness facing artists and the art community right now? What is the greatest opportunity/strength?

Primarily, I believe the greatest struggle facing artists now is finding the time and having the space to actually create their work. Balancing life, with all of its commitments and distractions, while attempting to make art is hard, especially when working alone. I think self-promotion is also a major struggle for artists at the moment. Being proactive in making your work visible requires a lot of diligence.

One of the greatest opportunities for artists is the many ways to find and connect to other artists. I believe the making of art and promoting of your own art is much easier when you have a supportive community of others working towards the same goals. Having a collective effort to research opportunities and provide encouragement is of immeasurable value. 

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

I think artists should speak and write about their work in as many forums and venues as possible, in order to educate others about their work and art in general. I think it is extremely beneficial for artists to provide a frame of reference for their artwork in their artist talks and artist statements. Presenting their work in the context of the history of their medium, as well as as explaining any societal / cultural connection is imperative to promoting a deeper understanding of what they doing and why. There is an abundance of opportunities to do this, such as speaking about and showing work in academic institutions, local community art organizations, and public spaces (such as libraries). I believe artists should also strive to have a strong online presence as a means to connect to non-local audiences.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

I believe a lot of it is due to being unfamiliar with and feeling disconnected from art and artists. Art is subjective by nature and an artist’s intent and objectives for their work aren’t always clear. I think these factors contribute to the obstacles facing potential first-time collectors.

Perceptual barriers can be lowered by making art more accessible, affordable, and understandable.  A big part of it is having audiences more informed about art. This is mainly achievable through knowing more about artists and having a connection with them. I believe if collectors of photography are confident in their knowledge about their collected artists’ work, then not only will they be more invested in long-term collection, but they themselves will also become educators and advocates for the photographers whom they support. I believe it is primarily the role of artists to seek out potential collectors and to educate others about their work.

 

 

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2015 Grant Finalist Interview: .LDOC

.LDOC is proposed by Joseph Wilcox and Danielle Wilcox

How did you hear about the grant, and what inspired you to propose this specific project for the Crusade for Art grant?

I originally heard of the grant last year through the Chicago Artist Resource. I thought it was really cool that an organization was donating $10,000 just to help artists engage audiences with artwork. I really enjoyed the DIY grassroots aspect to the organization and this fit with my ethos. I applied last year, and was ultimately unsuccessful, but came back this year with an even better proposal. My wife and I have always appreciated accessible and unpretentious art efforts and had discussed doing some kind of public distribution of a publication geared towards art and writing. When the grant cycle came up for this year, we jumped on the chance to pitch our idea to Crusade for Art.

What is the most engaging art event/collecting event you’ve been to?

One that immediately comes to mind is an Art Battle held in Detroit, MI that we participated in. At this event, organizers rented out a huge warehouse space, split the space up amongst artists, and then allowed artists to create live for viewers. The viewers voted on their favorite art piece at the end of the event and that artist or team won $1,000. This was a great way to turn art into a live event where people can watch the artistic process. It gave the audience ownership over the value of the artwork.

How do you think artists should play a role in educating the public or their audience about their art or art in general?

It depends on the artist. If you are an artist that benefits from the idea that art should be expensive and elite, then you probably shouldn’t educate the common public about art. This could hurt your profit margins. But if you are an artist who believes in the idea that art should be accessible, both financially and conceptually, then it is important for artists to engage the public in a way that fits into each individual’s understanding of what art is and what art means.

Why do you think many people find art intimidating, and how can we lower the perceptual barriers to entry for collecting art (and specifically photography)?

Art can be intimidating for a lot of reasons. The places where art is held often feels exclusive, like you need to be part of a club to go there. Artists are portrayed as geniuses knowing something we don’t. Also, a lot of art doesn’t make sense. At least not until you understand the language of art. And every media has its own rules: brush strokes have meaning in a painting, a camera angle in film. It can be hard for someone who hasn’t learned or studied art to have a point of entry to engage with work.

Our project tries to create this point of entry. By using photography, a media many people are familiar with; text, a linguistic tool people communicate through; and newsprint, a familiar and unintimidating material, we hope to create an experience where people can start to develop an understanding of what art means, both to them and at large.

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