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

This project is inspired by Crusade of Art’s visit to Cleveland last summer. I spent the last year trying to figure out ways that the gallery, studio, and community darkroom could engage collectors in a similar fashion to what I experienced when Jennifer Schwartz's Crusade For Art came to town. I was personally struck by the interaction between the artist and the passerby on the street. The conversations that took place enabled the artist to discuss their work with the potential collector. This kind of connection does not occur often and seeing the possibilities set me out to see how this could work in other forms.

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

I have been mulling these ideas over since last year. Taking the art and the artists to the public is paramount. It is the ultimate goal. I love the concept of poetry slams so I just altered the idea to fit art and came up with photo slams, which are in essence the same concept with the same end. Give the photographers a chance to show off their work in any creative way that they choose in front of a more passive audience that just happens to be at the venue for some other reason, in most cases. The public art installation (in places where public art is not generally seen) is a no-brainer regarding promotion of the arts and the artists. They will be able to stand in front of their work one lunch hour and talk to passers-by. This was modeled after Crusade For Arts' visit last year. Take the art to the people. Put the artwork in their face and see who lingers to find out more. That is where you will find your new collectors.

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

I think the greatest obstacle for artists these days is the competition from all other forms of entertainment and communication available to the general public -- there is entertainment and distraction on demand for everybody, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So ultimately exposure is the real struggle for every artist.

On the other hand, real art is something that truly benefits from being experienced first-hand, in person, just the way it was made, and the way it was meant to be seen and experienced. No electronic gadgetry can deliver the same kind of impact as an in-person experience with art.

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

Artists should be more open about the creative process with the public. By being more forthcoming about the "whys" and "hows" of their art, artists could encourage the general public to relate more to art, and to feel like art has some actual relevance to their lives; that it could be a gratifying and rewarding experience that they could also go on to share with others.