Thursday, October 6, 2011

Art + Environment Conference

Following a wonderful opening and follow up evening of conversations at BoxoFFICE, Megan Evans and I headed out to Reno for the Art + Environment Conference at the Nevada Museum of Art.

The conference is a gathering of artists, curators, educators and more, all bound by their interest in art that relates to natural, built or virtual environments. The conference was literally mind blowing. Presenters, ranging from Jorge Pardo to Leo Villareal to the the Harrisons and Patricia Johanson, shared their work and inspirations in a powerful and intimate manner.

One presentation by photographer Chris Jordan captured my sensibilities as he called for change within each individual such that we can imagine change in the broader direction of society and its effect on the environment. Edward Burtynsky's remarkable images captured the imagination and he spoke of the privileged position he has gained that allows him access to the sites he documents for us. Pardo shared a wonderful overview of his work and his unique perspective on how design, architecture and art blend in his outlook. A marvelous contingent from Australia, including painter Mandy Martin, reminded me how far we are sometimes from working with the land and the original inhabitants of the land when seeking to communicate something essential and meaningful about place or the environment.

Bruce Sterling gave a riotous and oddly poignant summation reassuring us that the rising generation will be taking over in ways we don't relate to and that our structures, which have brought the state of the world and the environment to its current position, will be swept aside and the new will create the next future.

There was much to be learned and discussed amongst he participants themselves who were a dynamic group from across the country with a healthy does of Australians and other international types. Artists with projects as diverse as rebuilding Eden in Southern Iraq to remaining the Amazon, creating residencies in urban San Francisco or on a private land trust near Philadelphia.

Several exhibitions were mounted including the wonderful Altered Landscapes survey of photography dealing with our interaction with the environment.

Huge kudos to David Walker, Anne Wolf, Bill Fox, Colin Robertson and their team for creating a dynamic, professional, contemporary and inspiring home for furthering our efforts.

UPDATE: After attending the conference, I was in LA for the tail part of Art Platform when I got a call about a property in Joshua Tree. Riding the inspiration of the conference and the community it creates, I hightailed it out to the desert and went into action. BoxoHOUSE is now up and running and has hosted the first residency project - see details here: Gosia Wlodarczak: Frost Drawing for Joshua Tree

Humanbeeing - a conversation

On Tuesday September 27, BoxoFFICE hosted a dynamic dialogue between Megan Evans and Ron Breland, beekeeper/philosopher. A diverse audience of collectors, artists, cultural programmers and environmentalists joined us for the evening. 


Ron installed one of his decahedron hives and gave a compelling talk involving bees, art and new physics that posited how bees allow us to see beyond our usual preconceptions and glimpse the unity of the super organism of which we are all part. 


Megan put her practice and the exhibition into this context of accessing our interconnectedness and encouraged us to see generosity and giving as an access point to understanding our place in the universe and achieving reconciliation with each other and the greater environment that surrounds us. 


A lively Q followed. The talk was broadcast by Skype to Boston and a video can be seen here.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Megan Evans 'TO bee' opens

A wonderful crowd of Australians, artists, art appreciators, beekeepers, philosophers and bon vivants joined Megan Evans for the launch of her solo exhibition TO bee.  

The weather held and an amazing sunset peeked out below the cloud line as the crowd took in the wonderful works. 

The exhibition features large-scale drawings, photography, video and sculpture. TO bee will be on view until November 24th 2011. 


Look for related programming and events at BoxoFFICE, kicking off with Tuesdays conversation with Ron Breland (details here).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Burning Man 2011: Rites of Passage

Another Burning Man has flashed by and I am back at City life enriched, enlarged and a bit befuddled. How did it all unfold and then fold back up, slipping neatly into a packed case of the everyday. Or did it?

As with my experience two years ago, Black Rock City outstripped the Venice Biennale in terms of providing a compelling experience with the power to alter perceptions. The experience promised by the Venice title "Illuminations" was dark in comparison with the bright lights that shone on the Playa in Nevada.

Courtesy of Lady Bee
This year, I camped with a larger group, Camp Free Puppies. A diverse bunch from NYC, LA, Minneapolis, Boulder and San Francisco, we achieved that rare and wonderful state of drama free supportive cooperation. I was spoiled vis a vis earlier years - kitchen in a truck, shaded tent, shower structure, open hangout area and a wonderful domed hangout covered by a custom made skin of cartoon sheets and other bright prints. And community.

My week went by on a somewhat familiar schedule which leads me to think I will shake it up next year. One constant that I have no desire to give up is dancing at Pink Mammoth. A huge gift to the playa, Pink is the place to go for a cool afternoon dancing into sunset. Friendly folks, great beats and a spectacular setting. What more could one ask for? 52 weeks of it!

Courtesy of Lady Bee

Courtesy of Lady Bee

Monday - build camp and wander out with the group for an evening foray on the playa. Amazing how much is accomplished even this early on the week.

Courtesy of Lady Bee

Tuesday - a new experience that lead to some learning. I volunteered with a crew from Hushville to work at Arctica, the ice outlet. The shift was 12-3pm and we got there in good time. Owing to a bureaucratic snafoo too boring to go into, I wasn't able to cashier as intended. I had a moment of attitude before the shift manager suggested calmly that I just hang out. Minutes later he had rigged a chain and loop setup to the metal dome struts and had me up in the loops twisting and attempting to do my best Cirque du Soleil number. In a clown outfit complete with dayglo green and pink panels and fluffy white balls all down the center (thanks Lady Bee). Customers were not really impressed though staff found it a hoot. 

Then bureaucracy struck again - a Borg representative told me to get down as they didn't have liability insurance. This is the first time in 5 events that I have been asked not to do something at Burning Man.

Now amused, I got down to the ground and sought out another assignment. This one was really good. The shift manager gave me a large chunk of ice and suggested I go out to the long line standing in the heat of the day with an offer of an "icing" - the next two hours were spent painting numerous hot bods with trails of ice that provided a minute or two of playa style air conditioning. Hugs, thanks, smiles - what a great time. And a wonderful lesson from the shift manager on letting go of expectations and finding other ways to give. Thanks man. 

Then on to Pink Mammoth, reception at the Mansonian Institute, dinner at camp and an early night.....

Wednesday - shave, wash hair and off to the WNBR. Fun as always. Then on to Pink Mammoth, dinner at camp and out with the boys from San Fran. Zzzzzzz

Thursday - art tour and walkabout with Lady Bee, early return to camp to cook dinner, out with Dwell for the regional burn - 24 projects sourced from regional Burning Man groups went up simultaneously. Gorgeous works and spectacular choreography. A quick stop at Charon - a large-scale zoetrope depicting skeletons rowing across Styx to Hades. Wow. Then a dance at my new next favorite - Disorient (thanks Leo and crew). Zzzzzzzzz


Friday - how did it go so fasssst. Up at 6am to catch sunrise on the playa and photograph the art in great light. Flawed strategy only in that I totally missed documenting fire pieces that burn brightly at night. (All night images courtesy of the wonderous Lady Bee). The morning was spectacular although cold! Got to the task with a shiver and a quick morning dance at Disorient which was still going at 7am. 

A long stop at the Temple to take in its magic once again. Many people around catching the sunrise, listening to the gongs and even an early morning wedding. Powerful.



Then the playa provided - I ran into the Dust City Diner out near the perimeter. A performance piece that moves all over the playa, the diner is a fully functioning apparition that provides humor, coffee and pancakes in the morning - humor, coffee and grilled cheese at night. True joy.

On to center camp for my coffee shift - four hard and fast hours of greeting, meeting and providing a jolt to hundreds of lagging Burners. My barristas were a bit of a humorless lot and the week was getting to my lower back. Nevertheless, I generated it out and had a wonderful time interacting with so many faces. Pups Emily and Courtney came to visit and then Derek Mangot magically appeared. 

From there to Pink Mammoth, a joyful farewell with Derek, Kirk, Rick, Chris, Pup Sara G et al.

Last evening - another foray out with the Pups - checked out the scene around the Trojan Horse which was being prepped for it's burn after having been pulled onto the playa by 600 toga clad volunteers. Decided to skip the midnight burn and walked back toward camp only to stumble into the best firework display I've ever encountered celebrating the Flaming Lotus Girls stunning project Tympani Lambada

Courtesy of Lady Bee
Courtesy of Lady Bee

Courtesy of Lady Bee


Saturday dawned bright and early. I packed, got my stuff over to NYC Container Camp and hit the road. Farewell BRC - next year beckons.