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October 1, 2012: 35th Anniversary Interactive Archive on Tumblr


February 2, 2012: Will K. Wilkins discusses Science on Screen in USA Today

December 20, 2011: The Way We Were: Party on Raw!
November 29, 2011: The Way We Were: BAM!
November 16, 2011: The Way We Were: Whatever Your Speed
October 25, 2011: The Way We Were: Cinema Classics
October 12, 2011: The Way We Were: Finding Art Among the Spokes
October 5, 2011: The Way We Were: Making Waves
September 13, 2011: The Way We Were: Making Waves
August 29, 2011: The Way We Were: Silent Wishes
August 22, 2011: The Way We Were: A New Challahday?
August 16, 2011: The Way We Were: Real Art Ways & Stone Field, Then and Now
July 18, 2011: Margarida Correia: New World Parkville travels to Lisbon
July 7, 2011: Neighborhood Studios Program: Eye on Video
July 1, 2011: Congratulations to the 2011 Step Up Selectees!
June 28, 2011: Hands Off Artwork: Leave Stone Field Alone
June 22, 2011: Remember This?
June 13, 2011: Thank You to All the 2011 Step Up Applicants
May 16, 2011: Ai Weiwei, Artist Under Custody of Chinese Government, Allowed to See His Wife
May 10, 2011: We Are Hiring!
May 10, 2011: Will K. Wilkins to Present at Creative Communities Exchange
April 19, 2011: Artist Ai Weiwei Detained by Chinese Government, Arts Community Responds
April 19, 2011: The Darling Foundry Accepting Applications for International Residency
April 19, 2011: Paper New England: THE DIGITAL PALETTE
April 11, 2011: Where Are Those Odd Ball Pictures?
March 7, 2011: Grants Available for Hartford Artists
March 1, 2011: Before He Was Wavy
February 15, 2011: As Hide/Seek Ends, A Step Back to Look for Lessons
February 8, 2011: Creative Capital Grants Available for Film/Video and Visual Arts
January 27, 2011: Waste Land Nominated for Oscar
January 25, 2011: Sicko Censors Serve a Bland Happy Meal
January 21, 2011: Enfield Public Library Cancels Showing of Sicko

Will K. Wilkins discusses Science on Screen in USA Today

2/2/12

Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director of Real Art Ways, discusses Science on Screen, a Real Art Ways' film program in USA Today. Real Art Ways is one of eight cinemas in the United States selected to participate in Science on Screen, a pilot program and initiative of The Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Science on Screen films are preceded by a talk by a scientist. Each film serves as a jumping off point for the speaker to share insights from scientific research or discuss technological advances in a way that engages the audience. Real Art Ways has selected area scientists and films for the first six films in the series. More info and the full schedule click here.

The Way We Were: Party on Raw!

12/20/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

bens
Real Art Ways has long been known for its outrageous parties – great blends of fun, adventure, and always a dash of the unusual. RAW's forays into party hosting began with the annual Mardi Gras celebrations, the only of their kind in downtown Hartford. Real Art Ways embraced the eclectic holiday, inviting attendees to dress in costume, and then parade down the streets of Hartford in the middle of the night! Eventually, RAW began offering warming pancake breakfasts to those who stayed up all night and marched in the late winter parades.


Things only got more fun from there! Throughout the years, RAW has thrown some really creative parties. For Halloween 1981, the "Artists and Doctors Ball" was co-hosted by artist Tim Keating and cardiologist Dr. Robert Silverstein. They invited all attendees to show up dressed as one or the other. Those dressed as doctors were charged $10 admission – and those who came as artists? Only $5!

One of my personal favorites was probably the 1980 Wrecker's Ball, partly because I'm a sucker for amusing puns, and partly because Real Art Ways has always been great at embracing whatever comes their way – they made lemonade by celebrating what they had already accomplished, and then looking towards the future.

And the future continued to bring more atypical and innovative parties. New Year's Eve in 1981 was advertised with the tagline: "Celebrate a NUCLEAR NEW YEAR at RAW, be a part of the chemistry" and featured a laser lights show. A disco dance in early 1982 was presented in conjunction with Great Hartford Community College's African-American History series. A Billy and the Buttons dance party invited attendees to participate in a "shadow dance show with audience members creating larger-than-life shadows on a giant screen." 1985's pre-Halloween party was dubbed the "Celebrity Party," based upon Warhol's idea that "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" – and costume prizes included "Best Use of Mylar"! And 1992 brought the Genderbender Ball, the capstone of a series of programs that celebrated the fluidity of gender.

So, keeping in line with Real Art Ways' tradition of pushing the limits when it comes to celebrations, it's no surprise that The Odd Ball has become one of the best and most adventurous parties in Hartford every year! LB has been working tirelessly to plan another great experience for 2012's Odd Ball, coming to Real Art Ways in April. Better start planning now how you'll dress to impress!

Odd Ball 2012 is Saturday April 14, 2012

photo caption: 1975 Mardi Gras revelers parade down the Hartford streets at midnight.

The Way We Were: BAM!

11/29/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

BAM, or the Black Arts Movement, has been referred to as the "artistic sister" or artistic branch of the Black Power Movement. It was a movement that encouraged black people to "take back the arts" and redefine them under their own culture and own leadership. Encompassing everything from publishing to performance production, BAM both allowed the black community to embrace its own artistic voice, and inspired many black people to explore arts that they might not otherwise have considered pursuing. The writer Ishamel Reed has asserted: "There would be no multiculturalism movement without Black Arts." Clearly, we owe a huge debt of gratitude, then, to BAM. bens
And this debt of gratitude must then be extended to Amiri Baraka, the founder of the Black Arts Movement. Starting out in the beat poet scene, Baraka first performed under his given name of LeRoi Jones on August 9, 1980 at Real Art Ways. He read from Blues People at the Jazz Festival that year. A couple of months later, the noted black poet-dramatist-revolutionary returned to help inaugurate Real Art Ways' new "poets and writers" series under his adopted name. And he returned once more to Real Art Ways in August of 1981, to perform again at the Jazz Festival on the lawn of the Old State House. RAW was lucky to host such a seminal writer, thinker, and activist several times, and perhaps Baraka was able to positively influence some of Hartford's own residents. It's certainly possible, as the movement was so influential on a national level.

If you're looking for proof that the Black Arts Movement really did make a difference, then come see the electrifying, passionate film The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, showing this week in the cinema. One of the film's production companies (Louverture Films) was co-founded by actor Danny Glover, who was himself influenced by the black arts movement in theater, when he was first starting out on his now very successful career. Louverture claims that it is "dedicated to the development and production of films of historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity." If you watch the film, you'll see how well it fits into the Louverture mission statement, as well as how it carries on the torch of the Black Arts Movement, which still thrives, decades later.

The Way We Were: Whatever Your Speed

11/16/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

Are you someone who is interested in all things automobile?

Thirty-three years ago, Real Art Ways hosted a show featuring photographer Doris Bens. The artist's images were silver print photographs of antique automobiles. (Bens seems to be quite an aptonym, even if spelled differently!) The photographer hailed from New Haven, and had become interested in the art form through her work as an occupational therapist. A photographer patient piqued her interest, and helped her along with her early training. Of her work, Ms. Bens said: "I photograph surface reality with a personal interpretation. Surface reality is the 'skin' through which we must all communicate."

bens

Fast-forward (or should I say "speed"?) to 2011. Coming up in the Real Art Ways cinema is the compelling story of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna, a Brazilian who won the F1 world championship three times before the untimely and fatal accident that cut his career sadly short. Whether or not you are an automobile aficionado, this thrilling documentary is absolutely worth a watch. So drive (or walk, or bike, or bus!) on over to check it out!

photo caption: Doris Bens prepares for her Real Art Ways exhibit, 1978.

 

 

The Way We Were: Cinema Classics

10/25/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

In honor of our special Nosferatu event this weekend, I wanted to focus attention on another groundbreaking film which Real Art Ways has shown.

If you're familiar with the Smashing Pumpkins' song Tonight, Tonight, you are already familiar with Georges Méliès, even if you don't know it.  The music video features artwork in the style of the famous French filmmaker, who is known variously as the pioneer of stop-motion animation, original visionary of space travel, and father of horror movies. 
 
The filmmaker's most famous work, Le voyage dans la lune, was shown at an animation festival presented by Real Art Ways on April 28, 1978.  Long before anyone had ever heard of a band called the Smashing Pumpkins, Méliès was already making his mark in Hartford.

Thirty-three years later, Real Art Ways continues to bring fabulous film events that span countless places and many years.  Nosferatu will be presented this weekend with a live orchestra accompaniment.  To paraphrase our Development Manager, "If you've never seen a silent film performed with a live music soundtrack, it's an experience not to be missed!"
 
(As a side note, if you are a bookworm like me, you might be interested in checking out the recent Caldecott Medal winner, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick.  He describes the book as "not exactly a novel, not quite a picture book, not really a graphic novel, or a flip book or a movie, but a combination of all these things"; it is a fictionalized story based around the life and work of Méliès.  I was enchanted by the book, myself.  And I am very interested to see what director Martin Scorsese does with the upcoming film adaptation!) 

The Way We Were: Finding Art Among the Spokes

10/12/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

Bicycles and art. You might not immediately see the connection, but Real Art Ways has. In February of 1979, Richard Lerman presented a night of electronic music, which was entitled "Sound/Image Events" and was notable for including the work Travelon Gamelon, which was performed on three "amplified bicycles." Attendees were handed programs that included musical scores written in bicycle notation, as in the included schematics. Lerman believed that the sound produced by amplified bicycles was not very different from that made by a gamelon orchestra. The gamelon sound originated in Southeast Asia and consists of percussion instruments native to the area. You can watch the video below to hear a sample and to learn much more about the history and performance of gamelon music.

Now, if you're a bicycle enthusiast yourself, creativity of a different kind can be found at Real Art Ways on Saturday, October 15th. At 5 o'clock, the Real Ride event begins with two hours dedicated to decking out your bike with colors, lights, and music (bring anything you think would be fun to use!). At 7, the group will take off on a guided ride through Hartford, which is sure to turn some heads!

Check out this link for more information on Real Ride.  Whether you’re a novice or seasoned biker, this is certainly an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss!

The Way We Were: Making Waves

10/5/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

A Tribe Called Quest is a music group well known for being groundbreaking in the field of hip hop. One of the earliest hip hop groups, it was very influential in helping disassociate the genre from gangster rap and other negative stereotypes, and to focus listeners instead on the music itself.  The early days of hip hop were exciting and liberating for many of the young artists, as they found a new outlet for their creativity and as the music took hold.

Join us for a screening of "Beats Rhymes & Life: The Travels of  Tribe Called Quest," Michael Rapaport's documentation of the group behind the scenes.  Showtimes can be found on our calendar

Three decades ago (and about one decade before the formation of A Tribe Called Quest), a similar thing was happening in the field of graffiti art.  Widely considered vandalism, the artists of the genre – those who would spend entire nights creating works they knew were ephemeral – were at the time lumped together with those who simply left their spray-painted tags all over New York City.  Luckily, though, two artists who called themselves Crash and Lady Pink were recognized for their talent and given a showing of their work in New Orleans.  There, Real Art Ways' co-founder and director at the time, Joseph Celli, met the pair and commissioned them for a show in Hartford.  In July of 1981, the graffiti artists spent three days with the gallery doors wide open, allowing the public to come in and see them at work, as they covered entire walls with their larger-than-life murals.  As they continued to push the boundaries of graffiti and what the general public considered "art," they were met with plenty of backlash from critics.  But the artists have continued for decades now to prove again and again that graffiti is an art form. To see where they are today, check out the following links:

Crash

Lady Pink

Graffiti is still quite a controversial genre, as you may well know if you've been following the story of Poster Boy.  When he was turned away at the last minute from his show at Trinity (slated to open September 15), Real Art Ways opened its doors to the exhibit.  His exhibition will open during the hours of 6-8PM during Creative Cocktail Hour on Thursday, October 20.  Much like Crash and Lady Pink, he will be sure to have both his strong supporters and detractors.  Whatever your feeling about the art, be sure to come down and check it out – at the very least, you will certainly leave with an impression.

For more information on the artist, a great article on Poster Boy can be found in a New York Magazine

The Way We Were: Making Waves

9/13/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

Despite its honored place as a strongly American symbol, agriculture - the family farm in particular - has been steadily disappearing from the American landscape for decades.  In 1981, Gerard Malanga - first famous as Andy Warhol's assistant - photographed the last farmer in Staten Island, Herbert Gericke.  This was a significant portrait, which represented an endangered, once thriving workforce. 

Malanga is well known for taking photographs which capture the feel of a movement or generation: he has captured on film such striking subjects as Abbie Hoffman, Duke Ellington, William Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Roman Polanski, several members of the Rolling Stones, and Real Art Ways favorite Allen Ginsberg - among many others.  Real Art Ways was pleased to host a show of Malanga's work in February of 1979.  While this was prior to the taking of his Gericke photograph, Malanga was clearly already making waves. 

Gericke, too, was making waves.  His story was included in an issue of the New Yorker, which told the tale of how he became the last farmer in New York City.  Gericke's Organic Farm was located near Rossville, NY, and had it survived, it would once again be under fire: Real Art Ways will be presenting Farmageddon (2010) on September 21 & 22, a film which examines the governmental issues which organic farms currently face, despite their rising popularity as resources for products like raw milk. 

Wednesday's showing will also include a post-film discussion with the editor, as well as the executive director of the CT Northeast Organic Farming Association.  If you are interested in learning about the current state of organic farming - and the waves this burgeoning industry is making - please join us!

The Way We Were: Silent Wishes

9/6/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

"Sometimes it takes voices from the grave to lure souls out of the basements of humanity." – The Hartford Courant, 9/23/96
 
Carl Pope's 1996 Silent Wishes, Unconscious Prayers and Dreams…Fulfilled sculpture is a quietly beautiful tribute to the lost lives of eleven Hartford youth.  It speaks to the viewer through words etched into stone, words which commemorate the dead in quotes from their loved ones left behind as a result of AIDS, domestic violence, and urban crime.  The choice of stone as a medium was meant to convey the impression of gravesites, and the words to evoke emotion and, ideally, to stem the rising tide of too many youths lost at too young an age in Hartford.
 
Commissioned by Real Art Ways, the idea for the sculpture was conceived in 1994, and it was dedicated to the city of Hartford on September 26, 1996 at its first home on Albany Avenue.  The site was appropriate: an abandoned lot which was surrounded by graffiti and gang tags.  Yet it also belonged to the city and was sold to a private concern in 2006.  For this reason, it needed to find a new home.  Pope himself was always in support of the sculpture remaining within the city: "Really, I want the piece to stay in Hartford.  It belongs in Hartford; it was done for Hartford….It's clear that it's an ongoing critical issue in the community.  It's not anything to be ashamed of.  It's something to be consistently aware of and dealt with," he said when the relocation of Silent Wishes was first discussed. 
 
Real Art Ways was lucky enough to find a wonderful new site to host the sculpture, on the lawn of the Church of the Good Shepherd (located at 155 Wyllis Street).  There, it can continue to impress upon the city's youth the importance of considering the choices they make.
 
Pope will return to Hartford to again dedicate the sculpture at its new location.  Please join him and Real Art Ways at 155 Wyllis Street on September 11, 2011 to remember lost lives and the importance of history and of growth.

Sources:
Erikson, M. (2006, June 28). "Guns and roses; Artist Carl Pope returns to Hartford to help us all learn to embrace the darkness." The Hartford Courant, p. D1.
 
The Hartford Courant. (1996, September 23). "Stones have stark message for city youth." p. A8.
 
Noel, D. (1996, September 26). "Message to Hartford's youth leaves lasting impression." The Hartford Courant
 

The Way We Were: A New Challahday?

8/16/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

On Thursday, August 25th, acclaimed poet Ravi Shankar will be reading selected works at Real Art Ways (see here for more information).  Shankar is the founding editor of the online art and literature journal Drunken Boat as well as poet-in-residence at Central Connecticut State University.
 
Real Art Ways has long been known for presenting some of the best and most innovative poetry.  In the spring of 1978, Allen Ginsberg – National Book Award winner and a founding member of the Beat Generation – was invited to read and lead a poetry walk through the streets of Hartford, starting at the Real Art Ways headquarters (formerly at 197 Asylum Street) and ending at Karl Andre's Stone Field.  Ginsberg recited poems amidst the rocks of Stone Field, including commentary on the city itself, noting the: "Silent meditative brown stones … glittering capitol under quail gray bottomed skies." 
 
Mayor George Athanson proclaimed the day "Allen Ginsberg Challahday" and sang an impromptu duet with Ginsberg, prior to creating a celebratory "urban fountain" by commissioning the opening of a fire hydrant to ceremonially mark the opening of spring.  Over a hundred people then followed Ginsberg on his ambulatory exploration of Hartford.
 
Perhaps this week, Mr. Shankar can help us welcome autumn in a similar fashion with his own reading.
 
For a preview of Shankar's readings, visit this link.
 
Sources:
The Hartford Courant. (1978, April 16). Photo Standalone 26 -- No Title.  p. 3G
Stepno, R.B. (1978, April 22). Bucolic Blesses Blissful Borders. The Hartford Courant, p. 16.

The Way We Were: Real Art Ways & Stone Field, Then and Now

8/16/11

By Arianna Schlegel, Project Archivist

In what couldn't have been more perfect timing, while sorting through the RAW archives, I stumbled across an article from 1977 which was published in the Courant [1].  Written by Linda Case, it compared 2-year-old RAW to the recently-commissioned "rocks" sculpture which at the time was quite the controversial talk of the town.  Thirty-four years later, that same Hartford landmark is again being argued over – this time due to a proposed redevelopment of Bushnell Park.  Recently our director, Will K. Wilkins, wrote an article in defense of preserving the original Stone Field Sculpture.

In the 1977 article, Case called the burgeoning Real Art Ways a "kind of animated version" of the sculpture – saying that it "provokes, pleases, angers, cajoles, inspires…makes its presence known" – just like Stone Field.  The article goes on to discuss the art space's place in 1970s downtown Hartford, as well as its reception.  An amusing section of the article attempts to refute some of the more popular (but unfounded) criticisms of RAW at the time: 

Allegation:

-- It's elitist and high-brow.

Retort: Watching Celli play his way out of a paper bag or telling the audience to listen to their heartbeats is earthly pleasure.

--It's far out with all that electronic stuff.

Retort: In any number, the sound of a cricket chirping could get equal billing with that of a synthesizer intoning.

-- It's one of those hippie communes.

Retort: Lifestyle and workstyle around RAW ranges from the biblical to Puritanical. Everyone's so earnest – it's old-fashioned.

-- "Anybody could do that" (to quote Mayor Athanson and others on avant-garde art).

Retort: Try it if you think it's so easy.


Case proves with a bit of humor and a lot of passion that Real Art Ways was able to offer something for everyone – as it continues to do today.

[1] Case, L. (1977, October 2). Real Art Ways: Avant-garde's downtown haven. The Hartford Courant, pp. H7-H8.


Margarida Correia: New World Parkville
travels to Lisbon

7/18/11

Correia worked with members of Hartford’s Portuguese community in the summer of 2009, to create a public art work, New World Parkville, at Real Art Ways. Her images, including family heirlooms, domestic interiors, and portraiture, brought private narratives into the public eye. Her work was displayed on billboards as well as in stores and community spaces in the neighborhood.

Photographs from this Hartford-specific public art project are included in Correia's upcoming exhibition, which opens July 21, at the Museu da Electricidade in Lisbon, Portugal.

Visit Correia's website to get a sneak peak at the images included in her exhibition.

 

Neighborhood Studios Program: Eye On Video

7/7/11

By Mitchell Glidden, Eye on Video 2010, Teaching Assistant 2011

For the past two weeks, nine apprentices have gathered at Real Art Ways to participate in the Eye On Video Neighborhood Studios program. This immersive program thrusts participants into the world of film, challenging them to reflect upon the work of expert filmmakers that came before them, and to find their own voice in this particular medium.Sweater

The program began by introducing the 2011 apprentices to the art of cinematography and the art of editing, both of which are essential to the production of quality film. The time spent learning these crafts has allowed the apprentices to get a sense of the program, what they wish to work on over the course of this summer, and each other. Utilizing these newly learned skills, the apprentices worked on creating an introduction video that highlighted each of their personalities, interests, and goals, and also offered them a valuable opportunity to become more acclimated to this group dynamic.

From there the apprentices split off into groups of three for the purpose of filming short films based on Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetee. This project forced the apprentices to come up with an original story in a short period of time, as well as emulate Marker's distinct visual style, which involves editing together a series of photo stills to construct a story, as opposed to using moving images. This project served to challenge the apprentices' ingenuity, and their preconceived concepts of film itself.

Now the apprentices continue to work their cinematography skills by competing in a "shot scavenger hunt" that requires them to film ideal examples of various technical shots. The apprentices have eagerly compiled what they hope to be first place-worthy shots, for the purpose of receiving a very desirable prize (an excessively large bucket of candy), and advancing their film education.

Erika Van Natta, our master artist-in-residence, keeps the apprentices on track, all while constructing a fulfilling, college level, curriculum designed to help advance our apprentices' pursuit of filmmaking excellence. She has chosen to have the program focus on the environmental concerns of the 2010 apprentices. These concerns will later be addressed in a final project, where the apprentices will create science fiction films that deal with the aforementioned environmental concern of their choice. It promises to be both artistically and socially rewarding.

If you wish to view the apprentices' work, a free screening of their projects will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday August 9 at Real Art Ways Cinema, 56 Arbor Street, Hartford.

The Neighborhood Studios program is sponsored by Travelers, and the Eye on Video program is sponsored by The United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, Neighborhood Studios is a city wide program, and includes: Snap! Photography Studio, Artist Collective Youth Jazz Orchestra, Artist Collective Dance Ensemble, Instruments of Culture, Break Dancing, and the aforementioned Eye On Video. The Greater Hartford Arts Council thanks its sponsors of Eye on Video at Real Art Ways.

 

Congratulations to the 2011 Step Up Selectees!

7/1/11

Real Art Ways is pleased to announce that artists Gail Biederman, Zachary Fabri, Dennis Maher, Samuel Rowlett, Dave Sinaguglia and Ari Tabei will receive solo shows at Real Art Ways next year. They were the selectees for the 2011 Step Up open call.

Rachelle Beaudoin, Phoebe Berkel, Andrea Sherrill Evans, Takashi Horisaki, Hong Seon Jang and Matthew Jensen have been selected as alternates.

Jurors this year were Yona Backer, Director/Curator, Third Streaming Gallery; Xaviera Simmons, Artist and Susan Talbott, Director and CEO, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

If you're interested in seeing the work of artists who were selected as part of Step Up 2010, we have five solo shows in our galleries featuring artists selected in last year's open call. And we'll be opening one more on July 21!

 

Hands Off Artwork: Leave Stone Field Alone

By Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director
Published in the Hartford Courant Sunday, June 26

6/28/11

During the 21 years I've lived in Hartford, I've often had the pleasure of walking past and through Carl Andre's public artwork, Stone Field Sculpture, next to Center Church.

The meditative sequencing of the stones — boulders from 1,000 pounds to 10 tons — invites an exploration of its materials and its site. Stone Field does a lot of things at once: It is a contemporary idea that summons the deep time of pre-history and, with its proximity to the Ancient Burying Ground, invites reflection on the presence of our colonial past, and the inevitability of our own passing.

I was startled to learn earlier this month, at a forum hosted by the Hartford Public Library, that the designers of the proposed Bushnell Park re-imagining, called IQuilt, have made an early proposal to rearrange some of the stones, and run water through a portion of Stone Field.

Really?

Now, let's be clear and not mince words. Stone Field is a public sculpture known worldwide. Marring its context, rearranging it, "improving" it, adding a water feature, would set the stage for a national and international public embarrassment that Hartford can ill afford.

Hartford is a city that has torn down much of its notable past, yet Stone Field has seemed to me a likely survivor. I imagine Stone Field remaining, long after most downtown buildings have gone, an enduring reminder of the poetry possible in human creation. It has not, until now, occurred to me that the most significant threat to Stone Field might come from the misguided intentions of well-meaning people.

I wonder why this singular public artwork gets so little respect (and this from a town that, itself, gets no respect)? I'm aware of the public protests at the project's beginning. But, more than 30 years later, we should be able to see that what we have is a public monument that is unlike most monuments. It is made of simple materials, and it addresses profound ideas. It evokes the unknowable enormity of geologic time at the same time that it is itself a part of the poignant human impulse to bring order and definition into an existence that can seem unfathomable. It evokes a past before ancestors, and offers a place of reflection for each person who wanders through.

Leave Stone Field as it is. Don't redesign it. Don't "improve" it. (The site is the very thing that makes Stone Field work — it is site-specific artwork.)

If you're reading this — walk by it and through it, take another look at it, and let your voice be heard.

After I expressed my dismay at the Stone Field plans at the public meeting, several people approached me afterward some in hushed voices, saying, as though confessing, "I like the rocks."

This is an opportunity for education. Some people don't understand how it's art. Some people don't understand why it's special. Many, perhaps most, have never been encouraged to look.

This fall Real Art Ways will be hosting a downtown walking tour with UConn Professor Robert Thorson. He'll be talking about the varieties of stone used in our downtown buildings, where they come from, how and when they were formed. And we'll be concluding our tour at the Stone Field. Come open your eyes and open your hearts.

Remember This?

By Megan Coates, Visual Arts Intern

6/22/11

The weekend of October 20-23, 2011, Real Art Ways will celebrate the end of our 35th Anniversary year with a reunion for artists, friends, neighbors, former staff and interns, and everyone who has been part of our community for the last three and a half decades.

Leading up to that, we're remembering some of the outstanding exhibitions, performances and events that we've been a part of.

Today, we look at a 1993 exhibition by Lillian Hsu-Flanders: The Red Sweater Project: A Sweater is Not Enough.

SweaterOn the floor of Hartford's City Hall, cardboard boxes held eighty-five red sweaters. The boxes resembled dresser drawers with handles, and on the inside were covered in white wrapping paper with childlike decoration. The sweaters were hand-knit by several volunteers and after the exhibition, they were sent to shelters and day-care centers for impoverished children.

Lillian Hsu-Flanders, a strong believer that color is symbolic, chose red for its insinuations of blood-flowing and life as well as other meanings in Russian and Chinese cultures. She felt that a government building would be a more effective setting for viewers because it is "a place where people make decisions about child care, education, health care and family leave."

Her intention was also to decree that child poverty is still a global problem. Donated clothing such as sweaters is appreciated yet not absolute fixes. Public policy is what makes lasting, dramatic changes.

To learn more, visit our archive or read a Hartford Courant article about the project.

As we finish up our 35th year, check back for more highlights. There will be opportunities to share your memories at our reunion weekend in October, and if you have something you'd like to share, please email Meghan Quinn.

Thank You to All the 2011 Step Up Applicants

By Gabrielle Barnes, Communications Intern

6/13/11

Real Art Ways would like to thank all of the artists who submitted proposals for Step Up 2011!
The postmark deadline for Step Up 2011 was June 3, 2011. Step Up 2011 received a lot of stunning submissions. Everything will be reviewed by our jurors on June 27 and all applying artists will be notified no later than July 1.

Artists that are not chosen by the jury will be considered for inclusion in our Slide Slam presentation, an evening that is open to the general public.

If you missed this year's Step Up deadline, remember to keep your eyes peeled for next years call, Step Up 2012.

Don't miss out on the opening reception for last years Step Up 2010 artists at Creative Cocktail Hour, Thursday, June 16, 2011 from 6-10 PM.

Step Up is in its 9th year as an annual call to artists. Among other criteria, artists living and working in New England, New York or New Jersey working in all media are encouraged to apply.

The jury selects artists based on: the quality of the artist's work, the innovation evidenced by the submitted work and proposal, the potential impact of the exhibition on the artist's career and the economic and physical feasibility of the proposed exhibition.

While artists are permitted to propose the exhibition of existing work, the jury places special emphasis on proposals that call for the creation of new work.

Real Art Ways provides this exhibition and publication opportunity an extension of our continued commitment to supporting young and emerging artists at a critical moment in their careers.

Ai Weiwei, Artist Under Custody of Chinese Government, Allowed to See His Wife

By Gabrielle Barnes, Communications Intern

5/16/11

It's been 43 days since Chinese Artist Ai Weiwei was taken into custody by the Chinese authorities on alleged "economic crimes." Since his arrest, the 53-year-old artist had been held with no contact to friends, family, or his lawyer, who also disappeared for five days following the arrest. The Chinese authority's lack of communication regarding the status of Weiwei's case led to increasing speculation and backlash from the arts community, human rights groups, and supporters of Weiwei.

On April 22, an unconfirmed report by an anonymous reporter for China's state-run media company, Xinhua, claimed Weiwei has confessed to tax evasion under torture. Following this report, China's embassy in London issued a statement denouncing the arrest as a human rights issue and insisting Mr. Weiwei's arrest had nothing to do with freedom of expression.

In an unexpected turn of events, Ai Weiwei was allowed to see his wife, Lu Qing today in a secret Beijing location separate from where he is being detained. Under the supervision of Chinese authorities, Ms. Lu was unable to inquire about Mr.Weiwei's treatment and forbidden from discussing his detainment or the charges against him. It seems the meeting was orchestrated as part of an unknown deal intended to prove that Mr. Weiwei was "healthy," though his wife reported "redness" in Weiwei's eyes, explaining that "He seemed conflicted, contained [and] his face was tense." (article here)

Mr. Weiwei's work continues to be shown and supported around the world in Berlin, London, and New York.

Allora & Calzadilla Represent the US at Venice Biennale

5/16/11

Conceptual artists Allora & Calzadilla (who were part of Real Art Ways' None of the Above exhibition in 2004) will represent the US at the Venice Biennale. They're the first artists working in Puerto Rico to show at the Biennale, and the first time performance artists have been chosen to represent the US.

Read a New York Times article about their exhibition here. See a slideshow of their work here.

We Are Hiring!

5/10/11

If you're a Real Art Ways fan and want to join our team, we might have a position for you! Check out our Opportunities page - we are seeking an Assistant to the Director, a Communications Coordinator, a Membership Coordinator, and a Project Archivist .

We are also looking for two interns: a Special Event Intern and a Neighborhood Studios intern.

Will K. Wilkins to Present at Creative Communities Exchange

5/10/11

Will K. Wilkins, Executive Director of Real Art Ways, will present a workshop at the New England Foundation for the Arts' Creative Communities Exchange. He will lead a discussion about how Real Art Ways uses commissioned public art projects as a way to support artists and engage with community. The Creative Communities Exchange will be held at Mass MOCA, May 19 & 20. More info here.

Artist Ai Weiwei Detained by Chinese Government, Arts Community Responds

By Gabrielle Barnes, Communications Intern

4/19/11

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has been in the custody of the Chinese Government and unheard from since April 3, 2011. Weiwei was detained at immigration in Beijing en route to Hong Kong for business. The claim: that his 2007 Fairytale: 1001 Qing Dynasty Wooden Chairs was plagiarized. In this work, Weiwei arranged 1001 Ming and Qing Dynasty wooden chairs and recruited 1,001 Chinese citizens to go to Kassel, Germany during the show "to create a condition which encourages self experience and extends people's participation of art."

The Chinese authorities are being tight-lipped about the actual charges against Weiwei - most recently claiming "economic crimes" - causing leaders in France, Germany, and the US to call for his immediate release. The arts community has also come together to support Ai Weiwei's release.

Anne Pasternak, president of Creative Time in New York and a former Real Art Ways curator, asked her Facebook supporters what could be done to support Ai Weiwei. Curator Steven Holmes (Bass Museum of Art and a former Real Art Ways curator) listed several ideas based on Weiwei's previous works. Of these, Pasternak chose to reenact Fairytale.

In Egyption Revolution-style a facebook page was created aptly titled "1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei." Pasternak and Holmes, amongst others, called for supporters to sit peacefully outside Chinese embassies on Sunday, April 17 hoping for the artist's immediate release.

For extensive coverage of Ai Weiwei's whereabouts, head on over to Hyper Allergic where the dedicated reporters are providing information as it comes.

A side note:
Just days before Ai Weiwei's capture, New Yorker correspondent Evan Osnos dubbed the Chinese government's recent "crackdown on free expression" The Big Chill.

The Darling Foundry Accepting Applications for International Residency

4/19/11

The Darling Foundry is currently accepting applications for its International Residency program, which supports visual artists from outside of Canada. Located in Old Montreal (Quebec, Canada), The Darling Foundry is an alternative visual arts complex with an outstanding architectural design.

The schedule of the residency is from the beginning of January 2012 to the end of June 2012. One residency of six months will be awarded. The resident artist will receive a grant amount of $23,000 CDN which contributes towards travel, subsistence, and production costs.

Application and support materials must be submitted by June 1st, 2011.

.: More information and application available here.

Paper New England: THE DIGITAL PALETTE

4/19/11

Curated by Paul Selwyn, THE DIGITAL PALETTE presents a selection of prints created by artists who utilize digital technology in their creative process. This exhibit includes artists from a digital art community that is worldwide, yet connected with only a few keystrokes.

Just as the computer has enabled advances in virtually every technical field, it has also empowered artists to explore and visualize in ways that were unimaginable only a short time ago.

Artist include Thomas Demuth, Rich Hollant, Steven Huczek, James Knowles, Dorothy Krause, Karin Kuhlman, Bonnie Lhotka, Adam Martinakis, Cyd Miller, Kasahiko Nakamura, Alex Ruiz, Paul Selwyn, Hal Tenny, Bogdan Zwir and others.

The exhibition will be on display May 2, 2011 - May 28, 2011. There will be an opening reception May 6, 6-9 PM.

Paper New England at Artspace
555 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103

About Paper/New England

Paper/New England is a nonprofit art center dedicated to presenting works of art on or of paper. Co-founded by Michael Shortell and Freddie McInerney, the center displays, collects and promotes art produced by artists who are either New England based or were trained or produced work while residing in New England. For more information, contact Michael Shortell at 860.236.4787 or visit www.papernewengland.org.

Where Are Those Odd Ball Pictures?

4/11/11

Can't wait to see photos and video from the Odd Ball? There are a few albums available online already, and we'll have photos from Steve Laschever (who was in the Cyclops' Lair) and Breck Macnab (our roving photographer) online very soon.

If you'd like to share your photos with Real Art Ways, email Meghan Quinn

PS. Are you a Facebook fan?

.: See photos and video here.

Grants Available for Hartford Artists

3/7/11

Attention Hartford artists! The City of Hartford is accepting applications for grants that will range from $5,000 to $10,000.

The City of Hartford, in partnership with Greater Hartford Arts Council, created the Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant Program as an economic driver for our local economy to create, expand and retain employment opportunities for Hartford-based artists, microenterprise businesses and organizations.

Business Development Grants for Artists and the Creative Industry will support Hartford-based individual artists and microenterprise businesses in the creative economy to increase their income, the quality of their work and productive capacity.

Grant awards will range from $ 5,000 to $ 10,000 and may be used for working capital purposes (wages, rents, utilities and other operational costs) and raw materials and equipment purchases.

Meetings and Deadlines

Public Information Meeting
Tues, March 15, 2011 - 10:00am – 11:30am
Snow Date – Wed, March 16, 2011 - 10:00am – 11:30am
Artists Collective, 1200 Albany Avenue

Public Information Meeting
Wed, March 16, 2011- 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Snow Date – Wed, March 23, 2011 - 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street, Real Room

Technical Assistance Workshop
Wed, March 30, 2011- 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Real Art Ways, 56 Arbor Street, Large Gallery

Applications due
Monday, April 11, 2011 – no later than 3:00 p.m.

Notification of Awards
Mid-May 2011

.: Applications and more information are here.

Before He Was Wavy

3/1/11

Saint Misbehavin

Look what Gabrielle, our fabulous Communications Intern, found at the West Hartford Public Library! Fifteen years before B.B. King gave him his nickname, Wavy Gravy was a graduating senior at West Hartford's own Hall High School.

His graduation quotation? "A rare compound of freedom, frolic, and fun, who relished a joke and rejoiced in a pun."

Wavy Gravy will be Skyping in opening night, Friday, March 4 as well as Saturday, March 5. Director Michelle Esrick will be present opening night. Film runs at 7:30 all week.

Susan Dunne at the Hartford Courant recently did a Q and A with Wavy Gravy.

.: Film information.

As 'Hide/Seek' Ends, a Step Back to Look for Lessons

2/15/11

Morning Edition
National Public Radio
Fabruary 10, 2011

The National Portrait Gallery exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture has gotten a lot of attention. Not for what's in it, but for what's been taken out — a controversial work of video art that briefly shows a crucifix covered in ants during a stream of powerful, often nightmarish images.

.: Continue reading.

Creative Capital Grants Available for Film/Video & Visual Arts

2/8/11

Creative Capital is now accepting Letters of Inquiry for grants in Film/Video and Visual Arts. The Inquiry Form will be available online until March 1. Please visit creative-capital.org/apply to read the grant guidelines and access the Inquiry Form.

Creative Capital provides integrated financial and advisory support to artists pursuing innovative and adventurous projects. The organization supports artists whose work is provocative, timely and relevant; who are deeply engaged with their forms, yet also boldly original; who create work that carries the potential to reshape the cultural landscape.

To be eligible to apply, an artist must be:
A U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident
At least 25 years old
A working artist with at least five years of professional experience
Not a full-time student

.: Visit creative-capital.org/apply to learn more about this opportunity and apply.

Waste Land Nominated for Oscar!

1/27/11

Waste Land, which opens at Real Art Ways Friday, February 4, has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary. Another nominee for Best Documentary that we screened here is Banksy and Jaimie D'Cruz's Exit through the Gift Shop. And, of course, we're showing the Oscar Nominated Short Films starting Friday, February 11.

.: More about Waste Land

Sicko Censors Serve a Bland Happy Meal

1/25/11

Rick Green
The Hartford Courant
January 25, 2011

In Enfield, the public library must be a controversy-free, Lawrence Welk sort of place where "Finding Nemo" is welcome, but Michael Moore is blacklisted.

"To show an offensive film of any sort at a public library to me, it's embarrassing," Ken Nelson, Enfield's deputy mayor, said at a recent town council meeting. "Put something up that everybody is going to enjoy and nobody is going to complain. They might be bored … but that is the easy solution here. That should be our standard as far as I'm concerned in this town."

There you have it. Libraries should be like a Happy Meal: bland and inoffensive.

.: Continue reading article

Enfield Public Library Cancels Showing of Sicko

1/21/11

Melissa Traynor
The Hartford Courant
January 20, 2011

A canceled library showing of a controversial documentary has come under fire.

Under pressure from the town council to either reschedule or reformat the nature of the screening, the Enfield Public Library decided to cancel its Friday showing of Michael Moore's 2007 film "Sicko," which is critical of the U.S. health care industry.

The decision to cancel the showing, which stemmed from a complaint by a resident, has been criticized by the Connecticut Library Association, which called the decision "an insult to our form of government" and said that the library should be a "battleground for ideas."

.: Continue reading article

 
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