This week: Our faithful correspondent Patricia Maloney sat down with former US Congressman Pat Williams and his son Griff Willams at Gallery 16 in San Francisco earlier this month to discuss the turbulence of the Culture Wars during the late ’80s and early ’90s. Patricia finally learned how legislating works in a conversation that ran the gamut from explaining Piss Christ to conservative parents and why Poker Jim Butte is the best place to catch some Shakespeare to how the NEA is vital to cultural production in rural communities and why now might be the moment to demand the return of federal grants for individual artists.
Rep. Pat Williams, who served Montana as its U.S. Congressman for nine terms, from 1979-1997, was Chairman of the House Committee that oversaw fiscal authorization for the NEA. He was one of the most vocal champions for Federal Arts Funding and has been credited for saving the NEA at a time when it was threatened with extermination by the religious Right. When the National Endowment for the Arts came under attack for subsidizing what some legislators considered sexually explicit art, Williams led the fight to save the agency. “As long as the federal government can support the arts without interfering with their content, government can indeed play a meaningful part in trying to encourage the arts,” Williams told The New York Times. “The genius of the NEA has been that the peer- review panels, made up of local folks, chose art and artists by using criteria based upon quality and excellence, never touching subject matter.”
“He was a tireless and fearless supporter of the arts,” reports John Frohnmayer, who served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts during that tumultuous era. “He risked his political career in doing so.” Frohnmayer recalls that Williams “called out the congressional critics of the Endowment for their duplicity and moral posturing.”
This week: After an inexcusably self-indulgent, alcohol fueled intro where Duncan, Richard, Dana and Emily and Nick from ACRE join us, we get on to an excellent interview. Part three of our St. Louis series recorded at the Contemporary Art Museum-St. Louis. This time we talk to Juan William Chavez and Kiersten Torrez about the Northside Workshop, bees, social practice, and record an advert for penicillin.
Northside Workshop (NSW)
Northside Workshop (NSW) is a non-profit art space dedicated to addressing cultural and community issues in North Saint Louis. Our programming focuses on incorporating socially engaged art and education with the goal of fostering social progress in North Saint Louis communities.
In 2010, a collaboration with the Old North Saint Louis Restoration Group, the Kranzberg Arts Foundation and artist/cultural activist Juan William Chavez began an intervention to regenerate a historic North Saint Louis brick building in danger of being destroyed. Two years in the making, this building is now transformed into a dynamic community art space.
Juan William Chavez
Founder and Director
Juan William Chavez (born in Lima, Peru) is an artist and cultural activist whose studio practice focuses on the potential of space by developing creative initiatives that address community and cultural issues. His projects include Urban Expression for the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, the Northside Workshop and the Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary. His awards include the Art Matters Grant, the Missouri Arts Award and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In 2012, Chavez received a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship.
Director of Programming & Sustainability
Kiersten Torrez is an arts organizer focused on innovative sustainable practices. She has aided in developing community-based projects such as Beautification of Vacant Space, the Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary and Team Cookbook (creative workshops designed to community build through the sharing of recipes and stories in Old North Saint Louis). Torrez is currently planning a Year of Listening, a series of socially engaged events focused on co–generating programs to address the physical and social dimensions of the Old North Saint Louis neighborhood.
This week: Part 2 of our residency project at the Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis! This week we talk to critic, poet, gallerist, the award winning Director of the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts Director and Art in America contributor Jessica Baran. This was one of those interviews that I will look upon as a personal favorite. Besides Bad at Sports declares war on Art News. What could be better.
Jessica Baran is the author of the poetry collections “Remains to be Used” (Apostrophe Books, 2010) and “Equivalents” (winner of the Besmilr Brigham Women Writers Award, forthcoming from Lost Roads Press, 2013), as well as the poetry chapbook, “Late and Soon, Getting and Spending,” produced by All Along Press (2011). She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is a freelance art writer and co-curator of the fort gondo poetry series.
This week: The first in our St. Louis trip interviews. We talk to Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis Director Lisa Melandri live and without a net at our opening, in front of a moderately baffled audience. Topics include the Jeremy Deller show that was up at the time, institutional purpose, why certain LA museums are looney tunes, and so much more!
From Alive Magazine:
When Lisa Melandri took her position as Director of CAM just last August, she brought with her some serious credentials. While she was Deputy Director for Exhibitions and Programs at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, the museum grew significantly, nearly doubled its staff and budget, and drew national and international acclaim. Now she plans to bring the same magic to St. Louis. “I’m really thinking in depth of what a contemporary art institution is and who it can serve,” Melandri says, envisioning a space that functions as a living room where people come just to “hang out.” It’s what she calls a “sea change” in perception. Part of that change is using the museum to its fullest capability, where even a discreet nook is potential exhibit space. “You should always be running into art,” Melandri says, referencing the highly anticipated Jeremy Deller exhibit this month. “I want to see art in the bathrooms and elevators.”
Go buy the Mr. Litte Jeans single Oh Sailor on Itunes, it’s swell.
This week: Live from the Arts Club of Chicago (with great thanks to Janine Mileaf and Allie Foradas!!) Duncan and Richard talk to William Pope.L, about the forthcoming performance “Pull”, his show at the Renaissance Society “Forlesen” http://www.renaissancesociety.org/site/Exhibitions/Intro.William-PopeL-Forlesen.634.html, and more!
William Pope.L (born 1955 in Newark, New Jersey) is an American visual artist best known for his work in performance art, and interventionist public art. However, he has also produced art in painting, photography and theater. He was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and is a Guggenheim Fellow.
Learn more and donate to support stipends for PULL! participants: http://www.usaprojects.org/project/pull_a_participatory_performance_art_project_for_a_small_city
Follow the project on Facebook Twitter @WilliamPopeL #pullcleveland & Instagram @WilliamPopeL1
Other ways to help would be to Like Pope.L’s Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/pages/William-PopeL/531921730192043?fref=ts
and it would be HUGELY awesome if you could invite as many people as you are able (and encourage them do the same) to the event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/315591868543467/?fref=ts
Also! Join Pope.L for a post PULL! conversation at High Concept Laboratories on June 30: http://highconceptlaboratories.org/william-pope-l-before-and-after-pull/