#valueofart Paul Chan

“Have you ever read those stories about how people produce bio-electricity? And that some of us produce more bio-electricity than others, enough so there is a strong-enough electromagnetic field that it disrupts electronic devices, like cell phones and computers? I like to think sometimes that art is a thing that produces a kind of charge that makes nothing work. Then we can look at these things that don’t work and decide whether they are in fact worth their weight for us.”

from the 2012 Believer Art issue interview with Paul Chan

Placemaking with Public Art: Who decides?

VSmoothe over at A Better Oakland has a recap of a recent Oakland Planning Commission Meeting in which the above Oaksterdam University signage was judged to violate Oakland business signage size ordinances.  As she notes, since “the Planning Commission was clearly sympathetic to Oaksterdam University” discussion turned to redoing the sign as a “mural” or “special sign” in order to skirt the legal issues.  As this discussion has been going on for a year, Oaksterdam had already put out an open call to attract artists to redesign the sign as a mural.  This is when the Planning Commission decided it was their place to choose which of these public art proposals should go forward.

There is a fundamental problem when the planning commission is choosing artwork.   That is not their job, and the fact that they refused the help of Oakland Public Art Advisory Commission is deplorable.  Steven Huss politely and rightly offered the PAAC‘s services, since it is their place to help decide on works of public art, but also because they have experience guiding organizations, businesses, and individuals in matters of budget, permits, and the hurdles that one has to cross when working with artwork in the public sphere.  But instead, the Planning Commission moved forward with their own opinions, deciding which work had the “broadest appeal” and which was too “on the edge.”

Here’s the one the planning commission preferred:

Proposal 1

And here’s what V Smoothe had to say:

I mean, the whole original discussion about the idea of sign or mural was about placemaking. And whether one thinks this mural is pretty or not, it certainly doesn’t have anything to do with the neighborhood. Oaksterdam is not on Lake Merritt, nor is it at Oakland City Hall. I live in the heart of Oaksterdam, and I cannot see either Lake Merritt or City Hall from my apartment. The only thing about the mural that identifies the neighborhood at all is the text with the name of the business.  read more>>

If we’re talking about a mural with a purpose for place-making, that mural should be judged not only for relevance to the area and the people there, but also specifically for it’s innovation and interpretation of those concepts. This proposal does not address the specific locality as a place, other than being located in Oakland.

A mural will not assist in place-making if 1. it does not address the specific place and 2. is aesthetically bland.  Artworks and architecture can have a drastic effect on the community and pride of an area, especially if it is something that stands out.  The TransAmerica Pyramid was deplored when it was built. But what would the San Francisco skyline be without it?  Bold moves are sometimes required.  Risk is rewarded with awareness, even if some people hate it.  Richard Serra’s Titled Arc was eventually removed, but now many people think of Federal Plaza as the place where it existed.

Here are two other top contenders for the Oaksterdam mural:

Proposal 2

Proposal 3

Since we’re all into voting these days, which do you like the best?  Perhaps an art audience has a slightly different opinion than the Planning Commission?

Which proposal for the Oaksterdam Mural do you like best?

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Value of Art: (Public Funding) Steve Lambert

found via Joseph del Pesco

Value of Art: Enrique Martinez Celaya

“A meaningful life consists of a person struggling to make real, in the world he or she encounters at birth, the imaginary personage who constitutes his or her true self.  The reason art matters is because it’s a testimony of this struggle.”

-Enrique Martinez Celaya, in Guide, 2002
  found in Works and Conversations, #19

Nice Art! How Much?

David Kestenbaum (from one of our favorite podcasts: Planet Money) interviews Edward Winkleman about art pricing and how it’s done.

Value of Art: Starzshine

In her comment in her response to Long Day’s Journey: 8 Hours With Artist Marina Abramovic, starzshine taps into the value of art.

Try as I may I was unable to get him to understand the sadness I felt when looking into the depth of a Rothko, but it kept comming back to the Abramovic performance. He would go to the window… look, and then comment again on how pointless the whole thing was. Over, and over.

I finally had to say, “I don’t care how you feel about it. The point is that you feel something. You keep looking, you keep talking about it. Isn’t that what art is about? To convey an emotion, to make you participate in an experience?”

He didn’t know.

All I could do was shake my head.

Value of Art: Tyler Green

One of the nice things about art is that it provides refuge from other people’s chaos, a place to think, quietly.

-Tyler Green, Modern Art Notes via Twitter

Value of Art: Sea Ranch Chapel Edition


From the Brochure (my italics):

The Sea Ranch Chapel is a gift of two Sea Ranch residents who wished to offer a nondenominational sanctuary for prayer, meditation, and spiritual renewal.  It was their hope that all who enter will find a measure of peace in the blending of art and purpose amid surroundings of beauty and inspiration.

The chapel is dedicated to the memory of a young man, navy aviator, artist, and zoologist, who believed that art is the intermediary between the physical and the spiritual.

more images here (LMGTFY).

The Value of Art: Bernard Berenson

J. Carter Brown talking about his mentor Bernard Berenson:

According to Brown, the elder art historian “found, at the end of his life, that his great experiences came in his daily walk, which he did at the end of the day up behind I Tatti, where, he said, the fruits of a lifetime of looking at art objects allowed him to look at nature in a newly meaningful way.”

found in “Reciprocal Generosity” by Mary Jane Jacob in
What we want is free, generosity and exchange in recent art
edited by Ted Purves

Value of Art: Anonymous

“Why go on? I believe in art and artist as perhaps society’s last free agents.  Artists and children augur change, and no one listens to children.”

from “Personal Economy #11” by Anonymous
included in “Art Work: A National Conversation about Art, Labor, and Economics

Web hosting that supports artists.


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Lego Hello World
I wish all my printers were made of legos.

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google
Images from Life Magazine going back to 1860′s, hosted by Google

Coming Face To Face With The President
Well crafted story about an under-heard point of view.

In California, Pot Is Now an Art Patron
A new funding source for the arts – reaping big rewards and funding many projects.  It’s pot.

Notes on Portraiture in the Facebook Age

Celebrity Book Club: A List to End All Lists
Because, well, it’s sortof awesome.

Are "Artists' Statements" Really Necessary?
The pros and cons about that nemesis for most artists.

This to That
You tell it what you’ve got and it’ll tell you what to glue them together with.

Work of art: Online store for buyers, sellers
Not the TV show!  Kelly Lynn Jones from Little Paper Planes is interviewed on her project, gives us a cheat sheet to local affordable art resources.

How to make a Daft Punk helmet in 17 months