On Saturday, Nov. 7, the Queens MFA program in creative writing is hosting a conference that brings the cream of the publishing world to Charlotte. The two panels focusing on magazine and book publishing are a must for all local writers and anyone curious about the mechanics of the publishing world.
The magazine panel promises insights into how literary and commercial periodicals work at the highest levels. The impressive list of participants includes top editors from The New Yorker, Paris Review, Tin House, and Antioch Review, as well as the International Creative Management agent who handles serial non-fiction sales.
The book publishing panel tackles how manuscripts get accepted for publication and the current state of the industry. It includes editors from Riverhead Books and Henry Holt, alongside top literary agents such as Peter Steinberg from The Steinberg Agency, Chris Parris-Lamb from The Gernert Company, Anne Edelstein from Anne Edelstein Literary Agency, Tina Wexler from ICM, and Amy Williams, co-founder of the McCormick & Williams literary agency. Both panels will include question-and-answer sessions with the audience.
The magazine panel begins inexplicably early at 9:30 a.m. The book panel starts at 4 p.m. On the plus side, Queens has generously opened both these events to the public for free. They will be held at the Sykes Auditorium and moderated by Queens MFA Chair Fred Leebron.
Friday, Nov. 6: MFA Alumni Panel on Editing — 4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7 : Panel on Magazine Publishing — 9:30 a.m.
Saturday, Nov. 7 : Panel on Book Publishing — 4 p.m. (All events are at the Sykes Auditorium)
For more info/preview see: http://www.charlotteviewpoint.org/default.aspx?viewpoint=110&objId=117.
Official Calendar: http://www.queens.edu/upload/CulturalCalendar_Fall09.pdf
Also @ Queens: The Queens MFA program in creative writing is perhaps one of the best kept secrets in town.
They also host exceptional public readings throughout the year, including an upcoming reading by recent Pulitzer Prize Winner Elizabeth Strout on Nov. 19. (See: http://www.charlottecultureguide.com/event.php?id=6849)
One of the biggest stories on the local visual arts scene is the Oct. 24 grand opening of the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, the second venue to open in the glittering South Tryon arts complex. If you want an even earlier glimpse of the place, however, you can attend “A Smarter Charlotte: Enhancing Our Community Intelligence for the 21st Century,” sponsored by Charlotte Viewpoint magazine and Civic By Design Forum. This Oct. 15 event will address numerous issues impacting Charlotte’s future, including whether or not insufficient creativity is impacting the city’s quality of life.
While Charlotteans are busy discussing how to bring the city out of its interminable cultural adolescence, down the road, sprightly little Rock Hill continues to offer surprises.
This week, you can meet two accomplished area artists who are currently exhibiting at venues on Rock Hill’s charming Main Street. Receptions honoring Michael Gayk at Gallery Up and Petra Carroll at the Center for Arts will take place Oct. 15, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. The multitalented Gayk, who is currently an instructional developer at 3D Systems University at York Tech., uses rapid manufacturing and computer aided design technologies to create sleek, sensuous jewelry that challenges traditional notions of craft. Carroll, who received her MFA from Winthrop University, but who also has a strong academic grounding in math and physics, does obsessive yet contemplative work utilizing common objects such as paper bags and envelopes.
On Oct. 23, Shepard Fairey (yes, that Shepard Fairey) will make an appearance at a festive event benefiting Historic Rock Hill. Turns out that this Columbia native has deep roots in Rock Hill, including his maternal grandfather, Charles Shepard Davis, who was president of Winthrop University from 1959-1973. Fairey will unveil his painting of the imperiled rocky shoals spider lily, prints of which will be given to major donors to Historic Rock Hill, of which Fairey’s uncle, Ward Fairey, is executive director. A limited number of $50 tickets are available for this event, and attendees can buy raffle tickets for a chance to obtain a print. Details are available at 803-329-1020 or email@example.com.
As some commentators would have it, the well-meaning public sits on one side of a divide and art, artists and the “creative community” are perched on the other. This perceived “us and them” schism is animating some rather inane political rhetoric and downright uninformed ink. George Will’s recent editorial in The Washington Post (which was re-published under other titles in The Charlotte Observer and many other regional newspapers) was a shot across the bow for everybody who understands the significant role that art plays in our prosperity. All of us at McColl Center for Visual Art bristled at Will’s provocation and suggestion that today’s new political paradigm subsidizes the “untalented.” We fired off an editorial of our own to meet Will head on.
Will’s assertion that artists are “just another servile interest group seeking morsels from the federal banquet” is bunk. Being an artist is hard and often under-appreciated work. Many people do not fully understand the discipline, research, hard work, technical proficiency and significant resources required to pursue art-making at the highest level. Artists, like other professionals, struggle, experiment, fail and develop good and bad ideas, alike. Laying bare this process exposes artists in ways that can cause an agonizing sense of vulnerability among artists. But the rigors endured by accomplished artists have huge benefits for society. Some less-genuine artists enjoy and play upon the misplaced aura of mystical “genius” that many lay people have of artists. That kind of display accelerates the polarity promoted by George Will. In my opinion, focusing too much on stereotypes and too little on authentic unfolding of the creative process does a disservice to us all.
An invitation into a serious artist’s studio is a rare luxury. There is much to learn from such an experience — it enlightens and reveals the mundane and mysterious — demonstrating that the creative process demands hard work and dedication. Coming close to artists and talking with them about their process, intent and struggles makes them more human and their work more accessible, even when the ideas they are addressing are complex.
You can experience such a process unfold at www.creatingathread.blogspot.com – our resident artist Daniel McCormick is working with Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation, The Charlotte Nature Museum, Catawba Lands Conservancy and students from Queens University of Charlotte to create an environmental art installation that restores an eroded creek bed at Freedom Park.
It is our core belief that art and artists are catalysts for positive social change. Artists help us all discover our own creative voices and our community, region and nation are better for it, in spite of divisive voices that insist otherwise.
President, McColl Center for Visual Art
The term “art community” is often an oxymoron — as artists frequently see/define themselves as being outsiders to any kind of community or group. However, it is also common for small groups of artists, who share similar interests/beliefs, to team together. While each one would be doing her/his own work, they learn from, challenge and inspire each other to grow and evolve as artists. The collectives also help the artists get more attention, and reach a broader audience.
In such groups that really click, the sum is always great than the parts. These kind of collaborations have been a recurring theme on our forums, and we have mentioned it before on this blog — because we think that such collectives also have a larger significance, as they could often become the seed-crystals for a city/region to grow culturally, and become noted for certain media/“schools of art”, or just great art in general.
Starting with this one, we will be profiling some of the local art groups with such potential
Charlotte Artery is a group of five artists who recently joined forces with the intention of forming a studio collective and exhibiting their work together. (Photomontage above — Charlotte Artery installing its first exhibition — courtesy of Charlotte Artery)
Right now, the group — consisting of Dan Allegrucci, Julie Benda, Janet Lasher, Ashley Lathe and Bev Nagy — is running a sort of vagabond gallery, which will move to different locations for the next year. In exchange for the use of a space, Charlotte Artery will transform it into a temporary gallery using its own moveable walls, lighting and such.
Finding space in Charlotte has turned out to be more of a challenge than the group anticipated. However, Charlotte Artery pulled off something neat last week, when it opened its first exhibition at the Lesbian and Gay Community Center at the NC Music Factory. The artists went to work on the space and then filled it with appealing, well-executed work. You can view the exhibition this Friday, October 2, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. The place is a little hard to find, but I encourage you to check it out.
Charlotte Artery's ultimate dream is to help expand the infrastructure for Charlotte's creative community by creating opportunities for artists and providing basic services such as print or photo labs. "This is not meant to be about us," says Lathe. "While other artists work to develop their own DIY projects, we would like for the Artery to be a cooperative effort in helping others do so, while they in turn help Artery grow and expand to help others."
While I deeply appreciate the generous nature of this project, it would be great to see these folks display some good old-fashioned self-aggrandizement, too. Their plan this year is to stage five additional group exhibitions that, depending on the size of the venue, could include additional invited artists. However, I'd love to see at least some space within these larger shows given over to solo exhibitions by each of these five founding artists. There's nothing like the impact of a solo exhibition; when an artist's work does not have to compete with the work around it, its message is that much stronger — and, of course, it's a nice addition to the resume.
At the funky, mystical McGill Rose Garden, art of every persuasion — adorable, conceptual, soothing, mind-numbing, functional, therapeutic — converges in a big, thorny lovefest. Within the last year, a visitor to the garden could see works ranging from an esoteric installation by McColl Center artist-in-residence Claudia Borgna to whimsical craft items.
You now have until the end of the month to catch Phillip Larrimore’s Holographic Fences. Not holographs in the conventional sense (detail of Larrimore’s Holographic Fences pictured — photos courtesy of the artist), these paintings on bamboo curtains and lattice are strung along a chain-link fence at the periphery of the garden. (And although I am a big fan of the McGill on a gloomy afternoon, these works are really best viewed on a bright day, when the aluminum paint shimmers in the sunlight, creating the holographic effect of the title.) Depending on your mood or the quality of light, these pieces can be seen as works that honor or prettify or are subsumed by the chain-link and barbed wire surrounded them and the compelling, derelict landscape behind them. Larrimore’s first experiments with what he calls non-technological holograms were done on screens. He hopes to continue this project on perforated metal sheeting.
Next up at McGill: In early October, Tom Thoune and Patrick Crawford will be working with developmentally disabled clients of Goodwill Industries on Coal Garden, a set of mosaic urns.
JOIN THE MOB SCENE this Friday, September 25, 6:00-9:00 p.m., at the McColl Center for Visual Art for the opening of Decade and Collected, which feature work by former McColl artists-in-residence and affiliate artists. Also opening that night is an exhibition of work by the newly arrived fall artists-in-residence. These exhibitions inaugurate McColl’s 10th anniversary year and embody the past, present and future of this important local institution.
What do making jewelry, fighting racism, re-inventing city/regional planning, and dancing the Tango have in common? Well, I really don’t know, except that those would be four of the 20 different topics featured in this Thursday’s Pecha Kucha Night. The presentations will cover a wide range of media, personalities and emotions. There will also be an engaged, diverse audience of a few hundred.
However we weren’t so sure about anything like that when we started off a little more than a year ago. We were out on a limb, hoping that there would be at least a few talented people who had something interesting to share; that we would be lucky if around 100 people showed up to the event … in other words, we ourselves had given in to the skepticism about the creative talent and community support in our region — the same “inferiority complex” that we were fighting against in our forums!
To our pleasant surprise, it did not take too long for our city to prove us wrong. At our very first event, held on a weeknight in the middle of the last year’s post-Hurricane Ike gas crisis, we had a standing-room-only crowd! But what was even more impressive was the quality and the range of the 14 presentations. We realized that we were really on to something!
What makes Pecha Kucha Nights so successful here — and for that matter, in more than 200 other cities around the world?
First of all the format is so simple — 20 images at 20 seconds each. That’s it — there are hardly any other rules. And as the last events showed us, there is hardly a topic that couldn’t be presented using that format.
Then there is the not-so-secret ingredient: beer!
As a former presenter from Tokyo says: “The beauty of Pecha Kucha Night lies in the tension between the chaos of a full-blown party and the politeness of an art school crit, with the snappy pace holding it all together.” In that spirit, in most cities where the series is successful, they are held in informal environments like bars, coffee shops, warehouses etc. The whole tone is relaxed; there is the freedom to move around and socialize.
Moreover, in the process, art and design are taken out of the pristine spaces of museums and institutions and shares the stage with every other issue/topic — funny and tragic, personal and public, mundane and profound — that make up our lives. In the process, they open themselves up to new perspectives and fresh audiences.
This Thursday night we will have our fourth and biggest yet Pecha Kucha Night, bringing together more than 20 individuals — some pretty well known in their field and beyond, some relatively obscure — to share their work, their message, their passion.
Come prepared to be amused, provoked and inspired.
Pecha Kucha Charlotte Vol. 4 – Thursday, 17th of September, 2009, starting at 7:30 p.m., at the Hart Witzen Gallery, NoDa (136 East 36th St., Charlotte, 28206). Admission is $5 at the door (+ cash bar). See www.point8.org/pechakucha for more details.
Volume 4 of Pecha Kucha Night Charlotte is organized by point8 forum, with help and support from the Winthrop University Galleries. Pecha Kucha(TM) is devised and shared by Klein Dytham Architecture, Tokyo.
The new Story Slam! space in Plaza Midwood is the most promising addition to Charlotte’s literary and theater scene in ages. It offers a full schedule of readings and performances of exciting contemporary plays such as The Laramie Project, as well as unusual events featuring fiction writers, poets, and musicians.
This Friday they’re showcasing An Evening of Short Stories from New River — an impressive selection of short fiction from such renowned authors as National Book Award winner Denis Johnson and Best American Short Story recipient Sharon Pomerantz. But this isn’t your typical literary reading. These pieces take on a whole new life when performed by professional actors from New York City who will add nuance and drama to the way you hear the stories.
The program is inspired by the successful Selected Shorts program on NPR, which pairs stars of stage and screen with short fiction. New River Dramatists — an organization that has supported and developed dramatic writing for over a decade — put together these stories and actors from their well of nationally respected collaborators. The other authors in the event include Alethea Black and local writer John W. Love Jr. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also have a story featured entitled “The Beach.” (Spoiler: It doesn’t take place at a beach.)
Stories from New River takes place on Friday at 8 pm. Story Slam! is located in the heart of Plaza Midwood at 1401 Central Ave. Tickets are $10 in advance on Carolina Tix and $14 at door.
Not so long ago, Charlotte offered movie fans a decent variety of indie and foreign films, but these options have largely vanished. You might figure the economy is to blame or hypothesize there’s no market for those movies here, but that’s simply not the case. The problem can be summed up in three words: Regal Entertainment Group.
Regal has a monopoly on all the art theaters in the area. When they bought the Manor, Regal gutted the adventurous programming of Charlotte’s esteemed art house and kicked the Charlotte Film Society to the curb. The Manor’s knowledgeable staff used to select the films, but corporate headquarters took over that job. Sadly, the theater now has all the charm of a computer-programmed radio station.
The genuinely independent fare of Ballantyne Village Theatres used to offer a welcome alternative – until they were bought by Regal. Now they mostly feature the bland sort of art films that are suitable for someone’s grandmother. You certainly won’t see anything like the acclaimed heavy metal documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil or the new Jim Jarmusch crime thriller starring Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton. Too rarified for Charlotte, no doubt.
Film fans have long complained that Regal buys the rights to movies they have no intention of showing in Charlotte, simply to keep other chains from screening them here. Even worse, Regal refuses to deal with the Independent Film Channel, the essential distributor whose roster includes everything from smart action movies to lauded foreign films like recent Cannes sensation Anti-Christ to smaller movies by Hollywood directors like Steven Soderbergh. Because IFC makes their films available to subscribers of their cable channel for a fee, Regal says this cuts into their business. It’s hard to imagine how those few people possibly constitute a threat, but thanks to Regal’s monopoly, maybe IFC on Demand will become the best place for local cinephiles to enjoy some genuine culture.
During my mostly nomadic life spanning 3 continents, I have been called a lot of names, in many languages; however, “genius” hasn’t been one of them. So, as someone in his late 30s who has never before been accused of exceptional talent or intellect, I became quite uncomfortable when I was featured among a few other individuals (whose brilliance I do not question) in the August “Genius Issue” of Charlotte Magazine.
My problem is not with the content, but with the title of the feature. In fact, the issue is with the general tendency/habit in our culture and the media to elevate certain individuals, while paying little attention to the circumstances and forces that caused them to stand out. The spotlight is shined on a select few, while everything around that circle is darkened out. This “celebrity culture” has resulted in a very skewed reading of the cultural history — esp. since the last century. When history becomes a series of stories of individual glory, it inevitably leads to the over-valuation of the work of the acclaimed few, while most others — and often the medium itself — struggles for survival.
What is often ignored or forgotten is the fact that it is the genius of a culture, (or that of a certain group/school/commune), that is often epitomized in the work of an individual. There would have been no Picasso if early 20th century Paris wasn’t the home for a large bunch of artists bent on reinventing Western culture for a modern world. There wouldn’t be a Garcia Marquez if literature wasn’t a way of life for a large number of people in mid-century Latin America.
Therefore, in order for a city or region to produce great work and for that region to be attractive for creative individuals, what is needed is to build a community where artists are welcomed, encouraged and challenged. More attention needs to be paid in developing and sustaining such groups, because that is what really makes the place more livable and valuable, for both the artists as well as the larger community. The exceptional work and the creators that will eventually grow out of such a fertile field will be the bonus and not the objective of the efforts.
The story of Point8 — just the fact that a newcomer could start and grow such an organization in a few years — says far more about the Charlotte (art) community than it does about me. It also shows that there are so many dedicated, motivated and highly capable individuals here, almost all of them far more talented and smarter than I am, who are willing to spend great amounts of their time and effort for a cause that they believe in. That is what makes our forums worth attending. That is also what makes it possible for a small informal group of people to organize events of relatively large scale and reach.
So, to be fair, and more importantly, not to be a thankless bastard (as I really appreciate the recognition for Point8), most of the other individuals featured in Charlotte Magazine that I happen to know (like Mark, Tom, Carlos, David, the CLT Blog guys …) are community-builders — people who have managed to bring together and tap into the brilliance of others. I certainly am honored, and rather undeserving, to be in that company. And Rick Thurmond and his team at the magazine certainly need to be given the due credit for compiling such a list.
Apparently T. Boone Pickens likes to say that “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan.” Now that I can relate to. Maybe another three years the Charlotte Magazine can have a special issue featuring “Fools With Plans.”
But I guess that might not sound good on the cover.
— Manoj P Kesavan
It's strange to start blogging about art in the summer, when the art world tends to go to sleep. I understand why commercial galleries power down, but I've never fully accepted this phenomenon as it applies to nonprofit and alternative spaces. It's not as if we're all spending the season at the beach house.
What I'd really love to see in Charlotte are projects that could happen only in the summer — exhibitions that are suited to the muggy, buggy South; work that is not necessarily marketable; strange work in strange spaces. I once participated in such a project in Atlanta. Joey Orr, a curator who was inspired by a similar effort in San Antonio, established Shedspace, which ran for five blissful, sweaty years. Every Saturday in August, he would open a new, one-night-only show in a garage or storage shed in a transitional neighborhood. I was one of the earlier (and more conventional) artists. As the project continued, Joey found that it was best suited to installation and performance-oriented work. It was incredible: essentially a back yard party, replete with artists, neighbors, kids and dogs, but the focal point was an exhibition of often challenging work.
BACK IN THE SADDLE. Joie Lassiter Gallery is arguably Charlotte's most adventuresome commercial gallery (and also a Point8 favorite, because it hosted some of our earliest gatherings). After six months of quietly working on a backlog of curatorial projects out of a transitional space on the edge of Uptown, Lassiter has reopened her gallery, which is now at 1430 South Mint St., Suite #105, just down the street from the previous Southend location. Lassiter has hinted at some surprises and new developments, but we'll have to wait until after Labor Day to find out exactly what they are. Right now, the gallery is open by appointment only.
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