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2nd Annual Beekman Street Artist Banners

Been to the train station lately? The banners, which quietly went up last week for the second year in a row, run the length of Beekman St. Amazing collaborative effort between the artists of Beacon, merchants, Public Works, and other members of the arts community to make the trip to the daily grind a visually dynamic experience.

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Tags: art, artists, banners, beekman

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Comment by Cabot Parsons on April 26, 2009 at 9:23am
Congrats, Dan. I've been busting my hump for five years and have yet to become an archetype. Dang! (grin!)

CV and I are in agreement about alot of things. In order for Beacon to thrive as an arts "center" it has to become the regional pin on the map and include initially the larger area at which Beacon is in the center, so that Beacon as an idea can reach down to include the Russell Wright estate, over to include Storm King, and eventually up to New Hamburg to include Alex Grey's Center for Spiritual Art and Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Distinctive subsets of the art world, all, as is Dia:. But baby steps. It's easy to see the banners as self evident now, but a year and a half ago it was an idea that was untried and not the norm. We tried our best to work with the artists and show the same level of respect for each of them and their work, regardless of their status, which included the student works. As this thread shows, the feedback from the artists involved has been positive in terms of respect showed. As to the city committee, there are several audiences that need to be surveyed and served, including the entire artist echosystem, and the community as a whole. A personal treat for me was listening to the Department of Public Works guys who have so lovingly installed and tended to the banners. To hear these burly dudes who probably have never darkened a gallery door discuss the art reprepresented on the various banners by color, line, texture, mass, tension, concept, metaphor and so on, with engagement and passion, was one of the things that has made the project more than worth it.
Comment by Dan Rigney on April 26, 2009 at 8:46am
Wow, I'm an archetype now. Thanks CV.
Comment by Mark Roland on April 26, 2009 at 8:28am
Venessa, did you see my comment of April 23 above? Take a look at this link, also posted above.

\While I think all the commentators have valid points, I think going forward it might make more sense to back off the whole "juried show" approach. It's a wonderful, decorative way to greet visitors, and to entice and encourage walkers from our train station to our Main Street. The fact that local Beacon artists got the show off the ground is terrific. But to continue in this manner for some "linkage" banners seems a bit like overkill, and could become unnecessarily contentious.

This "banner art" is perfect for junior high and high school kids to learn about art and graphics, and equally importantly, civic involvement, community, and what it takes to get something done on a public scale. I think turning this into a mentor type project might be fantastic for all involved. Despite what some may think, I believe this to be something local artists would be happy to be involved with.
Comment by Dan Rigney on April 26, 2009 at 2:29am
Kat and I met Lee Bontecou at her MoMA/QNS retrospective while Kat was still at Altria. She over heard Kat saying how much she wanted to touch and feel the work, so she told us stories of going to gallery shows in the 50's where you could actually pick up and hold Brancusi sculptures. She wanted work that could be touched and felt, ironic since the fish and other sculptures she created later were so delicate. Her show was one of the more beautiful shows in that warehouse space. Utterly original and unexpected. We have the dvd if you want to borrow it which really captures her curious personality.

As for Birdy and CV, Cabot, don't worry about them so much. CV tends to post more in election years anyway so this too shall pass. Just do what you do and keep moving forward. Nice stuff so far, now on to the next.
Comment by Cabot Parsons on April 25, 2009 at 8:19pm
Birdy brought up a good point about the high school kids that got me to thinking. We reached out to the schools directly and to the art and photography teachers. If the kids she mentioned who also went to art school were also taking art classes at the high school, they were made aware of the project (to the best of my knowledge) but if, because they were privately enrolled in art classes outside of the school (and obviously interested in art) they weren't connected to the art classes inside of the school, they may not have heard about the project until it was too late. BCN will definitely help the word get out for future rounds, but this region does have issues regarding not having any central media, print or otherwise, that EVERYone looks at, so we all dig into the various subcommunities as best we can and get the word out via a wide variety of sources.

The banners were limited to artists in Beacon, and were never intended to be a broader representation. It is sad that once again I'm hearing emerging artists put down against this clutch of world-renowned established artists that supposedly live here but no one has ever seen or heard of, and are never actually "named". Several of the artists on the banners claim "emerging" proudly, or do their art in addition to careers in commercial or applied arts or other fields, or other lives (Lee Bontecou, a personal major artist fav of mine, labored in obscurity for decades in a Pennsylvania barn after rejecting the art world's insistence that she keep her work the same, read saleable, or die. Her work finally shown after those decades is transcendant and more beautiful for not being pressed into service by market forces). But I think some of the artists on the banners would take exception to being diminished by CV's distinction that any artist of true merit wouldn't participate in such a project. And I don't agree with the continued implication that pedigree=quality. I'd love to see those more qualified than me start a separate discussion thread about the differences between the various success levels (real or perceived) of artists. I'm not being sarcastic, I'm sure I personally would learn alot if someone wanted to open that discussion. In the meantime, CV (and/or Birdy), would you take this opportunity to list some actual artist names of those in Beacon who you feel HAVE reached the higher planes of stature, so that we might expose ourselves to their work and enjoy it as well? That'd be great! Thanks!
Comment by Venessa Miemis on April 25, 2009 at 8:03pm
so, there's a need. why are we bussing the kids elsewhere? how can this formal structure be created? you just said a dialogue is not the answer, so don't knock bcn for not soliciting volunteers. what should be done? it seems an alliance between the young budding artists and those making their livings through art would be a natural fit... like an unofficial apprenticeship? or something where the kids would get excited about making art and aspiring to be like other established members of the arts community? why is it so preposterous that programs could be devised to make young artists strive and feel entitled to display their work within our city?
Comment by Venessa Miemis on April 25, 2009 at 5:55pm
ronnie mentioned getting more of the younger artists involved in the beacon art scene. i wonder, could the art instructor(s) at the high school facilitate the students to create a project that they could collaborate on with the more established artists in town? perhaps get them to come on bcn, start a group/dialogue, and see where it could go. there are a lot of artists here... could this be a good platform for bridging the gap between the youth and the professionals?
Comment by Birdy on April 25, 2009 at 3:11pm
Hey, everybody does it. Not just in the art world but business, life. So I am not attempting to trash these various projects. It is just a bigger problem when it is a small town. A common method is, A has an idea for a project, and calls B and C to help design it, exchange ideas. A,B & C might be good friends or one might already have an IN by knowing a funder or gallery or whatever. So say C has something of value that A or B wants. By A & B inviting C into the project early, some of C's value might rub off on them. OK, so A,B & C organize the project and get approval. They quietly call their friends or other artists that "have value" and give them the specs and a deadline months away. D & E might call A, B, or C and ask if they can invite W and Z--"because they invited me for their project and they will be having it again next year so you can get into that project". Now after a couple months, knowing they have to "give the impression that its not just their friends". They call the other Alphas and encourage them to tell others, this would be 2 months before the deadline, but the original group already had a month or two head start to think of an idea. Now maybe there are 26 artists and there are 20 spots but they will want to be able to say its "juried" so a week before the deadline they make public announcements. That way they can say it was posted everywhere and that every attempt was made to get the word out. Except, it is so last minute, that if non friend artists do present specs or idea it won't be fully formed that the people who had months to get it together.

Another way is to call friends in other cities. Like LA or Seattle or Colorado or Miami in the hope that you can broker an exchange. I'll put you into a show in NY if you get me into a show in Miami. Its a way to pad your resume way, "go national" without too much work or effort. I've done that myself. Living in NYC, I did my exchanges with artists in other countries. Beacon isn't such a big goal except because of Dia it does have a rep, more so than it deserves. People heard of Beacon, but haven't seen the actual art produced here.

Really, everybody does it. But in a larger city there will, at some point be, exchanges larger than the original effort and that word of mouth isn't so protected because artists know more artists in Brooklyn, than Beacon artists know other Beacon artists. So it is obvious what is happening and the projects become too closed. Ok, so people know it. Maybe not beginners or people who haven't been in the business a long time but people will know. If the "knowing" people have a project and they look at artists resumes and they see they were in shows with A & B. The knowing person might think "gee, that doesn't mean they are a good artist, it just means they know A or B." Its the reason the word "invitational" is a bit of a curse and all attempts to keep 6 feet away from it is done. Despite the fact that to my mind, 100% of Beacon art projects are invitational, I dare you to find the word. Now it is also bad for Beacon, very bad. Why? Because A & B know the same people so they won't be bringing fresh visitors to view the art project. The label "National and International" means less because they are "just friends" and might not even come to the show. Where as, if strangers sent in jPegs, you can bet those strangers will come. They know they weren't "invited" but "chosen" and thus place more value on it and they will more likely come and bring friends.

It isn't like the old days where you had to stick slides into carousels, it isn't much work to have jPegs sent to an e-mail address and look at them all on a computer. Yes, you relinquish some of the "credit" and "power" from your project but you can still give your friends a couple weeks head start, just not months and months. Exchanges should be happening with other Hudson Valley towns, like New Paltz or Newburgh-not just inviting friends from those towns but groups of artists, CURATED BLINDLY. That would bring in many people to town, not just to the opening but while the show is up.

So I just ask everyone to educate themselves a tiny bit and ask how the process was done. Hold people up to a higher standard than they have been held up to and be honest. It is better for the artists and better for Beacon.
Comment by Dan Rigney on April 25, 2009 at 12:39pm
Side note - looks like HV Market had a great opening day with the parade, crowds and weather converging. And the Cheesecake Annie Cookies didn't hurt either.
Comment by Birdy on April 24, 2009 at 1:45pm
Surely it must be considered basically "invitational" rather juried. I know two wonderful high school artists who are going to art school, it would have looked great in their portfolio. Were the two students invited or how were they chosen? I get the Beacon Free Press every week and never saw the ad. It was in a BACA e-mail but the deadline was in three days.

Its a wonderful project and I don't want to take away, but you aren't kidding any professional when the projects are so inclusive. Actually, when you see project after project with the same people, it can sadly reflect badly on the artists, because it is so clearly not juried from a large pool. I'm dying to ask about the next Electric Windows.

To all the artists who are giving public thanks for being included, I hope you also sent a private thank you note too.

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