Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Curator's Eye

This is an installation photo from the Embarrassment
of Riches
 show, when it was on display at the
Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
I have become fascinated by the way art exhibitions are put together--and by the people who do that work.

As I see it, a contemporary art curator often functions as a sort of "meta-artist," when creating an exhibit.  The best bring together a group of artworks to create something with a meaning beyond the sum of the exhibition's parts.

A good case in point is Embarrassment of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth, 2000-2010, curated by David E. Little of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  It is on display at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS, not far from my home.  The show runs February 25-May 29, 2011.

Fondation Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent, Moujik IV,
 by Alec Soth, from the Embarrassment of Riches
show.  Moujik, the bulldog, takes center stage, with his
bodyguard at left.  Little noted that Moujik was at the show's opening in Minneapolis, September, 2010.
I jumped at the opportunity to listen to Little's discussion of the thinking behind the show's development, when he visited the campus on February 25.  He described his process of realizing that among the great themes in contemporary photography there is rarely any examination of the "cultural impact of wealth."

This led him to seek out images by artists who "have captured the different ways that wealth manifests itself visually," and bring them together into a show.  Sub-themes such as "Currencies," "Spaces," and "Ritual, Style, and Fashion" emerged as he gathered the images.

When my husband and I walked through the show after Little's discussion, we interacted not only with the beauty and insights of the individual pieces, but also with the cumulative effect of seeing them brought together in a deliberate way.
A Lunch at the Belvedere, by Luc Delahaye, from the Embarrassment of
show.  A group of businessmen join George Soros (center, in brown
jacket) and Pervez Musharraf, to his left, at a luncheon in Davos,
Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum in 2004.
Photos are from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts website.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fun at "the Flake"

I’ve been in Kansas City science fiction fandom for a long time, so I’d heard of Snowflake, a one-day “relaxacon” billed as a Cabin Fever Fan Party.  But they never had an art show, so I never went.

At least, not until I was asked to be their Artist Guest of Honor this year.  Well, sure, I said; I’m available on February 19.  I held most of my fantasy artwork out of the Antioch Library show, so I could put on a reasonable display.  

Here I am, with my display at "Snowflake 13."

Tim Keltner, Snowflake’s organizer, borrowed the display panels from ConQuesT (our major annual sf convention, held in Kansas City each Memorial Day by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society).  

Bits and pieces of works-in-progress always seem interesting.
I brought along some of my bits and pieces of “works-in-progress,” as I have begun doing with my opening receptions for more mainstream shows.  I spent much of the morning demonstrating paper sculpture techniques and having fun conversations with people who came over to my table to watch.

About two weeks before the event, I had started making small “Snowflake Dragon” mini-paper-sculptures.  I priced them pretty low, and sold them with their own little boxes so they’d be somewhat protected without having to encase them in small shadowboxes that would raise the price.  I spent most of the afternoon happily engaged in selling them to several people.
My little "Snowflake Dragons" were a hit!

Other highlights of this mini-convention were an appearance by actor Jeff East as Media Guest of Honor, a screening of the movie Lunopolis, and several panel discussions.  In addition to Mr. East and me, Sea of Clouds novelist Allen Billings (a.k.a. Reuel Petrova) was the Author Guest of Honor, and Imperial G.E.L.F. web comic creator Keith Dickinson (as Hikaru Katayamma) was the Fan Guest of Honor.
Snowflake 13 was produced by Nexus Teknology Group and StarBase Kansas City.
Photos by Signy Gephardt--Thanks!

Monday, February 14, 2011

I've been Reviewed!

It's always a delight to get a good review--and this is the second time I've gotten a good one from this reviewer.  Please read and comment on Steve Brisendine's "Leaf by Leaf" posting for Review!

Last year, he also reviewed my "Paper Dragons" show.  If you'd like to read "Here Be Dragons," click the link!

"Sunset Oak," featured in my latest show

"Treetop Primaries," featured in my "Paper Dragons" show

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Now Showing: 3-D Art by Jan Sherrell Gephardt at Antioch Library

"3-D Art by Jan Sherrell Gephardt"
The reception's over, but the show goes on.  My artwork remains on display through March 2, 2011, at the Antioch branch of the Johnson County (KS) Libraries, as part of the "Art in the Stacks" program.

The show includes ten artworks, nine paper sculpture (mostly non-fantasy subjects) and one earthenware.  It is available for viewing during regular library hours.  Librarians at the location have selected some excellent books on paper-based arts and crafts, to accompany the show.

Please come see it, if you're in the area and haven't been there yet!

The Antioch branch of the Johnson County (KS) Libraries

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Impractical Ideology Puts Arts Under Attack

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) 

The latest headline comes from Kansas today, where our new Governor Sam Brownback has just eliminated the Kansas Arts Commission

This comes right after a rules-change in the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in neighboring Missouri, that has made school arts programs voluntary, not mandatory—and anyone who’s seen what a beating school budgets have taken recently, knows what that means.

This is a one-two punch in my own back yard—but no matter where you live in the US, the arts are under attack.  Joyless conservative ideology is trumping practical reality in state after state.

Yes, that’s right—practical reality.  What the arts-cutters don’t want you to know is that the arts don’t cost.  They PAY. 

First Friday crowd in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District
As we've proved in the Kansas City Crossroads Arts District, in Cottonwood Falls, KS, and many other local and regional examples, artists are often pioneers for economic regeneration.   Moreover, on nearly every scale of a community’s “livability” and desirability, a vigorous arts community is a “must.”

A concert in Cottonwood Falls, KS draws a crowd.
Missouri’s backward attitude notwithstanding, there also is considerable research to show that a vigorous school arts program can dramatically improve the chance of success for at-risk students.  Participation in music programs is positively correlated with math excellence, for instance.  I guess all that is irrelevant?

And how about the lament among those who worry about America’s global competitiveness that we need more creative thinkers?  Where do you think we’ll find the best training and practice in creative thinking?

Eliminating support for the arts is the lamest kind of false “practicality.”  We can’t afford to fall for it.  Yet in state after state, it appears that we are.

Images: Sam Brownback from Polichicks website; KC Crossroads First Friday crowd by Jan Gephardt; Concert in Cottonwood Falls from Kansas Sampler Foundation website.