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Panthers bare their souls: Giving the gift of art during coronavirus times – FIU News



Artists and poets, singers and musicians. These are the searching souls, always seeking to capture an emotion, a moment – the heart of humanity itself.

These folks know a secret: Art heals. It’s that simple. In this era of self-isolation, fear and anxiety, many people around the globe are tapping into that power.

Music has become a connecting force among communities singing from their balconies at nights or serenading first responders out of gratitude. Painting and drawing have become for many a form of releasing stress and channeling creativity, creating something right from their homes. And poetry has become a soothing song to pour on a page in the quiet of a room.

With the mission to spread a little hope – and the allure of building a virtual community of creative minds – the Panther family has been digging deep into its artistic soul and sharing art to keep the FIU and the South Florida community entertained and uplifted throughout these coronavirus times.

Living life to the fullest

Exhilarating. That’s how Jordana Pomeroy, director of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum FIU, describes the experience of art.

“Art is an opportunity to lose yourself and engage viscerally in a way that takes your breath away,” she explains. “For me, going to a wonderful exhibition is kind of like extreme sports. It’s the same sort of thrill. It’s the same kind of adrenaline rush. It’s not just cerebral where you’re learning about the artist and memorizing the dates. It’s about connecting with someone, making them feel that rush.”

To keep art alive – and help people feel that rush of connection with humanity during social distancing – the Frost Art FIU is featuring virtual exhibitions online and showcasing its digital art collection on its website. The museum is also sharing social media content every week, discussing tips for parents to engage children in arts projects as well as providing meditative moments on pieces of art in the museum’s collection.

Check out the virtual exhibition of “Cut: Abstraction in the United States from 1970s to the Present”

The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF) is also featuring virtual exhibits (including one for its sparkling display of Judith Leiber’s purse designs), curated tours via Zoom and a steady stream of social media content sharing art and inspiration. Likewise, the Wolfsonian-FIU is helping the Panther community stay connected to art through digital experiences and videos of various previous exhibits and projects, including “The Art of Illumination” and “Promising Paradise.” 

“We have always been a cultural hub for the community, where people could find refuge, education and inspiration,” says Susan Gladstone, director of the JMOF. “During this very difficult time in the world, keeping that sense of community is more important than ever.”

Check out the virtual exhibition of the “Judith Leiber: Master Craftsman,” featuring the artist’s finely crafted purses. 

We know that art is a soothing force, says David Chang, renowned artist and chair of the Art + Art History Department. “Throughout history, art has always functioned as a healing element. So has music. Any art. Literature, storytelling.”

He says the visual arts have played a particularly crucial role in telling stories, though, especially in places and throughout eras when not everyone could read. 

While studying in Paris as a young painter years ago, Chang was captivated when he experienced the Notre-Dame Cathedral’s art and learned its history. “Notre-Dame was special because it had this beautiful stained glass,” he says. “In medieval times, [stained glass] was invented because it’s visual literature. The whole Bible is in every window pane. People could look at the window, and know the story of the Bible. Visual arts was a communicative tool.”

And it continues to be one today.

In good company

Art is personal. But it’s also communal. That’s why museums, movie theatres, concerts and other community arts venues exist.

When self-distancing and quarantine began in Miami, Deborah Plutzik Briggs, vice president of arts and community at the Betsy-South Beach Hotel and a longtime FIU supporter, reached out to John Stuart, director of FIU’s Miami Beach Urban Studios (MBUS). The two hashed out a plan to create a sanctuary – a virtual sanctuary.

After years of partnership, MBUS and the Betsy Hotel, combined forces once again to create a series of virtual community gatherings where people could experience the Zen of the arts, together. The events featured global architect and MBUS advisory board member Chad Oppenheim; talented FIU cellist Jason Calloway; award-winning FIU poet Campbell McGrath; and renown photographer Robert Zuckerman.

“With our series, the guest speaker was somebody you knew was talking live,” Stuart says. “You saw how many other people were on the call. This is part of that Zen. If it comforts you to be with other people, this is for you. This is a safe space. It’s a place where we hope you feel a little bit renewed, where it can help give you a little more resilience in your emotional landscape for whatever comes.”

The series has proven to smash event attendance records through the roof, doubling the average number of folks who usually attend in-person events hosted collaboratively by MBUS and the Betsy Hotel. One of the managers at the Department of Cultural Affairs – City of Miami Beach, Stuart adds, even congratulated the team on the project’s being the first comprehensive online program known to come out of Miami Beach in late March.

The team is eager to continue these kinds of events, and have already organized a second series of virtual events featuring women poets in collaboration with Supporting Women Writers in Miami (creative writing alumna Caridad Moro-Gronlier is an associate editor at the organization.) The series will begin on April 27 and can be accessed via Zoom or Facebook life.

“Art is the thing that civilizations are remembered by,” says Briggs, who is also an MBUS advisory board member. “People are reaching out to us because they want to be involved or have an idea for a series. We want to continue to do something we think is very special.”

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Edmonton teen shares love of art with neighbourhood – Global News



Paige Reid is brightening up her Edmonton neighbourhood, one driveway at a time.

The 15-year-old budding artist said chalk art was an easy way to spend less time cooped up in the house.

“It was a way to be outside and still do something I would have done inside anyway. I just wanted to have fun with a new kind of medium,” said Paige.

Edmontonians bring a classic board game Monopoly to life

Before long, her work captured the attention of most of her neighbours in Riverbend.

“I’ve had a lot of kids run up to me and say, ‘Whoa, whoa whoa!’ They’ve been very amazed that I’ve done characters that they recognize.”

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Paige soon began to venture out from beyond her own driveway.

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“Paige offered to draw a cat on our porch,” said neighbour Shauna Scott. “Every single time someone comes to our door people stop and say, ‘Wow, who did this?’ It gives us a big kick when we open the door.”

Paige Reid working on her chalk art on June 4, 2020.

Jessica Robb/Global News

The young artist said she doesn’t charge for her drawings, but if someone offers compensation—she’ll use it to buy more chalk.

“People say you can’t put a price on happiness so I don’t want to do that. It’s fun for me. I don’t need a reward for doing something I already want to do,” she said.

Paige’s mom, Cori Reid, said it’s no surprise her daughter spends her day bringing joy to others.

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“She’s got a good heart. She’s very kind,” said Reid. “She thinks about other people all the time.”

This neighbourhood Picasso is also helping fill time during long summer days.

“[Because of COVID-19] there’s not a lot for kids to do right now, except for being stuck on the computer and be stuck with school on Zoom, dance class on Zoom. It’s nice to get out and feel productive,” said Reid.

While at the same time, bringing a neighbours a smile, one character at a time.

“I’m very happy I’ve achieved my goal of making other people happy.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Art will suffer if online displays are the norm – Asia Times



Almost 15 years ago, a group of artists, filmmakers, curators and critics came together at the Oberhausen Film Festival in western Germany to discuss the introduction of a new technological medium: YouTube.

How would watching film and video online differ from regular venues such as cinemas or the Oberhausen festival itself, which played an important role in European art-house cinema?

Would films be meaningful in the same way – watched alone, in poor resolution, on a computer – rather than on the big screen by a community that had come together to see them?

“They’re like photocopies,” said the curator, Stuart Comer. Comer, now chief curator for media and performance at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, argued that while watching videos on YouTube was not the same as watching 35mm film on the big screen, home viewing served a different function, and there was room for both.

It’s interesting to think back to that debate now. Many of the early qualms around online viewership have since been ironed out. The quality of streaming has gotten better. Museums and artists run dedicated channels, instead of the free-for-all of early YouTube days when historical films were often altered – edited, overlaid, given new soundtracks – and passed off as original.

We now know that audiences will watch a film from start to finish. This had been another fear, that without the social contract of buying a ticket and sitting in a cinema space, spectators would dip in and out, catching glimpses rather than following a story.

In 2020, with the Covid-19 lockdown, we are lucky to have YouTube, Netflix, Vimeo and other streaming and sharing platforms, but we should also be grateful that the platforms have been around long enough to generate material made for online consumption.

In most cases, we are now not watching “photocopies” of films transferred to the small screen, but works made for the small screen in the first instance.

It is unclear whether the traditional art world – the one of paintings, installations and sculpture – is now in a transition similar to that of the film industry a decade ago.

Museums are digitizing whole rooms of paintings; commercial galleries and art fairs are hastily constructing online selling platforms; and Google Arts & Culture, a digitization project reaching back to 2011, is being recommended by schools as a lockdown activity.

Will these be seen as photocopies, a temporary fix until the era of social distancing subsides? Or will art organizations, some of which have been buoyed by a stratospheric rise in online audience figures, continue these platforms once lockdowns end?

The answer won’t be driven by fidelity to the experience of seeing work “in the flesh,” but by economics. Museums and galleries will face significant budget shortfalls when they begin to open up, whether because of a curtailment in public funding, reductions in private donations or months of loss of revenue.

Exhibition commitments will come stacked upon one another as postponed shows are folded in among future programing, while works meant to be lent out to one place might be needed elsewhere or back home (or might just be too expensive to ship).

Online exhibitions will most likely persist for some time to fulfill these logistical needs – and they might well continue afterwards as an inexpensive strand of quantifiable audience engagement.

But we shouldn’t be lured into thinking that online engagement is a consequence-free decision. Like most instances of outsourcing to technology, online exhibitions mean job losses: the technicians, the restorers, the authenticators, the shippers, the insurers, the guides and the guards who enable the public showing of precious objects.

These roles support others: the technician might be an emerging artist, the guide a student, while conservators and guards might support families at home. Artworks might be digitizable for those who simply want at look at them, but not for the people who make their living in the trade. The art world hinges on the buying, selling, preserving and showing of material goods.

The economic impact goes beyond the art world. For years the trump card of the arts, when it was making its case for public support, has been its economic multiplier effect. For every £1 spent on the arts by Arts Council England, the government recoups £5 in taxes, the Arts Council found in 2015.

The “Bilbao effect,” pertaining to the economic transformation wrought on the northern Spanish city of Bilbao after Guggenheim Bilbao was established there, has dominated numerous city development strategies in the decades since – including, arguably, that of Abu Dhabi. And the argument continues to be made by international consultants, who show how visitors head to F&B outlets, gift shops and hotels after viewing museum exhibitions –benefits likewise not likely to be recouped digitally.

What the crowd in Oberhausen was concerned about all those years ago was YouTube’s effect on its community of filmmakers, curators and critics. As museums and galleries move to online exhibitions, they need to understand that they are risking much more than the loss of authenticity of experience.

This article was provided by Syndication Bureau, which holds copyright.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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Art school in Penticton forced to vacate historic home during pandemic –



A 60-year-old arts school in B.C.’s Okanagan is scrambling to find a new home after the Penticton school district opted not to renew the lease.

The Okanagan School of the Arts says it’s being booted from the historic Shatford Centre in Penticton, B.C., where it’s rented space for community groups and hosted art, music and theatre classes for the past 10 years.

The school has leased the building from Okanagan Skaha School District 67 for the past decade. 

The district has asked the school to clear out by June 30 when the lease ends. Kim Palmer, the school’s executive director, says it faces the “enormous task” of emptying the building within weeks.

The school, she said, is filled with valuable and specialized equipment, including pianos, commercial kitchen appliances and art supplies. 

“At the moment, we don’t know where it will go,” she said. 

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of the school in March, eliminating its rental and programming revenue.

The school leased the century-old building for a dollar a year but was responsible for maintenance, utilities and insurance. When discussing the June lease renewal, the arts school asked the district to cover $80,000 in operating costs and keep the site running for the community.

Palmer said, in response, the district told her the lease would not be renewed and to vacate the building by the end of the month. 

She said the province’s  emergency order protecting small-business tenants from eviction during the pandemic does not apply to the school, given its yearly $1 lease.

Priority is spending on students, district says

School District 67 chair James Palanio said the district can’t afford to keep the school afloat.

The arts school has spent about $2 million on maintenance over the past 10 years but more is needed and the district can’t afford it, he said.

“We just can’t spend anywhere other than on the kids,” Palanio said on CBC’s Daybreak South.

Palanio said the district is not evicting the arts school. He said it failed to provide insurance information in January when the lease renewal came up. The school only submitted its proposal in late May, he said.

“We have our own deadlines to meet as well,” he said. 

The district has no plans to sell the building, Palanio said, and will be eyeing future plans for the site in late fall.

Palmer said the arts school is also looking at other locations.

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