|Artist opportunities, cultural events listings and more at the In-Box.
December 3: IAC Board Meeting, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the State Historical Building in Des Moines
Check it out regularly for articles of current interest, announcements, and hot topics that are important to the arts in Iowa.
SAVE THE DATE! The Iowa Cultural Coalition's Advocacy Day will be a breakfast in the East Wing of the State Capitol Rotunda (1st Floor) from 7-9 a.m. Feb 15, 2011.
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Cultivating the Art of Creativity in Belmond
Arts Outreach Series
By Riki Saltzman, Outreach Coordinator
Imagine on this cold December day a hot, humid, early August Sunday afternoon on a farm in north central Iowa. I had the pleasure of attending a lovely event at One Step at a Time Gardens in Kanawha, just outside of Belmond (southwest of Clear Lake and northeast of Ft. Dodge). Sponsored by the Belmond Area Arts Council and coordinated by sustainable and CSA farmers Jan Libbey and Tim Landgraf, an IAC-funded project called "Cultivating the Art of Creativity" brought together a variety of local people interested in local culture, local arts, and local foods.
Libbey and Landgraf used the arts (storytelling, visual art, folk-inspired musicians) to inspire thought and conversation about cultivating creativity throughout our communities-and not just in one or two areas. Furthermore, using the arts to reach nontraditional audiences through arts-integrated events of this kind might provide a good model for other such events around Iowa. While there was no one thing that emerged from this event, the conscious integration of the arts in this effort to inspire creative thinking will likely have great long-term benefits a la Richard Florida's creative economy theories.
Highlights of this event included music and talk from IAC rostered performing artists, The Porch Stompers, who helped participants to explore music inspired by the local, nature, and farming traditions. Other choices for a set of revolving activities were farming traditions, cooking demonstrations, gardening, and the local landscape. Questions and conversations were encouraged throughout.
Tables for the bountiful potluck were adorned with functional pottery and clay sculptures created by local artists who talked about their work and their creative inspirations. The good food, the way the performing and visual artists and art were integrated into the day's theme, as well as a lot of solid planning and collaborating, made for a very successful day. Not the least of the reasons for success was that the organizers thought to provide a sound system, a welcome accommodation for everyone.
Overall, the afternoon had a relaxing but purposeful feel to it-with a true warmth of spirit generated not by the heat of the day but by the organizing principles and the range of folks (teachers, musicians, artists, farmers, and business people) who came to participate in creating an atmosphere for nurturing and sustaining community.
New on the IAC Web Site
Check out these new features on the Iowa Arts Council Web site!
- A live Twitter feed on our home page, sharing the posts from @iowaartscouncil on Twitter!
- A revolving Artist Spotlight on the main page of the Iowa Artist Directory - a different artist every time you refresh the page!
- Full bios, interview transcripts, and downloadable mp3 files for artists from Season Six of Iowa Roots, the project that documents folk and traditional arts and artists in Iowa
- Revised descriptions and profile forms (have you submitted one?) for serving on IAC Grant Review Panels
- A bit of a redesign of the home page, with the Quick Clicks moved to the center of the page
Arts Education Plays Critical Role in Developing the Mind of the Future
By James V. Hyatt, guest writer
What knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities will our graduates need 25 years from now? That was the question I posed to the Des Moines School Board in 2006 as they worked to create a sound system of governance. I recall some of them looked at me quizzically. How can any of us know what the world will look like then or what challenges our students will face in that brave new world? I pointed out that, for a 100-year-old school district, this was an ever-present challenge for the board, staff and faculty to address, and to keep addressing, as the world around us changes. It is the job of any school district always to be looking into the future and anticipating what will be required in order to fully prepare our graduates to meet those demands successfully.
As we struggled with this exercise in 'stretch' thinking, it became clear that students would need to be more adaptable in a world that will only get faster and become more complex. We considered, for example, the need for students to "find wisdom in information": as data floods us like a fire hose in the face, how do we find underlying meaning, structure and pattern in the swirling waters?
In addition to critical thinking, the board determined that graduates also needed to be innovative, intuitive and creative thinkers even though members weren't entirely clear what that meant. But they did know that these abilities would be necessary and placed these values before the faculty and administration to wrestle with and bring to fruition.
This challenge from the board has created a paradigm shift in at least one notable area: arts education. In order to nourish the whole brain and stretch it beyond just logic and knowledge, art teachers have taken a position at the forefront of this effort. Their philosophy and approach to learning now encompasses the realization that art can improve a students' mathematical ability or their appreciation of scientific knowledge and creation.
Art isn't just for artists. It's for everyone. The art curriculum directly addresses critical and creative thinking in a way no other curriculum does. The teacher in the art environment fulfills a much needed role in addressing complete, 'whole brain' thinking, the sort of thinking that we believe will be increasingly in demand in the future we will face.
James Hyatt is an independent consultant who works with committed boards of directors, including school boards and their Superintendents. He helps turn frustrated directors into boards that make a difference. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Law School, James practiced law for almost 20 years before evolving into a board/CEO consultant more than 10 years ago. He was a presenter at the 2010 Arts Education Partnership Fall National Forum in Denver.
More Than Words II: ISU Poetry Students Explore Blindness Through Art
Twenty undergraduate students in Iowa Poet Laureate Mary Swander's poetry class at Iowa State University will present their original poems about blindness and art during a reading and reception at the Des Moines Art Center Monday, Dec. 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.
A collaboration between the Iowa Department for the Blind, Iowa State University and the Des Moines Art Center, the event is a forum to showcase the students' exploration of disabilities, poetry and art.
In October, the students traveled from Ames to the Iowa Department for the Blind (IDB) in downtown Des Moines where they met and interviewed two blind staff members, toured the building, took brief instruction on using a long white cane to maneuver, and donned blind folds so they could experience the world without their sight. They traveled, still blindfolded, to the downtown Pappajohn Sculpture Park and were given docent-led tours during which they were able to touch several of the works with gloved hands. They returned to Ames to translate the experience into original poetry, which will be produced in audio and Braille formats and put into circulation by the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the IDB.
"This project not only allows a student to experience art in a new way, asking them to expand their thinking and their sensory perception," said Swander, a distinguished faculty member in ISU's English department. "The poems express ways of interpreting art without having seen it, and this project explores the deeper ideas of art appreciation for all and disability awareness."
For more information on this event, visit http://www.idbonline.org/news/more-words-2. The poems and accompanying tactile representations of several of the sculptures will be on display at the Art Center through early January.
Reprinted with permission of the Iowa Department for the Blind.
Bentonsport a Hub for Living the Arts in Iowa
Betty Printy lives in Bentonsport where she and her husband, Bill, run the Iron and Lace Studio, Shop and Gallery. They feature original works of art in pottery, weaving, and ironwork. Betty is the potter and weaver and Bill is the blacksmith. Each piece in the shop is made by hand and each piece is unique and very special. Betty and Bill are also instructors with the Villages Folk School which specializes in providing learning experiences in traditional arts and skills, while drawing upon the uniqueness of each of the scenic and historic Villages of Van Buren County Iowa. Betty teaches sessions on baking and pottery.
Tell us a little about your work.
I teach classes in Raku pottery, hand thrown pottery, weaving on a floor loom, artisan bread baking made easy, so you can see I have a good time. I have been making pottery for about 40 years, and still have not tired of it. Probably, my current passion is baking bread. I have made a clay pot to bake my bread in, so I can use that in place of building a clay oven and get the same result. I have made at least a hundred of them in the past two years. They work great.
What are your current projects?
My current projects are bread ovens and I'm also making tagines (a stovetop cookware). The Queen Anne's Lace Pottery keeps me real busy. We have a lot of customers, especially this time of year. I am also making some large woven rugs. Weaving is fun, the colors and textures can be so rewarding and you have created something useful.
What do you love most about Iowa?
It is beautiful, it is home.
Who is your favorite Iowa artist?
I don't know how I could choose just one; there is so much talent flowing through Iowa. My husband Bill is an artist blacksmith. My children are weavers, potters, quilters, jewelers, landscapers, gardeners. Friends Gin Lammert, Carroll Michalek and John Preston are favorite local artists. The late Wendell Mohr was a great watercolor artist. Van Buren County has a lot of great artists that teach classes thru the Villages Folk School.
What's outside the nearest window?
The beautiful tree-lined Des Moines River and historic buildings. And it's all in the small villages of Bentonsport, which is a really great place to live.
What did you do last Friday night?
Baked artisan bread and played with my newest grandson. What more could anyone wish for? Well maybe another ball of clay!!
NEA: Outdoor Arts Festivals Have Major Economic and Cultural Impact
Outdoor arts festivals attract a range of audiences, enhance their communities as creative placemakers, and are a gateway to arts attendance, according to the National Endowment for the Arts.
The NEA surveyed more than 1,400 outdoor festivals in nearly every state and Washington, D.C., and found that more than 100 million Americans attend arts and cultural festivals each year, and that such events actually help create a sense of place because they are so integrated into their communities.
The Live from Your Neighborhood
survey reflects a cross-section of outdoor arts festivals in music, visual arts and crafts, dance, folk and traditional arts, theater, literature, and film. Seven case studies profile a variety of outdoor festivals in large and small communities, noting that such events "increase Americans' access to the arts with free or low-cost events that occur in welcoming, familiar, central public spaces." Such festivals "allowed audiences to socialize," which helped to "broaden and diversify arts audiences" as well as to provide family friendly arts events.
Over half of festivals surveyed have existed for more than 10 years. More than three-quarters occur in towns with fewer than 250,000 residents, and more than one-third in towns with populations under 10,000. Of particular note for Iowans, who volunteer at high rates-strong volunteers "provide professional services of significant value (marketing, event logistics, and fundraising) and take pride in their role as ambassadors for both the community and artists."
Outdoor festivals showcase a diverse range of art forms, and those attending tend to be a more ethnically diverse population than those for other live art events, important data for those seeking to expand outreach and audiences. Furthermore, "festivals present high-quality, curated arts programming." Nearly two-thirds "feature arts education opportunities," important for those looking for accessible and excellent arts experiences. Live from Your Neighborhood: A National Study of Outdoor Arts Festivals
and other NEA research are available on the NEA Research Section
To search outdoor arts and culture festivals in Iowa, visit Iowa.com
Photo: The 2009 New Bohemia Arts Festival in Cedar Rapids (The Cedar Rapids Gazette).
Cultural Heritage Tourism Survival Kit
Just Released: New Report on Arts & Social Change Grantmaking: "Trend or Tipping Point: Arts & Social Change Grantmaking," a study developed by Animating Democracy, a program of Americans for the Arts, assembles a first-time portrait of arts funders, social change funders, and others supporting civic engagement and social change through arts and cultural strategies.
Resources from the National Arts Marketing Project Conference: Be sure to check out all of the action from the 2010 National Arts Marketing Project Conference in San Jose on the conference media page.
Governing Body Tells BBC It Should Take More Risks, The Stage (11/8/10): The BBC Trust's review of BBC1, BBC2 and BBC4 found that the channels have been performing well overall, but said BBC1 should "harness its scale and size by becoming more ambitious and taking more creative risks in peak time."
Studies Of The Humanities Are Down. What Can Colleges Do?, Boston Globe (11/8/10): "If, because of cutbacks and lack of support from the federal government, literature and the arts and other aspects of the humanities become just parlor musings of the wealthy, we would have made a huge mistake."
The Performing Arts Go High Def (And Change Forever), The New York Times (11/9/10): "Opera houses, ballet companies, even the National Theater in London, are competing to lure audiences to live high-definition broadcasts in movie theaters, many of which are then shown again. It is the HD-ification of the arts, and it is already affecting programming decisions along with costume and set design, lighting choices and even ticket prices."
How To Have A Career As A "Classical" Musician, San Francisco Classical Voice (11/17/10): "To succeed these days, musicians have to be willing to diversify, to branch out, and take chances as never before. You have to learn the industry as much as you learn your instrument."
More Arts Groups Look At Variable Pricing, San Francisco Classical Voice (11/19/10): "It's called dynamic pricing, and audiences attending concerts, recitals, and dance and theater events presented by the organization this season may have noticed the difference: The actual ticket price may be lower-or, in some cases, higher-than the one printed in their season brochures."
Making College Art Programs Safe For Students, Chronicle of Higher Education (11/23/10): "A growing number of art programs are making studio safety an integral part of the both curriculum and facilities. They are improving the air quality, reducing exposure to potentially hazardous materials, and increasing the safety training that students and faculty receive."
Art with an Expiration Date? The Iowa City Press-Citizen (11/29/10): "Quite a few local arts groups are celebrating milestone anniversaries this year. The Chamber Singers of Iowa City are celebrating their 40th season. Riverside Theatre turns 30. The Iowa City Jazz Festival will play its 20th lineup this summer. Whenever I learn that an arts group is celebrating an anniversary, the first thing I want to do is congratulate them. But why? Why is mere survival a cause for celebration? Why do we place so much importance on longevity as an indicator of artistic success?"