2009 Highlights

steps

It’s the end of the year, and the end of a decade. What were my favorite projects of 2009? What did I have the most fun working on?

Murder in Ocean Hall

I can’t help myself, I like to write fiction. People have asked me how I could leave my job and then spend countless hours alone, in a coffee shop, writing a novel. I’ve offered advice on setting a schedule and being committed, but the truth is that writing a book is a huge sacrifice and something that you must really, really want to do. And something that you must enjoy doing more then anything else. Continue reading “2009 Highlights”

Interview with Julianne Brienza, Executive Director of the Capital Fringe Festival

Julianne Brienza

Julianne Brienza

I’ve done another interview for the Pink Line Project, this time with Julianne Brienza, Executive Director of the Capital Fringe Festival.

I met Julianne several years ago, when Fringe was just starting out. It’s amazing and inspiring to see how far she’s come. Fringe is definitely something that way too serious DC needs. As she describes in the interview, Washington is very much a city on the rise in terms of the arts.

Writing About Creativity for the Pink Line Project

I’m going to be writing for the Pink Line Project.  What’s Pink Line?  Describing itself as “a catalyst for the culturally curious”, the site is a guide to DC’s art and cultural scene.  If you’re looking to attend fun art parties in Washington, and learn more about the arts, it’s a great site to check out.

From watching rollergirls arm-wrestle to dodging skateboarders at a photo exhibit, I’ve enjoyed the Pink Line events immensely.  It’s an unexpected side of stuffy Washington that’s much more interesting than some boring Capitol Hill cocktail party. Continue reading “Writing About Creativity for the Pink Line Project”

The Internet Life of One Photo

A few weeks ago, I received the following email:

Hi Joe,

I moved from Scottsdale, Arizona, to California last summer, and brought an unfinished painting of Papago Buttes along with me.  I looked around for a photograph to help me finish the painting, and I found one that seems to be attributed to you on Wikipedia.  The shot helped me enormously, and I ended up finishing the painting and giving it to a friend.

The more I learn about artwork and photography, the more I realize that asking permission before using a photo, even when referring to it for painting, is the right thing to do.  I just wanted to be in touch to apologize for failing to do this, and to offer to email you a photograph of my finished painting.  I think you’re a good photographer and you helped me by sharing your image online.

Thanks,

Robert Collins Continue reading “The Internet Life of One Photo”

Friday's Links

Here’s what’s interested me in the last week:

How Phony is Shepard Fairey?
There’s a fine line between art and plagiarism. 

Apple Store Design Hits a Glass Wall Again
Who is the Old Georgetown Board and why are they holding up Apple coming to DC?

How Will We Survive Battlestar Galactica’s Radioactive Future?
Some practical suggestions.

Christian Bale, Hero of the Set
I find this a little hard to believe – a movie set being terrorized by a DP?

Writers Need to Promote Their Books
Seems obvious, but just because you’re published, it doesn’t mean that your work is done.

The New DC Art Scene is Open to All

skateboarder at fight club 
Preparing to take off. A skateboarder at the Fixation Show.

Has the DC art scene really left the underground and emerged into the light of day? That was the premise of an article in Sunday’s Washington Post. According to the piece:

Washington has a vibrant, under-the-radar art party scene that has long been visible only to those in the know. 

While I’m no porkpie hat wearing hipster, I’ve lived in this city for a while, and am friends with artists and arts organizers. In other words, I’m “in the know” and I don’t believe that there was a vibrant art party scene that was only available to the initiated. Continue reading “The New DC Art Scene is Open to All”

Artomatic – First Look

Artomatic – it’s on!  I made my first visit Friday night to sample a bit of this arts extravaganza.  This year, Artomatic has taken over an entire office building one block from the New York Avenue Metro station.  More than just an open art show, Artomatic features music, movies, fire dancers, life modeling classes, bars and creativity untamed by professional aspirations.

Here’s a first look at some of the things I found interesting/scary:

personal jesus

fidel

art critic

You can see more photos on Flickr.

Creative Conversations in DC

Philippa
Philippa Hughes @ Luster art show

A shout-out to Hoogrrl, a.k.a. Philippa Hughes, a writer’s group friend of mine who has since gone on to fame as a local promoter of the arts.  While she calls herself a flaneur, she’s very dedicated in her coverage of the local arts scene and in bringing creative folks together.

I was at her event, Salon Contra at Gazuza, last night.  Billed as a “creative conversation”, it definitely was as artists, musicians, photographers, writers and others mingled in a hip environment, fueled by happy hour mojitos and appletinis.

Go Philippa!

Reverend Billy Comes to Silver Spring

reverend billy in Austin
Reverend Billy preaches against Starbucks in Austin, TX.

Reverend Billy came to the chain-ridden streets of Silver Spring to minister for our sins. What did we do wrong? Americans shop too much, according to the Reverend, with our dreams dictated by major brands and our lives enslaved by credit card debt.

With this type of message, you would think that his movie, “What Would Jesus Buy” would be a humorless polemic. But what distinguishes the Reverend from the whole crop of latter-day alarmists (for example, the food police) is the humor and humanity he brings to his evangelical message.

I first encountered the Reverend on the streets of Austin during SXSW. He and his joyous band led a gospel-style procession up Congress Avenue, singing out to everyone, “Stop shopping! Stop shopping!” Like the Pied Piper, he soon had a delighted throng following him, for the choir was truly rocking and the lyrics were hilarious indictments of our own materialism. He led a crowd up to a Starbucks and preached against the sins of this ubiquitous company, and for all of us to make better choices with our dollars.

This humor and appeal to our better nature is on display in the new documentary, “What Would Jesus Buy.” This film, which screened at SilverDocs, follows the Reverend and his choir around the country at the height of Xmas shopping madness. Produced by Morgan Spurlock, it’s a funny and occasionally horrific look at the excesses of 21st century America. We have too much stuff and spend more than we have to buy the latest products pitched to us.

Where the doc comes alive is when we see Reverend Billy and his wife, Savitri D, struggle with their mission. Are they really making a difference? The Reverend answers affirmatively, if they can just change one life. And they do, by blessing an infant outside a Target – a really touching moment.

This sets up the final confrontation with the forces of the “shopacolypse” as Reverend Billy goes into the belly of the Beast (or Mouse) to spread his good news.

The packed house at SilverDocs loved it, especially when the Reverend and the choir appeared in the wings and began to sing a couple of new songs.  They’re trying to get distribution for the movie.

Nobody likes being preached to, whether it’s religion or politics. But Reverend Billy has managed to communicate his message through humor and satire. And it’s a message that stays with you because the Reverend doesn’t try to make us feel guilty, he tries to make us good.

Tim Tate's Artomatic Stunt?

artomatic pic

I’ve met Tim Tate, the noted Washington glass artist, a couple of times. One of his glass sculptures, a really cool rocket, was stolen from Artomatic and held for ransom. It was only returned after a dramatic midnight exchange – Monopoly money for art. An individual named “The Collector” took credit for the theft. His aim was to increase this city’s appreciation of its art and artists.

This was a brilliant PR stunt, one that was expertly pulled off by “The Collector” or by Tate himself. It garnered both of them a story on the front page of Style in The Washington Post.

Did Tate set this up? Anyone who has met him would argue that he was certainly capable of such a masterstroke. After all, he’s a man who once had 99 films made about himself, including one that I wrote. But whoever did this crime is a marketing genius who should be applauded for bringing excitement and intrigue to the world of art in DC.