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2014 Season Announcement Party Rocks!

Britt announced its 2014 line up of artists this Wednesday to a packed house of excited Britt Festival subscribers, TV reporters, and local businesses.  Donna Briggs, Britt Festival’s President and CEO, presented the artists creatively, offering patrons the opportunity to guess the band from the song, played with gusto by the Matt Hill Trio.  (All photos were taken by Vicki Rosette).


The stage was absolutely packed with Britt Festival patrons who were wined and dined with a delightful display of local wines and beers and gourmet pizza.  People reconnected, toasted to the upcoming season, and discovered new artists as video played of the headliners gracing our stage this season.


Britt staff member Bow Seltzer (left) and Britt Board member Jim Earley reconnect.


Ken and Linda Reeder look forward to hearing the Season Announcement.


The Matt Hill Trio plays “Kokomo,” while guests play “Guess that Artist,” to win Britt-focused prizes!


Paula and Terry Erdmann enjoy local wines.

Performance Garden Update

Progress is being made on Britt’s new Performance Garden—a unique concert venue that will create an intimate setting for approximately 150 people and capture the natural splendor of Britt. From these photos, you can really start to visualize what the final project will look like. This photo is taken from Gate 1. All that dirt and gravel will eventually be pavers.

performance garden

The concrete pad in the forefront will be concessions for the Performance Garden.

performance garden

President & CEO, Donna Briggs points out the tiered seating area.

performance garden

View from new seating area of where the stage will be.

performance garden

New improved and lighted stairs from the lower restrooms.



Construction is underway

Ground has been broken on our new Performance Garden project! The construction project also includes improved accessibility to the park, and part of that means moving the Volunteer Center, which was previously located directly across from the main entrance on First Street. Last weekend, volunteers gathered on a sunny Saturday to help dismantle the existing Volunteer Center and move the pieces across the street, where it will be reassembled in an area naer the Box Office, and expanded to include a public restroom.

All photos by Vicki Rosette.


Looking down at the site of the future Performance Garden.


Looking down from the main entrance to the Britt park.


Volunteers dismantle the Volunteer Center.


Looking at the construction site from the Box Office.


Volunteers doing some heavy lifting.



The new site of the Volunteer Center in the foreground, with the old location in the background.



A PASSION FOR ART 2013-12-27 06:07:00

A PASSION FOR ART 2013-09-28 17:54:00

Talent Art Forum

Talent Public Arts - Bringing the Arts to LIfeSponsored by the Talent Public Arts Committee (TPAC)

Share YOUR vision for Public Art in Talent in a 2 minute statement, including thoughts on how to make your vision a reality, i.e. fundraising ideas, grant procurement ideas, etc.

A dinner of Soup & Salad will be provided- donations are appreciated.

All Talent artists and serious supporters of the arts in Talent are welcome to join us.

Sept. 11th, 2013 at 6pm at Downtowne Coffeehouse – corner of Talent Ave. and Wagner Street.

Find out what we’ve been doing, and would like to do, as a committee and how you can participate in making this a better place to live, work, and grow.

Let’s exchange ideas!

RSVP by Saturday Sept. 7th to TPACatcityoftalentdotorg or by calling Karen at 541-621-6239

Recology Recycled Mosaic….. Recycled Revelation

Recology Recycled Mosaic

Recycled Revelation

Ashland Daily Tidings
 Posted: 2:00 AM April 19, 2013

Ashland showed that almost anything can be turned into art with an unveiling this week of the town’s first 100 percent recycled-content public art mosaic.

Garbage and recycling company Recology Ashland Sanitary Service commissioned Ashland artist Sue Springer to create the ground-level mosaic near the North Mountain Park Nature Center on North Mountain Avenue.

The mosaic encircles a concrete pad, which itself supports a regular trash can and recycling containers for glass, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

“You name it, it’s in there,” Springer said. “The idea is that anything can be used again.”

The mosaic includes salvaged bricks, glass bottle bottoms, bottle caps, jewelry, bicycle chains and gears, cut up credit cards, keys, broken tiles and dozens of other objects.

Springer said creating the mosaic got her thinking about how to reuse recyclables, rather than just tossing them into recycle bins to be trucked away.

“It’s really changed how I think about recycling,” she said.

The idea for the recycled content mural was born when Recology Zero Waste Specialist Risa Buck was talking with Linda Chesney, stewardship coordinator for the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department, about the need to revitalize North Mountain Park’s trash and recycling collection station.

Previously, garbage and recycling containers had been placed next to drab green electric utility boxes, where they didn’t stand out well.

Putting the containers atop the new mosaic makes them more noticeable, and also gets people thinking about garbage and recycling, Buck said.

“People can come and see it’s only trash if that’s how you treat it,” she said.

Two-year-old Wesley Koning of Ashland was enjoying the mosaic earlier this week, pointing out different objects to his mom, Rachel Koning.

“There’s a key. What number’s on it?” Rachel Koning asked her son.

“Two!” he answered.

Rachel Koning said she thinks the mosaic is a great addition to the park.

“It’s fantastic. It’s so great. It really highlights the recycling containers and it’s a great place for kids,” she said. “There are so many colors and shapes and numbers.”

Glass, metal, keys, bike parts, bricks, tiles, stones, all reused to create a mosaic in  North Mountain Park

Glass, metal, keys, bike parts, bricks, tiles, stones, all reused to create a mosaic in
North Mountain Park

Yo-Yo Ma Spins an Emotional Tale of “Art for Life’s Sake”

Tim Mikulski

Tim Mikulski

As I have been sitting back at my desk at Americans for the Arts this afternoon, I’ve had a hard time coming up with a way to describe what I experienced last night at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

It could be the lack of sleep, the lack of coffee, or the abundance of Twizzlers and Clif Bars I’ve eaten during and before Arts Advocacy Day 2013; but, I’m not convinced of that.

Watching Yo-Yo Ma’s combined lecture and performance of a speech called “Art for Life’s Sake: A Roadmap from One Citizen Musician” as our 26th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy last night was priceless.

Not only did it feature eloquent points about the power of arts education and being a citizen musician, but it also featured memorable performances by jooker Lil’ Buck, bagpiper Cristina Pato, MusiCorps, and teaching artist Greg Loman and founder Arthur Bloom—two of which brought tears to the eyes of those around me in the Concert Hall.

Before I get too involved in describing it, I guess I should provide you with a chance to watch the entire event below or you can continue reading and click on the links to see the specific parts I point out as I attempt to capture the night to the best of my ability.

I’ll wait here while you watch…

Speaking of arts education, Ma explained that experts say there are four qualities needed in students and inside the current workforce: collaborative, flexible, imaginative, and innovative.

Ma said, “We know that our present educational system encourages knowledge acquisition and critical thinking, but what about these other qualities? How do we develop them?” He thinks the answers are in the arts through its integration into the entire school curricula.

Bringing a little science to the mix, Ma said that the “edge effect” is the point in ecology where “two eco-systems meet” and “in that transition zone, because of the influence the two ecological communities have on each other, you find the greatest diversity of life, as well as the greatest number of new life forms.”

He then went on to explain that this effect impacted his life as he initially balanced his immigration from Paris to New York City at the age of seven and then again in examples like the fact that he played at one of the first fundraisers for what would eventually become the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as a young child, too.

It was at that event that he met Danny Kaye who literally came down to his level in order to speak with the young cellist “in order to be an equal.” Ma said Kaye came to the edge of a child who was probably fairly uncomfortable and won him over.

Ma explained that since then he “subliminally internalized this gesture and attitude today” and has tried to apply that concept to everything he does—to meet people at eye level, at their edge that decides one person from another.”

Ma, Parto, & Lil' Buck perform "The Swan"

Ma, Parto, & Lil’ Buck perform “The Swan”

At this point that he turned to his cello, invited dancer Lil’ Buck and pianist Cristina Pato to the stage for a performance that left the audience smiling and nodding in silence (minus a “wow!” or two that I could hear from my back row orchestra seat…Lil’ Buck formed a swan with his body to end the performance named after the bird!).

Ma returned to the main topic of “Arts for Life’s Sake” as he set up a performance that may stick with me for the rest of my life.

He began by saying that “musicians spend years learning technique, but the point of art is always to transcend technique. That’s when we get to meaning. We transcend technique in order to seek out the truths in our world in a way that gives meaning and sustenance to individuals and communities—that’s art for life’s sake.”

From there, Ma said he wanted to share with the audience an example of an artist responding to need in the form of Arthur Bloom, who developed MusiCorps which is a program that works with injured service members at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

I just had a chill even thinking about the stirring rendition of Levon Helm’s “Wide River to Cross” that followed. The song was emotionally performed by Specialist Nathan Kalwicki, Lance Corporal Josh Cawthorn, Sergeant Rex Tharp, Corporal Marcus Dandrea, Lance Corporal Tim Donley, and MusiCorps teaching artists Greg Loman and Arthur Bloom.

Lance Corporal Tim Donley raises his arm to the crowd after singing "Wide River to Cross."

Lance Corporal Tim Donley raises his arm to the crowd after singing “Wide River to Cross.”

After the performance Ma returned to the “edge effect” stating that “as music therapists know, by combining two things many don’t usually associate (music and healthcare), Arthur has discovered a new path for healing for these veterans. And, as Arthur explains, this real work, discipline, and rigor. You can see for yourselves the transformative power of what the veterans are doing when Lance Corporal Tim Donley, who says so beautifully at age 21 that he feels blessed to have found two great loves in his life. First, the marines and now, music.”

Ma went on to discuss his arts education work through his own Silk Road Project and the Turnaround Arts initiative, and the importance of including the arts in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning.

He concluded with a performance of Sarabande by Bach from the Sixth Suite for Solo Cello.

While the event came at the end of our training sessions for Arts Advocacy Day the next day, everyone in the Hall felt that the impact of Yo-Yo Ma’s lecture will likely live on well beyond as more of us take the time to appreciate, participate in, and cherish “Art for Life’s Sake.”

Public Art Year in Review Spotlight – “Your Essential Magnificence” in Austin, TX

Americans for the Arts’ Public Art Network Year in Review program is the only national program that specifically recognizes public art projects. Up to 50 projects are selected annually through an open-call application process and selected by two to three jurors. The projects are available on CD-Rom in our bookstore and include a PowerPoint, data and project list, and hundreds of project photos.

Our 2013 Public Art Year in Review nomination process is open through April 5, so be sure to nominate a project as we continue spotlight former honorees on ARTSblog.

Today’s project is Your Essential Magnificence by James Edward Talbot which was honored in 2012.

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)


This sculpture was commissioned as part of a corridor improvement project along historic Congress Avenue through the iconic area of South Austin nicknamed “SOCO.” This district is peppered with unique small business, and has an eclectic and colorful “Keep Austin Weird” aesthetic. It is located along the avenue on a median between two side streets so that pedestrians can stop and safely gather around it.

The sculpture was built in 65 sections and then installed and completed at the site. Hidden inside as part of the ballast are objects and mementos which the artist collected from iconic South Austin places past and present such as Broken Spoken and the Armadillo World Headquarters.

The artist’s stated goal was to make “a colorful, bold, eclectic, tactile, and ‘weird’ icon in the finest South Austin tradition.” His sculpture has succeeded in that regard and is well-suited to its context.

The artist also views the sculpture as a shrine to individuality and to the inherent goodness, majesty and essential magnificence of each human being. He encourages people to use it as a backdrop for photo ops.

Check out more photos of Your Essential Magnificence below and remember to nominate a project in your area for the 2013 Year in Review!

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

"Your Essential Magnificence" by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

“Your Essential Magnificence” by James Edward Talbot (Photo by Philip Rogers)

Open the Door & Come In: Celebrating Penny Balkin Bach

Liesel Fenner

Liesel Fenner

“Open the Door and Come In,” a sweet phrase invented as a fortune cookie prediction by her granddaughter, fully expresses the life and work of Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art Dialogue’s (PAD) 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

Penny is the longtime executive director of the Association for Public Art (APA; formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) in Philadelphia; an Americans for the Arts Public Art Network (PAN) Council member; and a curator, producer, educator, writer, activist, advocate, mentor, world traveler, bon vivant, and arts administrator extraordinaire.

Her brilliant leadership and vision in the field was deservedly recognized and honored at the award ceremony on February 15 at the annual College Art Association conference in New York City. Surrounded by friends; APA board, PAN, and PAD members; and other fans and colleagues, Penny provided a sweeping overview of exemplary projects she’s curated, shepherded, and protected over the past thirty years.

Her talk, “Separation Anxiety: Rites of Passage in Public Art,” provided an overarching theme that followed the philosophy of Joseph Campbell’s stages of a hero’s journey: departure, initiation, return—rather like the phases of the public art commissioning process (proposing, information gathering, idea testing, fabricating, etc.). 

She focused on a continuum that runs through projects, from the conservation and interpretation of historic works to the experience of working with a contemporary artist, and articulated a wonderful framework through which to view the stages, challenges, and rewards of public art.

The breadth of Penny’s work is incredibly impressive: at the start of her career at the Philadelphia Museum of Art she worked with Sam Gilliam to realize his first public project. She then worked on form and function projects with various artists including Jody Pinto, Martin Puryear, and Siah Armajani.

Penny Balkin Bach

Penny Balkin Bach

She also initiated the New Land Marks series that engaged artists such as Pepon Osorio, Janet Zweig, and Ed Levine with neighborhoods across the metro Philadelphia area. She has always led the effort to conserve and care for the sculpture collection of Fairmount Park and throughout the city, as well as worked consistently with other groups in collaborative fashion to advocate and develop projects.

Most recently she produced Rafael Lozano-Hammer’s incredible Open Air project in fall of 2012.

Another project that demonstrates her ability to tap into vast resources of persistence and determination is the installation of Sol LeWitt’s garden at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, a project realized thirty years after its original proposal.

Penny is at the forefront of our field in her innovative approaches to interpretation and the introduction of public art to many different audiences. The Association’s Museum Without Walls audio program utilizes various platforms for people to access the stories behind individual works of art in Philly. The range of voices presented provides a myriad of connections and ways to learn about and relate to the works.

Penny has adapted Duchamp’s idea that the spectator completes the work of art, and by providing people with ways to understand it, she certainly supports that practice.

I greatly valued Penny’s closing remarks as she said that the challenge is in knowing what the constraints are in an undertaking and working to overcome them—and her neverending appreciation for the journey which is simultaneously “exhilarating and scary”—as she searches for the things that she herself can’t even imagine.