In this edition of Sonoran Arts Network, there is a feature article titled “What Happened to Tucson Fall 2016 Open Studios Tour(s)?”
This is a lengthy piece of narrative journalism that describes the changes that have occurred in Tucson’s fall Open Studios tour since August 2015. The Open Studios Tour (OST) has been important to area artists because it gives us a chance to show our work and to meet potential collectors. So most of us, artists, arts-organization administrators, and art lovers alike, have a stake in what happens to OST.
Sonoran Arts Network has argued for over a year that OST should be turned from a city-wide tour to a city-sector, multi-weekend tour season. The article explains why (again).
“What Happened to Tucson Fall 2016 Open Studios Tour(s)?” is quite critical of:
a) Tucson Pima Arts Council (now Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona) for delaying an announcement of the cancellation of fall 2016 OST until the 4th weekend in August (despite having made the decision to cancel much earlier in the summer); for forgetting its promise to provide direct support to grassroots artists’ groups; and instead, suddenly turning OST over to Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance (SAACA);
b) SAACA for failing to follow its own promise to “facilitate” fall OST, but instead partnering with, and then significantly changing the OST of two very successful grassroots city-sector OST groups (Art Trails and Heart of Tucson Art ) in two key ways - boundaries, and membership - thus diminishing the effectiveness, and potentially, the long-term survival, of these two grassroots artist’s tour groups;
c) David Aguirre for creating a competing OST that regurgitates the old dysfunctional city-wide model of OST that has not worked well for many years; for refusing to recognize the existence of the two existing grassroots tour groups (Heart of Tucson Art, Art Trails); for refusing to recognize the in-built bias of that the city-wide model has against artists around the city; and for recreating an OST that favors a small group of downtown artists only.
Please read the entire article “What Happened to Tucson Fall 2016 Open Studios Tour(s)?” and feel free to comment.
News came in late June that Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC) will no longer be organizing an Open Studios Tour for the fall of 2016.
I talked to Julie Lauterbach-Colby, TPAC Deputy Director, about this change which she described as a “strategic decision by the TPAC board.” She added that TPAC no longer has the administrative capacity to organize and manage a fall tour.
“We’ve moved into a different capacity,” said Lauterbach-Colby. “We will support the tours through marketing, public relations and mini grants to those who are organizing their own Open Studios Tours. We plan to facilitate our support through our bi-weekly email newsletter, social media, and new website which will be rolled out soon.” She added that TPAC has just hired a new Digital Media Marketing and Communications Manager, Linda Rico, to contribute to this effort.
“Open Studios Tours have really grown and really developed well under individual organizers who know the neighborhood and artists. We see our role as empowering the grass-roots process of community members who are organizing artists who want to participate in an open studio tour,” Lautebach-Colby added.
In the past, the TPAC fall tour has been city-wide, ran for two days on one weekend, and included more than 200 artists. In the summer of 2015, TPAC lost funding and decided to cancel the fall tour. Two grassroots groups popped up to fill the gap: Art Trails on the west side of Tucson, and Heart of Tucson Art in mid-town Tucson. Heart of Tucson Art went on to organize a spring 2016 tour as well. There are also studio tours organized by Oracle artists and Santa Cruz Valley artists.
Meanwhile a gift of money from Tucson businessmen Jim Click and Fletcher McCusker made it possible for TPAC to go ahead with the fall tour. That meant that fall of 2015 had three tours: Art Trails, Heart of Tucson Art, and TPAC, all on different weekends in October and November.
If you go back and read the Editor’s Page for August 22, 2015 (scroll down), you’ll see commentary about research I did on Open Studios in other cities. The huge city-wide tours no longer exist in cities as large as Tucson, and even in cities smaller than Tucson. A city-wide tour of more than 200 artists has been a problem for Tucson tour visitors for some time. There are simply too many studios to visit in one weekend or even two. In a city of nearly 1 million in the metro population, it’s a lot smarter to break tours up into different areas of the city and have the tours on different weekends. We need a "tour season" with smaller, more accessible tours. These smaller, city-sector tours become easier for visitors, they can see more studios, and drive a lot less. The smaller tours have been well-received by tour visitors for this reason. It's worked better for the artists, too, especially those not located in the cluster of artists downtown. Many artists around the city received far more visitors by participating in a city-sector tour than they ever did in the massive city-wide tour.
Check the Open Studios page of Sonoran Arts Network to keep up with who is organizing tours and when. If you hear of a new tour popping up, let us know and we’ll post it. We’ll have more later on this development.
Small galleries and artists alike need a website. A website is like a business card. It's a way of letting the world know that you exist, and that you have art of some kind you want to share. And you need to keep it up-to-date so that the world will know what you are doing, what book you've written, where you will be exhibiting your arts, where you will be playing music next.
There are several platforms where you can get a free website such as Weebly or Wix, and they are easy to use. Sonoran Arts Network is on the Weebly platform. (Design faults and shortcomings are the responsibility of the editor, not Weebly!)
I feel especially frustrated when I see artists who only have a Facebook page, but no website. Having a page on Facebook isn't good enough.
Facebook fans don't seem realize that there is a world out there beyond Facebook. Many people use the internet and yet they do not have Facebook accounts. They will never see your art if you are only on Facebook. And even if you do have a Facebook account, don't assume that your friends are seeing your FB posts. Facebook has an algorithm to select which posts you see, and which of your posts are seen. Research indicates that you'll see only 15% of what is posted. You will never see everything that all your friends have posted.
I have a strong preference for Google + as a social media platform. Not only is there no algorithm censoring some posts and not others, we're not badgered constantly to buy ads on G+. The display of work for artists just looks better on Google +. Sonoran Arts Network has a Google + page. And Sonoran Arts Network is on Facebook, too, because Facebook, like death and taxes, is unavoidable. It was first, but it's not the best social media.
There are, of course, limitations to depending too much on any social media platform, and limitations to being on-line 24-7. There is a world out there as we can see in this painting by (left) by artist Pawel Kuczynsk. Why limit yourself to Facebook? Why not go through the door?
So please, if you are serious about your art, then establish your own website.
Something unusual happened recently. Three local media outlets known for publishing reviews of art exhibits all published a review of Tucson Museum of Art’s current Ai WeiWei exhibit, Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads. In the nearly 16 years, I’ve lived in Tucson, I cannot remember this ever happening - that the same exhibit would get so much attention. The fact that Tucson Weekly, Zócalo, and Sonoran Arts Network all published a review of Ai WeiWei’s work is testimony to the impact that Ai has in the international art world.
I have no intention of writing a review of the reviews – especially since I wrote one of them. I do want to correct an error in one review. The Zócalo review repeatedly misuses Ai’s name. The Chinese put the family name first, then the personal name. That means Ai is the family name of this artist. What we call “last name” is first in China. The initial mention of Ai WeiWei’s name in Zócalo is correct. What follows is the repeated use of his personal name, WeiWei. This is exactly as if one wrote a review of a Pablo Picasso exhibit and referred to the artist as Pablo throughout the review. This matters because it indicates a lack of knowledge of China and Chinese ways. Keep in mind that China has nearly 1.4 billion people, a population which represents 20% of all humanity. And China is currently having a tremendous impact on the art world. So we do want to know about them, and you better believe that they already know a lot about us.
Here are links to all three articles.
Sonoran Arts Network
Read all three and then decide for yourself which review helps you to understand Ai, his artwork, and the exhibit at TMA. Why would you do this? The answer is in the phrase “arts journalism.” The art world is an important subject for us to know about. It is rife with all the same issues that we find elsewhere: international and national politics, class issues and division of wealth, race issues, the education of our children, and our health – mental and physical and spiritual.
Sonoran Arts Network is dedicated to arts journalism because we think art is important. A couple of years ago, Art in America had an excellent article about arts journalism. The article argues that if no one writes about art, and no one is reading about art, then art will be viewed as less important than it really is. People will not be motivated to go to concerts, and exhibits, and performances because they won’t know about these events. Most deadly of all, people will not see the need to fund the arts in our cities, and in our schools.
By the way, your editor lived in China and has had the privilege of learning about the culture and history of the Middle Kingdom. If you want to learn more (and you should want to learn more), read my book Voices of New China available from Amazon or from me. (shameless plug!)
If you think about the subject of arts journalism and would care to share your views about these three reviews on Ai’s exhibit at TMA or anything else, please enter your comments below.
Since Sonoran Arts Network began publishing in May 2013, we’ve tried different publication schedules – monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly. The schedule experimentation has been directly linked to SAN’s financial resources – or more accurately, SAN’s very limited financial resources.
In 2016 we’ll be publishing quarterly with one slight modification. At the beginning of each quarter, we’ll bring to you a large number of features and interviews – more than you’ve seen in the monthly issues. For example, this January-March 2016 issue has three features and five interviews. The modification to a strict quarterly publication schedule is that we will add reviews throughout the quarterly period. The reviews will be linked to exhibition or performance schedules.
The email newsletter will continue to be sent as a reminder. It will be issued early in the quarterly period to remind you of what’s new on the website. The newsletter will also be sent out whenever new reviews are added throughout the quarterly period. If you are not subscribed to the newsletter, be sure to do so by clicking on “Free Email News” on the top menu.
A heartfelt thanks goes out to each of you who sent a donation during the past year. We encourage those who enjoy reading our on-line arts journal to click on “Donations” on the top menu. You can sign up to donate as little as $3 monthly. Every dollar is appreciated.
FALL OPEN STUDIO Tour 2015
Representatives from Tucson Pima Arts Council, Art Trails, and Heart of Tucson Art met at TPAC headquarters on December 15 to review the results of Fall Open Studios tours.
Art Trails conducted a survey of studio visitors and Heart of Tucson Art (HOTA) conducted a survey of studio artists which also included comments from studio visitors. In both cases, tour participants, both artists and visitors, were very enthusiastic about continuing the multi-weekend tours in different sectors of Tucson. Sample comments from the HOTA survey:
Debi Chess Mabie, TPAC CEO, expressed a sincere commitment at this meeting to assisting these new artists’ groups in the coming year. She will be seeking funding throughout the year. She also expressed a commitment to transparency in how TPAC handles Studio Tour funds. Lack of transparency has been an issue in the past.
Obviously, there is a considerable amount of enthusiasm among these artists to continue the multi-weekend, city-sector tours. Art Trails has already selected its 2016 fall tour dates, October 22-23; and Heart of Tucson Art has selected October 29-30 for its fall studio tour dates.
Media relations were also discussed at this meeting. The local media did not do an adequate job of covering the three tours. The Arizona Daily Star published five column inches and no photos on the fall studio tours. Zocalo published an article only about TPAC’s tour despite receiving advertising money from both Art Trails and HOTA. The Tucson Weekly gave scant attention to the three tours. A wrap-article in the Weekly by Margaret Regan was published on the same weekend as the TPAC tour which meant the earlier tours were ignored. Regan recapped the cancellation of the TPAC tour, the formation of Art Trails and HOTA, and the reestablishment of TPAC thanks to a large financial donation. Regan wrote, “Some artists liked the smaller-scale format – and geographic unity – of the DIY tours. Stay tuned to see what happens next year.”
Indeed. It appears that most participating artists are curious themselves to see what will happen next year. Some artists have thrown their lot in exclusively with one of the new groups, believing that the one weekend, city-wide tour is not working for them and hasn’t for a long time. Quite a few others signed up both for their sector tour (Art Trails or HOTA) and also for TPAC’s tour just to see what would happen. Several of these artists shared that visitors to their studios on the TPAC tour weekend came primarily from the artist’s own email promotions, not TPAC’s promotions. These artists were gratified to discover in most cases, that the new tour (HOTA and Art Trails) brought in more visitors and sales. One person reported having 24 visitors from the HOTA tour and 4 from TPAC.
As reported in August 22, 2015 on the Editor’s Page (scroll down to re-read), the model of a one weekend tour for all of Tucson, a city of over 1 million, is antiquated. Other cities of even smaller size have abandoned the one-weekend, city-wide tour in favor of multiple weekends in different city sections. The old model has within its structure an inherent bias in favor of clusters of studios. In this case, the cluster is downtown, and for many years, artists in the downtown area have benefited whereas artists in other parts of Tucson have not. The time for change has come.
After the terrorist attacks occurred in Paris, France, earlier in November, a symbol of resilience, resistance, and dedication to peace appeared again and again. The British newspaper The Guardian had a fascinating article about this image and the much-earlier peace symbol upon which the French symbol was based.
In this latest version of this well-known design, we see the traditional peace symbol localized to Paris. The interior lines now are easily identified as the Eiffel Tower, the iconic symbol of Paris. The artist who designed this was Jean Jullien, a French graphic designer. Within 24 hours, the new Eiffel peace symbol had been printed on posters and t-shirts and flags. It went “viral” as they say, and showed up again and again on social media.
What is especially interesting about The Guardian article is how the original peace symbol came about. This simple and instantly recognizable symbol for peace was designed in 1958 by a British artist named Gerald Holtom. Members of Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC) immediately accepted Holtom’s design when he first showed them.
The Guardian goes on to explain that no one ever claimed to own rights to this symbol. “Holtom himself had never claimed copyright; he wanted the design to be freely available to any group who fought the same cause. It success was almost immediate.” The design was adopted for use by many movements, among them the U.S. civil right and feminist movements, the anti-Vietnam War movement, and the anti-nuclear movement. Over time, The Guardian says, the peace symbol “came instead to represent peace and justice more generally, especially when those ideas conflicted with the establishment view.” As a consequence it has been banned more than once, notably by South Africa’s apartheid government.
Holtom’s design has appeared again and again in the past almost-sixty years. And now it has appeared in Paris in an adapted form. According to French designer Jullien, “the strongest images are the ones that don’t require any deep background in culture or art history to decipher … It needs to be something that people from different backgrounds can recognise automatically.”
If you are inclined to participate in the seasonal madness, please seriously consider purchasing locally and purchasing the arts and fine crafts produced by so many of our really fine artists and craftsmen in the Sonoran bioregion. Go to studio sales, street markets, and locally-owned shops to find unique, one-of-a-kind gifts. There is nothing in the world so fine as the gift of art or fine crafts.
Coming up soon in December:
December 4: Green Valley Village Holiday Spectacular, Green Valley
December 5: River Bend Farm and Craft Fair, Tucson
December 5 and 6: Cascabel Community Fair, Cascabel
December 5 and 6: Oro Valley Holiday Festival of the Arts, Oro Valley
December 11-13: 4th Avenue Fall Street Fair, Tucson
December 12: Bisbee After 5 Second Saturday Artwalk: Handcrafted Holiday
December 19 and 20: Casa Grande Arts & Crafts Festival, Casa Grande
The National Endowment for the Arts initiated a 50th Anniversary Tell Us Your Art Story series. Here is a YouTube link to southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva, third Congressional district, telling his art story. (Sept. 15, 2015)
Arts event opportunities are multiple and frequent in southern Arizona. Sonoran Arts Network only covers a small percentage of art openings and performances, not to mention opportunities to talk with artists about their works. I’m always searching for contributors interested in arts journalism in the hopes that our coverage will become more comprehensive.
Recently, I decided to approach people might be interested in arts journalism. Who would that be? Journalism students! This led me to the University of Arizona’s School of Journalism. My email to faculty members resulted in a very productive exchange with Joe Sharkey who teaches in the UArizona Journalism School. Joe Sharkey is a very experienced journalist who had a 45 year career as with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times before relocating to Tucson with his wife, Nancy Sharkey. She also teaches journalism at the UofA after a 25 year career with the New York Times. Sharkey currently writes for Travel.Buzz, and he is the author of five books.
Sharkey is currently teaching a class in review writing. His students are required to write reviews on a number of topics, including arts. He recently introduced me to one of his students, Maya Patterson. Her excellent review of Arizona Repertory Theatre’s new production of Cabaret appears in this issue of Sonoran Arts Network. Welcome to Maya Patterson and we hope to read more of your reviews!! We also hope to hear from more journalism students
Joe Sharkey says of his experience teaching journalism. “I teach at the J School because I love connecting with smart, eager-to-learn young people, and especially seeing them ‘get it’ that journalism at its best is driven by intense curiosity and the ability to write well and report accurately.”
Sharkey also made these comments about Sonoran Arts Network. “I'm so pleased that the Sonoran Arts Network is on the scene, and I sincerely hope it can grow, expand and prosper. A vibrant city of 500,000 like Tucson not only deserves but needs quality local media.” Many, many thanks to Joe Sharkey!!
That brings me to the issue of local media coverage of the fall Open Studios Tours. We know that the tour season is a very important and newsworthy event for the visual arts community and arts lovers in Tucson. For the first time, Tucson has three separate Open Studios tours in different parts of Tucson on different weekends. To learn more about these tours, go to our Open Studios Tour page HERE>. Also past postings on this Editor’s Page will tell you more about how this three-tour event emerged and developed starting in early August.
The Arizona Daily Star devoted a grand total of one story about the three Open Studios in the October 22 Caliente arts section. The story was 5” in length and had no accompanying photos. In the same issue of Caliente, we were confronted with a 45” story about homecomings at the University of Arizona accompanied by 10 photos. This extensive coverage wasn’t enough for Star editors because two days later, yet another story on homecomings appeared in the news section of the Star. I’m still trying to figure out why a story on UA homecomings appeared in the arts section….unless, of course, one considers “tailgating” an art. Sigh.
In general the Star puts far more emphasis on the performing arts in its coverage of the arts. Theater reviews are quite frequent, as are news stories about upcoming musical performances and musicians, as well as book authors. Visual arts are relatively ignored compared to other art forms.
The Tucson Weekly’s coverage of theater and music is also extensive compared to visual arts I was unable to find any coverage at all of the three Open Studios Tours in the Weekly. However we give credit to the Weekly for some coverage of visual arts, thanks mainly to Margaret Regan. She has written many very fine news stories and reviews of visual arts exhibits over the years. Thank you, Margaret!
A shout-out goes now to KXCI Radio in Tucson. I received the following email from KXCI staff member Amanda Shauger. “KXCI recently aired 56 public service announcements (also known as PSAs) from October 16th thru October 23rd to let people know about Open Studio Tour Season.” Thanks KXCI!!!
Obviously Sonoran Arts Network is filling a gap here when it comes to covering visual arts. You’ll see news about visual arts in our bioregion on the Sonoran Arts Network webpages when you won’t see it anywhere else. Please support what we’re doing by telling your friends about us, forwarding the SAN email newsletter, and considering extending our arts coverage by contributing your own writings on the arts. We can always use any extra dollars you have on hand.
2. Art of Planetary Science, Kuiper Space Sciences Bldg, 1629 E. University Blvd. (on the mall),
University of Arizona.
Opening reception Friday, October 16 from 5 to 9 pm.
November 2, 7pm. Screening of the film Many Bones, One Heart, a documentary about Tucson's All Souls Procession, at The Loft Cinema on Speedway. We’ll an interview with the filmmaker Leslie Ann Epperson, in our November issues.
e were very sorry to hear this past week that artists in the 7th Avenue Arts District Studios, 549 N. 7th Avenue, have received eviction notices and will have to vacate soon. Sixteen people using the facilities are being forced out. Some of the artists have been in the 7th Avenue studio space since it opened 17 years ago.
The primary reason given by Richard Studwell, one of the property owners where the Studios are located, is the extension of Barraza-Aviation Parkway. The parkway will make it possible motorists to drive through to I10. Currently motorists are routed via Congress St. through downtown Tucson to I10. Moving the parkway farther north of downtown means fewer traffic lights and a faster drive, resulting in a quicker trip to I10. The parkway extension is part of the Downtown Links road project.
This eviction from an affordable studio space for several artists may indicate the beginning of what so many artists have long feared – that downtown Tucson will become unaffordable as a place to live and work for most artists, musicians, writers, and other creatives. According to the Arizona Daily Star, “Artists creating in the downtown area have long been concerned that development and the roadway will rob them of affordable spaces in which to create their art.”
This emptying out of downtown urban centers in favor of more affluent clients is happening all over the U.S. How many cities have you heard about that had a funky and fun urban center that gave way to gentrification, Star Bucks, and high tech firms, leaving the artists to scatter to the wind?
For example, San Francisco is becoming increasingly bereft of artists these days. According to the arts new website Hyperallergic, “In September (2015), the arts commission released the results of its first “artist eviction survey.” Of nearly 600 local artists, 70% had been or were being displaced from their studio space, their home, or both.”
Is it very reassuring that both the Steinfeld Warehouse and Citizens Warehouse are “saved?” (meaning they will still be standing and available to artists for studio space.) Take a closer look at this map of the parkway extension. Traffic will increase dramatically around both Steinfeld and Citizens. In particular, look at Citizens. Artists with studios in that building will definitely have to look both ways before they walk out of their building, else they will be run over by traffic on what appears to be at least a four-lane roadway. No doubt the noise level will increase along with more toxic emissions from cars. Dunbar Spring neighborhood is also affected.
The essential problem here in Tucson is that we are too dependent on cars for transportation, and decisions are being made constantly that kowtow to the car culture. We don’t have a light rail, and the trolley car system is very limited in geographic territory and seems mainly about moving people between the University of Arizona and downtown with little relevance to the rest of us.
As much as we may sympathize with the artists of the 7th Avenue Arts District Studios for losing studio space downtown, it does appear that Tucson and most American cities have been working under a very bad model of urban development in the U.S. since the 1960s. The idea that “downtown” is The PLACE to go and to live, where all the action is, could very well be an outdated model that has given way to the more modern neighborhood model in Europe and Australia.
In upcoming editions of Sonoran Arts Network, we’ll take a look at the neighborhood model, how it compares to the downtown model, and why it is better for people, including artists, if not so great for cars.
Thanks to from Jerry Peek at TucsonArt.info for alerting Sonoran Arts Network to the Studio closing.
For more information:
7th Avenue Arts District Studios eviction: http://tucson.com/entertainment/arts-and-theatre/eviction-notice-goes-out-to-downtown-artists/article_b1cc56c6-4222-5388-b37e-32a5b14f841c.html
Downtown Links: http://downtownlinks.info/
San Francisco artists. http://hyperallergic.com/240704/san-francisco-is-losing-its-artists/ and San Francisco Artist Eviction Survey http://ww2.kqed.org/arts/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/09/Individual-Artists-Space-Need-Analysis_FINAL.pdf
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C.J. Shane is the publisher and editor of Sonoran Arts Network. She is an artist and writer. Visit her website at www.cjshane.com to learn more about her.