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I hold history’s hand in mine #poem

By | July 14, 2017

darling. beloved. come closer.
I hold history’s hand in mine, an old friend
we walk together along the paved zanja madre
a river of dirt and water. small tribes of seagulls
nest in the shifting sediment
come, beloved. walk with me.
I am as determined as clover
plant the self where you find hope. fly
land. root. you don’t need permission to exist
I take out my ancestor’s artifacts
and strap them to my …

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Seeing Art From a Local Perspective in Hyper-Global Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Museum of Art, where I work, is 55 years old this year. Though we have changed a lot over the years, we still hold to a special “hybrid” vision that fits our city and dates to the museum’s founding on the top two floors of City Hall.
Since that time our location has changed to a separate building; Hong Kong stopped being …

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California Can Reconceive the Arts by Offering More Choices and Ways to Participate

By | July 13, 2017

California is undergoing massive changes in technology, demography, the nature of work and, thus, in leisure activity. So is its cultural sector, with consequences for how Californians experience art and for how California organizations and artists deliver the arts and engage their audiences.
Over the last three decades, the term “arts participation” has essentially been understood as arts attendance within the non-profit arts field. The field’s …

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How Milagro Theater Company Brought a Pan-Latin Flavor to Portland

By | July 13, 2017

It may appear surprising or counter-intuitive to operate a bilingual, Latino-centered theater company in a city that is less than 10 percent Latino.
But for me, my wife Dañel Malán, and our colleagues at Milagro, establishing our artistic home in Portland, Oregon, has afforded creative and community-building opportunities we might not have had if we’d settled in Texas, California, or some other state with a …

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A Small Slovenian Innovation Wants to Democratize the Art World

By | July 12, 2017

The art trade broadly, and art criticism more specifically, badly need a Reformation. The institutions of art are too much like the medieval Catholic Church.
Just as the Church has always been run by a tiny group of white men who have the power to determine what is worthwhile and what is not, the art trade’s tiny group of “influencers”—gallerists, managers, a few artists, high-end high-visibility …

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A Partnership Between Art and the Public to Design San Francisco’s Future

By | July 12, 2017

Who gets to design the future of life?
This is a question that we posed recently at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where I am very proud to work. Focusing on inquiry and our promise to be the creative home for civic action, we invited people—artists, designers, planners, and more—to discuss and debate that question. And by gathering diverse perspectives around this …

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As a Performer and Arts Consultant, I Learned That Arts Should Serve People—Not the Other Way Around

By | July 11, 2017

Recently, as I was walking home and mulling over what to write for this essay on arts engagement, I saw a multi-colored pinwheel stuck to a signpost on a street corner, titled “Hidden Fortune Wheel.” Underneath, a sign gave the following instructions:
Spin the wheel until it stops. For the next ten minutes try to feel what it would be like to be in someone …

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In the Overheated Art World, Social Media Give Millennials New Tools for Engagement

By | July 11, 2017

Even a few years ago, galleries and museums that showcased their collections via Instagram were a minority. Now Instagram is ubiquitous. Cellphone cameras have officially replaced sketching among museum-goers. Social media mediates everything. And many art institutions have acknowledged the role of social media as a key aspect of audience engagement. To shape that role, art engagement, branding, and promotion all deserve a thorough …

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In Bulgaria, a Collective Called Destructive Creation Illegally Remakes Old Monuments to Start Discussion

By | July 10, 2017

The sun rises above Sofia’s skies. It seems like an ordinary day in 2011. But as people pass near the centrally-situated Sofia University, they forget their hurry and come to a halt.
They can’t help staring at a weird explosion of colors, vaguely reminiscent of a bronze sculpture they have seen before. The Monument to the Soviet Army, erected in 1954 in gratitude for the Red …

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Bringing Forward Important, if Forgotten, Artists from Deep in the American South

By | July 10, 2017

What makes some artwork timeless?
History shows that neither high prices at auction nor gallery attendance figures are good predictors of how artists, artworks, and art movements will be viewed in decades to come. The Guggenheim’s landmark exhibition 1900: Art at the Crossroads was noteworthy for revealing that the artists we lionize today were far from acclaimed in their time.  The Guggenheim’s 2000 show reprised …

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