Archive for December, 2010

December 28, 2010

2010 Wins and Fails: a short list

LOCAL

Win

Fail

ELSEWHERE

Win

Fail

  • British Petroleum
  • Trueblood season 3 and the whole vampire craze in general
  • Tea Partying
  • Female Republican figureheads
  • Great neopsych songs being licensed for TV ads
  • Meg Whitman and her money
  • The texting while driving PSA
December 9, 2010

Future of ArtWalk: workshop yields as many questions as answers

“We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.”–Willy Wonka

Last night representatives from various sectors of Ventura’s visual art community gathered at the WAV to discuss the future of ArtWalk vis a vis the city’s shrinking financial and administrative contribution to the event.

Since its humble, organic emergence in Ventura more than a decade ago, ArtWalk has seen consistent growth as one of the city’s best-attended cultural events. But in the past year or so, a sour economy, changes in city leadership (and vision) and frankly, a stale model, have all contributed to the event’s current state of peril.

Last evening’s gathering was intentionally not held at City Hall for obvious reasons, or as Public and Visual Art Supervisor, Denise Sindelar noted, because it’s not conducive to “creativity and brainstorming.”  The discussion was led by PLACE president Chris Velasco, the brain behind the WAV project and a crack workshop/discussion coordinator, with various city leaders heading up smaller discussion groups. Though it played out a bit like a speed dating session, the cut-to-the-chase format did generate a lot of ideas, perhaps too many, which in the end left everyone sort of scratching their heads.

And… it revealed some subtle dynamics, perhaps even a division (at least in thought and purpose) between the OG, veteran Ventura artist contigent and the new school, WAV hipsters, perhaps not dissimilar to what’s surfacing within the boundaries of the WAV community itself, just more than one year since the first tenant moved in.

Giving the event an identity was the biggest conundrum of the night, inspired impassioned soliloquies and fevered cross talk punctuated the need for these kinds of dialogues.  As observed through this reporter/participant’s lens (so feel free to chime in and correct me), the new kids on the block, naturally coming from an entirely different cultural orientation by generational default, seemed to have a “more is more” perspective, envisioning the ArtWalk (or, insert flagship cultural event tag here) as a large scale festival/party  with lots of entertainment from all reaches of the arts, vendor booths, live music on every block, wine tasting, double decker buses, clowns and jugglers and a giant inflatable Picasso, Van Gogh and Dali, a la the Macy’s parade, floating over the city as local poets read city council minutes in ironic tones. (Kidding of course, but it could make for an interesting performance art piece). There was even mention of  a Pageant of the Masters type feature and the rave-style, Burning Man esque GLOW event in Santa Monica was briefly tossed into the fray. Sigh.

The city leadership types seemed keen on the idea of an ArtWeek  event perhaps showcasing different districts over two weekends, including the Harbor Village, midtown, downtown and the Westside with transportation offered and an educational element threaded throughout.

The old guard, and the group that I found myself in agreement with, held firm to the event’s original intent: a showcase for local visual artists with the prime function of valuing, discussing and PURCHASING art and celebrating the people who create it.  A natural biproduct of such an event is patronage of local restaurants and retailers, but it’s not the driving force. Most people agreed that the event needed to be fun, but to paraphrase renowned artist John White: viewing art and learning about art and owning art is friggin’ fun.

Ventura has had a tendency to copy good ideas from other cities. It may be the sincerest form of flattery but it’s not the best way to cultivate an identity. Let’s hope, as this discussion moves forward, and those who share a passion for art duke it out over the details, that we can birth something beautiful and fruitful. Maybe rather than trying to be everything to everyone, covering all the bases with this one event (pant, pant) and crouching to the level of the lowest common denominator, we can be the example, the tastemakers, the trendsetters, and create an event, that is entirely unique to Ventura, drawing from the deep pool of talent we are blessed with here. Let’s show ’em what we’re made of; the rest will follow. And if it doesn’t, we are stronger in identity, more unified as a community and brighter in spirit, anyway.

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