Posts filed under ‘Studio Tours’

16+ AMAZING YEARS! – A THANK YOU FROM JOHN SPIAK

After 16+ years with the Arizona State University Art Museum I have announced my departure.  I have been fortunate to receive an offer to lead the vision of an institution in Southern California for which I cannot pass up.


(image: Grand Central Art Center)

My new role will be Director/Chief Curator of the California State University, Fullerton, Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, CA.  Located in the historic Grand Central Building (1924) of Downtown Santa Ana, the institution houses a large gallery space, a project gallery, retail space, an 85-seat theater and classrooms.  Another key attraction of the space is the second floor, which houses twenty-seven MFA student apartments with functioning artist studios for each resident on the main floor.  The institution also houses an artist-in-residence apartment and studio with an on-going international residency program.


(image: Grand Central Art Center, CSUF MFA Apartments, Santa Ana, CA)

If you are not yet familiar with the institution, here is a link with some details on the Grand Central Art Center:
http://www.grandcentralartcenter.com/aboutus.php

The added bonus to this venue is its location, in the heart of a very active and involved community with great diversity of culture, vision and influence, just five minutes from where I grew up.  It will allow me to hit the ground running, knowing the lay of the land, as well as local peer institutions and colleagues with which I am excited to collaborate.

And if that isn’t enough reason to visit, here is another…

Grand Central Art Center with present a solo exhibition with artist George Herms during the Pacific Standard Time exhibitions throughout Southern California:


Chaos’ Job…Restrain Order
September 3 – October 16, 2011
http://www.grandcentralartcenter.com/ArtGallery_gcartgallery.php?id=365

I will begin my new role on September 6th, so if you find yourself in the Southern California area, please let me know so we can connect and I can provide you a tour of the Grand Central Art Center.

My new contact information will be:

John D. Spiak
Director/Chief Curator
Grand Central Art Center
125 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
t. 714.567.7233

Thank you to everyone who has made this journey so wonderful – the artists, students, collectors, community leaders, docents, funders, friends and colleagues. I need to especially give my full gratitude and thanks to Marilyn A. Zeitlin, Heather Sealy Lineberry and Gordon Knox, who provided me with support, guidance and trust, allowing me to curate projects through my vision.

My very best to you,

John D. Spiak
Appointed Director/Chief Curator, CSUF’s Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, CA

August 4, 2011 at 11:06 pm

A perfect ceramic storm in Montana

Beautiful Montana...

At the end of June, the ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center guided 20 patrons from across the country to help celebrate the Archie Bray Foundation’s 60th anniversary From the Center to the Edge.

CRC Program Specialist Mary-Beth Buesgen, right, and Sandy Blain visit Sarah Jaeger's studio.

During the week we visited studios (Deborah Butterfield, John Buck, Josh DeWeese and Rosie Wynkoop in Bozeman) and Richard Notkin, Sarah Jaeger and Robert Harrison in Helena. Tours of private collections, auctions, fabulous meals and glorious weather, made even more meaningful once we returned to the 117-degree blazing Arizona sun, provided for a perfect ceramic storm.

A big thanks to all our members who joined us!

Peter Held, Curator of Ceramics, ASU Art Museum Ceramics Research Center

July 12, 2011 at 9:25 pm

Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white

April is drawing to a close, and it has been an extremely busy month for projects associated with Gregory Sale’s Social Studies project It’s not just black and white.

The month began with the third public tour of Tent City Jail, another informative, eye-opening and direct experience opportunity for all involved.

On April 9, the Museum was fortunate to host a portion of the School of Social Transformation, Justice & Social Inquiry’s 1st Annual ASU Human Rights Film Festival. The afternoon, organized by the School of Social Transformation in collaboration with the Tempe Chapter of Amnesty International and ASU Art Museum, was based on the theme of Prisoner’s Rights and Militarization of Justice, screening the films Cointelpro 101 and The Response. The screening was followed by a lively discussion on the topics, led by Alan Eladio Gómez, Ph.D. Borderlands Scholar and Assistant Professor in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at ASU.

The organization Reentry and Preparedness, Inc. (REAP) hosted a meeting on April 12 for its board of directors and advisory board. Reentry and Preparedness, Inc. (REAP) is dedicated to providing green job training, transition training, and mentorship for the families of the reintegrators from prisons and jails. The event was organized by Carol Manetta, Executive Director of REAP, as part of It’s not just black and white Open Bookings.

The Civil Dialogue Project on April 13 focused on creating a safe space for divergent viewpoints. Using the technique of civil dialogue, ASU faculty from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication facilitated a dialogue focused on two hot topics: incarceration and prisons. This project was an opportunity for students and the public to dialogue safely about issues that could be polarizing, in an effort to promote understanding. The event was facilitated by Clark Olson, Instructional Professional, and Jennifer Linde, Lecturer, at the Hugh Downs School of Communications.

Through arrangements made by the artist, working in direct relationship with the administrations of Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon high schools of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, fifteen male and female students joined us at the Museum on April 18th for their first of three full-day visits.  The students, along with their teachers, administration and ASU students, received a tour of the Museum and were provided a brief introduction to It’s not just black and white by the artist. We all walked to the School of Art, where we joined Stephen Gittins’ photo class and were given a tour of the studios and darkrooms. We took a walk through campus to the Memorial Union, where we enjoyed a lunch and conversation together. Upon arriving back at the museum, the art supplies were ready for the students to add their artistic expressions to the public wall within the gallery space. ASU Graduate Teaching Assistant Ashley Hare, of the ASU School of Theatre and Film, then led the students through a series of performance and improvisational workshops. Finally, the students walked over to the back of the Nelson Fine Arts Center theatre spaces and worked with graduate students through a puppetry workshop, creating their own puppets out of the masses of supplies made available to them.

A program the evening of April 19th combined two diverse groups in conversation.  The first group was criminal justice students of Professor Cathryn Mayer from Brookline College who arranged guest speaker Deputy Director Charles Flanagan from the Arizona Department of Corrections.  The second group were students from ASU professor Dr. Alesha Durfee’s Women and Social Change class who organized a panel including Maricopa County Chief Probation Officer Barbara Broderick of the Adult Probation Department, Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team, Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch and Donna Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform.  The entire group of sixty-five individual in attendance received a wide range of views and perspectives before engaging in respectful question and answer dialogue for an extremely successful event.

This past Saturday, April 23, as an Open Booking, The United Teams for Restorative Justice took over the space, providing a panel presentation of five organizations and their constituencies who engage with the criminal justice system, helping individuals heal and move forward in life. The five organizations in attendance and being recognized for their tireless efforts included Moma’s House, for its dedication to helping abused women escape the abuse and start a new life; Arizona Peace Alliance, for having a Department of Peace added as a cabinet level position in the government and for legislation aimed at teaching peaceful solutions; Gina’s Team, for its work to ensure inmates basic life needs are met; Reentry and Preparedness, Inc.,  for its dedication to support and renew those who have been incarcerated and deliver them gently back into society; and finally Phoenix Nonviolence Truth Force, for its trainings in peaceful solutions to everyday problems.  According to United Teams for Restorative Justice, it is is an organization dedicated to helping any party having contact with any criminal justice agency. They help not only the defendants and the victims but their families as well.  The event was organized by the United Teams David DeLozier.

This morning, April 26, the Maricopa County Adult Probation Executive Management Team (EMT) held their monthly meeting in the gallery. The EMT consists of a Chief Probation Officer, three Deputy Chief PO’s and eleven Division Directors. The Maricopa Adult Probation has about 1,100 employees and is responsible for supervising a monthly average of 58,264 probationers. The EMT meets monthly to focus on the strategic plan, managing for results and departmental goals in order to ensure that the departmental mission is realized. The meeting was organized by Therese Wagner as part of the Open Bookings.

And tonight we host the event “Incarceration and the Mentally Ill: Punitive or Restorative Justice?,” a formal dialogue with approximately twenty participants discussing the care and treatment of those with mental illness as their lives intersect with the criminal justice system. The goal is to bring together individuals with diverse perspectives and experiences, from the advocates for increasing rehabilitation of mentally ill offenders to those who feel the criminal justice system in place in Arizona is working well. The event is organized and managed by Mary Lou Brnick of the non-profit organization David’s Hope, with support from the Office of Individual and Family Affairs at the Arizona Department of Behavior Health Services and the Arizona Mental Health and Criminal Justice Coalition. The public is invited to observe the dialogue and participate during Q & A.

But it has been the past few days that have provided some amazing reconnections…

Last Friday a Cub Scout group visited the space. The scout leader, an Eagle Scout in ranking, was in the space sharing insights with his scouts. He encouraged them to express themselves artistically on the public wall as he spoke to them about the topics of the overall project. As he completed his conversation with the boys and allowed them time to draw, I approached and thanked him for his thoughtfulness toward the project and for sharing that thoughtfulness with his troop. It turns out their scout leader has a connection with the Museum; he toured the location many times and had been involved with educational outreach programs as a student at McClintock High School in Tempe.  He expressed how those experiences truly influenced his life and how he is so pleased to be able to share those similar experiences with his young troop.

On Monday our students from Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon reconnected with us for their second visit. It was so wonderful to see their smiling faces once again and hear of their eagerness to get started for another day of activities. Gregory began the day with a little presentation on the history of stripes, all through small black and white drawings.  He started with an image from “a mural in Italy painted around 1340 of three young women in stripes condemned to prostitution saved by Saint Nicolas,” shifted to image of Holocaust uniforms, then images of stripes as portrayed in the media and pop culture, shared the Razzle Dazzle camouflage used on ships during World War I, then the use of stripe in architecture, in patterning and finally examples of stripes used by contemporary artists. He talked about these historic stripes’ association with the current use of stripes in our community and within the exhibition, having the students consider their use and meaning more deeply.

Gregory then challenged the students to reconsider the stripes on the wall of his space. If they had the opportunity, how would they make adjustments to his vision? Each student was then invited to select an ASU student collaborator and express their vision through a painting workshop orchestrated on the floor of the gallery space. The results were fantastic, and each team had the opportunity to share their insight, creating a great dialogue with each other and the space of the Museum.

A walk across campus for lunch together at ASU’s Secret Garden provided the opportunity for a communal meal and insight from Heather Landes, Associate Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and The Arts. Heather provided the students deeper knowledge of the opportunities available to them in the Arts and Design through ASU.   She talked about the application process and invited them all to join us as students at ASU upon the completion of their high school education.

After lunch our dynamo colleague, Elizabeth Johnson, Coordinator, Public Practice in the School of Dance, got the students moving. She worked with them collectively to get their bodies moving, first in basic movements then gradually building up to more choreographed series. The students broke off into groups and choreographed their own dances in relationship to the conversations of the day, then performed them for the other groups. We sat together and talked about the dances we had just observed and shared our overall impressions on the experiences. You could tell by the smiles and energy, it was extremely successful.

The students then loaded into their van and were shuttled off to the other side of campus to engage with School of Art Professor Angela Ellsworth’s intermedia performance art class. The student were greeted by the ASU students and given an overview of their studies. They talked about a current project they were developing and asked the high school students if they would assist. The project is titled “Cyborgs vs. Humans,” a parking lot tag style game that examines current culture and technologies. The rules for the activity were explained, and then everyone went to the parking lot for round one. The Cyborgs won round one in less than five minutes, then we all went back inside and debriefed. The information was gathered regarding successes and failure, differing options and possibilities. The game rules were adjusted and it was back to the parking lot for round two. Round two proved to be much more successful, a game lasting just over  10 minutes and exhausting everyone. At one point during the game, one of the high school students instructors turned to me and said, “It’s so good to see this kids get the opportunity to be kids,” and I would have to agree. It was good knowing that these students received a great day of activities and were probably going to get a great night’s sleep.

The students weren’t the only reconnection that happened on Monday. Mid-morning Erik, one of the original ALPHA program inmates who collaborated with Gregory to paint the stripes within the gallery, showed up at the Museum with his girlfriend, Lisa. Erik had been released, and it was so great to see him at the Museum in his own clothing. He toured Lisa through the space and shared the project and his experience with her, expressing the project’s intent as if he was leading a docent tour. He pointed out his contributions to the public wall as he reconnected with me, Gregory and Elizabeth Johnson, with whom he had performed a dance during his original visit. Before we knew it, Erik was down on one knee with a ring in his hand, proposing to Lisa, who immediately said YES!

Reconnecting is important, can be magical and is necessary at times in helping move forward in positive directions. I hope there are many more of these moments ahead!

-John Spiak, Curator

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Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

April 27, 2011 at 12:06 am

ANOTHER ACTIVE WEEK AND THE SCHEDULE FOR APRIL – It’s not just black and white

Quickly sharing a few of the activities that took place this past week in conjunction with It’s not just black and white: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6.

On March 15 there was a lively discussion on the topics of Art’s Role in Resilience Science and Other Innovations in Thinking with national figures, led by Gregory Sale, Gordon Knox, Sander van der Leeuw, Richard Toon, and Adriene Jenik (by Skype), in association with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

On Saturday, March 19, Gregory provided the second of four Tent City Jail tours led by officers of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.   Twenty community members joined the artist for, as the artist refers to it, (Re)SEARCH-based, first-hand experience.  Again, the questions were lively and the tour eye-opening.  The next tour is scheduled to take place Wednesday, April 6; you can sign up now to attend.

Tuesday evening, in collaboration with Arizona Justice Project,  Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Innocence Project Barry Scheck spoke to an intrigued audience of close to 100 people.   The insights and stories he shared were a mix of amazing, shocking and inspirational.

The coming month is jam-packed with scheduled activities associated with the project, and a few that are in the works, so we look forward to having you join us here for the engagement, dialogue and greater understanding of situations occurring in your own community.

Here is a little schedule to date.  You will note that some are open to the public while others are closed.  The closed to the public events are at the request of, and out of respect for, the participants:

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
4/9/11, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Films: Militarization of Justice
ASU Human Rights Film Festival features two films, Cointelpro 101 and The Response, and a panel discussion organized by ASU Professor Dr. Alan Eladio Gómez of the School of Social Transformation, Justice & Social Inquiry and Scott Henderson of the Tempe Chapter of Amnesty International.

4/13/11, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Incarceration and Prison- Hot Topics, Cool Heads
Using the technique of civil dialogue, ASU faculty from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication will facilitate a dialogue focused on topics related to incarceration. The Civil Dialogue project focuses on creating a safe space for divergent viewpoints, inviting students and the public to dialogue safely about issues which could be polarizing in an effort to promote understanding. This event will be facilitated by ASU ProfessorDr. Clark Olson and Lecturer Jennifer Linde, Hugh Downs School of Communication.

4/19/11, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Women and Social Change/Gina’s Team Discussion Panel
A planned panel discussion will likely include Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team, Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch and Donna Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform. The panelists will share their experiences within the criminal justice system and their ideas on reforming the prison and jail system. An open discussion for those who attend the event will follow. The program is organized by students enrolled in Women and Social Change, taught by ASU Professor Dr. Alesha Durfee. Lead student organizers include Danica O’Grady and Katelyn Johnston.

4/26/11, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Incarceration and the Mentally Ill: Punitive vs. Restorative Justice
A formal dialogue with approximately 20 participants discussing the care and treatment of those with mental illness as their lives intersect with the criminal justice system. The goal is to bring together individuals with diverse perspectives and experiences, from the advocates for increasing rehabilitation of mentally ill offenders to those who feel the criminal justice system in place in Arizona is working well. The event is organized and managed by Mary Lou Brnick of the non-profit organization David’s Hope.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC with advance registration (off-site)
4/06/11 and 4/23/11, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Tent City Jail Tours
Tour Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Tent City Jail.  Tours will be offered on Wednesday, April 6; Saturday, April 23; and Wednesday, May 4. All tours begin at 2:00 p.m.
Group size is limited to 20 adults. Tours are conducted by MCSO Jail staff.  Admission is free. Advance registration is required for Tent City tours.  For details see the project website at http://www.itsnotjustblackandwhite.info

CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
4/02/11, 12:00pm-5:00pm
Mother Daughter Distance Dance
The Mother Daughter Distance Dance is a dance workshop organized by Elizabeth Johnson, Teniqua Broughton and Gregory Sale as a component of the “It’s not just black and white” exhibition at the ASU Art Museum.  The workshop engages incarcerated women who are graduates of the rehabilitative arts outreach program “Journey Home” and their daughters, through an original collaborative choreography to help repair relationships and prepare moms for the transition home and to help families who have been apart know each other for who they are NOW.  The daughters perform at the museum exhibition space for and with their incarcerated mothers, who dance at Estrella Jail. The two sites are connected virtually through a live video feed.  Both the mothers and the daughters will take a series of dance classes prior to the virtually-connected dance workshop.

4/12/11, 1:30pm-4:00pm
Adult Probation Division Meeting
(Organized by Julie Chavez)
A meeting with the Adult Probations  unit.  This divisions of supervisors  interviews people in the jails and supervises  inmates while they are allowed on leave  for work in the community and   on probation while still serving time, participating in programs such as ALPHA and additional  reentry efforts.

4/18/11,  9:00am-12:00pm
Pretrial Services/Adult Probation Meeting
(Organized by Penny Stinson)
A meeting of various directors from the Maricopa County Superior Court Pretrial Services and Adult Probation Units as well as a training session.

4/26/11, 8:15am-11:00am
Adult Prob Exec Mgmt Meeting
(Organized by Therese Wagner)
The Maricopa County Adult Probation Executive Management Team will be holding their monthly meeting in the space.

4/27/11, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Adult Probation Division Meeting
(Organized by Anna King)
Unit meeting of adult probation officers who supervise clients with a variety of offenses.

– John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

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Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

March 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm 12 comments

Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white

Last week provided me with a lot of food for thought. It began with the second visit of MCSO ALPHA program inmates, a new group of seven, along with the return of the MCSO SRT officers who escorted the first group from ALPHA as well.

It was good to see these officers again. We had some great conversations about the project on their first visit, and we were all eager to share with them some of the activities that had taken place in the space since their prior visit three weeks before. Their insights, respect, openness and flexibility toward our process of working with the entire collaborative team made things flow so smoothly during both visits. These folks perform a tough job on a daily basis, and with that type of role I had my preconceived stereotypes of what the officers would be like and how they would, or would not, engage this project. While their backgrounds were diverse, from a veteran and ex-pro football player to a former Olympic athlete, their willingness to participate was clear during the two visits. We talked about the concepts of the overall project, a few got into the impromptu dance choreography with Elizabeth Johnson, they all helped decide the final look of the gallery (to complete or not to complete certain sections of the stripes) and helped paint, and all signed the canvas along with the artist, ALPHA group and student collaborators. I don’t envy these officers their difficult jobs, but they have my complete respect both for the role they provide our community and as quality individuals.

It was good to see the ALPHA guys again. It had been a little over a month since we first met them at Towers Jail, so getting reacquainted and hearing more of their personal backgrounds was nice. Again, the range of personalities and experience was diverse, and I found myself having the longest conversations with the ones I felt I had most in common with. One inmate from California reminded me of so many of my friends, a good family guy who was able to get things set up for his family before he had to serve his time. I could tell he was serving his time in a respectful manner and using it as a learning process to make himself an even better person once he is out. We are looking forward to re-engaging these guys with the project in the coming months as they are released. There are plans in the works for a program with the group here in the Museum, so we will let you know when it has been confirmed.

There were small things that occurred during Saturday’s visit that made me understand better the freedoms that I take for granted and what it means to be on the inside or outside. When I needed to go to the bathroom, I just went; I didn’t have to wait until two guys need to go and then be escorted. I could also could go and get a cola when I wanted one. I know these seem like extremely small actions, but ones I was afforded because I am on the outside.

Nothing makes those freedoms clearer than the end of each working day. At that point, the members of the ALPHA group get a last bathroom break, line up against a wall in the Museum and go from being playful and talkative collaborative partners to once again being inmates. They work their way up the stairs to the loading dock in a single file line, gather against another wall, are cuffed, then loaded into the caged pods of the Sheriff’s transportation van. At the end of the day, they are still on the inside.

The week continued with tour visits from junior high school to university students to the space, meeting with Gregory and talking about the concepts of the exhibition.

Tuesday night was An Inside/Outside Prison Writing Workshop, presented in partnership with the University of Arizona Poetry Center, organized by writer Ken Lamberton, poet and UA professor Erec Toso, and poet and UA Regents Professor Richard Shelton. The workshop was built upon Richard Shelton’s 30 years as a prison volunteer with the Arizona State Prison Complex, with participants sharing their experiences as present or former convicts and prison workers. The public participants included a wide range of individuals, from ASU faculty, staff and students to local writers and artists.

Wednesday was the first scheduled public tour of MCSO Tent City Jail. The tour provided firsthand experience within the complex and offered information regarding how the jail is operated. We had a great group join us for the tour, including members of our advisory board, Arizona Supreme Court employees, healthcare workers, a docent from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, an art professor from Paradise Valley Community College, ASU graduate and undergraduate students, and members of the State Press. The tour was an opportunity for lots of questions, to which the guard was more than happy to respond. It also provided an opportunity to see for one’s self a small sampling of the conditions, systems and structures currently in place as part of our corrections and justice system of Maricopa County. There are three more tours scheduled, so please visit the website and sign up if you are interested.

More programs in conjunction with It’s not just black and white are being scheduled as I post this, so we should have some big announcement about visiting speakers in the coming days. Please continue to view our blog and the It’s not just black and white website for all the updates and schedules, and don’t forget to visit the Museum and see the current state of the installation and talk with the artist when he is present.

We hope that this project will continue to provide you with further views and insights into what it means to be inside and outside.

– John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

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Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

March 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm 11 comments

You can’t move forward until you know where you are

The Social Studies initiative is guided by open process. Whether it was the fully democratic creative process driven by artist Jarbas Lopes, the opening of the decision making process allowed by artist Josh Greene, or exposing ourselves to the new state of the economy and housing crisis through the volunteer vampire and zombie actors trained and directed by artist Jillian Mcdonald, active participation has always been key to Social Studies success.

image credit: stephen gittins

Over the past couple of months, in preparation for Social Studies Project 6 with Gregory Sale, the artist and I have been visiting correctional institutions and organizations involved with all aspects of justice. We’ve been inside the Florence and Eyman State prisons, The Towers county jail complex, and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.  I’ve had the great fortune to meet with individuals involved with the GED education, Legacy and ALPHA programs inside the system. We’ve had members of their teams here in the museum, working on logistics planning to insure positive results. We’ve met with the leadership of Gina’s Team, an independent inmates’ needs organization; University of Arizona professor Richard Shelton regarding his Creative Writing Workshops at the Arizona State Prison; dancers and choreographers working with Journey Home and Girl Scouts Beyond Bars; and members of social justice and human rights organizations. I’ve met passionate people, working both inside and outside the system, involved with these programs, and heard from both facilitators and participant of their benefits.

image credit: john spiak

Gregory has orchestrated these visits, and, without his passion, openness, dedication and hard work, these connections would not be possible. This process has allowed us to have direct conversation with those involved in the programs from a different perspective: the instructors, the supervisors and the participants. We have met with them, explained what we were up to and the overall vision for the project. We’ve asked for volunteers, giving them all the details we possible could and providing them every opportunity to opt out if they did not feel comfortable.

image credit: john spiak

Working with Gregory has provided a unique opportunity. He is an artist of our very own community, one who has been actively involved in performance and social practice since the mid-90s, when he and I first met. As an artist and educator, he has been an active participant in the Social Studies series from the beginning, engaging his students with each visiting artist during their six-week residencies. With his background as a former charter arts high school teacher, a curator of education, an employee of the Arizona Commission on the Arts and currently an Assistant Professor of Intermedia at ASU’s School of Art, his connections to the community are established and strong. He is truly someone I trust and respect.

image credit: stephen gittins

image credit: stephen gittins

The fact that Gregory is a local artist has allowed the first opportunity in the Social Studies initiative to extend the residency from six weeks to three months.

As I stated in the title of this post, you can’t move forward until you know where you are, so this is where things start within the museum gallery structure with Social Studies Project 6.

image credit: stephen gittins

It’s not just black and white begins with the current state of corrections in the U.S. and Arizona, most specifically Maricopa County. We know it’s extremely complex, and when these issues are raised in public settings the discussion often becomes heated and passionate.  It comes from all directions, and we’ve heard it so many times, comments like, “You must not be tough on crime,” “You’re acting like a victim,” “They have been victimized,” “It’s an issue of public safety,” among many others. Each of us comes to the conversation with our own backgrounds, stereotypes, perceptions and prejudices. The messages get driven home to us through media and other sources, but so rarely are our own opinions based upon direct experience. The passions needs to be there, but with respect and knowledge. The respect for differing opinions, the respect for differing situations, the respect for the individual, the respect for one another as human beings, and the knowledge that comes from firsthand experience. It’s my opinion that conversations can only move forward when everyone is welcome at the table – those with different knowledge bases and from different backgrounds, with diverse experiences and insights.

image credit: john spiak

This past week we began the in-gallery activities of It’s not just black and white. We invited inmates from the Maricopa County Jails’ ALPHA Program to join us at the Museum. They worked as artistic collaborators with Gregory and his team of current and past students as part of the residency, all volunteering to participate in the project. Background checks were run by MSCO on all participants, and MCSO officers were present to insure public safety.

image credit: john spiak

The ALPHA is a re-entry and rehabilitation treatment program, designed to reduce crime, recidivism and substance abuse.

image credit: john spiak

We started the day with a brief introduction and again, explained that if there were any components of the project anyone was not comfortable with, there was no obligation or pressure to participate. We took everyone together on a museum tour. We shared works from the Re-Thinking the Faculty Exhibition being installed, our Americas Gallery permanent collection, and the FUNd exhibition. We talked about the complex works of Jon Haddock, artists from CUBA, Deborah Butterfield and the art and society focus of our institution. We returned to the gallery and took coffee and soda orders from all present, then got to work. When the drinks arrived, we distributed them, but the work continued. We took a break for lunch, sitting together to enjoy a meal and continued getting to know one another, talking honestly and openly.

image credit: john spiak

As you can see from the images posted (and slideshow below), it was a day of activity, conversation and building relationships – group discussions, one-on-one opportunities, introducing collaborators to members of our community who are part of Gregory’s advisory committee.

image credit: john spiak

The week started at the current state of corrections, but quickly moved into the building of relationships, open dialogue and direct experiences. Through participation, continued open dialogue, performances, lectures, panels, tours and artistic gestures scheduled over the coming months, it is my hope that these conversations and experiences will continue to move forward in positive directions and with positive outcomes.

image credit: john spiak

As It’s not just black and white moves forward, you will continue to see activities taking place in the gallery and throughout the community, both scheduled and improvised, that build upon this conversation. Gregory’s official website for the project will go live this week, so I will make sure to post a link on our blog when it’s ready.  He’ll be posting schedules, tour sign-ups, images and much more, as we will continue to do as well on our own blog, website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

image credit: john spiak

Everyone is welcome at the table, so I strongly encourage you to visit the gallery at several different times during the course of the three-month residency, to get a sense of the project as a whole. The outcome of the project depends on your involvement and your input.  A good place to start is by attending the ASU Art Museum Season Opening Reception which takes place this Friday, February 18 from 7-9pm – it’s free for everyone!

image credit: stephen gittins

I look forward to your participation, insight and knowledge moving Social Studies and issues of our community forward!

– John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

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Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

February 15, 2011 at 4:36 am 18 comments

Season Opening Reception

Thank you to everyone who attended the opening reception this Friday night! It was a very successful evening and I hope you all had a great night of art, music, wine and fun.

It isn’t over yet, though — ASU Art Museum is going on tour!

There are still seats available for The Other Mainstream: Artist Studio Tour 2008, on Saturday, October 4, 5pm – 10:30pm. You don’t want to miss this evening of exclusive access to artists and conversations with curators and local experts on the Valley’s growing arts community.  Cost of $85 per person helps with luxury coach transportation (which starts and ends at the ASU Art Museum) and refreshments served throughout the tour. To sign up, please call 480-965-2787 or email studiotour@asu.edu.

Artists Jacqueline Tarry and Brad McCallum with Mikki Weithorn and guest

Artists Jacqueline Tarry and Brad McCallum with Mikki Weithorn and guest

 

guests in the gallery

guests in the gallery

 

Ceramics Center Curator Peter Held talking with guests

Ceramics Research Center Curator Peter Held (L) talking with guests

September 29, 2008 at 6:38 pm


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