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Photo: SWG3/Facebook
Y
ardworks takes place May 6 and 7
, 2017, in Glasgow, Scotland.

Melita knows I like artistic graffiti. In fact, we are both such fans of Lata_65 (graffiti for old folks) that we intend to try our hand at spray painting if the organization ever comes to the Boston area.

Today Melita shared a link on Facebook about graffiti in Glasgow.

Gregor Kyle wrote at GlasgowLive, “Scotland’s first dedicated graffiti festival will take street art into the heart of the community in Glasgow and open up new opportunities for young people across the city.

“Next weekend (May 6 and 7) in Finnieston, SWG3 will host over 30 of the world’s finest graffiti artists and 50 of Scotland’s street artists at the Yardworks Festival. …

“One of its main aims is to strengthen SWG3’s bond with the local community and the city of Glasgow as a whole.

“School and youth groups have been invited, with the days featuring specialist graffiti workshops and a ‘Creation Station’ for children which will allow everyone the chance to try their hand at painting. …

“ ‘It’s Scotland’s first graffiti festival and the scale of it now, the way it has grown, it’s massive now,’ explained Gaz, who is himself a graffiti artist and part of the management team at SWG3. …

“Most Glaswegians will know SWG3 as a club and concert space but by day it is a thriving hub for artists, filled with studio spaces and workshops. Slowly but steadily it has progressed over the years with the scale and ambitions of its projects growing bigger and bigger.

” ‘The yard is now basically a massive canvas for the artists,’ continued Gaz. ‘We have rendered the walls, wrapped containers in sheet metal – at no small expense – and every surface will be perfect for the artists to paint on. …

” ‘We are trying to build a sense of community in the area, which can be hard sometimes when you have a transient population with some of the students maybe only staying in the flats here for a term and then moving on.

“ ‘Finnieston has this reputation as this hipster area; what people forget is that there is this core population here and in the likes of Partick and Anderston who have lived here a long time. …

“ ‘The Commonwealth Games in Glasgow were fantastic for the city. They drew people together and, through a number of projects, connected me with a lot of other artists and graffiti writers that I didn’t know in the city.

“ ‘We will be looking to run workshops in the summer for young people and will try to play our part in improving the area and bringing the community together.’ ”

More at GlasgowLive, here.

Photo: Steven Senne/AP
New England Patriots 23-year-old rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell joined a suburban women’s book club when he was at the University of Georgia.

Here’s great story that John sent me. He had been to an event at Life is good and heard a young football player talk about the sequence of events that followed his joining a women’s book club.

Emmett Knowlton wrote about the football player at Business Insider.

“New England Patriots 23-year-old rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell is perhaps the biggest book lover in the NFL and, now, a published children’s-book author — all thanks to a chance encounter in a bookstore.

“In a fun story in The Boston Globe back in May, Mitchell said that when he was a junior at the University of Georgia, he decided to join a suburban, all-women’s book club after a serendipitous meeting with one of the members in the stacks of a Barnes & Noble.

” ‘I was there picking up “Me Before You,” the next book for the club,’ Silverleaf Book Club member Kathy Rackley told The Globe. ‘Malcolm walked up to me and said: “Can I ask you something? Can you recommend a book?” ‘

“Rackley had no idea that Mitchell was a star receiver on the Georgia Bulldogs, but the two got to chatting. When Rackley revealed that she was in a book club, Mitchell asked if he could join, and the two exchanged contact information. …

“Two days later, Mitchell showed up to the meeting. From The Globe

‘ “I didn’t mind [inviting him] at all,” [the hostess] recalled. “Because I didn’t think there was any way he’d show up!” But he did and [impressed] the group with his thoughts and opinions — and his own life experiences. …

“Mitchell continued to participate in the club, and he became a real book lover. According to The Globe, he was often found reading at his football locker, and when it was his turn to recommend a book he made his new friends read Marcus Luttrell’s ‘Lone Survivor.’

” ‘The book club helped me grow into a better individual, a person who learns and grows throughout life in general,’ Mitchell said.

“Mitchell’s current lifestyle has made it difficult for him to regularly attend the club. But he remains an avid reader, and he recently published a children’s book, ‘The Magician’s Hat,’ about the magical powers of reading. He started a foundation, too, called Read With Malcolm, that encourages childhood literacy.” More here.

I love the openness and enthusiasm of a guy who would ask a stranger for a book recommendation and then ask to attend the book club!

As everyone knows, there was serious unemployment when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, so, in collaboration with Congress, he had the government hire people to create work that continues to benefit us —  roads and parks, for example, and fine art.

Unfortunately, some murals and sculptures from the 1930s and 1940s have been lost, so the search is on to reclaim it.

Matthew Blitz at Atlas Obscura has the story. “The United States government wants its art back. Special Agent Eric Radwick, who works in the Office of Investigations for the General Service Administration’s Office of the Inspector General, is working to do just that — to locate and recover government-owned long-lost artwork of the New Deal-era federal arts programs. It could be hidden in plain sight.

“It could be in grandma’s attic. It could be in the possession of art collectors. No matter if it was found in the trash or cost a few grand, the art is federal property. … Most people, upon realizing they are in possession of federal property, are cooperative. …

“On May 9th, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt received a rather curious letter from an old classmate and professional artist George Biddle. Since his March inauguration, President Roosevelt had implemented the most aggressive 100 days agenda in the country’s history in hopes of solving the Great Depression.

“While absurdly busy — he had just delivered his second Fireside Chat and was about to sign both the Farm Relief and Unemployment Relief bills — this note gave him pause. In it, Biddle wrote that he had long admired the Mexican government for paying artists ‘plumbers’ wages’ to paint murals on government buildings expressing Mexican ideals. Perhaps the President should consider something similar in the United States? …

“The letter got the President’s attention. A month later, Biddle met with members of FDR’s administration in Washington about his proposal. By the end of 1933, the first national art relief program — the Public Works of Art Project — was established.

“Over the next decade, the American art scene flourished thanks to the financial encouragement of the government. According to Smithsonian Magazine, in the first four months of 1934 alone, nearly 4,000 artists were hired to produce over 15,000 paintings, murals, sculptures and other works of art for federal buildings across the country. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project was established, the largest of these programs both in scope and number of artists employed. …

“At a time of crisis in America, these programs not only provided an enormous collection of artwork for public consumption, but gave the creators a sense that they were needed. ‘It made them feel like they counted,’ says Virginia M. Mecklenburg, Chief Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.”

Oh, my, what an enlightened federal government! Sometimes one hopes for history to repeat itself.

Read about the challenges of tracking down missing federal artwork at Atlas Obscura, here.

Once upon a time, when the federal government was concerned about unemployment, it paid people to work, artists included. That’s why many murals appeared in post offices and other government buildings in the 1930s and 1940s. This post office mural by Charles Anton Kaeselau depicts the shot heard ’round the world at Concord’s North Bridge.

042617-Kaeselau-North-Bridge-mural

042617-Kaeselau-North-Bridge-mural

Photo: Douglas Trattner
A Cleveland co-op trains refugees and others for produce-growing jobs.

I continue to find it fascinating that so many people who are making products for sale are also intent on providing job opportunities for refugees, ex-offenders, and others with challenges.

Douglas Trattner writes about one such effort at Cleveland Scene.

“It’s a brisk late-winter morning in Cleveland, but inside the greenhouses of Green City Growers it feels more like Tampa. …

“At 3.25 acres, this site is one of the largest urban greenhouses in the country, and it happens to sit in the heart of the economically depressed Central neighborhood. Inside the state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse, some 300,000 plants at various stages of growth float in shallow pools of nutrient-rich water. There are leafy heads of butter lettuce, colorful mixed-green blends, peppery upland cress and fragrant Italian basil.

“Opened in 2012, Green City Growers has had a promising, albeit challenging, run. Part of the ambitious Evergreen Cooperatives, which includes Evergreen Cooperative Laundry and Ohio Cooperative Solar, the greenhouse was the only one of the three employee-owned companies to not be profitable. That should change this year, says Jeremy Lisy, VP of sales. …

“As a chef and former owner of the specialty produce company KJ Greens, Lisy reached out to his former colleagues to see what types of products they were interested in. He added different lettuces and blends and beefed up sales. This year, the company is expected to hit $3 million in sales, doubling what it was just two years prior. …

“Green City Growers provides 38 people with living-wage jobs and a path to ownership. Working with programs like Refugee Response and Towards Employment, the greenhouse employs many people who might otherwise find it hard to secure gainful employment. On the current roster are people with nonviolent criminal records and immigrants from Bhutan, Guatemala and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“After one year of employment, workers get to join the co-op, which includes benefits like credit management and car and mortgage assistance. When the company begins to turn a profit, that money goes to the worker-owners in the form of bonuses and savings for retirement.

“Laurie ‘Spike’ Cook did [time] in the state pen but she currently is the transplant supervisor at the greenhouse and she sits on the board of the co-op. After leaving prison she searched in vain for a job for a full year until she took a class with Towards Employment. A week later she had a full-time job.

” ‘I haven’t missed a day of work in over a year,’ says Cook, who arrives an hour and half before her shift begins every day.

This place gave me a second chance. It makes me want to do better, stay better and do the right thing. Without this job I might have messed up. This job, right here, is the reason I wake up every morning. I plan on staying here until I retire.’

More here.

Photo: James Alan Edward
The nonprofit Beautiful Day trains refugees for the US job market. But if a refugee has a learning disability, the speed of doing even simple tasks may be too slow for a future employer. Let me know if you have a Providence-area job for a cheerful but challenged refugee. There’s someone I’d like to help.

033017-BeautifulDayRI-trainees-photo-by-James-Alan-Edward


Photo: Ben Gilbert/Wellcome Collection
Art and science meet at performances for farm animals in England.

Today I have another of my offbeat stories for you. It’s about performing for farm animals and checking their reactions.

Lyn Gardner writes at the Guardian, “Almost 10 years ago, David Harradine made a show in a basement for the Brighton festival. It was called An Infinite Line and featured a horse that stood entirely unconcerned throughout the performance, barely blinking at what went on around him. He was an impressively large presence, a symbolic representation of the natural world, and clearly didn’t give a fig for the theatrical avant-garde.”

Harradine was looking for more reaction from animals in March as his company, Fevered Sleep, conducted “an experiment in which human artists perform for sheep, pigs and goats at a location in Peckham. …

“The show [was] part of the Wellcome Collection’s fascinating Making Nature exhibition, which aims to explore our relationship with the natural world and how we perceive animals. ‘We are starting from the point of view that perception is knowledge,’ says its curator, Honor Beddard, ‘but when you have an encounter with an animal, how do you know that you are not projecting something on to it?’ …

“For Harradine it’s definitely ‘the most bonkers project I’ve been involved in. But it’s fascinating too. The performances are being used to start a conversation.’

“As Harradine says, we prefer not to see animals as being just like us: complex, sentient beings, with emotional responses. To that end, the animals chosen to experience Fevered Sleep’s performance are all what Harradine, himself a vegan, describes as creatures that are mostly perceived as ‘meals in waiting.’ … ‘The purpose is not to suggest that people shouldn’t eat meat but to examine our relationship with animals – and the ethical and political responsibilities of humans towards them.’ ” More here.

Sounds like such fun to be part of a “bonkers” performance. I think we could all do with a little nutty creativity in our lives.

Hi, Folks, I’m sharing a post from another blogger. An extra for today. It fits with posts I’ve had about unusual instruments.

Amelia in Hull

Hey guys!! So on Monday 17th April, me and my family went to the Humber Bridge so we could experience the ‘Height of the Reeds’ event which was on there. We put headphones on and walked 2.5k over the Humber Bridge listening to music that had been specially composed by Arve Henriksen, Jan Bang and Eivind Aarset for the event. However, on the way back you could listen to music that was made by the bridge itself!! The ‘Height of the Reeds’ music featured the amazing music of both the chorus and Orchestra of Opera North and the field recordings were taken by Jez Riley French. ‘Height of the Reeds’ is possibly one of my favourite City of Culture events so far and I’m really glad I got the opportunity to do this event. In today’s blog post, I’m going to be describing ‘Height of the Reeds’ and giving you…

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Deeper Portraits

Art: Caleb Cole
“The Teacher,” exhibited at a Montserrat College of Art show, is a portrait of unnoticed dedication.

Cate McQuaid’s recent Boston Globe review of an art exhibit really spoke to me. I liked the idea of portraits that have meaning beneath the surface, and I especially liked the portrait of a teacher devoting extra time to his job. Anyway, that’s what I saw here. McQuaid saw woe.

McQuaid wrote, “With portraits, the subject tries on one face, the artist may capture another, and the viewer may see something else. Your projection, my projection. It’s all dreadfully nebulous, but if it weren’t, it would be pat and dull.

“ ‘Observance: As I See You, You See Me,’ an exhibition of photographic portraits at Montserrat College of Art’s Montserrat Gallery, examines what these shifting valences tell us about identity and societal assumptions. Many of the artists and subjects, people of color or queer, have experienced the walls strangers throw up based on appearance alone. …

“Woe is a keynote in Caleb Cole’s series ‘Other People Clothes,’ elaborately staged scenes in which the artist creates fictional personae. Cole is small and balding, with a peak of red hair, like Tintin. In ‘February Is Dental Month,’ the artist, surrounded by file folders, looks down at us from behind a large desk. We can find a story here, but the expression tells more: alienation, tenderness, perhaps disdain.” More here.

As much as I like abstract art, representational art that stirs the depths can be fascinating.

My Struggle, by Karl Ove Knausgaard, does something like that. The seemingly endless minutiae of the author’s life and thoughts flow along the surface, but something compelling emerges that is hard to describe. The writing is cinematic. The author sees everything, and observing him observe everything creates a powerful connection.

Interestingly, in the part of My Struggle that I’m reading now, Book 5, Knausgaard gets a tip from a successful novelist about having the “hinterland,” or backstory, of all your characters in mind when you write fiction. As with the Cole portrait of the teacher, the observer will sense things that are not spelled out.