Saturday, October 24, 2009

Anywhere is Better than Here

Minnesotans love the arts, but we are not willing to pay for the full cost of them directly. We prefer to have state government bureaucrats tax us and then distribute the proceeds to the artists the state deems most worthy.

The Minnesota State Arts Board's Artist Initiative grants for 2009 have now been announced. This year, the board has awarded 89 grants for a total of $505,000. This does not include grants made to organizations or schools and does not include the tsunami of cash that will hit next year as a result of the Legacy constitutional amendment).

This year's grants are in the area of Dance, Theater and Visual Arts and are for $2000 to $6000 each. True, this is not enough money for even a starving artist to live on a futon in an uptown crash pad. However, it is the perfect amount for a nice vacation. In fact, more than a quarter of the grants ($135,200) are dedicated, at least in part, to getting Minnesota artists out of town.

Not surprisingly, Europe is a favorite destination. If you are a flamenco dancer, hello sunny Spain!

Susana M. di Palma, Minneapolis (dance)
$4,200 - To attend the Festival del Flamenco in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

(Susana also received an Artist Initiative grant in 2004 to attend "the Bienal in Sevilla, Spain, the most comprehensive and prestigious Flamenco Festival in the world". I hope that attending the Festival del Flamenco isn't too much of a letdown for her.)

Deborah Elias, Saint Paul (dance)
$6,000 - To travel to Spain for 23 days for intensive one-on-one study with flamenco artist Domingo Ortega in Jerez de la Frontera.

Not surprisingly, Scandinavia is also a popular destination for taxpayer-funded Minnesota artists:

David M. Stordahl, Eagan (visual arts)
$6,000 - To photograph houses that still stand from the time when his ancestry lived in Klokkarik, Norway. The photos will be reproduced as large color photogravures at artist Jan Pettersson's studio in Bergen, Norway

Nicholas A. Conbere, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - For travel costs to Finland to examine local graphic arts approaches and to begin a new series of drawings and prints.

Some prefer the more exotic, like Hungary:

Christopher P. Baker, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - To participate in a six-month artist residency in Budapest to collaboratively develop public installation art with a leading Hungarian architect and artist.

The mother-daughter team from the Ragamala Dance Theater, Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy are also off to exotic locales, although I think that Aparna could learn a thing or two from her mother destination-wise:

Aparna Ramaswamy, Minneapolis (dance)
$6,000 - To build on her roles as Principal Dancer and Soloist with Ragamala Music and Dance Theater, and to present full-length solo performances during the 2009 Dance and Music Festival in Chennai, India.

Ranee A. Ramaswamy, Minneapolis (dance)
$6,000 - For travel to Bali to work with I Dewa Putu Berata to plan and map the production of, Dvee.

Less popular is Africa. Only one grantee is off to the Congo. The Congo? I guess if you want to work with Jean Leopold ...

Jeanne E. Calvit, Minneapolis (theater)
$6,000 - To travel to Pointe Noire, Congo to the Theatre Festival (TECEJ) to research and develop a cross-cultural project, We Are All Africans, with leading African playwright, Jean Leopold.

Of course, Asia is not ignored:

Andy DuCett, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - For creative research and travel to Tokyo for a pre-arranged meetings with gallery directors, and to attend the opening reception of his work at the Tinlark Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, in the fall of 2009.

Liz Bucheit, Lanesboro (visual arts)
$6,000 - For research and travel to observe the silver working villages of the Guizhou District in China in preparation for a new body of work.

The fourth continent that Minnesota taxpayers are sending an artist is South America.

Julia C. Kouneski, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$5,000 - For travel to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to research the work of Lygia Clark and Helio Oiticica, and to develop and create new participatory artworks/installations upon her return.

I hope that Ms. Kouneski is not planning on Rio performances of "Shared Breath" where she invites strangers to share their breath with her. At least not until after this H1N1 thing has passed.

Not flu-safe.

Among those staying in America, the Big Apple is the clear favorite:

Beth Barnes, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - To procure and produce a solo show for the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, and to investigate another venue in New York City.

Bernadette S. Mahfood, Winona (visual arts)
$6,000 - To expand on a newly developed series of glass and fiber pieces, to relate them to her female ancestors, and to create more exhibition opportunities in the Twin Cities, New York City, and Sante Fe.

Andrew P. Wykes, Northfield (visual arts)
$6,000 - For framing and documentation costs for his upcoming show at Groveland Gallery, and for travel expenses to New York City to promote his work to galleries.

George M. Mahoney, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - To exhibit his new design chair/lounge at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York City in May 2009.

Sonja D. Peterson, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - For installation expenses for an upcoming MAEP exhibition, documentation of the exhibition, portfolio materials, and for travel to Chicago and New York City to meet with gallery curators to pursue additional exhibitions.

Kenneth A. Steinbach, Shoreview (visual arts)
$6,000 - To purchase materials and studio time to complete a series of cast resin works, and fund two trips to New York to make connections with galleries with the goal of getting representation.

If you can't make it to New York, maybe you can make it to the City with Big Shoulders:

Laura Heit-Youngbird, Breckenridge (visual arts)
$6,000 - To hire a professional photographer and web designer to create digital images and a website of her work, for travel around Minnesota and Chicago to promote her work, and to set up an efficient work space with improved storage and organization.

And finally, there are those who don't specify their destination, but they are clearly off to somewhere better than here:

May Moua G. Lee-Yang, Saint Paul (theater)
$6,000 - To build name recognition as an artist by staging a full production of her play in Spring 2009, and for funds to attend strategic conferences to build networks that may lead to national bookings.

Georgia Mrázková, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - To further her career by having funds for a computer, software, and for traveling and shipping expenses for upcoming local and national shows.

Aaron L. Anderson, Minneapolis (visual arts)
$6,000 - To more fully realize his work and to expand upon the growing narrative for Hardland/Heartland, by traveling, creating new collaborative relationships, and by increasing the scope and scale of his work.

Scott A. Stulen, Rochester (visual arts)
$6,000 - To support research, creative time, technology upgrades, and documentation to pursue exhibition opportunities outside the Midwest in the coming year.

Ann L. Wood, Saint Paul (visual arts)
$6,000 - To create a press packet with four to five new pieces to send out for opportunities outside our region.

Yes, I know these grants are a drop in the bucket to our state budget, but if we zeroed out any one of these and credit my state taxes, I could take a vacation with my own money! I would even be willing to go to Hawaii and study the Hula dance.