The first weekend continues to inspire on multiple planes. I am introduced to Bossa Nova, a new and tasty addition to the SoMA district while picking the brain of Scott Hawkins (no relation), a deeply dedicated strategy/fundraising consultant.
On Sunday, I am quietly affected by the deep sense of collaboration and trust I sense in Headmistress’ (Amara Tabor-Smith + Sherwood Chen) showing at Headlands Center for the Arts. Headlands is one my favorite places in the Bay - serene and grounding with a positively yummy communal dining hall.
I enter Week 2 full-steam ahead and plan out an ambitious schedule of meetings and professional development workshops.
I pow-wow with Sheena Johnson, an artist I’ve supported since 2007, shortly after being introduced by the brilliant energy of one Miss Beandrea Davis. Having recently finished her MFA at Mills, Sheena is ready to take on her professional career + wants see. think. dance. to continue to support this journey. A joy, as Sheena is not only an artist deeply dedicated to social justice, but is also a strong administrator who knows what it takes to build out her vision.
Workshops this week include the first part of “Web 2.0 - Taking Your Online Marketing to the Next Level” presented by the Center for Cultural Innovation and Group of Minds, an arts marketing consulting firm. The second workshop of the week “Building Your Leadership Brand”, one of the Creative Conversations hosted by Americans for the Arts, is an intense experience as I recognize all the things I may have done to detract from my personal leadership brand at my last position. Time for serious constructive self-criticism. And an opportunity for growth as I throw myself into the cultivation of my own creative enterprise.
The week’s highlight is catching up with Herve Ernest, co-founder of SF|Noir, Director of Communications and Community Relations for Intersection for the Arts, and general man about town. On a “lightweight” level, Herve is my unofficial mentor and semi-idol - he diplomatically engages a wide range of personalities + his subtle, strategic ways of positioning himself in the overall cultural landscape haven’t been matched by any other individual I’ve met. He’s also still in love with San Francisco + our quick stop at Bar Agricole makes me long a bit for what Oakland hasn’t achieved quite yet.
Open Space Thursdays at SFMoMA is a welcome departure from spinning my cocoon of arts administration. Eric Heiman hosts a lecture of 5 panelists who present discussion loosely based on the Pecha Kucha format and in response to the famous Phillipe Starke quote, “Design is dead”. One of the most impactful speakers is Bob Aufuldish, who reminds us that we need to become less attached to trees (print vs. digital - an ecological yet renewable concern) and more concerned about human life (miners of Coltan - a mineral primarly used in consumer electronics is available in few places on earth, Congo being one of them).
The talk saves the best for last as Joshua To of Brute Labs gives us something to DO, an activity that engages our minds + imaginations. A part of the exercise, a notecard that prompts us to write down a cause we feel strongly about, brings to mind teenage prostitution. I don’t have the bandwith right now but the issue continues to pop into my brain at random times so I know I must do something soon.
At the Annex, I make my re-acquaintance with Chris Evans (who I’d met a dance performance a year or two back) and her partner in life and art, Ernest Jolly. As much as I was there in support of the music, talking to Ernest was a literal explosion of ideas that continued to fuel me hours and days after. After his set, Marshall walked in and said, “I can just see lighting bolts going back and forth.” The response to which was a pause, self-conscious smiles, and more intense conversation.
As an installation artist, Ernest attempts to harness light and form to portray a sculptural landscape in dialogue with its immediate surroundings. His work has made its way into many places and his advice on that l/earning process is invaluable. Chris is a cellist (and dancer!) whose at-times languid, at-times energetic works are a beautiful place to start a layered composition. I trust that any and all collaborations see. think. dance. has with Chris and Ernest will be spectacular and path-affirming.
Night comes and the journey of simple ecstasies continues. I haven’t had a Friday night off in San Francisco for a very, long, while. All I want to do is eat, drink, and be merry. IN HEELS (was confined to flats at work for safety reasons).
I head over to Grand Coffee (my new favorite spot) and breathe in all the amazing aromas from the street food carts that have gathered on this night: @guerillaguac, @soupdup, @rockysfrybread. I grab a bowl of lemon, orzo, egg drop soup and have a PBR for the first time»>it’s not bad, ice cold - have I crossed the “hipster” line? Chopping it up with the guys is fun and after a mini-latte and the sweet version of Navajo Fry Bread (with raw organic honey!), it’s off to @somsf for the @gillespeterson & @how2bebrown-recommended Electric Wire Hustle.
I truly feel that SOM will become the Bay Area equivalent of @zanzibarlive»> baby steps. There’s more sound equipment present than I have ever seen in the space and the sound guy is not paying attention to the crowd’s visible discomfort on some of his levels. Still, I’m glowing with the warmth of street food, Jesse Boykins III does a fly job of getting the crowd hyped for more soul, and EWH keeps the energy up with their unique NZ tech-soul flava.
My rock-solid, rock-star, friend, C. texts that he’s done with his Friday night happenings so I head back to his place to crash, looking forward to a weekend where I can stuff myself full of awe-inspiring art.
The panel discussion is right on, stirring up dialogue amongst panelists from YBCA, the HUB Bay Area, AXIS Dance, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. Concepts and terms are thrown about »> “triple bottom line”, “qualifying impact”, and “monetizing ideas” through the use of “hybrid models”. Given my recent unemployed status, I listen and think especially hard about monetizing my ideas and the ideas of the artists I work with. Will I really be able to grow see. think. dance. to the point where it sustains my lifestyle/livelihood?
The discussion is also an opportunity to network and I set a goal of meeting with a consultant from C2Arts (for which the Creative Capacity Fund may offer assistance), swap updates with a development consultant, schedule happy hour time with a communications professional who has offered a bit of mentoring in the past, and accept a business card from Marc Vogl, Program Officer with the Hewlett Foundation who says he’s always interested in seeing “new work.”
More discussion afterwards with a close friend/artistic collaborator around business models and being profit-oriented. I know I need to be in “profit” mode all the time but it’s intimidating. I agree to draw specific goals from my mission statement and work towards clarity around how see. think. dance. is structured.
Then I’m off to lunch with a dynamic, empowered friend who’s taking a break from her work in Mozambique to purchase/establish a home for herself once her program has wrapped. Her optimism is infectious and we share and vent and drink all manner of deliciousness while at Grand Coffee.
My sublet in West Oakland is mere blocks away from another friend who offers dinner, conversation, and RUM.
Overall, it’s a great day with important conversations but after slowing down a bit, I can feel my ego still suffering a bit from being let go and my to-do list growing into a lengthy document.
On Wednesday, October 13, 2010, I “lose” my job. My first reaction is to “find” another one. Instead, I go home, take a nap.
I wake up just in time to keep an appointment with an artist to discuss his upcoming projects. As we toss ideas back and forth while sitting in the lobby of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, I recognize that familiar feeling »> the gentle, insistent buzz of a production coming to life. We walk across to MoAD, the near-future site of the production and my excitement grows as the artist is inspired by the current exhibition. On paper, the exhibit is truly difficult to describe but completely makes sense in person and the artist immediately draws connections between potential movement and the artifacts on display.
The sudden appearance of the Programs Assistant draws me into a conversation on feasibility but my buoyancy remains. I have just been “released” from 60-hour weeks. I suddenly have all the time in the world to make the buzz a tangible reality.
The landscape is filling up with stories of people pushed into answering "WHAT IF?" after being fired or laid off.
This is my time to make see. think. dance. be what it couldn’t be while I worked full-time. I part ways with the artist and head to a friend’s house for tea, sympathy, and computer access to file my unemployment claim.