FEAST with Sam Lefort on Friday, October 5th at 7pm

You’re invited to a FEAST this Friday, October 5th at 7pm at CIVIC SPACE hosted by our Artist-in-Residence, Sam Lefort. This free dinner event kicks off her month-long residency and her return after an incredible week of workshops earlier this summer.

The Feast Worldwide dinner party for good takes place on the final day of The Feast Conference, October 5. Pick a challenge, host a dinner, and by the end of your meal, kick-off a project to make the world better. The evening will include:

– A real-time world map of all the dinners taking place from Auckland to Dubai
– Official Challenges—Poverty Challenge presented by Mark Bezos of Robin Hood, Health Challenge presented by Arcade Fire on behalf of Partners in Health and more!
– Dedicated dinner pages to interact with other guests via Twitter
– A huge bank of resources to help make your ideas happen

Learn more at worldwide.feastongood.com

Please RSVP on Twitter @s_lefort or contact@samanthalefort.com.

Creative Time Summit: Some Reflection with 4 Days of Distance

There’s a lot to say about the Creative Time Summit: Revolutions in Public Practice 2, though I’m not really sure where to start. You should start by visiting the Creative Time Summit site and watching the presentations for yourself, then you should read the excellent recap essay by Gregory Sholette and the somewhat brief, but engaged, corresponding conversation that includes some powerful ideas by Stephen Wright (whose presentation we unfortunately missed).

And, perhaps Sholette’s essay is the best starting place to articulate how I felt about the Summit, as it offers a level of complication that seemed to be missing from the Summit’s presentations and panel discussions. For all the effort to create a dynamic structure, something seemed to stall the questions and discussion that I had hoped to hear. 8-minutes presentations have the potential to create a rapid fire overview and starting place for dialogue, but it didn’t often work out that way. Some ideas and arguments needed more time to unfold, but the types of frustrations (productive or not) that came out of last year’s summit were provoked under similar circumstances, and yet Danielle and I left with no more questions than what we arrived with — and that was dissapointing.

We looked at this as an occasion to disrupt the things that we’ve come to take for granted in the type of practice in which we’re engaged, we wanted to hear tough questions that would make us fundamentally take stock in how we think about things like social practice.  It could be though that we are just frustrated with the foundational location of these discussions that revolve around an art world — one that we haven’t really experience nor do we have any interest in experiencing in the sense of an art market or even really gallery exhibitions that really admit to being in a gallery.

I suppose we were hoping to have a conversation that could start with something like,

Ok, let’s assume that there is something possible in art beyond being either inside or outside of a gallery context, and let’s assume that there are models of production that can understand capitalism but at the same time leave the critiques thereof at the door; now about this whole social practice thing…”

That is to say, certainly there is value in those discussions, but if we could just reorient these conversations about social practice and public practice and political art and art made politically to occur around different types of contexts and complications (even just briefly), what might come out of that?

Maybe, though, everyone is just at that same mental point — exhaustion and insatiability at the same time. Certainly, we didn’t help the situation; we went looking for questions that we didn’t know how to ask ourselves, and maybe everyone else in the audience did the same thing. Maybe we were all there, having been the choir that’s been preached to for so long that we’re more confused that ever in wondering about what’s at stake in all of this socially-engaged art.

This isn’t to say, of course, that there weren’t questions asked. To the contrary, compelling dialogue cropped up around a number of the session, and in particular, those on on Schools and on Geographies, but at other times old arguments were rehashed and panel members danced around questions or quietly refused to answer at all.

The highlights were — and I mean to say this with as little cynicism as possible — the opening remarks and curatorial statement by Nato Thompson and the closing essay by Sholette. The concerns articulated in both instances got very close to the issues I had hoped to hear about for two days straight. Questions about ethics, efficacy, and aesthetics start to complicate this way of working in a very useful way for me.

Perhaps it was because we went to Open Engagement and heard some of the same conversations there that we felt a level of rigour was missing or maybe I’m just overestimating what is possible in an 8-minute presentation * 4 + 30-minute discussion format, but I really, really wanted the summit to inspire and challenge me more than it did.

So, all of that aside, I can safely say that we walked away with at least two things: We can’t wait for an opportunity to see Nato Thompson speak again, and we anxiously anticipate Gregory Sholette’s new book, Dark Matter. And, we’ll be excited to see what comes up Creative Time Summit 3.

Let’s Colour Project


It’s called the Let’s Colour Project.

Ok, it’s an advertisement for a paint company, and  it strikes me as being a pretty bad idea (in a long-term perspective, I kind of cringe when I see brick buildings painted here in Windsor). Inevitably, a bit history is being completely lost by painting over these walls.

However, the video is stunning and if for a moment we can forget the parts of it that make this a possibly poor long-term choice,  it does get my imagination going thinking about how we could repaint blocks of concrete in this city.

Danielle pointed this out to me.

…and then the city, a book

A little while ago, we were trying to think through how to wrap up Save the City with a pair of billboards. We spent an evening really working through some ideas and came up with two statements that we felt articulated the end of a certain way of thinking about Windsor.

Something about those statements really struck me. While we had come up with a number of other instances of “…and then the city” lines, we could only get two of them up on the billboards and it seemed like these statements were actually the beginning of a larger idea.

So, I put together a book of 100 statements. You can see some of the pages after the break.

If you’d like a copy, you can order it from Blurb.

Continue reading “…and then the city, a book”

For Windsor, Realistic Expectations and Imaginative Solutions

Read Tom Lucier’s recent blog post. He spells out nearly everything he does in this city, for free. He draws on examples of other talented people in this city who continue to try to stick it out for who knows what reasons. He makes a compelling case for having to give up some of these things he does as labours of love.

It was upsetting and it was terrifying.

That there remains any talented creative people in this city (and I suppose I’m being slightly narrow in my definition, thinking of artists, musicians, actors, writers) is kind of incredible. As much as I believe in this city, I really don’t believe we are giving enough people enough reasons to stay.

So, I have to suggest some ridiculous and likely impossible ways to get people to stay, because that’s what we do — we look at problems, invent solutions, and then sometimes we even try to act on those solutions.

We need to establish a social innovation fund. This will supply micro-grants (up to $2500) for people who want to do something creative and amazing here in Windsor.

We need to identify and make accessible studio spaces that can be shared, are safe, up to code, and very reasonably priced. This will create a place for people to work out of should we be lucky enough to entice them to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince the huge number of people who graduate and leave every year to stay just a little while longer. This will give us ample opportunity to get those talented people invested enough in this place to want to stay.

We need to figure out how to convince more people to pay more money to retain the talent we have in this city, or we probably need to figure out how to find value in what we already do. This will provide a base level of income to keep people like Tom writing and reporting instead of having to do something like take up a paper route.

We need to put Windsor on the map, the world map, as a place in which to do more than just pass through. This will enable all of the above things to happen, and happen sooner rather than later.

We needed to do this yesterday. Realistically though, it’s already too late.

New Project Mondays: Week 1

Broken City Lab: new project Mondays

Monday night we spent a couple hours working over some new ideas with some new friends. Mostly, these ideas have been in the “meaning to do that” category, mostly opening up new collaborations in which new projects will unfold.

Two main project frameworks came out of our brainstorm session—a floating sculpture project with the Green Corridor and a documentary video project with a local filmmaker. Both are ambitious in their own right, but thankfully operate at completely different timescales, allowing us a lot more time where we need it.

On top of being really productive and inspiring, we got to use a rainbow of sharpies to take notes—how much better can creative collaborative work get???

Continue reading “New Project Mondays: Week 1”

ArtPrize: Or How to Put a City on the World Map Right Now


Have you heard of ArtPrize? Not familiar? Check it: Over 1200 artists showing their work throughout the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan; the public votes on their favourite works through a variety of online methods; the winner gets $250,000.

A citywide exhibition at this scale is pretty much unheard of and this amount of prize money is a first too.

So, I of course posted this with Windsor in mind. I’ve been to Grand Rapids before, once, it seemed like a great city—the downtown had a few great coffee shops near the DAAC, and a few boarded up storefronts, a decent mix of people, generally not that different from Windsor. And so, I have to ask, what would Windsor look like if we opened up the entire city to an arts festival?

Of course, Grand Rapids had the good fortune of having a wealthy family throw in the prize money from their foundation, and also stepped up to the plate first, but the attention that’s being focused on Grand Rapids is incredible and admirable.

I’m not suggesting that I think that the best way to experience art is to cram over 1000 works onto every open floor or wall space in the downtown area, nor do I think that there’s likely even a lot of great art in that batch of 1200 artists, but this idea, as a novel way to inject some interest into a place, is huge.

What might Windsor’s ArtPrize look like? I’m not sure, but we need to start thinking at this scale if we’re ever going to get this place moving in the right direction.

[via Good]