We were proud to sponsor the ArtsAlive! Pavilion once again at this year's Midwest Black Family Reunion on August 18th. Our friend and guest blogger Jai AllDay helped keep the conversation going at the event and here shares her impressions.
As Cincinnati’s unofficial #1 fan, I am amazed and encouraged by the many new opportunities born from older, established activities. I was reminded of this philosophy recently when I had the immense pleasure of working with ArtsWave at their Arts Alive Pavilion during this year’s 24th Annual Midwest Black Family Reunion (MBFR). The MBFR is a weekend which brings consumers, corporations, communities and government agencies together to focus on the historic strengths and traditional values of the Black Family. Working as a community correspondent, my mission was to capture the real time experiences of those visiting. The opportunity not only reiterated the long legacy of both organizations but even more important, it reminded me that ‘partnering with a purpose’ can result in improvements not only seen but more importantly, felt/recognized.
This year’s event was condensed from its traditional 3 day long extravaganza filled with activities to a more manageable weekend experience revolving around specific subjects/themes. Many longtime attendees worried that the required cuts would result in a less than stellar year; thankfully that was not the case. As I interviewed guests, many commented on the fact that although condensed, this MBFR was different from past years because the rowdiness that had tarnished past MBFR’s was thankfully absent. A family-friendly feel replaced the fights and I believe the new format had a lot to do with it. ArtsWave (along with organizers) actively pursued ways to engage attendees by providing a variety of options when it came to ‘artistic education & entertainment’. At the Arts Alive Pavilion, established entities like the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, The Taft Museum of Art, and Cincinnati Black Theatre Company worked side by side with newer organizations like Millennium Robots, New American Art Gallery, and Midwest Latinos resulting in a well-rounded representation of the entire community. One thing was clear, whether you enjoy African drums, Shakespeare, or the Three Musketeers, this event had something for everyone.
Something I found particularly refreshing was the levels of representation found at the Arts Alive Pavilion. Many were from lesser known organizations and by working with ArtsWave were provided exposure to audiences who may not have seen them otherwise or vice versa. Working with people like Valentino Sweeten (of the Beat Lounge Beat Battle) and DJ Pillo (of Selectas Choice); ArtsWave showed that they were open to engaging not only folks familiar with their mission but those who had never worked with or even heard of the non-profit previously. Engaging areas of Art that were traditionally limited to the underground scene resulted in real community representation; whether African American or otherwise.
My favorite event was the ArtsWave’s World Biggest Family Dance, a way for families to connect while doing the two-step; ‘O’-MAZING!!!
To me, a community is only as strong as its attempts at unity; I am proud to say Cincinnati is not only experiencing a renaissance in the artistic sense but also contributing to our future using a little common sense and I am ‘O’ so grateful to be a witness. Big hugs and ‘Catch the Wave’ love! -- Jai AllDay
This week, ArtsWave is delighted to introduce Guest Blogger Jennifer “JaiAllDay” Washington. Founder of Cincinnati’s Conscience, JaiAllDay is an entrepreneur, journalist, and champion for Greater Cincinnati. We love how she shines a spotlight on everyday citizens in our community and works to create partnerships between the business, education, and non-profit sectors. Many of us were inspired by the way the World Choir Games brought people together. Here’s Jai’s poetic take on the Games!
There is no better time to be a citizen of Cincinnati…
As a ‘Nati Native’ and longtime resident, I have noticed an undeniable energy in the air that neighbors are willing to share with anyone who cares. With the recent restoration of the city’s core, there is a hope and happy that hasn’t been a part of the scene (many of you know what I mean) for some time. It is a true testimony to this city’s tenacity as well as a well-thought-out strategy resulting in true community; a feather in the cap of those working hard to reestablish our city on the map. By creating and implementing ‘obtainable objectives’, we have provided ourselves (and our city) the opportunity to be the change we want to see while sharing that vision with everybody. There was no better example of this than at this year’s 2012 World Choir Games.
The World Choir Games is the choral equivalent of the gathering of the United Nations. With much anticipation, organizers worked diligently to create an atmosphere that was not only inviting but exciting. The streets were cleaned, fresh paint placed throughout, but true expectations could only be talked about. The city enlisted the help of many local organizations interested in sharing our newly adopted declaration: “We are a city of the future; filled with diversity and sustainability; a place that is not afraid to accept true accountability. Responsible for the success or failure of this recent renaissance, we are willing to work hard together; no matter what the cost.”
As the time drew near, one thing was clear; many were willing to answer the call; the city rallied together; united, no one dropped the ball. Well-established organizations partnered with newly-founded entities to create art-initiated factions that were true reflection of our community. Conversations ignited feelings of true global connection and the results helped to contribute to my hometown’s resurrection. I met people from South Africa, China, New Zealand, and many more; the stories shared made me want to travel; maybe even explore. I witnessed a change in the city’s overall attitude; I equate it to witnessing a hungry child finally receiving their food.
One thing I found particularly interesting is how much I learned about cities closer to home; one particular encounter put me in a positively powerful zone. I had the pleasure of interviewing a choral group that originated from Erie, PA; I was not only impressed by their talent but with their quiet humility. For me the message was clear and one I will hold dear; I am grateful they were able to talk with me while they visited here. I would like to thank the city, the World Choir Games, as well as all attendees; based on feedback from many; my community couldn’t be more pleased. I look forward to similar opportunities and know that the future is bright; thank you to the citizens of Cincinnati; understand you are the underlying light.
Big hugs and Nati love! -Jai All Day
follow Jai All Day on Twitter.
Kim Popa is a founder of Pones, Inc.
Pones Inc. is a collective of ARTISTS AS ACTIVISTS who encourage PARTICIPATORY PERFORMANCE with a focus on CREATING COMMUNITY. The program Pones In(c) Public was conceived of last year as Lindsey Jones, the co-founder of Pones Inc., and myself, Kim Popa, discussed how to encourage the participatory part of our mission. We found that so often people are intimidated by dance, they feel left out when ballet vocabulary and technique are put into the equation. However, in our conversations with people we found that everyone has a more visceral, more personal story associated with dance as well.
We often forget the FUN that is innately part of dancing. Weddings, birthdays, and school dances are all examples of finding the joy in dance. Jones and I learned that many people’s first memory of dance was also emotive and non-performance based.
“I remember dancing on my father’s feet in the kitchen after dinner, he would turn the radio on and we would dance,” said Jane Green, a recent participant. So why do we lose this carefree attitude once dance becomes a performance?
Pones Inc. wanted to explore that idea more, and to connect the everyday person to their ‘inner dancer.' Through this, Pones In(c) Public was created. We wanted to reach as many diverse neighborhoods as many people as possible. By the end of this season, we performed in 9 different public spaces in 6 different neighborhoods. Pones Inc. performed for over 1,000 pedestrians with over 100 participating pedestrians, and 50 musicians and dancers participated.
Being a participant means putting on a pair of headphones that lead you in a simple series of ‘dance steps’ (ex: wave your arms, clap to the beat, do your best robot). “At first I thought, I can’t do that. Then I started doing it, and realized how easily the barriers can come down,” said Stephen Hafer, Participant.
The instructions are underscored by local bands and when at its best, a typical outing for a Pones In(c) Public looks like a group of people dancing together to the live music that is being played behind them. “There is a sense of safety within the headphones. I feel like I may have been intimidated by dancing in front of strangers if I didn’t have them on,” said Alex Talks, Participant.
My favorite memory from this year’s season happened at Newport on the Levee. A group of about 10 junior high boys came up to us and started to participate. I think at first it was a dare for one of their friends, but at some point they became really invested in it and asked Jon Evans if they could put out his guitar case to busk for tips. At the same time a dad and his daughter joined in the fun and two gentleman in their 40s who appeared to be business professionals.
I remember looking around and thinking how special it was that all of these people from seemingly different backgrounds, economic circumstances, ages, etc. could all be dancing together for just a few minutes in the middle of this public space, and having such an uninhibited good time.
I cannot wait to start planning for next year’s Pones In(c) Public. I think we learned a lot from the pilot program and we are excited to explore more public spaces and different ways to reach out to the public and allow them to express themselves through movement.
Link to website info: http://www.ponesinc.com/ponesinc/Ongoing_Programs_.html
Example of Pones In(c) Public at IKEA: http://vimeo.com/38636233
Our Friends for the Arts group is hosting a Summer Series of events that will get us out and enjoying some of the great arts events in our area! The first one is Wednesday, May 30th - the first night of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival!
The Cincinnati Fringe Festival is over a week of avant garde theatrical performances unlike anything you’ve ever seen before in Cincinnati.
All shows $12 each or “One Night Stand” pass for $25 - includes a free drink at the Know Underground Bar. Various venues in Over-the-Rhine and downtown.
Check out the full calendar at CityBeat and suggest which show you'd like to see.
Join the artists, volunteers and patrons at Know Theatre, 1120 Jackson Street at 10:30pm for a 60-second preview of all 30 shows.
Let's get out and do some art!
The Taft Museum of Art is giving the Cincinnati area a summer-long scavenger hunt. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Taft family gifting their art collection to the city, the museum is taking its art off the walls and into the streets with a new project called Art for All.
Inspired by the Inside/Out project in Detroit, the Taft crew teamed up with the Haile Foundation to make weatherproof, high quality photo reproductions of 80 of its paintings in the collection. 80 framed works are being installed in unusual public places - from dog parks to Creamy Whips, people will find remarkable visual art in places they live, work, and play.
"Maybe you'll see one while you're walking to your office job downtown, then another when you're running errands on the West Side," explains Tricia Suit, Manager of Marketing & Communications at the Taft. "As people in the city are living their lives this summer, they'll be discovering art that's been in our museum all along, in a more accessible way."
The museum team, including Tricia, project assistant Patricia Lee, and assistant curator Tamera Muente, worked together with community art centers all over the region to decide where to install the artwork. The "community curators" helped decide on locations and get the word out to their friends and neighbors about the art in their backyard. "The community art centers were really supportive and helpful in completing this project," says Tricia. "It was great to build on the relationships we already had and work together and share a new experience. There are art pieces in over 60 neighborhoods, 5 counties, and 2 states.
The giant art pieces (some are as big as 6 feet wide!) are created and installed by local companies PLI Printing in Woodlawn and ABC Signs, respectively. Printed on Durabond and weatherproofed with an automotive clear coat, the framed works give us all an opportunity to see art in a new light - literally! "It's amazing what details you can see in bright sunlight," says Tricia.
The Taft Museum of Art is a jewel tucked away in the heart of Downtown. Art For All brings the museum to the people who may have not yet visited the museum. Patricia says, "I think as far as the community - especially with younger people, museums are seen as stuffy and formal. This project takes those barriers down. People get to browse and interpret the art for themselves."
The installations will be completed before the end of May, but the art that is already installed is a huge hit. The pastoral scene of Cattle in the Meadows by Willem Maris hung on the outside wall of the internet cafe in the north end of Findlay Market was the first installation of the project.
"The Market has a lot of art around it- it's a very sensory experience, with food to smell and taste, touch, colors to see, music to hear," says Cheryl Eagleson, Marketing Director for Findlay Market. "The north end of the Market has people out and about, and the work gets a lot of visual attention. People are looking at it, reading the plaque, taking pictures of it and with it. It's good for the Market, and interesting to shoppers."
The Taft Museum will be scheduling Sunday Funday programming with performers, storytellers, and musicians from the area highlighting different areas of the Art for All project. Follow the project on Facebook, or tweet your art sightings to @Taft80 using the #artforall hashtag.