NYFA Fellowships

I’m sure everybody’s all over this what with the no strings $7,000 and all, but just in case . . .

Here’s info, copied directly from their email, on the New York Foundation for the Arts Artists’ Fellowships and upcoming info sessions (I’m just including info on the regional sessions):

Artists’ Fellowships are $7,000 cash awards made to individual originating artists living and working in the state of New York for unrestricted use. Grants are awarded in 16 artistic disciplines, with applications accepted in eight categories each year. Since the awards began in 1985, NYFA has awarded over $22 million to over 3,688 artists. Peer review panels select approximately 100 Fellows each year, the goal being to buy recipients creative time to continue making work.

Each year NYFA offers free informational seminars across New York state to explain the Artists’ Fellowships application process. Please see the list below to find a seminar near you and check nyfa.org/afp for updates and new
locations. While the seminars are not mandatory, NYFA offers valuable information about the application and review process, and we encourage applicants to attend.

NYFA’s online application will be posted in early September, please go to
nyfa.org/afp to apply after September 9th.

The following categories will be reviewed during the 2009 – 2010 cycle:

Architecture/Environmental Structures

This year NYFA will be conducting four enhanced applications seminars in addition to the general informational seminars we typically conduct. These enhanced seminars will be in Lake Placid, Ithaca, Buffalo, and Woodstock, please see schedule below for details.

All seminars are free!

Capital Region
Thursday, September 24, 5:30-7:30pm
Arts Center of the Capital Region
265 River Street
Troy, NY
(518) 273-0553

Genesee Valley/Finger Lakes
Wednesday, September 16, 3:00-5:00pm
Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester
277 North Goodman Street
Rochester, NY
Jennie Watson (585) 473-4000

Thursday, September 24, 12:00-2:00pm
Orange County Arts Council
23 White Oak Drive, P.O. Box 574
Sugar Loaf, NY 10981
Susan Linn (845) 469-9168

Thursday, October 15, 6:00-8:00pm
Garrison Art Center
23 Garrison Landing, P.O. Box 4
Garrison, NY
Carinda Swann (845) 424-3960

Monday, September 21, 12:00-4:00pm
Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild
Theater at Byrdcliffe Colony
3 Upper Byrdcliffe Way
Woodstock, NY
Carla Smith (845) 679-2079
rsvp to http://woodstockbyrdcliffe.eventbrite.com (
http://nyfa.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=JAB6-AAWAAEAAA8FAAMVdA )

North Country/Adirondack Region
Tuesday, September 15, 10:00am-3:00pm
Lake Placid Center for the Arts
17 Algonquin Dr
Lake Placid, NY
Sage Bissell (518) 523-2512
rsvp to http://lakeplacid.eventbrite.com (
http://nyfa.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=JAB6-AAWAAEAABCXAAMVdA )

Southern Tier
Friday, September 18, 10:30am – 2:30pm
Tompkins County Public Library
Borg Warner Room
Corner of Green and Cayuga Streets, Ithaca, NY 14850
For directions, http://www.tcpl.org
Robin Schwartz (607) 273-5072
Sponsor: Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County
rsvp to http://ithacatompkins.eventbrite.com (
http://nyfa.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=JAB6-AAWAAEAABeMAAMVdA )

Western Region
Thursday, September 17, 12:00-4:00pm
Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center
341 Delaware Avenue
Buffalo, NY
Ed Cardoni (716) 854-1694
rsvp to http://buffalohallwalls.eventbrite.com (
http://nyfa.pmailus.com/pmailweb/ct?d=JAB6-AAWAAEAABkBAAMVdA )


Enhanced seminars in Lake Placid, Ithaca, Buffalo, and Woodstock will give
applicants rare insight into the panel and application process, as well as an
opportunity to talk with local arts professionals and NYFA staff.

Artists will be able to:
-See first-hand how NYFA-s panel process works through a mock panel session.
-Consult individually with an arts professional about their application presentation.
-Participate in a dialogue with NYFA about how the Fellowships program can better serve artists throughout the state.
-Learn about funding opportunities and other areas of career development.

For questions and more information please call 212.366.6900 or email


2009 CAP Grants – Applications available

The 2009 Community Arts Partnership grants applications have just been listed.  An exciting addition this year only is the Stimulus Awards for Individual Artists.  These $1000 grants are available to all types of artists regardless of whether they involve the community in their work or not.  And there are no restrictions on the use of funds.

This is really exciting for local artists,  most of whom don’t use the community directly in the creation of their work.  I’ve thought it was unfortunate that the CAP IIs had to be restricted in this way, but understand those parameters come from the original funders, not CAP.

The Stimulus Awards recognize that artists, working alone, who create art that addresses the concerns of the community, or addresses our history, culture, politics, ethics, sciences, etc. are making work of great benefit to our local community.

public art: not for the fainthearted

The architect Peter Eisenman, the artist Mark Dion, and the architect/city planner Nicole Blumner have all spoken at Cornell within the past couple of weeks, and I somehow happened to hear them all. Though it wasn’t the primary focus of their talks, all three had strong words to say about public art and its challenges, especially here in the U.S.

On February 17, Eisenman spoke at Sage Chapel about the Holocaust memorial he designed for Berlin. He had initially started working on it with the sculptor Richard Serra, but Serra ended up backing out (Eisenman recounted this in a rather humorous way…) because the large and intimidating Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who was *extremely* involved in the project, wanted to make changes to their concept. Eisenman is used to working with clients practically as collaborators, so Kohl’s input wasn’t too big an issue for him. And a Holocaust memorial is always a high profile proposition, especially in Germany. Nevertheless, Eisenman marveled that the chancellor of Germany himself and so many other people in the country’s government make public art and memorials such a priority in general. He recalled being greeted on the street by various ministers, and said that would never happen to him in Washington. When Eisenman showed pictures of the completed project, which I found stunning (and even more interesting after hearing him describe his intentions, actually), I swear the first thing I thought was: “Holy crap, somebody could get really hurt on that.”

How very American of me. I doubt that this beautiful array of stone blocks, which, as Eisenman intends, can be a site for immediate human experiences and interactions of many sorts, would ever make it off the drawing board over here. Public officials would be too afraid of the inevitable cascade of lawsuits as various sort of behaviors, fun and otherwise, went down amid these stark, angular, hard, and probably slippery-when-wet forms. Eisenman didn’t address this issues of litigation and liability in his talk. I wanted to ask but didn’t get a chance, and was surprised no one else did.

My growing suspicions about the slow-to-sue Germans were goosed by Nicole Blumner’s talk, on Feb. 27, which was a comparison of German and U.S. interim land use. She defined interim uses as legal (i.e., squatting wouldn’t count), intended as temporary, and ones that “activate” a site–so, not a parking lot or a storage area. In Germany such uses have included an indoor skateboarding area, artist studios, art and performance spaces, community gardens, nightclubs, and festival grounds. The issue of liability came up right away during the q&a, and Blumner admitted that the litigiousness of U.S. society is one, but by no means the only obstacle in developing interim uses for vacant land and buildings here. But to give an example of how devil-may-care the German citizenry is, she described in some detail a horrifyingly dangerous playground she went to with her child while she was over there. It sounded fantastic to me.

Mark Dion raised the issue of public art unprovoked at a talk after his funny and visually entrancing (for all you collectors, hoarders, birders, general nature nerds, categorizers, and filers out there) slide lecture at the Johnson Museum on the 26th. He basically said he hates doing public art projects, and for reasons that sounded reasonable to me: there’s no funding and because public art in this country is almost always decided upon by members of community boards and city councils and attendees to their meetings rather than by special art commissions of art professionals or artists, you can’t do anything interesting, because anything interesting will always be seen by someone as offensive or dangerous (I paraphrase). Michael Kammen, author of the new book Visual Shock and a Cornell American cultural history professor, was also at the talk, and he told the story of the infamous Robert Motherwell mural at the JFK Federal Building in Boston, which was protested for about a year because one of the papers leaked the untruth that it was meant to represent the president’s head on impact of his assassin(s) bullet(s). But the project was completed and eventually most people decided they really liked it, especially since it really wasn’t a depiction of anything, being abstract. Other anecdotes followed about museums resorting to draping sheath over sculptural nudes and other measures taken to protect the delicate American psyche.

Anyway, all this got me thinking even more about public art possibilities in Ithaca. I would love to hear if anyone has any thoughts, including practical procedural ideas, for how to clear the path for exciting new uses of available spaces in Ithaca, especially the vacant indoor spaces downtown. How can we get everyone involved without ending up with art that’s too safe, in every sense of the word, or (much worse!) with no new public art at all?

The New New Deal?


There are so many reasons to be excited and hopeful about the Obama presidency – both for what he will do and for what his election tells us about ourselves as a country.  The comparisons to FDR are obvious – a Democrat taking office during grave economic times promising great change and calling on citizens to be active participants in this change, etc.

In FDR’s presidency the arts were not only supported, but an integral tool in executing the New Deal.  Programs encompassed all disciplines and not only supported artists, but encouraged the public to buy art and take free classes themselves.  And even those artists who were less than impressed with the work produced by the WPA had something to respond to in that work.

After years of cuts in federal funding for the arts, I can only hope that things will get better under Obama.  It may seem a bold move to support the arts in a time of financial uncertainty when the trend has been to treat them as frivolous and expendable.  Maybe we can return to seeing that the arts are an essential part of our society and maybe our government can communicate that belief by supporting the arts financially.