Business Skills for Artists – Weekly sessions at Mpls Central Library

The Minneapolis Central Library is launching this week a powerful series appropriately titled “Work of Art.” It’s a series of sessions on business skills for artists that begins December 7 and runs through February 22. The series appears to be free – note that registration is required. All sessions will meet 6:00-8:30 PM at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.

The series is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage and is sponsored in collaboration with Springboard for the Arts.

The online calendar indicates that the first session, scheduled for December 7, is already closed; future sessions appear to be open.

All sessions will meet 6:00-8:30 PM at Minneapolis Central Library, 300 Nicollet Mall.

Sessions are as follows:

December 14. Time Management for Artists. Discover analytical and tool-based approaches to managing your time. These tools will help you tackle hurdles related to efficiency, flexibility and structure to help you reach your artistic goals.

January 4. Portfolio Kit for Artists. Your portfolio is the core of your promotional material. Focus on the essential elements: sharpening your artist statement, tailoring your artistic résumés, and selecting and formatting your work samples.

January 11. Marketing for Artists. Define your product, discover your target audience, make decisions about how you sell your work, and identify a budget and strategy for your artistic business.

January 18. Social Media Basics for Artists. Using Facebook and Twitter examples, learn core functionality, best practices and exercises to help you build an online strategy for your artistic business.

January 25. Pricing for Artists. Discover an analytical approach to defining key elements that will help you calculate the costs and prices of your art for a variety of markets.

February 1. Recordkeeping for ArtistsLearn how to track revenue and expenses, make informed projections, and gain a clearer understanding of your artistic business finances.

February 8. Legal Considerations for ArtistsObtain general information about your intellectual property, contract basics and structuring your artistic business.

February 15. Funding for ArtistsDiversify your funding streams as well as understand the essential elements of researching and writing grants that appeal to potential funders of your art.

February 22. Business Plans for Artists

 

Important update: A WCCO crew followed the family’s travels to Italy. The clips will be telecast on during the 10PM news on Tuesday, December 6, the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

Update — Loss, learning and love: A Father’s Day story

Family is one of nature’s masterpieces. ~ George Santayana

It’s just that families create infinite variations on a theme. For many, Father’s Day is a time of loving, sharing, sleeping in, shopping, more shopping and otherwise giving thanks and tribute to great fathers, grandfathers, ancestors as far as family stories live in memory.

For families, especially young children, Father’s Day can be less than idyllic.  Grown-ups who stretch their hearts and arms to fill in for absent dads deserve to share the largesse of the season!

Which brings me to a happy story of a happy family that is celebrating this Father’s Day is a very special way.

My dear friend, now a grandma herself, never knew her father. She has a picture of a young man holding an infant in his arms…  The Records of the Army Air Forces Record Group 18 testify to the fact that her father, whose name was Loren, died when his plane went down on a family farm near Bologna, Italy on April 21,1945, the day that Bologna was liberated.  She was born in January of the previous year.  Her father found out by letter after he was sent overseas that her mother was expecting a second child, a son born after her husband’s death.

And so the decades passed. My friend and her brother had a wonderful mother who reared two generous and engaged contributors to society; each of them reared children whose only knowledge of their grandfather rested on stories their grandmother had shared before she died. As grandchildren came along they heard the third-hand stories of their grandfather’s sacrifice.

Meanwhile, near the site of the crash, the narrative lived on. Locals remembered and passed on stories; Italian World War II buffs and amateur archeologists who wanted to learn the stories poured through the voluminous records. Everyone in the area knew a plane had been shot down at the very end of the war. The intrepid Italians persisted until they were able to identify the name of the downed pilot whose plane had crashed near their village.

Enter the digital age: The Italians googled the name of the man who had died. What they found online were messages my friend and her son had posted on a P-47 website; they learned that family members now living in Minnesota had posted messages seeking information about other pilots who might have known their father and grandfather.

Persistent and ethical researchers that they were, the Italians contacted my friend and her family. The Italians respectfully shared their plans, still pending, to excavate the site.  Though the remains of Loren had long since been buried in the American Military Cemetery outside Florence, the locals still sought for closure. The American family agreed to the Italians’ proposal.

The search continued as the Italian contact led one of the grandsons to delve more deeply into his grandfather’s story. He reviewed extensive official records of Loren’s death; he painstakingly compared official records with correspondence his grandmother had received about her husband’s death, messages from the military, from his squadron chaplain, and from some of his buddies with the more extensive official records.

Now fully engaged in the family’s quest, my friend and intrigued family members searched the records of the National Archives.  They checked the “Green Books” found on the website for the U.S. Army Center of Military History.  They plumbed the depths of documents archived by the Army Air Force Units now in the custody of the Air Force Historical Research.  Fortunately, they were guided through the voluminous files by staff of the National Archives at College Park, Maryland.

An unexpected and remarkable turn of events is that the Americans got to know the Italians who would help them fill in the major gaps in their knowledge of their father and grandfather’s story. Scores of letters, emails and phone calls ensued. One grandson visited Bologna where he was warmly welcomed by the families who live near the site. He learned how they had broken bureaucratic barriers to get the proper permits for the excavation and rustled up the heavy equipment necessary to go so deep.

The saga continued as a long-distance friendship flourished between my friend’s family and their new long-distance friends in Italy. Loren’s grandson has chronicled the details of this family epic – the meticulous research, bureaucratic hurdles and help, countless emails, photos, phone calls, travel, and most of all, a growing transnational friendship among individuals and families who shared a common tragedy.

This year my friend and her family will spend Father’s Day packing their bags for a grand pilgrimage to the site of their forebear’s death.  The entourage includes my friend and her younger brother, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Stateside preparations involve perusing and transcribing the journals, the poems, the photos and other reflections of a man that none of these people ever knew. Though this is to be expected, what have come as a surprise to the American family are the preparations taking place in Italy where local elders have begun to share stories prompted by the impending visit. Locals tell my friend that there is a palpable surge of local interest in the excavation of the remains of the young American pilot.

The elders who still live in the Bologna region were teenagers or younger during the turbulent wartime years; they bear the scars of German occupation and the horrific effects of American bombings on their villages and fields. After all these years, they are pausing to relive, remember and reflect on their wartime experiences.

The growing relationship transcends distance and decades. As one Bologna local assured my friend, “I’m very happy for you and your family. Since a long time we call Loren ‘the Grandfather’!”

Buona Festa del Papà!!!

November 22, 1963 – Reflections

John F. Kennedy, May 29,1917-November 22, 1963

Though the assassination of President Kennedy is ancient history to most Americans, the day lives on in history – and in my memory. I was working in Washington, DC, a short walk from the White House. I remember only too well catching the frenzied rumors out of Dallas, hearing the devastating words of Walter Cronkrite, hearing the helicopter land near the White House, joining the days-long procession of mourners passing through the Rotunda, perching in the window box at the Mayflower to get a better view of the endless walk to St. Mathews. Thanksgiving weekend 1963 was a time of unmitigated pain that has left an indelible mark on everyone who lived through the experience. That day and weekend live on in the collective memory of this nation.

I cannot let the day go by without reflecting on the grief and awareness we shared that weekend. More than a half century later the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ring true:

We were all involved in the death of John Kennedy. We tolerated hate; we tolerated the sick stimulation of violence in all walks of life; and we tolerated the differential application of law, which said that a man’s life was sacred only if we agreed with his views. This may explain the cascading grief that flooded the country in late November. We mourned a man who had become the pride of the nation, but we grieved as well for ourselves because we knew we were sick. (MLK, Why We Can’t Wait,1963)

Some resources that shed light on the John F. Kennedy and his era:

Videos that share the spirit of JFK – skip the ad –  http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/john-f-kennedy/videos

From the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/Life-of-John-F-Kennedy.aspx

https://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/November-22-1963-Death -of-the-President.aspx

From the White House archives: https://www.whitehouse.gov/1600/presidents/johnfkennedy

Honoring the heritage of Native Americans at Thanksgiving

As too few Americans are aware, the day after Thanksgiving is not only about excessive mindless shopping, it is the day on which thoughtful Americans pause to celebrate National Native American Heritage Day. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Heritage_Day)

The origin of Native American Heritage Day goes back to President George W. Bush who signed the legislation that designated the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. With time the Day has morphed into the establishment of the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. Though the distinction between the month and the day is nuanced, November 25, 2016 offers a timely opportunity to pause, learn and reflect on the narrative and heritage of Native Americans.

President Obama’s proclamation declaring the month of November 2016 is an excellent starting point for understanding the import of the day and/or the month. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/10/31/presidential-proclamation-national-native-american-heritage-month-2016

Numerous federal agencies have contributed to a mother lode of resources ranging from descriptions of parks to art to poetry to personal memories of Native Americans’ life experiences. Though the content is presented in calendar format, the films, audiotapes, photos and stories are not date specific. Let your fingers to the walking this amazing wealth of authentic resources! http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov

Related info:

A guide with specific relevance to individuals interested to explore their personal American Indian heritage: A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc-002619.pdf

A hot-off-the-press report with great relevance, less than mass reader appeal, is a report rom a recent conference related to Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums organized by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums https://www.imls.gov/news-events/upnext-blog/2016/11/synergy-southwest-reflections-international-conference-indigenous

 

To disempower disinformation focus on the “missing link”

Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored – American Library Association

Mark Zuckerberg is between a rock and a hard place, or at least a cushy version thereof. Though FB is not the source, it is the ubiquitous channel through which floods of disinformation flow. Now his empire is at the epicenter of post-election blame. Entrepreneur that he is, Zuckerberg proposes the classic quick fix, i.e. to label fake facts and bar the malevolent sources of the bald-faced lies that disinform public thought and discourse.   (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/19/mark-zuckerberg-outlines-how-facebook-plans-to-tackle-fake-news.html)

It’s the predictable feel-good, shift the blame, and invariably ineffective fix – a move that denies “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.” (American Library Association) — digital age throwing out the baby with the bath.

Placing the power and responsibility in the medium disrespects the individual’s inalienable right “to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction.” Furthermore, it won’t work.

The information chaos of the day demands a return to First Principles, in this case the core values of our political system. A fundamental tenet of this nation is respect for the responsibility of citizens to know how to self-govern.   The founders recognized that, in order to rule, citizens would need to depend on the free flow of information and ideas – thus, they stipulated the inalienable right to know coupled with the right to share thoughts and ideas. In the 18th Century that meant freedom of the press and free speech.

Ay, there’s the rub.

That was pre-social media, a time when information seekers were links in a more-or-less tangible – and linear – information chain that linked communicator and receiver. Though publishers and editors could filter the flow, their positions and proclivities were overt. Receivers of the information and ideas knew and considered the source, then exercised their right to adopt or discard the content and to talk back to the source. Though the system was far from inclusive, the basics were straightforward.

The information age expands access, gives voice to the masses, restructures the nature and power over the tools, removes the filters, and ultimately places unprecedented responsibility on the end user – who is also a sender – of the message. What is happening now is that the source holds the balance of power – receivers are uncritical accepters, frequent spreaders, of disinformation who have mastered the malevolent art of disinformation power.

As information receivers aid and abet the flow the power of information is magnified beyond calculation – the power to determine the content and manage the flow of information is nearly

Predictably, when the coin of the political realm is information – control of information corrupts and absolute control of information corrupts absolutely.

And yet, in the ongoing flap about fake news, focus remains on the sender end of the once linear information chain.   Though quick to fault the press for failure to fact check or other abuse of power, we instinctively avert attention, and thus fail to consider the power that rests with the receiver of disinformation.

Labeling fake facts — or blaming the press — fails to dig deep enough to get at the root of the pervasive and pernicious power of disinformation. The complexities of the digital age demand a radical [“of or growing from the root of a plant”] look at the linear information chain that no longer exists. What we have today is a distributed information mesh with sources welded into the links, a brilliantly designed system that, unchecked, wraps the receiver in a dark web of disinformation.

Info Power to the rest of us

Radical thinking demands a hard look at the “missing link” – the receiver of information. It is the receiver who is responsible for evaluating the message, for turning information into action. The first step is to understand and act on the fact that fabrications are powerless if critical receivers resist, dismiss or eschew the sources or content of fake facts.

Recent history suggests that we are ill equipped to ward off disinformation. Back in pre-FB days Franklin Roosevelt declared, “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely” adding that “the real safeguard of democracy, is education.” The digital age challenges us to rethink the safeguards within our reach – to expand K-12 and lifelong learning options to encompass critical thinking skills that adapt with the times, to nurture a healthy dose of perceptive paranoia, to understand the power of information and the disastrous potential of disinformation.

No matter how well crafted or effectively spread disinformation is, lies are lies. Lies hide in the weeds, impotent until and unless they exercise their power to influence the thoughts or actions of the receiver. It will take creative thinking, coupled with bold action, to get ahead of disinformation.

As a democratic society under stress we need to focus unprecedented attention and energy on the receiver link of the information chain – how people know what they know, believe what they believe. Labeling or otherwise limiting propaganda at the head end is ineffective and short-term.

The best offense is a strong defense. The best defense against disinformation is a nation of voters with the skill and the will to defend ourselves against the irresistible lure of brilliantly packaged disinformation. As a democratic society we need to understand the intent of the forefathers, then decide if we are up to the radical action it will take to face the challenges of the Information Age.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Thomas Jefferson

Facing the facts about facts

I’m telling you a lie in a vicious effort that you will repeat my lie over and over until it becomes true. Lady Gaga

There are longer, but no more compelling, characterizations of the scourge of disinformation – so serious that the sitting President of the United States brought up the subject just this week – notably at a joint press conference with German President Angela Merkel.  In that meeting President Obama spoke of the perils of  “active disinformation, very well presented.”

The heart of the matter, the President said, is that, “if we are not serious about the facts, about what is true and what is not, and especially at the time of social networks, when so many people receive the information in one sentence on their phone, if we cannot tell the difference between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have a problem.”

The power, influence and tenacity of disinformation is evident – everyone has a story of having been duped, even having shared or acted on a kernel of disinformation planted with malice aforethought to skew public perception and action. We are conditioned to believe what we read or see, particularly if the information is well presented by “credentialed” spokesperson and/or, better yet, backed up by inscrutable, and thus infallible, metrics.

Disinformation is no respecter of receiver: Did any of us believe, if just for a minute, that Pope Francis favored a presidential candidate in the recent election? Or that that climate change might be just an overblown theory? or that the CIA was somehow behind the Malayzia Airline crash? Or that Ford Motors was planning a major move to Mexico?

Back in the pre-social media day the term “information literacy” was fashioned to put a name on an emerging Information Age challenge. Last month we even offered a hasty nod to Information Literacy Month. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/10/03/information-literacy-universal-challenge-of-the-digital-era/

The fact is that efforts to build information literacy skills lag far behind the ubiquity, fluidity and instant gratification of social media.   Far more insidious is the harsh reality that the wizards of disinformation have mastered the tools to manufacture palatable lies, to present the fake information in irresistible nibbles, to package propaganda a fact — then “repeat the lie over and over until it becomes true.”

For me the spark of hope that springs eternal ignites when Gaga and Obama sound the same alarm – that the power of disinformation is real, pervasive and a threat to this democracy.

The forefathers established a nation built on the premise of an engaged citizenry.   Informed voters (as narrowly defined by the white men who wrote the rules,) would have access to information by and about their government and the skills to consider both the source and the content of information. Relevant, valid information would be communicated to the citizenry not in 140 character blips but in pamphlets, newspapers, orations, even books! http://www.constitutionfacts.com/founders-library/founders-reading-list/

Disinformation is hardly a new idea. In 1710 Jonathan Swift penned The Art of Political Lying” in which he expressed his dim view of fake information:

Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.

Northeast artists roll out holiday welcome mat!

Neither snow nor cold nor political upheaval will stay these local artists from their appointed rounds

The hundreds of artists of every stripe who live and work in Northeast Minneapolis face every challenge – economic, social, artistic or political – with abundant creativity and boundless hope. In the weeks to come the artists of this vibrant community will share their words, works, vision and hopes through a host of venues scattered throughout the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area.

Following are just some of the highlights of what’s to come – all are free and open unless noted.

November 17 – Janaya Martin hosts the popular “Writers Read + Open Mic” readings and discussion at Coffeehouse Northeast http://thecoffeeshopne.com at 29th and Johnson NE. Learn more about the popular local series in a recent issue of the Northeasterhttp://www.mynortheaster.com/wp-content/news-archives/161102Northeaster/

November 18-20 — Visit Artblok Open Studio and Sale in the former General Mills labs, 2010 East Hennepin near Stinson. http://www.minneapolis.org/calendar/2016-art-blok-open-studio-tour/ Meet and learn about the work of a host of local visual and literary artists – painting, paper arts, drawing, printmaking, jewelry metalwork, ceramics, woodworking, sculpture and more.

November 19– Opening event at The Public Functionary, 1400 20th Avenue North. (http://publicfunctionary.org) The Feminist highlights the interdisciplinary work of Charles Phillipe Jean Pierre.   (http://publicfunctionary.org/charles-philippe-jean-pierre-the-feminist/ Following the opening reception, Public Functionary will host Disrobing Masculinity: An Artist Talk and Discussion on Saturday, November 19, 2016 at 1:00 PM.

November 25 – Release Party for writer Penny Johnson’s The Forget-Me-Nots at Eat My Words bookstore, 13th and 2nd Streets NE. (http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com) Billed as a “counterpoint to the madness of Black Friday” the event features homemade cheesecake and cookies and seed packets of forget-me-not flowers.

November 26 – the fun goes on– topped with discounts — at Eat My Words. It’s the Annual Corporate Excess Sale, a highlight of Shop Small Saturday. At 3:00 historian and former Army musician Bruce P. Gleason will share a reading and discussion of his book Sound the Trumpet, Beat the Drum: Horse-Mounted Bands of the U.S. Army, 1820-1940, an exploration of the distinctive role that mounted bands played in American military history.

December 1 – First Thursday – A Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area tradition – Open Studios 5:00-9:00 PM on (virtually) every street corner – Some highlights:

  • Artspace Jackson Flats, 901 18½ Avenue Northeast
  • Casket Arts Building, 681 17th Avenue NE
  • Casket Arts Carriage House, 1720 17th Avenue NE
  • Grain Belt Studios, 77&79 13th Avenue South
  • Northrup King Building, 1500 Jackson Street NE (http: Northrupkingbuilding.com)
  • Q.arma Building, 1224 Quincy Street NE (http: quarmabuilding.com)
  • Solar Arts Building, 711 15th Avenue NE
  • Thorp Building, 1618 Central Avenue NE

December 3, 11:00 AM-5:00 PM –The American Craft Council, located in the iconic Grainbelt Brewery on Broadway and Marshall, hosts a Craft Sale+Open House in the Library. Featured artists will be on hand to describe their unique crafts. Archival materials on display, a used book sale, topped by complimentary hot cider! Shopping starts at 10:00.

December 3, 10:00-4:00 – Betty’s Holiday Bizarre Bazaar at Betty Danger’s Country Club, 2501 Marshall. Artists, crafters and artisans are invited to display and sell their “quirkiest and garish” handcrafted holiday gifts and decoration. Emphasis at Betty’s Bazaar is clearly on the bizarre-ness of the item.

December 10-12 — 2nd Annual A-Mill Maker’s Market, 10:00AM Saturday to 5:00 PM Sunday. Hosted by BridgeArts. A-Mill Artist Lofts, 315 Main Street SE. Sculpture, photography, fiber arts, millinery goods and more. Refreshments and pastry items, hourly raffle, entertainment by resident musicians, fashion show on Saturday.

And there is so much more to explore, enjoy, learn and even purchase in the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Area — check it out online or, better yet, on foot!