Paul Beatty‘s Creative Capital-supported project, The Sellout, is being released today by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The novel is a biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant. The book is already receiving rave reviews, including one from Dwight Garner of The New York Times, who wrote, “The first 100 pages of The Sellout are the most caustic and the most badass first 100 pages of an American novel I’ve read in at least a decade.” We recently caught up with Paul to ask about his background in poetry, his study of psychology and his writing process.
Jenny Gill: You were a Poetry Slam champ and published two books of poetry before you published your first novel, White Boy Shuffle, in 1996. How did that background inform your approach to language when you started writing novels? Do you still write poetry?
Paul Beatty: Poetry has had a huge impact on how I approach literature. Slamming not so much. Poetry is the backbone to how I think about structure and the page. And I’ve yet to break myself of the notion that every word is vitally important—though I’m trying.
Creative Capital is pleased to announce its 2015 awardees in the categories of Moving Image and Visual Arts, representing a total of 46 funded projects selected from a nationwide pool of more than 3,700 proposals. Drawing on venture-capital principles, Creative Capital seeks out artists’ projects that are bold, innovative and genre-stretching, then surrounds those artists with the tools they need to realize their visions and build sustainable careers.
The 2015 Creative Capital Artists are an incredible group of creative thinkers, representing 50 artists at all stages of their careers with an age range of 28 to 80 years old. They hail from 13 states plus Puerto Rico and Canada; more than half are women, and more than half identify as non-European American. Each funded project receives up to $50,000 in direct funding, plus additional resources and advisory services valued at $45,000, making the organization’s total 2015 investment more than $4,370,000. Continue reading
Media artist Julia Christensen (2013 Emerging Fields) is making DIY projectors out of discarded iPhones. In this video, she introduces her project Burnouts, which is part of a series of works supported by Creative Capital that explore our cultural relationship with e-waste.
Left: Sam Van Aken, Blind Spots, 2014. Silver nitrate photograph.
Right: Julia Christensen, Burnouts, 2014. Videos, plastic with mirrors, glass lenses, smartphones.
On October 2, Creative Capital Artists Juan William Chávez, Julia Christensen, Robert Karimi and Kerry Skarbakka present with Ruby Lerner at IdeaFestival, a celebration for the intellectually curious that takes place each fall in Louisville, KY. This is the fifth year that Creative Capital has presented a session entitled “Art on the Edge” to introduce the diverse audiences at this international convening to the work of four remarkable artistic innovators. Sam Van Aken, also a Creative Capital awardee, will present a separate session, “Disruptive Thinking and a Hole in the Sky,” on October 3. Both presentations take place at 10:30am EST. You can read profiles of all the artists on the IdeaFestival website and follow the presentations live on Twitter (#IF14).
In conjunction with IdeaFestival, 21c Museum Hotel is presenting 21c Celebrates Creative Capital: A 15th Anniversary Exhibition, featuring the work of 18 Creative Capital awardees including Peggy Ahwesh, Nick Cave, Chris Doyle, Simone Leigh, Eve Sussman, and the five artists presenting in this year’s IdeaFestival. The exhibition, which opens on September 30 and runs through March 2015, includes an installation of Julia Christensen’s Burnouts project, a series of projectors made out of recycled iPhones. Continue reading
Connie Samaras, “Edge of Twilight (1),” 2011-14 . Creative Capital 2014 Edition (edition of 150). 10″ x 12.5″ digital print on 11″ x 17″ paper. Price: $500.
Every year, we partner with a Creative Capital Artist to create a special project or edition for our Benefit & Auction. This year, for our 15th Anniversary Benefit, which takes place in New York on October 21, we are thrilled to offer a stunning photo by Connie Samaras (2012 Visual Arts) to everyone who purchases a Premium Benefit Ticket ($500). The image is from Edge of Twilight, a series of photos and videos shot at an all woman, predominantly lesbian, RV retirement community located in the U.S. Southwestern desert. Samaras shot close-ups of the RV homes on film late at night under the park’s safety lights, capturing eerie, somewhat unearthly light and colors.
Samaras, who is based in Los Angeles, recently had a major survey of her work dealing with the future imaginaries of global capital, Tales of Tomorrow, at the Armory in Pasadena. The exhibition was accompanied by a beautiful catalogue funded by the Warhol foundation and available through DAP/artbook. I connected with Connie to learn more about her Creative Capital edition and the Edge of Twilight series.
STREB Extreme performing FORCES
As part of our “Artist to Artist” interview series, filmmaker Catherine Gund spoke with choreographer Elizabeth Streb (2000 Performing Arts) about their new film “Born to Fly,” the human condition and making every breath count. The following is an edited excerpt from their conversation. You can listen online to the full podcast, or subscribe through iTunes.
Catherine Gund: So, I’m Catherine Gund. I just made a movie called Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, which premieres at Film Forum in New York on September 10. I’m here with the one and only Elizabeth Streb, and the two of us are going to have a conversation about what it was like to make the movie, why we did it, what we think it achieved—or didn’t achieve—and what people might get out of it. But I think we should just start with what maybe you thought, at the very beginning, about the idea of making a movie, having a movie made. What did you imagine it might be? Because I know, no matter what your answer is, it was not what it ended up being.
Elizabeth Streb: Well, for one, I was extremely excited and inspired because I know that you were around STREB and SLAM [Streb’s school and creative center], both with your children and yourself for years and years and years, so it wasn’t someone coming in that I didn’t know from the outside. I felt that you would have the worm’s eye view, the eagle’s eye view, the human eye view straight on, from the bottom up, from the top down. And I completely trusted that however you saw the story of STREB leading up to the London Olympics [where Streb staged public performances on London landmarks], I completely trusted. And I don’t think I, in my mind, fabricated what it would be like, at all. Continue reading
Ali Dadgar, “Revolusign” installation view, 2014, mixed media on panel
Taraneh Hemami (2012 Visual Arts) premieres her Creative Capital-supported project, Theory of Survival: Fabrications, at Southern Exposure in San Francisco, September 5 – October 25. Drawing inspiration from a traditional Persian marketplace, Fabrications takes the form of a pop-up bazaar featuring work by 12 California-based Iranian artists exploring decades of collective activism and revolutionary actions inside Iran and in its larger diaspora. Within a labyrinth of niches and patterned archways designed by the H. Majd Design Group, the Fabrications bazaar is a site for gathering and exchange focused on Iranian political and cultural historical moments. Market booths overflow with handcrafted and manufactured objects; a library boasts a growing collection of publications and archives; and a teahouse becomes a stage for performances, games and storytelling. Continue reading
Taylor Ho Bynum
Beginning on August 28 in Vancouver, composer and cornetist Taylor Ho Bynum (2013 Performing Arts) embarks on his Acoustic Bicycle Tour, a five-week, 1,800-mile performance journey of the West Coast that concludes at the Mexican border. Conceiving of the entire trip as a kind of composition, Bynum will travel solely by bicycle, presenting solo concerts and playing with ensembles of area musicians in a variety of contexts and venues ranging from pop-up outdoor concerts to art galleries to concert halls. The endeavor is a performance art piece, a philosophical statement, a celebration of musical community and an exercise in extreme physicality.
Highlights from the planned performances include duets and small ensembles with some of the finest musicians on the coast, including trumpeter Cuong Vu (9/3, Seattle, WA), pianist Myra Melford (9/19, San Francisco, CA) and bassist Mark Dresser (9/29, Mission Viejo, CA); large ensembles of local artists performing Bynum’s compositions and conducted improvisations, including the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (9/7, Portland, OR) and Phillip Greenlief’s OrcheSperry (9/16, Berkeley, CA); and two concerts featuring the music of Bynum’s longtime mentor and collaborator Anthony Braxton—a quartet co-led with saxophonist James Fei exploring Braxton’s classic 1970s small group music (9/17, Oakland, CA), then a concert under the leadership of the maestro at the Angel City Jazz Festival (9/27, Los Angeles, CA). Bynum will also appear at the Angel City Jazz Festival as a leader, with an all-star band of Los Angeles-area musicians performing music from his critically acclaimed Sextet and 7-tette recordings (9/28, Los Angeles, CA). Continue reading
Cry You One cast photo. Photo by Melisa Cardona.
This week, New Orleans-based performance companies Mondo Bizarro and Art Spot Productions (2013 Performing Arts) launch the national tour of their site-responsive performance, Cry You One, at the Clear Creek Festival Grounds in Rockcastle County, KY. Cry You One is an outdoor performance and online platform inspired by the disappearing wetlands of Southeast Louisiana. Part song, part story, part procession for our lost land, Cry You One utilizes the unique music and stories of Louisiana to inspire connections between people working to steward the natural world wherever they live.
I spoke with Mondo Bizarro’s Nick Slie, one of the leading artists on the project, about the story behind Cry You One, adapting the work for the Kentucky presentation, and the national tour of the work.
Jenny Gill: Cry You One was originally developed to celebrate and mourn the disappearing wetlands of your native Southern Louisiana. Now, you’re touring it to other regions. What has your process been for adapting Cry You One to the Appalachian setting outside of Berea, KY? Was it a challenge to create characters for the performance that hold the same relevance for you personally as the original characters for the Louisiana iteration?
Nick Slie: The best way I can explain this is to take you back a couple of years. In 2009, I attended my first Clear Creek Festival. The festival is an annual, multi-disciplinary event, now in its 12th year, that brings several hundred Kentuckians from rural and urban communities together with artist-activists and other great people from throughout the south and across the country. The intention of the Festival is sharing good music and art, building community, and inspiring all of us to live more sustainably—in harmony with nature and with one another. Started by the renowned singer Mitch Barrett over ten years ago, the festival features nationally recognized music and theater acts next to edible food walks and rocket fuel workshops. Continue reading