Friday, July 31, 2009

Out of this World

Madeline L'engle wrote the science fiction novel A Wrinkle in Time; which is a science fiction novel about love and quantum physics.

The protagonist is an intelligent little girl who has to fight an unspeakable evil to survive.

Also: Do you know about The Lower East Side Girls Club?

Their mission statement will blow your mind:

The Lower Eastside Girls Club provides a place where girls and young women 8-23 can grow, learn, have fun, and develop confidence in themselves and their ability to make a difference in the world. By delivering strong arts, literacy, science, health and leadership programs we provide girls with the vision to plan – and the tools to build – their future. All Girls Club programs develop environmental, entrepreneurial and ethical leadership in the girls we serve.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Did you know that teaching artists "greatly outnumber licensed school-based arts specialists" in New York City Public Schools?

It's a fact.

If you sign up for Arts Watch, you can get news like that every week.

I followed a link to Broadway World and there was the story:

The New York City Arts in Education Roundtable, an arts education service organization, today released results from two surveys, both attesting to the enormous contribution the city's cultural organizations make to arts teaching and learning in the city's schools.
The Roundtable's annual Impact Survey reveals that in aggregate New York's arts organizations spent more than 15% of their budgets on educational programs and raised tens of millions of dollars in 2007-08 for education programs in New York City public schools.

Also: The Honeymooners @ Youtube

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Good Teaching

As I've told you repeatedly, VSA Arts is in the business of creating a world where people with disabilities can "learn through, participate in, and enjoy the arts."

Visitors to their terrific website will find resources galore and some non-free things too, including this 5-module magic-box called "Express Diversity"; which encourages children to "ask questions, engage in discussions, and work toward a better understanding of each other." The program costs $75 plus $12 shipping. Surprisingly, $87 is more than many TAs make for a workshop.


You could ask your employer to buy one for the office.

Here's the order form (PDF.)

Also: Liz Lerman Dance Exchange - Ferocious Beauty: Genome

The View

At the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, an exhibition presents work by five women artists with cultural connections to Islam.

Go see:

Curated by Kimberli Gant and Lisa Binder
Co-Presented by MoCADA and the Museum for African Art, New York
On View: June 4 - September 13, 2009

The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) and the Museum for African Art are proud to present Perspectives: Women, Art and Islam, an exhibition of five female artists whose major connection is their personal relationship with Islam. Perspectives, curated by Kimberli Gant and Lisa Binder, will be on view at MoCADA, 80 Hanson Place in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, from June 4 - September 13, 2009, and is presented in conjunction with Muslim Voices: Arts and Ideas, a multi-institutional celebration of the extraordinary range of artistic expression in the Muslim world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dance Teacher

Merce Cunningham has died. He was 90 years old and he trained a couple of generations of dancers.

In an old article by Gus Solomons Jr. in Dance Magazine, Cunningham's approach to teaching dance is discussed:

Mary Lisa Burns, director of the Cunningham School and longtime teacher there, says, "Merce thinks of dancing as being an enlargement of everyday movement…”

So, the technique involves principles rather than just combinations. It teaches the dancer "how to do something," as he puts it, instead of teaching the dancer how to move like the teacher.

Even when he was still dancing, Merce would often explain instead of demonstrate a phrase. "Rather than show the movement, if you explain it, the students have to think it through differently."

Here is one of his creative collaborations with John Cage. This was 40 years ago. I am certain people thought they were out of their minds.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Tower

Sometimes, I think that real storytelling won't survive the cultural revolution.

On the other hand, Rapunzel doesn't seem to be going anywhere:

Sugar Cane: A Caribbean Rapunzel by Patricia Storace; Raul Colon, Illustrator

Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora

Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairy Tale by Lynn Roberts and David Roberts

Take the Money

You might be interested to know that the Queens Council on the Arts fosters the arts in Queens County. In my experience, where you read the word "foster", they're talking about money. In this case, I'm right. There is a funding program in place that serves both organizations, and individual artists who qualify.

How exciting.

The Queens Council on the Arts website has all the information you will need to submit an application to one of their grant programs. If you've never applied for a grant before, the council does offer some support and guidance disguised as an inconvenient prerequisite:

All new applicants are required to attend one of the application information sessions that are offered throughout Queens in July, August and September.

Applicants who have not applied to QCAF within the last two years and applicants who were recommended for technical assistance by QCA are likewise required to attend.

The next info session is Monday August 10, 5:30-7:30pm at Cambria Heights Library 218-13 Linden Blvd.


Happy Monday.

Also: Lou Reed - Perfect Day

Friday, July 24, 2009


Dear Reader, thank you for visiting ATA Blog!

You make it fun.

Hey, ATA is on Facebook!

And: It's the weekend. Let's go to Dia Beacon, or somewhere else entirely--like the Berkshires.

Plus: Walden by Henry David Thoreau

And, finally: Les chemins de l'amour - F. Poulenc

Here, Again

If it's Friday, this must be Governors Island.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Empire State Partnership's annual Summer Seminar is taking place now, even now.

The conference is over today. The plan was for more than 350 arts-in-education professionals to explore the conference theme, "Creativity as Catalyst," through a variety of workshops, activities and discussions. Alas, because I could not attend, I can only speculate about the fun that was had by all.

Maybe someone will send us a report by email.

Relative Value

At Arts Blog, a link to an essay (pdf) that makes the case for increased levels of funding for small cultural organizations; groups whose size belies their importance to their communities.

Written by Ron Chew former director of the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the essay came out of the Exemplar Program; a Ford Foundation sponsored funding initiative which provided two years of support, totaling $150,000 each to 12 small to midsized arts and cultural organizations nationwide.

"...opportunities will abound to reassert the connection of the arts to community service.

Marjorie Schwarzer, chair of the Department of Museum Studies at John F. Kennedy University in California, said the public “seeks solace in the arts during troubled times.” She noted, for example, that museum attendance rose during the Great Depression..."

Also: @ ESPN, Major League Baseball - Salaries for 2009 (Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press)


Magglio Ordonez $18,971,596

Miguel Cabrera 14,383,049

dl-Jeremy Bonderman 12,500,000

Carlos Guillen 10,000,000

dl-Dontrelle Willis 10,000,000

Nate Robertson 7,000,000

Brandon Inge 6,300,000

Placido Polanco 4,600,000

Brandon Lyon 4,250,000

Justin Verlander 3,675,000

Curtis Granderson 3,500,000

Gerald Laird 2,800,000

Fernando Rodney 2,700,000

Marcus Thames 2,275,000

Edwin Jackson 2,200,000

Rick Porcello 2,095,000

Bobby Seay 1,300,000

Adam Everett 1,000,000

Ramon Santiago 825,000

Juan Rincon 750,000

Matt Treanor 750,000

dl-Joel Zumaya 735,000

Zach Miner 437,500

Armando Galarraga 435,000

Jeff Larish 403,000

Josh Anderson 400,000

Eddie Bonine 400,000

Ryan Perry 400,000

Read More @ USA Today.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Back On

Having been distracted, briefly, by Facebook, blogger Phil Davis returns with some arresting images and a post on, among other things, “the trials and tribulations of being an artist in a government."

If you've been following along, Mr. Davis' blog used to call himself a "Teaching Artist." Since he took this new job, his blog banner reads "Administrating Artist."

From his profile:

Phil taught art art in community colleges, universities, and non-profits more or less until he decided that the sacrifices he made just to remain afloat among academic labor relations and job markets were far greater than the sum total of things academia would ever provide for him. He still cares very deeply about education, art, and the union of those two things.

In January ‘09, Phil went to work for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, to help open and eventually manage a new art center in Brentwood, Maryland. The Brentwood Art Center will feature regionally significant art exhibitions, serving as an anchor for the Gateway Arts District and providing and outlet for artists and artisans in the community.

Zelda Fichandler, the founder of Arena Stage, once said "Administration is creation!"

Love Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Museum's behind-the-scenes blog has some fascinating posts on things that never crossed your mind.

In this one, I learned that archivists use the power of the sun to bleach works on paper:

It may look like fun-in-the-sun, or an excuse just to work outside, but light-bleaching is in fact, a treatment technique that is employed often by paper conservators and has been a standardized procedure used in the profession of conservation for at least 30 years.The technique utilizes exposure to light from the sun or from an artificial light source such as fluorescent lamps to reduce discoloration in paper while it is submerged in a bath of purified and buffered water.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working Vacation

Time Magazine reports on the end of summer.

Summer School is the new trend.

“It's a strategy supported by both President Barack Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and cities and states are experimenting with various approaches. Cincinnati, Ohio, for example, in June started giving students in the city's 13 most persistently failing public schools the option of an extra month…”

Perhaps this thinking will create more summer jobs for teaching artists.

On the Money

The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts foster excellence in the arts and help cultivate a broader appreciation for the arts in society. One of the ways they accomplish this is to give away money to creative artists who qualify.

Since we still live in a capitalist society, this is delightful.

Eligible individual artists residing in Pennsylvania can apply for one non-matching Fellowship of $5,000 or $10,000. Applications are reviewed by jury and the deadline is August 3rd, 2009, which may as well be tomorrow.

Questions about the State Fellowships should be directed to 410-539-6656 x101, or by email at

Get the guidelines here (PDF).

Monday, July 20, 2009

Fantastic Voyage

Forty years ago, a human being first visited the moon.

This vinyl recording came as a supplement to the December 1969 issue of National Geographic.

It's a completely out-of-date audio history of space exploration.

Apply Yourself

Over at Fractured Atlas' Blog, a helpful list of do's and don'ts for job applicants may actually help you avoid common pitfalls.

The list is inspired by actual, embarrassing, events.

Frank McCourt

Teaching Artist and writer Frank McCourt, who was a New York City school teacher for nearly 30 years, died over the weekend.

His novel, Angela's Ashes, was a sensation and won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Personal Responsibility

Speaking to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.), President Barack Obama "delivered a fiery sermon to black America, warning parents and children that they must accept their own responsibilities."

Also: After the bailout, JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs are towering titans of money and power.

Also: The government says unemployment is at 9.5%, and CNN says blacks are disproportionately represented in New York City's jobless pool.

Meanwhile: This national report(PDF) shows "how communities of color are adversely affected by our nation's broken health care system."

And: War Without End is expensive.

Finally: Whitney Houston - Run to You

Sustainable Cities

As usual, Seattle wins.

If you don't think environmentalism has anything to do with being a teaching artist, you may be using a lot of unnecessary handouts. One of my colleagues always makes double-sided copies, and I admire that.

I dig the Brooklyn-based, art-making duo that call themselves Enormous Champion.

The image is theirs, and it is for sale.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Heat

The City of Newark's Summer In the Park Concert Series is underway.

I have perused the schedule and it looks to be a terrific time.

Expect Jazz, Blues, and Swing.

Newark is very close to many places, including my heart.

NJ Pac is there, for instance--like a jewel in the city's ear.

Also, from Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra:


I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burn'd on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,
As amorous of their strokes. For her own person,
It beggar'd all description: she did lie
In her pavilion--cloth-of-gold of tissue--
O'er-picturing that Venus where we see
The fancy outwork nature: on each side her
Stood pretty dimpled boys, like smiling Cupids,
With divers-colour'd fans, whose wind did seem
To glow the delicate cheeks which they did cool,
And what they undid did.

Without a Care

The New York Times reports that health insurance reform has cleared an early committee hurdle. However, some politicians have declared the "public health insurance" option anathema--so, don't get too excited.

First, this:
"If you don’t have health insurance, this bill is for you,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut...It guarantees that you’ll be able to find an insurance plan that works for you, including a public health insurance option if you want it.”

On the other hand:

Republicans on the panel, who voted unanimously against the measure, described the idea of a new public insurance option as a deal-breaker. They said they still hoped that a consensus bill would emerge from the Senate Finance Committee.

Related links:

• New York Times July 14, 2009. The new state budget in Massachusetts eliminates health care coverage for some 30,000 legal immigrants to help close a growing deficit, reversing progress toward universal coverage.

• The
Health Care Blog promises "everything you wanted to know about the health care system. But were afraid to ask." No Country for Old Men, an excellent* article by Jeff Goldsmith lays out a case against the public option here. ("Excellent" does not mean you got it right. Sometimes it just means you tried hard.")
• At Real Clear Markets: "the number of uninsured has grown to an estimated 50 million people because of the recession. Even so, advocates in the halls of Congress are rarely the uninsured themselves."

Also: Johnny Cash - 25 Minutes To Go

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Take the Day

It's lovely outside.

I mean, the weather.

If you are a TA in the most expensive city in the world, you may feel the desperate need to be absent, to relax, on a budget.

New York Magazine's Summer Guide is my suggestion.

They'll tell you where to eat, and show you where to watch free movies outside, and how to kayak in Harlem--fun things like that.

Yes, please.

The Survivor

In the New York Times, fashion designer Issey Miyaki speaks out against nuclear proliferation:

On Aug. 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on my hometown, Hiroshima. I was there, and only 7 years old. When I close my eyes, I still see things no one should ever experience: a bright red light, the black cloud soon after, people running in every direction trying desperately to escape — I remember it all...
I have never chosen to share my memories or thoughts of that day. I have tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to put them behind me, preferring to think of things that can be created, not destroyed, and that bring beauty and joy."

All Yours

On the ATA Listserv, a celebratory post from ATA Executive Director Dale Davis:

Members of The Association of Teaching Artists Listserv,

We now number over 1,000, a record to bring together Teaching Artists in one forum! The listserv began in 2002 with twenty-five subscribers, and here we are in 2009, ATA's twelfth year. ATA began in New York State as the vision of a group of Teaching Artists who came together at the request of the Art In Education Program of The New York State Council on The Arts to consider the need and feasibility of forming an organization of Teaching Artists. And here we are in 2009 with membership in our listserv reaching Teaching Artists across the country and extending to Italy, Pakistan, Korea, and England.

On June 19, 2009 The Dana Foundation ( hosted a webposium on the Teaching Artist profession at the Seattle Art Museum. The webposium, "Artists in Classrooms: What is the role of the Teaching Artist?" can now be viewed in its entirely on
The webposium attracted 600 participants, another record to bring Arts In Education professional together to discuss essential questions on the Teaching Artist profession! ATA would very much like to hear from you on the webposium. After you have viewed it, please e-mail your responses to me at
Let us keep the dialogue going!

ATA is committed to its mission to advocate, strengthen, and serve
Teaching Artists from all disciplines in New York State and beyond.
The Association of Teaching Artists serves:

To create a community of professional Teaching Artists;
To empower the practice of Teaching Artists as a profession;
To provide a network for communication and the exchange of resources;
To collaborate with New York State and national Arts In Education
organizations and agencies;
To collaborate on quality professional development and training;
To publically recognize and celebrate distinguished achievement in
the field of Art In Education.

Michele Kotler and Alice Johns-Seeger now leave the ATA Board after serving with distinction for many years. ATA thanks them for their service, and we will miss their guidance and hands-on help. ATA Board
Chair, Glenn McClure, will soon be announcing ATA's new Board Members.

ATA Board Members Glenn McClure and Russell Granet will both be at Empire State Partnerships Summer Seminar at C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, June 19 - 23. If you will be attending, please engage them with your thoughts and ideas on ATA's mission! ATA always welcomes the opportunity to speak with Teaching Artists!

ATA has a small budget. We did receive funding from The New York State Council on the Arts this year, and we are most grateful. However, like all arts organizations, we, too, feel the effects of reduced funding.

Your support, in any amount, is important to us as we plan this year and plan towards a Teaching Artists conference next year. We appreciate your help, as Teaching Artists we are working together

Please let me hear from you with your suggestions and ideas!

Thank you,


Dale Davis
Executive Director
The Association of Teaching Artists

Hurrah for Dale Davis and all the members of ATA!

I know that life is not a competition, still, I think Professional Teaching Artists are winners!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The School of Continuing Education at the International Center for Photography is registering students for upcoming courses that offer a fun opportunity to see New York with fresh eyes.

For instance:

Course Description

New York at twilight is a study in contrasts. Changing conditions of light and weather interact with architecture to build and dismantle an endless series of twilight cities, each hinting at pleasure and mystery. In this course, students explore this shifting scene, developing their powers of observation and photographic techniques.

They go on field trips.

Register here.