Archives for category: Local CT

Last year Arts Interstices introduced a program called Open Your Curatorial Eye to train people from various professional backgrounds to curate art exhibitions.  Now we celebrate the opening reception for Amie Ziner, first to complete the training. Her show, People in Nature, features work from three continents by six artists for eight weeks at The Grove.

Amie's Flier

Says Amie, “The theme describes what each of these artists has achieved; an intimate relationship with the places they work and live. They pay homage to their country’s landscapes, plants and animals, and to the human spirit, both as made evident, and implied. Traditional media and digital media were brought together to create this show. There are acrylic and gouache paintings, digital prints of handmade 3D objects (made from recycled materials) and paintings, digitally created coloring books, and sumi ink paintings on handmade paper. This reality is what our world, the world seen through artist’s eyes, is all about now. It is a delight to me to share this diverse and beautiful art.”

The reception takes place Sept 11, 2015, 4-7pm at 760 Chapel Street in New Haven, CT.  The event is free and open to the public. An elevator is available. Parking in the State Street Public Lot can be validated at 50%. Refreshments will be served.

An international circle of participating artists makes sense for the theme. They include:

Linda Cato: As an artist, educator, and artivist, Linda believes in the power of creativity to ignite change on the personal, community, and global levels. She is passionate about using the visual arts as a tool for changemaking, shining the light of art in places that need it the most. Linda has facilitated numerous public art events in Tucson as well as on the national level, working with youth and adults to explore and solve community issues through creativity and empathy.

Linda has developed visual arts programs at several Tucson schools, and worked directly with community organizations to offer arts programming to diverse communities. Currently, Linda is the Assistant Director and Artist-in-Residence at Changemaker High School, Arizona’s first high school to be accepted into the Ashoka Network of changemaker schools. Her curriculum at CMHS is designed to lead students to research and address social issues through art. As a changemaker artist herself, Linda has developed a “green” studio practice, working solely with non-toxic and sustainably sourced materials to create innovative works that explore the human relationship with the natural world.

David Sandum: Born and raised in Sweden, David Sandum moved with his wife to the United States in the early 1990s. They settled in Salt Lake City and David attended the University of Utah, graduating in 1999 with a BA in speech communication.

Soon after, he returned to Scandinavia with his young family and ultimately secured a position in IT sales. The demands of his new job, on the heels of many years of stress, took a toll on his health, and he fell into a severe depression. It was during this difficult time that he began to draw and paint, inspired by Edvard Munch’s philosophy that we should all write or paint our life story.

In 2002, David had his first exhibit in his new hometown of Moss, Norway. Over the years since, he has pursued a career in art, participating in many group exhibits and annual solo gallery shows. He was also awarded several public art commissions in Hvaler, Norway, and Skagen, Denmark. In 2007 David completed a series of Auschwitz-Birkenau paintings in honor of his grandmother, who was a survivor. One of the pieces was acquired by the Mizel Museum in Denver, Colorado.

More recently, David has embarked on several study trips to New York City, Prague, and Amsterdam. In October 2014, he was accepted to work at the prestigious printmaking studio Estudi de Gravat Ignasi Aguirre Ruiz in Barcelona under master printer Ignacio, who has worked with a number of renowned artists, including Dali, Tapies, and Miro. For his etchings, David primarily uses aquatint, drypoint, or carborundum.  Just published: “I’ll Run Until the Sun Goes Down”, a memoir about Depression, and saving his life through Art”.

Florence M’Bilampassi Virginie Loukoula “Ma Flo” was born in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, in 1972. In middle school, she enjoyed embroidery, and then adapted her embroidery impulses to paintings. She is completely self taught. She has participated in many local exhibitions, meetings, workshops and demonstrations. Very eclectic, she expresses herself in diverse media, such as: painting, wood sculpture, antique replicas, sand paintings, raffia, wool weaving, mosquito netting, using natural pigments. She designs logos, and makes sculptures out of recycled materials such as milk and sardine tins and bottle caps from beer and soft drinks. Florence is extremely dynamic, motivated and a motivator, who is keen to transmit her knowledge without charge. She is the current president of the Women Painters and Artists Club (CFAPS), a renowned association which aims to guide young single mothers, both Bantu and indigenous, to develop their spirit of creativity in art and handicrafts. Florence is showing a stunning painting here.

M’Bilampassi Tonda Judith Armel: Judith was born in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, on August 9, 1974. After high school in Congo, she became a businesswoman. Five years later, she became a painter, influenced by her sister Florence M’Bilampassi. She is an active member of the Women Artists and Painters Club (CFAPS). She makes sculptures from recycled materials and other media. Her first exhibit was at the French Cultural Center in July 2009, followed by a show at the Brazzaville Town Hall in October 2010. She also exhibited at the first forum on violence against women at the Parliament building in September 2012, and at the Ouibeko Association Forum at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in October 2012. In October 2012, she displayed her work at the French cooperation, and in again at Congo’s French Institute (formerly the French Cultural Center) in February 2015 as part of a group exhibit themed “Women’s Look.” These days she paints landscapes and open air markets.

Harry Stooshinoff is both a painter and teacher who holds a B Ed, BFA and an MFA. He has been producing artwork almost on a daily basis for over 35 years. A few decades ago he started making small pictures so that he could start and finish the piece in one sitting. The work is small because an intimate scale encourages maximum intuition, freedom, and experimentation.  He lives in the rolling countryside of the Oak Ridges Moraine, an ancient landform located just north of Lake Ontario, and is inspired by what he sees every day. “I roam this unique place in all seasons, and document my impressions. At first view, rural environments may seem natural, but they have been continually altered and reshaped by man. The landscape will be very different tomorrow; it seems negligent not to record how it looked and felt today. It’s a big NOISY world, so I make small, quiet paintings.”

Amie Ziner uses both digital and analog media during drawing sessions, switching back and forth, often for the same pose. “I’ve been making fine art, commissions, and commercial illustration for more than 40 years, and there is so much more to learn. I’m pleased to share my work, and what technical knowledge I have with students, other artists, and aficionados of the visual arts.”

The exhibition may be viewed through Nov. 6th during regular business hours, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm. View Amie Ziner‘s website, email her at amie@amieziner.com and follow her on Twitter @aziner.

The Grove in downtown New Haven, Connecticut, invited Arts Interstices to begin a program of bringing art into its coworking space in 2013. To date, a total of nine exhibitions have fueled workplace inspiration and helped to visualize changing organizational paradigms. Here is a recap!

Navigate Complexity explored the theme of the 2013 Drucker Forum through the work of 17 artists.  Recently it was referenced in a business article authored by a European entrepreneur.
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Portraits & Pop Art presented paintings by Raheem Nelson, Kwadwo Adae and Gordon Skinner
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Dream Scenes presented drawings and paintings of urban youth from the Future Project & next generation Grovers, with works by special guest artist-instructors Katro Storm & Krikko Obbot
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Building Hope Through History was guest curated by Mark Landow of the New Haven Adult Education’s High School Credit Program, whom we were introduced to through independent curator Debbie Hesse. The show featured three-dimensional models of actual local buildings based on original research by students ages 18-25.

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re:Generate – Art Based on Code was co-curated with Brian Monahan.  It was an assemblage of generative software projects and their artifacts by Alexander Gross, Brian Monahan, Dan Gries, Danielle Kefford, Robert McDougal, Dan Bernier, Giulia Gouge, Michael Romano and Milton Laufer.  A special event featured generative music performed remotely by the UK band Meta-eX.

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I am Mosaic: Connecticut’s Many Faces of MS was guest curated by the artist Mike Marques.
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Uptake was a study of flowers by Mick Brown in hyper-realistic detail with saturated color palettes.  He has since produced a calendar with these images.

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Citywide Open Studios: Transported included Amie Ziner’s drawings and a special event with Amie Ziner & Raheem Nelson. Live iPad demos were projected at street level and broadcast on television.
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Wonder, co-curated with Christina Kane, featured Irene Leibler’s art of the image.

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The Grove’s curatorial program has garnered attention from artists and technologists as well as global companies.  Sococo has invited Elinor Slomba to serve on its Virtual Life Panel to represent arts and culture.

Have an idea for an art exhibition? Learn how to apply for a guest curator spot at The Grove.  Sign up for Open Your Curatorial Eye, a three-session program that can be scheduled at your convenience.

We are also experimenting with crowdfunding to support Community Curation.  Our first campaign just launched, and we invite your participation.

Last week, near Yale…

full invite RE

Members of New Haven Artful Agilists saw the grid-like structure on the face of the oldest working elevator in Connecticut and thought they looked like pixels.  The only next sensible thing to do was to cut up pool noodles into three-inch slices and insert them into appropriately color-coded spaces to recreate a portrait of Marilyn Monroe!

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More steps in the process of installing this work can be seen here.

The results are in the exhibition re:Generate / Art Based on Code on view at The Grove now through September 20, 2014.

Other artists and works in the show include:

focuslessness, a writing/art collective that experiments with ways of generating, composing, processing, displaying, publishing, using, and experiencing language. It was founded in Buenos Aires in 2012 by Milton Laüfer, an Argentine writer, computer programmer, and digital artist currently living in Brooklyn and Michael Romano, an American writer currently living in New Haven. The group’s first experiments aimed to break out of conventional writing/reading formats and practices to explore memory and transience. Says Michael, “The reader can never go back to what she has just encountered and has no control over what she will encounter. She’ll never know what would have arrived if she had stayed. Her reading—each of her readings—is unique and irretrievable.”  Focuslessness is also participating in “Vagaries of the Commons” at Artspace.

Robert McDougal, a mathematician turned computational neuroscientist. He develops techniques for using computers to help understand the brain.

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“Every thought we think and every moment we spend appreciating art and beauty is made possible by the collective activity of nearly 100 billion neurons in our brains. In an ironic case of ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ we tend to forget about these important cells. And though we all have them, they are too small to see with the naked eye and most people have never even seen one in a microscope. This work physically manifests real, traced neurons on a human-interpretable scale, allowing us to appreciate them not just for their raw computational power, but also for the beauty inherent in their delicate branching structures. The six neurons displayed in the piece each come from different parts of the nervous system and relate in different ways to how we perceive the world around us.”

Giulia Gouge

“I work in communications daily, and have to be very clear and concise and leave very little wiggle room when it comes to interpretation.  Tone is important.  As we move into the digital age, we find the balance of communications shift from hyper ambiguous with abbreviated text and lack of punctuation to hyper emotive with…well…emojis.  Then we find ourselves lost in translation.”

Dan Gries

“A mathematician and educator by training and vocation, computer programming came to me later in life as a way of creating interactive instructional applications. Later, code become a way for me to express myself artistically. My work follows no hard and fast rules except that I aim to create objects which are visually appealing. I am particularly fascinated with the idea of creating aesthetic imperfection, by harnessing and controlling randomness. I also prefer to do only a bare minimum of post-processing in the form of image editors, so that each image is purely a visual representation of an algorithm.”

Fractal Cylinders

These three works were the result of experimentation which began with a simple question: how would you program a computer to draw a circle the way a human would – imperfect and wobbly? A method for producing such circles was worked out based on fractal subdivision. This led to the creation of “fractal cylinders,” by allowing closed curves to smoothly sweep across the canvas, as the curves morph from one of these imperfect circles to the next. The resulting objects marry jaggedness in one direction with smoothness in a perpendicular direction. The variations in the resulting images were created by tracing curves either along the length or around the “waist” of the cylinders, by changing colors and transparency and the way the light blends together, or by allowing two fractal cylinders to intersect each other. The images were coded in JavaScript, and methods were worked to push a web browser to extremes to generate these large, high resolution images.

Cellular Boids (live animation)

This animation is essentially a mashup of two classic algorithms: cellular automata and the boid algorithm. Each cell (square) in this two-dimensional array contains a color, and on every refresh of the screen each cell changes color according to the behavior of its neighbors. The rules for changing colors are somewhat technical, but have simple underlying ideas: each cell wants to be a similar color to its neighbors (cohesion), but without being exactly the same (avoidance), while also changing with a color flow similar to the average flow of its neighbors (alignment). Colors are defined by red, green, and blue components, and as colors change this corresponds to a motion through this three-dimensional color space. This is the flow direction that the cells attempt to align with their neighbors. The animation begins by giving each cell a randomized color, but once this initial state is set the animation proceeds without any influence of randomization. Although the tapestry of color evolves endlessly, unpredictably, and chaotically, it is a completely deterministic consequence of the initial state.

 

Alexander Gross 

The world that we live in is unimaginably complex. We are awash in a sea of information. Autonomous agents act and interact everywhere around us, with each other, and in ways that are impossible to predict or truly understand. As a society we exert considerable effort towards isolating and presenting patterns, rules, theories, “truths”; attempting to tame our fear of the unknowable sublime and replace it with “understanding.” But ultimately these understandings remain merely models of a reality we will never master.  As creative researcher, I seek intervention into the neat little models and equations we use to define our world. Technological interventions provide a way to explore potential worlds and to reconnect with the fragility of our own complex existence. Towards this end I cultivate a liminal practice situated at the border of the unknown. A place where disparate areas of research can fuse horizons in previously inconceivable ways. A place where a relaxation of assumptions can lead to new conclusions.  A practice of this type is, I believe, critically important, because loathe though we may be to admit, it is not the things we think we understand which make this life worth living, it is only mystery.

 

Danielle Kefford

“I am a software engineer in a corporate environment during the day but I have always had a curiosity about graphics programming over the years. I also drew a bit from time to time when I was younger, but only during the last 8-10 years have I elevated my drawing to an actual hobby. Generative art is a satisfying fusion of those two passions by allowing me to be expressive through code.”

Dan Bernier

Fractal Circles

Take a square, subdivide it, repeat; but each time, maybe we stop and draw a circle instead, and maybe it’s solid, or hollow, or maybe even missing.

 

These pieces originally started as a way to explore combinations and permutations of members in a set. Combinations with one or two circles could be large, but combinations with more would have to be smaller, to fit. I liked the effect of mixing multiple sizes, but I had to choose each set of combinations, and choose how to organize them, so I abandoned that idea for randomly-generated fractal layouts instead.

 

Brian Monahan

Structures is a simple piece that is built in processing (a program language.) The pieces were created by moving a mouse and create points that are then connecting to one another, in realtime. The prints are artifacts of the process. The structures that I created in this were meant to resemble an organic or fluid substance, that had the structural components within, in many ways supporting the overall form.

Source Code

 

int[] xpos = new int[100];

int[] ypos = new int[100];

 

void setup() {

size(1920, 900);

 

for (int i = 0; i < xpos.length; i++ ) {

xpos[i] = -100;

ypos[i] = +150;

 

background(255);

}

}

 

void draw() {

smooth(2);

if (mousePressed) {

for (int i = 0; i < xpos.length-1; i++ ) {

 

line(xpos[i], ypos[i], xpos[i+1], ypos[i+1]);

xpos[i] = xpos[i+1];

ypos[i] = ypos[i+1];

smooth(10);

float distance = dist(xpos[xpos.length-1], ypos[ypos.length-1], xpos[i], ypos[i]);

float b = map( distance, 4, 2, 1, 1);

stroke(2,2,2,50);

 

if (distance < 105) {

line(mouseX, mouseY, xpos[i], ypos[i]);

}

 

}

if (mouseX != 0 || mouseY != 0 ) {

xpos[xpos.length-1] = mouseX;

ypos[ypos.length-1] = mouseY;

smooth(100);

}

save(“outputs/dots12.tif”);

}

}

What better time of year to focus on the goodwill that makes for human closeness and connection?  Valuing individuals and interactions as we Agilists do, it’s the stuff we work to create.

I spent a day at my cowork space last week.  Not even a whole day, just stopped in to punctuate a stretch of meetings and deadlines.  It was enough to bring home the mystery of the season and the beauty of a coworking environment.

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Picture receiving four hugs in the space of an hour and a half.  Real hugs, not those wimpy one-arm backpats.  All were for different reasons.

The first was from a coworker who had recommended me on LinkedIn.  He was energized to move that task into the “Done” column.  By his action and commitment I felt cared about and respected.  So, when we saw each other we hugged.

The second was in solidarity with a coworker overwhelmed by life and its multilayered demands.  We speak frequently and seem to take turns, as luck would have it, with our ups and downs.

That day his body language – the set of his shoulders and the tension in his jaw – spoke volumes.  We all want to give it up sometimes and go do something easier than this whole entrepreneurial shebang.

The kind of encouragement I wanted to give has no words.  No pep talk can motivate like a strong, caring hug.

The third involved a colleague visiting from another community to attend a workshop.  We are mostly facebook friends, so standing actual face to actual face was an unexpected pleasure.   After a split-second of decision-making in that awkward moment where you’re not sure if you’re going to hug or shake hands, we hugged.

The fourth was a welcome home.  I was standing near the reception area when a coworker I hadn’t seen in a while entered.  She and I have been open about personal challenges, heartaches and absurdities over lunch or coffee.  A lot had transpired in the interim, and we needed to catch up.   A long, friendly hug was the best place to start.

Like the holidays and the complex process of community-building, when it comes to hugs, receiving is also giving.  I am happy to be part of a workspace – as well as a global movement to improve the world of work – where such chance affection is not only allowed but commonplace.

For an international directory of cowork spaces, see www.sharedesk.net .

Too many conversations lately go something like this:

Me to startup leader: are you Agile?

Startup leader to me:  as Agile as our clients let us be.

Image: choreography by Ann Carlson, used with permission.  More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Carlson

When I speak to various groups on The Agile Mindset, I point out that enlightening clients about the benefits of Agile begins with conversations leading up to the initial agreement.  While it’s less important to negotiate a contract than it is to simply collaborate with the customer, language choices do tend to support certain ways of working.

I was pretty pleased with my last experience using a Scrum-friendly contract.  The client said, “Wow, this is short!”  I replied, “Yep, let’s get to work!”

As always, get legal advice from a qualified attorney when you need it.  This is not legal advice.  I offer these sample blurbs as building blocks for your consideration.

***

The following items shall be presented for acceptance:

  1. Project backlog – revised monthly or as needed

  2. Retrospective report with relevant recommendations for improvement – monthly or as needed

  3. [DELIVERABLES]

The relationship between Client  and the Consultant will be managed and sustained by [NAME OF PRODUCT OWNER], who will be responsible for articulating goals and requirements and formally “accepting” the delivery of the work agreed-upon.

Since projects benefit from regular, purposeful, bi-directional communication, meetings shall be scheduled as follows – [INSERT SCHEDULE OF CEREMONIES].  Consultant will remain available – face to face whenever possible – offering reasonable response times, and shall expect that the Client shall be similarly available and supply all information and data as needed to complete the work to mutual satisfaction.

Consultant is happy to use any tools or processes preferred by Client.  Consultant will follow an Agile framework, which is a proven way of getting things done based on principles of entrepreneurial science.  As an Agile practitioner, the Consultant will help identify strategic opportunities to increase business value for the Client, believing that:

  • People and interactions are more important than processes and tools.

  • Working product is more important than extensive documentation.

  • Close collaboration is more important than contract negotiation.

  • Responding to change is more important than following a plan.

Last four bullet points are from The Manifesto for Agile Software Development http://agilemanifesto.org/

***

Recently I received this note and cheerful query from a colleague who runs a B2B custom software development company.

“Good news!  I think I may have convinced a client to use Scrum methods for their next project.

However I’m not really sure how to draw up the project’s contract.  Most of my contracts have very specific tasks and use change orders every time the spec changes.  This doesn’t seem like it would work with a Scrum project.  Any recommendations?”

So I sent him the above, and added a closing line which applies across the board.  Should you ever need backup helping your clients ‘let’ you be more Agile, be in touch for a consultation!

This article was originally posted in The Whiteboard, a blog serving Connecticut’s entrepreneurial community.  Michael Romano is the editor.  Read more Whiteboard articles here: http://newhiteboard.com/

Elinor Slomba is the founder of E. Slomba Arts Interstices as well as a Whiteboard Community Startup Journalist. In addition to covering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Connecticut, she has written for The Whiteboard on the Scrum and Agile approaches to collaboration and project management. As a consultant and curator, one of her main concerns is bridging the worlds of art and business, helping artists be more entrepreneurial and businesses more artistic. The exhibition she recently curated, Navigate Complexity, is currently on view at The GroveThe work pictured above, from the exhibition, is “Nebulae #1,” by Jennifer Davies (handmade paper, string, 17” square).

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Monday evening, an exhibition I curated opened at the The Grove in New Haven, showcasing the work of 17 Connecticut-based artist-entrepreneurs and one timely business topic: Navigating Complexity.

The opening reception drew approximately 50 people from the arts and startup worlds, resulting in sales inquiries as well as rich conversation and invitations to participate in future shows.

The exhibition’s theme deliberately addresses a current obsession among the business world’s top-tier thought leaders. Indeed, this year’s Drucker Forum, which just concluded in Vienna, convened under the banner “Managing Complexity.”

The business world is finally catching on to what artists know every time they go into the studio. It isn’t viable to enter a change process with a well-defined plan and expect to follow it. Instead, creative leaders need to trust the emerging solution.

Startup Weekend New Haven Art

Judy Sirota Rosenthal’s “Unfinished Prayer” watches over a StartUp Weekend New Haven team burning the 9pm oil last weekend at The Grove.

As a curator and a connector of the arts and startup worlds, I hope to amplify the role that artists have to play as guideposts and model generators for what complexity theorist Esko Kilpi defines as “the science of uncertainty.”

I was introduced to Kilpi’s work this week by a publisher who was reading the introduction to the “Navigate Complexity” catalogue, a passage of which reads:

“Navigating complexity is all about patterns. Selectively reducing the data we absorb is an act of creative intention. The world has become a fiercely complex competition for headspace, so we must design criteria for engagement. The quality of the paths we find and the sense we make reflect not only trust in our relationships but also our orientation to uncertainty.”

In his 2012 essay titled “Complexity, Patterns, and Links,” Kilpi writes:

“Complexity refers to a pattern, a movement in time that is at the same time predictable and unpredictable, knowable and unknowable. Healthy, ordinary, everyday life is always complex, no matter what the situation is. There is absolutely no linearity in the world of human beings.”

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Jennifer Davies, Nebulae #2, handmade paper, string, 17” square

Helping people visualize new paradigms for organizational design is a service provided by visual artists like Jennifer Davies, whose “Nebulae” series graces the space where Independent Software works to help entrepreneurs build products and companies.

I see in Davies’s work the shift we are making from “the net” to “the mesh,” a concept put forward by author Lisa Gansky describing the way web-based businesses are advancing innovation through shareable goods. Says Gansky: “Every part is connected to every other part, and they move in tandem…. Mesh businesses are knotted to each other, and to the world, in myriad ways.”

Italian-born Giada Crispiels has installed ivy made from upcycled newspaper and magazine pages between the office of Big Bang, an industrial design firm, and a conference room. The effect adds organic energy and a touch of whimsy to the space.

Navigate Complexity may travel to other locations after February. A closing reception is planned for February 13th at The Grove.

As an artist who “paints in stone,”  Mark Krueger seeks to approach the cohesiveness found in nature, revealing clarity of geometric relationships among interconnected parts.  His chief concern is finding innovative ways to play with those relationships.  Krueger invites his collaborators  – area designers – to use onyx, marble, sandstone, and quartzite in dynamic ways to create order, surprise and delight in interior spaces.

Mark Krueger 17

“Stone has important things to tell us that have not yet been said.  It’s a much more versatile and expressive medium than people think.  I pay close attention to the technical properties as well as the aesthetic possibilities latent in the different kinds of stone, so I can help people unlock them and prepare to live with them.”

He boldly challenges the dichotomous categories of form versus function that keep many artists’ careers from progressing except on a one-sided track.  “Why can’t an artist’s work serve a dual function?  Why can’t it be both art and an armoire, art and an insert in a backsplash?” To suspend judgements about artistic purity can be liberating, in Krueger’s opinion.  “I feel happy knowing someone sees my artwork every day, that it is woven into their daily routines.  Art shouldn’t just be reserved for special occasions.”

bird

Mark Krueger’s studio is in Wallingford, Connecticut, and New Haven County is his home base.  The market for his high-end customized stone installations extends to Long Island, Manhattan, Westchester, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, where people often take great pride in their aesthetic displays.  Important sources for his materials are Onyx Stone in Woodbridge, Ele Mar Stone Distributors in New Haven and New York Stone in West Haven, CT.  He has also created an alter ego, Armando Bertoli, who represents his work in Europe: armandobertoli.com

In a world of pre-fabricated options, where creating an interior is often simply an exercise in multiple choice, Krueger says: “Make yourself available to the end users.  Lift the limitations.  Show them something more is possible.”  He wants to give people the confidence to be creative, and the assurance that each of his stone installations is the first and only one of its kind.

AB

Designers help provide continual feedback from customers and become true creative partners.  It is through the daunting work of listening between the lines for what people really want, what might surpass their expectations, prototyping, discussing and elaborating that Krueger stays inspired to inject artfulness into what has essentially remained a rather stagnantly commercial process over the decades.

Krueger’s installations are like murals, belying his roots as a painter.  The work is realized in two-and-a-half dimensions, highly customized and site-specific.  Subtle gradations in finish, from quite rough to a smooth polish, treat the light differently.  “Some day I’ll teach people how to do it. I’d love for other people to do it, but do it by hand.”

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Another innovative tactic he uses to push stone beyond sculpture and mosaic is to bond thin slices of it to glass with clear epoxy resin.  The results can be used in place of what might commonly be a freestanding glass enclosure, such as a shower door, and backlit to produce dramatic ambient effects.

“Those who choose to collaborate with me have access to a whole new palette.”  Onyx is especially suited, Krueger finds, to use as part of unique light fixtures.  Bonding a thin layer of onyx to another stone produces light variation in the underlying stone’s color.  “Shading in this way, if we need another shade of green than one we find normally occurs, we simply make it.  We can literally create new colors of stone.”

Yet, a world of infinite choice is not actually the end goal in our age of extreme complexity and uncertainty.  Krueger provokes collaborators to wonder together, “how do we thoughtfully eliminate information to make life more manageable?”  Arriving at the proper level of abstraction by bringing the information embedded in a project through several stages of reduction is, in his opinion, one of the most important design questions to resolve.  The solution is different each time, speaking to the needs, constraints and reference points that inspire each set of circumstances in which he works.

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Krueger hopes in the future to take collaboration to a new level with other artists.  He notes, “on a nice, big residential project, we can create internal surfaces that have future flexibility.  One of the big unexplored spaces in homes is the ceiling.  In Europe, ceilings are really designed and thought through.  Stateside, you still see mostly white space.”

In place of this blank canvas, Krueger wants to create a system of panels which could be periodically replaced as an interchangeable design element.  An end user could have seasonal sets of ceiling panels, for instance, with different color schemes, or wish to highlight a particular thematic or design element from a particular part of the world.  “The idea is, you don’t have to live with it forever, but you don’t have to start from scratch when you want a change.”

“I want collaborating with me to be a fun form of creative expression, not overwhelming.”  To that end, Krueger invites members of the design community to have him speak about the medium of stone and its untapped capacities.  Images of work in various stages plus actual stone samples make for sensory rich, interactive experiences.  Email mark.krueger1@yahoo.com for scheduling.  You may also see him present live at Pechakucha New Haven on Wednesday, November 13 at Bentara Restaurant. http://pkn-newhaven.org/NextEvent

Staff and youth from The Future Project http://www.thefutureproject.org/ joined E. Slomba Arts Interstices for the program “Opening Your Curatorial Eye”  (see Juicy Programs tab!) at City Wide Open Studios, an annual event produced by Art Space Gallery http://cwos.org/.  The Future Project helps local teens discover their passions and turn them into projects.  Dedicated staff members are called Dream Directors.

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A former Erector Set factory known as Erector Square http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erector_Square houses the personal studios of hundreds of local artists in New Haven, Connecticut.  This high-density of creators made it an especially exciting place to be during City Wide Open Studios.

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Participating teens visited the studios, met with artists and selected works for an upcoming exhibit, Navigate Complexity, to open at The Grove on November 18, 2013.

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Artwork pictured above (middle photo) by Jaime Kriksciun.  Studio pictured above (lower photo) is Daniel Eugene’s.

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On the face of it, running a company with no human bosses sounds like an implausible fantasy or a short-lived experiment. For more than two decades, Doug Kirkpatrick, formerly of The Morning Star Company in Sacramento, California, has been arguing otherwise, stating the case for self-management as a viable alternative to the traditional, hierarchical organization.

Even for creative minds, this can be somewhat hard to visualize. The Industrial Revolution and its legacy of Taylorism have left us with the prevailing notion that organizations are shaped like pyramids, and that structure is set in stone. However, visionaries across many sectors are networking to amend this paradigm.

First, a few stats. Morning Star is the largest tomato processing operation in the world.  It transacts over $700 million per year and employs over 2,400 people (400 year-round). Its products, primarily industrial tomato paste and diced tomatoes, are ingredients in ketchup, taco sauce, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, steak sauce and a myriad of other products. Virtually every American has eaten Morning Star product. It also exports globally. It is a highly successful company. And it has no human bosses.

This growth has come about steadily since founder Chris Rufer purchased land for his newly-conceived Morning Star facility in the late 1980s. He had an interesting concept ready to incubate on his initial 500+ acres of dirt near the town of Los Banos, California.  He had acquired a great deal of business intelligence and was ready to apply it to the new start-up.

Doug, who started off as Morning Star Packing’s first financial controller, had worked with Chris before running another manufacturing company. As he tells it, “I’d put a stack of checks on his desk to sign, and Chris began asking all sorts of questions: ‘Is my judgment really required here?  Don’t these checks represent legal liabilities which simply must be taken care of, no ifs, ands or buts?  What value am I really adding to this process?’”

Chris’ takeaway was that management time and attention often appeared to contribute zero to the bottom line. The conclusion had dawned that hierarchical management might be an unnecessary cost.

In his new leadership role, the founder posed a whole new set of questions as his team brainstormed in a temporary trailer pitched on Morning Star’s construction site.  Assuming management is too costly to afford, how can we maintain ourselves as a company? Could a set of common principles, instead of managers, serve to guide us in day-to-day decision-making?

Two principles in particular, clicked together side-by-side, seemed to create their own internal logic and establish a commonly-understood basis for maintaining proper oversight and equilibrium in all of the company’s operations.  1. People should not use force or coercion against other people or their property.  2.  People should keep the commitments they make to others.

One of the time-tested mechanisms the company has used over the years to help people make clean agreements and stick to these principles is the Colleague Letter of Understanding, or “CLOU” (as in helping to solve a mystery!). Individuals draft CLOUs in order to come to shared understandings about their “portfolio of roles” within the company.  “Every individual in the company is treated as a professional,” Doug emphashizes.  “And everyone is allowed to learn new skills so that they can take on new roles. Job descriptions are only a starting point. They can always be negotiated.”

Decisions of all kinds, including capital investments, vendors and equipment maintenance belong to identified decision-makers, who agree to communicate and collaborate with relevant stakeholders. Morning Star wants to help individuals maintain their ability to get things done without going through layers of management or having to make a case up the chain of command.

“This sounds great, especially to someone who grew up in the sixties,“ says Debra Cash, a Boston-based organizational consultant.  “But what about things like regulatory compliance?”

According to Doug, those issues, while real, haven’t been daunting enough to compromise the company‘s self-managed stance.  “If we need to have 35 names on the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Association) certificate because of the principle of equivalency, that everyone is equally responsible for occupational safety, then we list 35 names on the certificate.  We want to be compliant, and we strive to fulfill all of our corporate and fiduciary responsibilities.”

However, it is also true that for Morning Star, “the terms ‘blue collar’ and ‘white collar’ have absolutely no meaning. We’ve paid serious legal fees to defend our self-management philosophy. Overall, self management works for us, as it can work for others. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Doug Kirkpatrick is now traveling worldwide and speaking on behalf of this extraordinary company, its story and self management principles. June will see him jetting off to Copenhagen, London and Denver to attempt to satisfy a recent explosion of interest.

Meanwhile, Inc.com just named Morning Star among the Top 25 Audacious Companies.  When asked if the label applies, Doug responds in characteristically down-to-earth fashion. “Now I want a dictionary to look up the word, but certainly, if it means being bold and innovative, then I wouldn’t contest that description.”

What’s changed in the environment that leads people to be more curious right now?  Doug cites three factors: global competition, the availability of live, liquid data and the lighting speed at which business must move to keep pace.

What advice would Doug give to start-ups in 2013?  “To the up-and-coming entrepreneurs, I would pose this invitation. Recognize the opportunity in your hands to start from scratch building a governance structure. Without explicitly considering the question while you’re still a blank slate, there’s a tendency to default to the pyramid.  There are alternatives. And from what we‘ve seen, there is no set of business circumstances, no industry which presents an inherent barrier to the viability of self-management as an operating structure.“

Of course, even among alternatives, there are alternatives. Dynamic Governance, AKA Sociocracy, is one formalized system catching on in the English speaking business world via the work of John Buck, who brought it from the Netherlands (see http://www.socionet.us). In selecting the right level of openness versus formality to suit a particular enterprise, Dan Mezick, author of The Culture Game, advises, “Make sure you ask the right question. Are you working for the structure, or is the structure working for you?”

Artists are thinking along parallel lines. Debbie Hesse, Program Coordinator at Connecticut’s Greater New Haven Arts Council, is interested in these alternative organizational structures. The Council’s Visual Artists Advisory Group discussed the topic Friday, May 17 at a newly expanded co-workspace on New Haven’s thriving Ninth Square, a state-designated hub of innovation (www.grovenewhaven.com).

Artist Judy Rosenthal, known mostly for her ethnographic photography documenting cultural identity in places like Bali, created the body of paintings like the one above while thinking about what is common to all human systems. In her view, “Every individual entering a group does best asking: ‘What am I bringing to this circle?  What can I contribute?’”

Among the best places to step into a circle of professionals from many sectors who espouse self-management principles is the annual Symposium sponsored by the Morning Star Self-Management Institute. This year’s symposium took place on Sunday, June 2nd through Tuesday, June 4th in Sacramento, California, and featured participants from across the United States, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia and Canada. Information about the symposium can be found at http://self-managementinstitute.org/symposia/.

This year’s speakers focused on the networked organization as a source of discovery and innovation. Gabe Fasolino facilitated a half-day Open Space retreat for practitioners to explore how such insights apply to their respective leadership and organizational plans.

Since 2008, Morning Star has maintained a community of practice known as the Self-Management Institute. Its mission is to develop superior principles and systems of organizing people, and to promulgate those principles and systems in the minds of client colleagues.

Documents and data from the Morning Star Self-Management Institute are available to artists who wish to explore these ideas further.  One goal is to develop an art exhibition delving into alternative organizational structures impacting today’s workplace.  Interested artists may contact E. Slomba at artsinterstices@gmail.com and review source materials at http://self-managementinstitute.org/about-us/ .

MANY THANKS to Doug Kirkpatrick for the generous interview he gave by phone on May 8, 2013 from his home base in Sacramento, California.

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Chalkville, a city-wide collaboration attempting to break the world record for Largest Chalk Pavement Art in West Haven, Connecticut, this summer may be the first public art project to use Scrum as its project management framework.  Joining a Core Team comprised of Courtney Tracy (Design), Mitchell Gallignano (City Relations), Gwyneth Evans (Registration), Pat Libero (School Relations), and Richard Kasperowski (Agile Coach/Tech) are now two Student-Artist Co-Chairs, Carlos Andino and Mary Antoinette Canieso.

Carlos and Mary Antoinette very kindly took a break from their responsibilities as students during a busy spring of the academic year to answer a few questions.  Valuing people and interactions above tools and processes, the Chalkville team welcomes a chance to get to know more about who they are and introduce them to the broader community.

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My name is CARLOS ANDINO and I am a junior at West Haven High School. I moved here last year from Puerto Rico. I’ve been a member of the art department ever since I got into the school and have taken classes such as 2D design, Cartooning and Commercial Art.

 

I’ve always been interested in art. Ever since I can remember, I used to draw on anything and everything that I could (just ask my parents!). I would spend every Saturday morning eating cereal and watching cartoons, and after I’d grab some paper and pencils and draw out my own characters and stories. This has stayed with me throughout my life, and I’m very thankful for that. I love being able to think of interesting and compelling characters and stories, even if I’m the only one that will see them.

Moving here from Puerto Rico has been a big blessing. Back in my old school, the only non-academic classes were P.E. and Computer Science. Even though I am very much into computers, I felt like I was missing out. I would see American high schools on television and movies, where students had a range of classes to choose from, where they could go after school to a club that they enjoyed and wanted to be a part of. I envied that and now I’m very happy that I get to have that life.

The Art Department at West Haven High School has helped me so much with expressing myself through my art. It helped me harness my own style, and not be afraid to express myself, even if thought of as unusual to others. It is very important to me to be proud of my style of art because I hope to be an animator for movies, television shows or commercials. I want to be able to flip through the channels and spot something that I created or helped create rolling on air for the world to see.

In the Chalkville project I hope to contribute my skills as an artist, but also contribute my love for West Haven by making this chalk art the best that it can be. Whether that means being part of the design team or serving people cold water, I want to help any way that I can in this great opportunity that we all have to come together as a community and break the world record for largest chalk art!

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NETTIE CANIESO: I’m a senior at West Haven High School and have participated in the Art department for all four years. I have also been a part of the theater program since my sophomore year. I like to write (and sing) my own songs, stories and poetry. 

 

I’ve always been interested in art. Tooting my own horn, I’d say it was a natural talent. But I learned to hone my skills as student under the three art teachers at the high school and I had the honor of being taught by all three at one point or another. 

 

As a student, art classes, namely Studio Art Honors, have taught me to think outside the box and never stick to what I am comfortable with. Throughout my years, starting from Studio Art I and taking Studio Art II this year, I have learned the importance of deadlines and being able to produce works of art that I can be happy with while still being able to hand them in on time (being much easier said than done!)  Art is a reflection of what’s important to me as a person. Every work I create (that I am happy with and/or simply complete) is an extension of who I am and what influences me. Art has taught me to give reason to why I do what I do and why I create what I create.

 

Art will always be a part of my life and I hope to further my art education and eventually become an animator of a cartoon of my own creation. 

 

I hope that by participating in Chalkville, artists and non-artists alike will get an understanding of what is needed to create a successful work of art.  I hope this hands-on experience shows the community that art is more than just drawing a flower on a piece of paper. It’s a statement louder than words.  We all know a picture says a thousand words.  I hope what we create will leave viewers with at least this one: amazing.

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Heading up the Design Squad, Courtney Tracy, a West Haven resident and alumna of the West Haven High School art department, will meet regularly with the students and other New Haven-area based artists including Giada Crispiels to create a unified image for a site-specific 100,000 square foot drawing.  All are welcome to participate in the world record attempt but must pre-register at www.facebook.com/Chalkville.  Meanwhile, principles of Scrum are keeping the development team on track: timeboxed (2-week) sprints leading up to a fixed release date, urgent and enthusiastic goal-driven communication, frequent inspection and adaptation, clear alignment of purpose in the form of user stories, and a commitment to demonstrate awesome results.

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Chalkville, a large-scale public arts event for civic pride, is funded in part by the Awesome Foundation, Connecticut Chapter.  Donations for chalk and other supplies are fully tax-deductible and may be sent to Chalkville, c/o West Haven Council on the Arts, PO Box 16513 West Haven, CT 06516.  SPECIAL THANKS to Ann Nyberg at WTNH Channel 8 for her recent interview which may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1F-k29KYOw

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