Lume: Love Songs From Around The World, CUNY Graduate Center, New York
November 15, 2019
The Bosnian-born duo of accordionist Merima Ključo and vocalist Jelena Milušić performs the New York debut of Lume, their project of love songs from around the world and Ključo’s compositions based on Sephardic, Croatian, Romanian, and Kosovan melodies. Merima’s original accordion playing is at once traditional and contemporary and has earned her accolades for performances on stages worldwide. Contralto Milušić performs in a wide variety of musical styles, from blues and jazz, to rock and traditional Balkan music. Part of Live@365 Global Music Series at CUNY Graduate Center.
Reimagine End of Life, New York, October 27-November 3, 2018
From 2017 to 2018, I served as a producer for Reimagine End of Life, a weeklong New York City festival of 350+ events sparking conversations about death, dying and living fully. Over 200 organizations, agencies, and individuals—representing art/culture, design/technology, faith, government, and medical sectors—hosted film screenings, art exhibitions, performances, talks, and workshops that inspired dialogue about advanced care planning and underscored the need to improve the quality of caregiving in the U.S. Attendance was approximately 7,000. Reimagine was initially prototyped in 2016 by OpenIDEO as a week-long event series, spread across the entire San Francisco Bay Area and is now an independent nonprofit. I wrote reflections and described highlights here.
Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story, 59E59 Street Theaters, New York, March 8-April 22, 2018
2b theatre, a company based in Halifax, Nova Scotia asked me to direct community engagement for the Off Broadway premiere of Old Stock: A Refugee Love Story. It’s an Edinburgh Fringe award-winning play with music based on the true story of two Romanian Jews immigrating to Canada in 1908, starring Canadian Klezmer-Folk Sensation Ben Caplan. As impact producer, I engaged community partners to purchase discounted tickets, mobilize stakeholders, utilize the event to call attention to the current refugee crisis and the civil rights of immigrants. Several organizations and faith-based groups—including HIAS, Judson Memorial Church, New Sanctuary Coalition, Synagogue Coalition on the Refugee and Immigration Crisis—lent their expertise to a post-performance panel discussion and/or distributed resources and action steps to audience members.
This Place, University Art Museum/University at Albany, February 1-April 2, 2018
The University at Albany, SUNY has asked me to develop programming and campus/community engagement for the University Art Museum's presentation of This Place, a traveling exhibition exploring Israel and the West Bank through the eyes of twelve internationally acclaimed photographers: Frederic Brenner, Wendy Ewald, Martin Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Jungjin Lee, Gilles Peress, Fazal Sheikh, Stephen Shore, Rosalind Fox Solomon, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, and Nick Waplington. The show, a collaborative project of the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, the Wellin Museum of Art at Hamilton College, the University Art Museum, University at Albany, State University of New York, and the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum at Skidmore College, is on view at four different academic museums simultaneously, with each institution presenting work by four of the twelve photographers. Programming will include talks, film screenings, and the use of a work/meeting space in the galleries for classes, discussion, and other projects inspired by the artworks.
Wrestling Jerusalem, September 12-17, 2017
I served as programming and community engagement consultant for the New York premiere of Wrestling Jerusalem, a film based on a one-person play written and performed by Aaron Davidman who conjures 17 characters from all sides of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I developed strategic partnerships with peacebuilding groups, houses of worship, interfaith organizations, and other nonprofits to promote screenings and involved their communities in a series of post-screening discussions. I also advised the producers in researching theaters for the film's premiere and four-wall theatrical release at Symphony Space's Leonard Nimoy Thalia September 12-17, 2017. These efforts have laid the groundwork for deeper partnerships in this grassroots effort to independently distribute the film in communities and campuses across the United States.
Sara Greenberger Rafferty: Gloves Off at the Dorsky Museum, February 4 - May 21, 2017
My second exhibition for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz will present recent work by the Brooklyn-based artist Sara Greenberger Rafferty, known for unsettling works that contend with topics such as domesticity, the body, consumer culture, fashion, and violence. Over the past decade, Rafferty (b. 1978) has referenced the language, gestures, and props, associated with stand-up comedy using a variety of media, Her new objects–blurring the lines between two and three dimensions—feature images printed on acetate which are then painted and mounted on irregular, hand-cut Plexiglas. To complete this intensive process, Rafferty mounts the work to walls using hardware screws that disrupt and “wound” its surface. The exhibition will also premiere a video based on studies conducted as part of a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. The boxing term “gloves off”—frequently used as a metaphor for brutal political campaigns and post-9/11 military interrogation--also aptly describes more subtle aggressions in American popular culture which Rafferty lays bare.
After its presentation at The Dorsky, a version of the exhibition traveled to the University Art Museum (UAM), the State University of New York at Albany and The Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery at Stony Brook University. An illustrated exhibition catalogue, distributed by the State University of New York Press and available for purchase at the museums and online at SUNY Press and Amazon, includes my essay and an artist interview by Jonathan Thomas.
Strategic Planning for United Palace of Cultural Arts, Winter 2015/2016
Built in 1930, this magnificent 3,400-seat vaudeville house and movie palace is now home to United Palace of Cultural Arts (UPCA), a not-for-profit community-based organization located in Northern Manhattan. UPCA engaged Pandamonium Productions to provide research and recommendations for the main theater's digital projection technology, to broaden the scope of film selections and its audiences, and to provide a set of actions leading to a fundraising campaign. As part of the study, Pandamonium surveyed UPCA stakeholders, as well as members of the New York Metro Area film/media arts industry. The project resulted in a 27-page report funded by the Media Arts Assistance Fund, a re-granting program utilizing funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. UPCA has since received a donation from composer-actor Lin-Manuel Miranda to purchase industry-standard DCP equipment to build audiences for cinema.
Wrath and Resilience, a program of short films at Wave Hill on August 9, 2015
Wave Hill is an oasis in the Bronx featuring beautifully landscaped gardens, spectacular views of the Hudson River, and art programs exploring the natural world. Staff invited me to select and present recent films about the effect of natural disaster on diverse communities. The best stories I found touched on a theme explored in Rebecca Solnit's book A Paradise Built in Hell: the sense of solidarity and purpose generated in a catastrophe. This diverse group of shorts included Jamie Stuart’s Eternal Storm (2012), an impressionistic glimpse of hope and strength after Hurricane Sandy; Kombit (2014), by Jeff Reichert and Farihah Zaman, a portrait of a collective garden that combats post-earthquake hunger in Haiti; One Child (2014), by Zijian Mu, an intimate journey into the lives of families affected by China's one-child policy after the Sichuan earthquake; Can’t Stop the Water (2013) by Jason Ferris and Rebecca Marshall Ferris, a viewpoint into a Native American Cajun community’s battle to protect their land from rising seas and an indifferent government; and Glory at Sea (2008), an allegorical work by Oscar-nominated director Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) that demonstrates the creative spirit of New Orleans.
I introduced the screening and moderated Q&A with filmmakers Stuart, Reichert, Zaman, and Zijian. Wave Hill published an interview with me here.
Videofreex: The Art of Guerrilla Television at the Dorsky Museum, February 7-July 12, 2015
As a guest curator for the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art/SUNY New Paltz, I organized a retrospective of the Videofreex, a collective of artists, activists, and storytellers who produced and disseminated alternative media in New York City and Upstate, as well as in other U.S. communities from 1969-1978. This 3,000 square-foot show included a catalogue that I co-edited for SUNY Press and a series of panel discussions and engagement programs in partnership with university departments and institutions including The Brooklyn Museum, Electronic Arts Intermix, and the Sanctuary for Independent Media.
Through the display of newly restored videotape excerpts, photography, drawings, prints, ephemera, publications, and historic audiovisual equipment, the exhibition highlights the role of the Videofreex as documenters and broadcasters of counterculture, their participation in significant exhibitions of video art and time-based media, and their impact on a new generation of artists utilizing social media and social practice.
The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book music commission and tour, 2013-2015
Originally commissioned while I served as Program Officer for the Arts at the Foundation for Jewish Culture, The Sarajevo Haggadah: Music of the Book is a multimedia concert that continues to tour in the United States and Europe. Composed by Bosnian-born, Los Angeles-based accordionist Merima Kljuco, the performance traces the manuscript's travels from medieval Spain to 20th-century Bosnia featuring animation by video artist Bart Woodstrup and piano by Seth Knopp. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Geraldine Brooks, whose book inspired the composition, participated in several post-panel discussions. After the Foundation's tour to five North American cities, Merima Ključo engaged me in 2014-2015 to manage bookings for the project. I successfully brought the performance to UChicago Presents, UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music, and The Morgan Library and Museum. I worked closely with staff from Yellow Barn, an international chamber music festival and residency, to develop the commission, prepare it for touring, and provide guidance to performing arts presenters in offering interpretive programming.
Archiving the Arts Symposium at Burchfield Penney Art Center, June 13, 2015
As a consultant for Independent Media Arts Preservation, I convened a group of 50 North American artists, curators, conservators, archivists and other stakeholders in the field of audiovisual arts preservation. Working with staff at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, my colleagues and I presented a series of panel discussions highlighting case studies featured in the Archiving the Arts web resource, an online project we launched in conjunction with the symposium.