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Monday, July 27, 2009

Notes from all over

I would love to have been in on the meeting that determined the language on the I-90 billboard advertising the current show at the Clark Art Institute. It says "This summer - Georgia O'Keeffe," with no mention of poor Arthur Dove (the show itself is called Dove/O'Keeffe: Circles of Influence).

Now, I understand that these are hard times for museums, and that summer is their best chance to rake in as much box-office as they can (especially the Clark, where admission is free in the off-season). I also understand that for every person who's heard of Dove there are probably 10,000 who've heard of O'Keeffe. But I'd like to think that a two-person show could be advertised as such and still draw viewers. Silly me! Clearly, the PR people making decisions for the Clark know on which side their bread is buttered.

BTW, watch this space for a review of the Dove/O'Keeffe show, to be posted on Aug. 10.

I ran into the incomparable chanteuse Jill Hughes on Sunday at the Salsa Celtica show in Schenectady's Central Park (big shout-out to Mona Golub for her 20 years of service to the global music-loving community), and she told me she is working on a new solo CD, set to come out at a release party at the Van Dyck in September.

The last time I heard Jill sing was a few years back, on the stage with the Funk Brothers at Albany's Washington Park, and she totally belonged up there with those R&B legends. This Thursday, she'll be in the mosh pit with the rest of us, as Tower of Power provides a much-needed soul vaccination at Alive at Five. Don't miss it.

Last Thursday, a new experience was offered at the University Art Museum, when six of the artists in the current Mohawk-Hudson Regional participated in a Japanese-style slide talk they called Fast Talk. Brian Cirmo, Sharon Bates, Kelly Jones, Dorene Quinn, Richard Garrison and Harold Lohner were given 20 seconds per slide to talk about 20 images (that's less than 7 minutes total per artist) to an engaged and amused audience.

Before, between, and after the Fast Talks, DJ Truemaster spun house music while art fans mingled with each other and the Regional's diverse offerings. It was particularly fun to observe as gray-curled, bespectacled museum director Janet Riker introduced and thanked "DJ True," proving that you can be geeky, middle-aged, and hip all at once.

The artists appeared to have a ball with the breezy format, even when the wrong slide popped up, which only happened a couple of times but was still enough to keep them on their toes. All in all, it was entertaining, informative, and well received by a capacity crowd. I hope they'll bring the concept back again.

Note: the Regional - an annual must-see for local art lovers and lovers of local art - ends on Aug. 8, so if you haven't seen it yet, you still have time.


Mark Shipley said...

Billboard advertising is an ugly medium, from a number of standpoints. First, they litter the environment (they have been called "litter on a stick" and made fun of by Ogden Nash, the poet and reformed advertising copywriter). Second, most of them are so poorly designed, they fail to communicate. I could go on third and fourth, but you get my point.

However, as long as we have billboards and advertisers who want to use them — they are the least expensive form of advertising in terms of impressions (not impressionists - I couldn't resist) – those create the art for them could follow some basic principles so that their billboards communicate without visually offending us all. These would be:

1. Keep it simple. No more than 6 words total. A human brain cannot process more than that at 55 mph.
2. Keep it clear. You only have six words. Choose only those necessary to achieve the desired response (hence, I suspect, the Dove omission).
3. Keep it legible. If I'm interested, don't make me get into an accident trying to read your billboard with small type or excessive characters.
4. Make it appealing. You are trying to attract my attention, not repulse it.
5. Tell me what you want me to do. If you want me to respond, don't make me guess how.

I've seen the Clarke billboard in question, although a week or so ago. I seem to remember it being nice looking, got my attention. Didn't catch the Dove omission, but then how could I while driving. I wish it had the closing date of the show on the board so I don't miss it, though it might have. I can't remember, or I was traveling too fast to read everything.

Thank you for reminding me about it on your blog. I will be sure to put it on my schedule.

Holly McKenna said...

David, I love your blog and all its contents -- so comprehensive! I would love your input about culture when the new libraries start opening! Any ideas for the actual openings? I have a planning meeting next week.
Take care and good luck with all your endeavors.