The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • Some alt text

    Progressive Art Jam raises excitement, funding for Detroit's Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts

    July 27, 2016, 9:02 a.m., Posted by Rosie Sharp

    Above: A DJ set kicks off at Talking Dolls during the Progressive Art Jam.

    The Sidewalk Festival of Performing Arts has made its name, over the last four years, as one of the most organic and homegrown celebrations of Detroit’s artistic and cultural landscape. Founded in 2012 by Ryan Myers-Johnson, who now serves as its artistic director, the festival presents original, place-based and traditional performance, installation art and land art. It received a $35,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant in 2014, and a second $40,000 grant in 2015, which has enabled an increasingly ambitious roster of performances and participants.

    “This Sidewalk Festival, we’re really thinking about the idea of play and mobility,” said Myers-Johnson in an email interview. “Those are really different things, but they are very present themes in the work that we are presenting this year. We’ll be featuring about 15 installation projects throughout the festival–these are things that people can get involved with. We also have a number of pieces that are dealing with mobility, whether they are literally traveling throughout the festival locations or giving people an opportunity to comment on mobility.”

    But with Knight Arts Challenge funding comes the obligation to raise matching funds–a challenge that the festival’s Curator and Manager of Artist Relationships and Special Projects, Billy Mark, chose to tackle, in part, by arranging the first-ever Sidewalk Progressive Art Jam–a wild, all-night revel and bus tour that featured three different artist-run spaces and a cavalcade of Detroit artists, both performing and in attendance.

    “I feel like Sidewalk is about honoring places off the beaten track, where people from all types of backgrounds can meet and be shocked, inspired, engaged and encouraged by art,” said Mark. “Sidewalk is an explosion of artistic diversity, and the Progressive Art Jam was a lead-up and a reminder that sometimes we need to go outside of our comfort zone to meet brilliant work where it is at.”

    Read full article ›

  • Some alt text

    With four exhibits, ICA, Miami refuses to sleep this summer

    July 27, 2016, 9 a.m., Posted by Anne Tschida

    Above: “The Inverse” by Laura Lima. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

    For the latest entry into the pantheon of arts institutions in South Florida, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami has made quite a splash in its short, almost two-year existence. In its temporary home in the Design District–the permanent museum is scheduled to open in 2017–the ICA has delivered some firsts that have enhanced the art scene here.

    For instance, earlier in 2016 ICA presented the first solo survey in the United States of the influential conceptual artist John Miller. From the site-specific labyrinth Miller created in the atrium, to sculptures, photography and video with implicit social commentary from the 1980s onward, “I Stand, I Fall” was one of the most interesting exhibits of the year.

    Now, several more firsts are on display, all with funding from Knight Foundation. In June, Laura Lima entangled the ground-floor atrium, along with the support beams rising across three floors of the Moore Building, with black-and-blue nylon rope. The braided rope starts out thick, draped across the room, and becomes increasingly thinner as it snakes its way down the beams and onto the floor, eventually shrinking to a small string that ends up between the legs of a live performance artist who is positioned inside the wall, with only her legs revealed.

    This performance aspect of “The Inverse” is somewhat controversial, nothing new for the experimental Brazilian who works in interactive art, often using bodies–nude and otherwise–and animals to explore human relations and social norms. She follows in a vein of groundbreaking performative conceptual Brazilian art from the 1960s and ’70s that garnered worldwide attention. Lima is a also a co-founder, along with her more famous countryman, the sculptor Ernesto Neto, of a pioneering art and cultural space in Rio de Janeiro, A Gentil Carioca.

    While Lima has shown extensively internationally, this is the debut North American solo museum outing for her. Both Miller and Lima were long overdue to be introduced to Miami; kudos to chief curator Alex Gartenfeld for bringing them.

    Site-specific installation by Renaud Jerez. Photo by Fredrik Nilsen Studio.

    Upstairs, three other exhibits fill the galleries–making the ICA’s temporary home feel much bigger than it actually is.

    Read full article ›

  • Some alt text

    Three insights on tackling a social change project in your community

    July 22, 2016, 11:32 a.m., Posted by Lilly Weinberg

    Photo by Lilly Weinberg.

    Last month, Knight Foundation sent 20 Emerging City Champions from 13 cities to an intensive studio in Toronto hosted by our partner 8 80 Cities to better develop their winning ideas. This is the second year of the program, and I was eager to see how it’s developed, so I went along for the ride, participating in all of the sessions. I left the studio impressed. Mostly, I loved the energy of the group and getting to know the seven young leaders from the small to midsize markets I manage for Knight. Each participant will receive $5,000 to implement a project in one year that will improve mobility, public spaces or civic engagement in their home cities. I am excited to see their projects in action.

    A lot was jam-packed into the studio, which lasted for four days, 12 hours each day. There were many lessons shared about how to get started that benefited the young urbanists, many new to social change. For some, the idea of executing on a project in a short period of time felt overwhelming, but the studio showed how transformational change is doable even with a small amount of money and time. Here were my top takeaways from the sessions:

    Read full article ›