Friday, July 17, 2009

Hi ho, off to M.O.

truck on 10 freeway east, Tempe, Arizona, on my way to Austin, Texas

It's official: I am moving to St. Louis, Missouri, to become the Executive Director of the Laumeier Sculpture Park (see why I included the picture above? I think about Johnny Sokko's episode about the giant flying eyeball as well).

I am thrilled. I'm joining a great board and staff, a culturally complex and rich community. I've just gotten my two purchases--"Hidden Assets: Connecting the Past to the Future of St. Louis", edited by Richard Rosenfeld and "Mapping Decline: St. Louis and the Fate of the American City" by Colin Gordon--to become more knowledgeable and grounded in the city's past. I want to be able to clearly articulate, and activate, the next phase of the LSP's contribution to the region's visual future.

I've already gotten lovely notes from board members, staff, colleagues and artists (both in St. Louis and across the country) about their great enthusiasm for the Laumeier Sculpture Park--I think I'm going to have a great time, and isn't that ultimately why we do what we do?

In addition to a great new challenge, I am also going to be nearer to Kevin and my pals in Milwaukee (plus my Milwaukee family Lou and Carmel), my mom in Kansas City and water. This last word is so meaningful. As much as I have had many great experiences and opportunities in Phoenix, the biggest question I have had for urbanists, architects and city people concerns the sustainability of post-industrial cities. Are any of them sustainable at their current rate of growth and our economic collapse?

Jack Becker speaking in Milwaukee, July 16, 2009

Last night I went with friends to a Public Art Symposium at Cardinal Stritch University, Milwaukee. Jack Becker, founder and executive director of Forecast Public Art, St. Paul, spoke about the evolving field of public art. We met for breakfast the next morning to speak more fully about the field, opportunities, the new amendment to the Minnesota State constitution that dedicates funds to arts, parks and legacy projects like public art--inspiring. Art in the public realm--not plop art, mind you--is a compelling area of contemporary artistic production that I've been dealing with for a decade, and I think the Laumeier Sculpture Park will continue to play an important role in creating opportunities for artists testing new media and materials.

And since I am technically on vacation, I include a picture of Lou Miyazaki's garden in Wauwatosa. She, Kevin and I have been working on this for a few years now, and with all the rain this spring, the garden has popped. We love the fresh produce and cut flowers, and with almost all perennials, the garden is self-sustaining (Dutch iris, anyone?). I've got some more mulch to put down but I will wait until fall to move and plant some things. I'll stop by Starbucks for a sac full of coffee grounds, great for the tomatoes. How can a family plot yield more food--that's next on our agenda; amending the soil and encouraging worms comes first.

Happy summer everyone!

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