In early February, curators, conservators, and other specialists from across the United States convened at the Pulitzer for a two-day Buddhist art symposium. The participants discussed issues surrounding the original appearances of older Buddhist objects and how they might influence the conservation, interpretation, and display of Buddhist art in museums. Each session was held within a different gallery space and featured three to four presenters, each of whom introduced new data and perspectives on works featured in Reflections of the Buddha.
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About The Blog
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts and Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis have joined together to create the Contemporary-Pulitzer blog which, for the first time, combines the perspectives of two separate institutions with differing missions within the same blog.
Offering alternating posts each day from the Pulitzer and Contemporary, the blog provides a candid look at the behind-the-scenes workings of both arts organizations.
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Latest Posts from the Pulitzer
Last month the Pulitzer staff visited Juan William Chávez at his arts and community garden workshop space in Old North. Juan is an artist well known for his Pruitt-Igoe Bee Sanctuary Project, which Creative Capital recently honored with a grant.
When Juan first visited the grounds of Pruitt-Igoe, he was surprised to find that where high-rise apartments once stood, an urban forest now grows, home to an active community of bees.
So is Juan interested in eventually installing beehives and gardens on Pruitt-Igoe grounds? Sure, he says, but he is not waiting to take initiative. His energies are currently well spent on various social practice initiatives in his own backyard, initiatives that take root from his experience of Pruitt-Igoe but are not contained to its grounds.
At his workshop in Old North, you can find a test-run beehive, active and producing honey; several garden plots where Juan hosts community gardening workshops in the summer; and a space where Juan will soon install a pizza oven so that kids can make pizzas with the local, organic ingredients they grow on-site.
Much like his bees, Juan is finding a way to capture a natural flow of energy—project to project (think pollination flower to flower)—and directing that flow toward a community-building goal.
Philip Matthews, Programs Coordinator
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
Pulitzer Chief of Installation Shane Simmons answers a few questions about the installation of DONALD JUDD: THE MULTICOLORED WORKS.
1. What was the biggest surprise with this installation?
No surprises. We did our homework. We consulted with experts on the work and planned with them thoroughly and early on. We worked closely with Craig Rember from the Judd Foundation. Marianne Stockebrand, of course, curated the show and was here every day of the installation. We even had Peter Ballantine, an early fabricator of Judd’s work, here installing with us on one of the works. We had all our surprises carefully planned for in advance.
2. What was the most unusual aspect of it?
The most unusual aspect of the installation was probably the distinct lack of the type of unusual circumstances that we consider business as usual in contemporary installation circles. This was simply by the book, straight forward art installation. I had worked with Judd pieces before, so I had a pretty good sense of what to expect. I’m usually preparing for the unexpected with work by living artists, but this was very different, as I knew exactly what we were getting into. When I had questions, I had the finest experts on the subject available to me, who have been exceedingly helpful.
3. Did you have to use any extraordinary tools or techniques to install any of the works of art?
Well, we did have a pretty interesting looking rig on our scissors lift at one point, but I think that is as much as I’d like to say about that.
4. What gave you the greatest sense of accomplishment during the installation process?
Thanks to the ingenuity and professionalism of my crew, along with deft guidance from Jack Siman from The Museum of Modern Art, we were able to successfully install the large floor piece in an expeditious manner. I was particularly pleased with this because together I think we came up with what was both the safest and most efficient method for installing that piece.
5. Was there any point during the install that you looked at your colleagues and said, “This isn’t in the manual!”?
No, I actually handed out two manuals to my installers ahead of time and required them to read them both. One was the National Park Service manual on art handling and the other was a document of recommendations for handling Donald Judd works from the Judd Foundation. The NPS document has very well organized information on basic form and art movement procedures. I’m sure they were rolling their eyes the whole time, but it is good information—slightly dated—but mostly solid, and the Judd Foundation document we followed precisely.
6. Anything you want to add?
I’d just like to thank all of the people mentioned above, as well as all of our couriers, lenders, and my crew.
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts offer hands-on internships for recent high school graduates, college students, and graduate students. Each of the two non-profit arts institutions offers its own unique array of opportunities to which prospective interns may apply. Together, the two neighboring institutions present diverse opportunities, as well as a concrete platform for professional development in an established inter-institutional network.
To learn more and apply, click below:
Studies consistently show that the heart becomes stronger as a result of exercise. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts’ recent exhibition, The Progress of Love, demonstrated that this can also be true after a breakup. With strength comes wisdom. And we needn’t look past university professors to see just how often wisdom comes fashioned in tweed.
April 13th’s Art and Tweed Community Ride, a community bike ride hosted by several St. Louis arts institutions, set a path for all three—exercise, relationship, and inquiry—to occur. The works on view at each venue inspired us to stop and think. Like Sophie Calle’s, Take Care of Yourself, which fostered new relationships through the mourning of a lost one, we thought about endings as new beginnings took shape and understood our journey as a series of beginning and ending points. And in between destinations, we owned the road in a way a lone rider often cannot.
Joanna Kaminski, Assistant to the Director
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
Classic Modern: The Art Worlds of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. is a recently published biography of the late husband of Emily Rauh Pulitzer, founder and chair of The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts. As part of her research, the author, Marjorie B. Cohn, was fortunate to be able to interview many of Mr. Pulitzer’s friends and colleagues. More importantly she was given access to hundreds of Mr. Pulitzer’s personal files, including his prep school and college files. These files that were invaluable to Cohn were paper files—not electronic files but paper files that had been preserved in some cases for over 80 years.
Having worked for Mr. Pulitzer for almost 20 years, I was witness to a man who never destroyed a piece of paper, but gave instructions that every letter, every interoffice memo, every report be retained. His grandfather’s papers had been given to Columbia University and his father’s papers given to the Library of Congress. He foresaw that his documents, photos, and memorabilia would someday be included in a historical record.
When Kristina Van Dyke joined The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts as its director in late 2011, shortly after its 10th anniversary, she informed the staff as well as the board of trustees that one of her priorities was to preserve and properly archive the history of the Foundation. She has asked a professional archivist to visit the Foundation and assess the state of the files. Many of these historical files are still in paper format, while many of the current records are in an electronic form—emails, hard drives, PDF files, etc.
Although the practice of saving paper files has become inefficient and, in many cases unnecessary, the example of Joseph Pulitzer Jr. underscores the importance of properly digitizing today’s records as a means of preserving our history for future generations.
James V. Maloney
Secretary and Treasurer, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts Board of Trustees
On March 25, I traveled to Cambridge, Mass. to participate in a workshop on “The Image of the Black in African and Asian Art” at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research. I presented my preliminary thoughts on the images of the body in African art that will become an essay in the forthcoming volume of the “Image of the Black” series, part of an ambitious project that was launched in 1960 by the Menil Foundation in Houston and moved to Harvard University in the 1990s.
The de Menils’ plan in 1960 was to hire a team of scholars to systematically document, in a photographic archive, every known instance of a depiction of a person of African origins in Western art from antiquity to the present. That archive became the basis for a multivolume study on these images and a deeper understanding of how they contributed to, combatted, and complicated the development of concepts of race and racism.
The archive contains tens of thousands of images and with the originally planned volumes nearing completion, the DuBois Institute saw fit to expand the project’s scope by considering how Africans envisioned themselves in art as well as how the Asian world pictured Africans over time. This compendium volume, edited by David Bindman and Suzanne Preston Blier, will not only contribute new and exciting scholarship to the field, particularly in offering Asian perspectives, which are largely underexplored, but will also raise important questions about how projects of this scope and scale adapt to changing conditions, in this case an ever-changing discourse on race that the project itself helped bring about.
Kristina Van Dyke
Director, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts hosted an Un-Valentine’s Day last Thursday, February 14 as part of Sound Waves, an ongoing collaboration with 88.1 KDHX.
The Foehners blues duo performed live, eight poets from the Fort Gondo Poetry Series spoke to the complications of love, entre whipped up cotton candy and blood orange truffles, and guests were invited to answer a break-up email on an antique Underwood typewriter.
Check out these photos from the night by Regina Martinez, plus an album of multi-authored un-valentines.
Banning Eyre, Senior Editor of Afropop Worldwide, a radio program and online magazine dedicated to music from Africa and African Diaspora, visited St. Louis for Sound Waves on Thursday, January 17. He spoke publicly with Chris King, Editorial Director of the St. Louis American, about the various cultural influences that shape African music and how that music resonates throughout the world.
The next day we had the opportunity to follow up via email with Banning and Chris.
Full interview HERE
RESOURCE brings together information about creative grassroots organizations and artists in St. Louis who work to unite St. Louisans through positive community engagement. Represented here is a remarkable range of innovation from diverse community participants: one organization provides a co-working space for independent entrepreneurs; another teaches children the importance of nutrition through gardening.
This guide connects you to the needs of the St. Louis community and serves to inspire altruistic action.
I would like to express the Pulitzer Foundation’s profound gratitude for the hard work of the included organizations and artists. We applaud your dedication to making a positive impact in St. Louis.
Kristin Fleischmann Brewer
Manager of Programs, The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts
photo courtesy of Gina Martinez
On December 12, Crossing the Delmar Divide: A Conversation brought together over 300 members of the community for an evening of intense discussion around racial and economic issues in St. Louis. The program focused on a video produced by BBC reporter Franz Strasser last March, titled Crossing a St. Louis Street That Divides Communities. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts worked with the Missouri History Museum for a number of months to develop a series of community conversations around the subject. The Pulitzer held the culminating event.
Strasser returned to St. Louis to participate in the event and to create a follow-up story, St. Louis Race Debate Sparked by BBC Video.
A panel moderated by Tabari Coleman, project director of the Anti-Defamation League, debated topics raised by the video. Panelists included Sandra M. Moore, president of Urban Strategies; Alderman Antonio French of the 21st Ward of the City of St. Louis; Bob Duffy, associate editor of the St. Louis Beacon; and Ilene Berman, local artist and educator. Video documentation can be viewed HERE.
The panel participants were asked to respond to a few follow-up questions after the program. The questions and answers are below.
Franz Strasser, BBC News
Q. What do you think about the activity your report has spurred in the St. Louis community?
A. It’s always gratifying to see that your work can actually make a difference on the ground. From the comments I read on Twitter and Facebook immediately following the publication of the video, I was very impressed by how quickly people moved from accepting a certain reality to questioning what could be done about it.
Q. What is your response to the local community discussion at the program on December 12?
A. The discussion showed how eager people are to participate not just by attending, but by making their voice and their story heard. It also showed how challenging it can be to discuss race and inequality with a large group of people from various backgrounds.
Q. How do you think St. Louis compares to other cities with racial and economic divisions?
A. Metropolitan cities all over the world struggle with divisions in their own right, but St. Louis remains a special case because the division is made so apparent by walking across Delmar Boulevard. But there are many past examples of cities rising to the occasion and becoming symbols for progress and change. St. Louis could show cities around the world what it takes to integrate and bridge divisions.
Bob Duffy, The St. Louis Beacon
Q. How can we sustain and transfer the enthusiasm evident in the Pulitzer Foundation discussion, and — since the preaching really was to a most receptive choir — how can we get others, including the Establishment, to come forward and to help, and to enter into conversations such as the one Wednesday night; and after hearing them, to commit enormous resources of time and money to bringing about changes necessary to achieve full and measurable equality?
A. Everyone who participated in the program and is concerned with racial equality must be willing to stick with the subject, and to work for change and to work to attract converts to our cause, and to be willing to bounce back from disappointments and further misunderstandings. Even when things go smoothly in efforts to effect broad social change, progress takes years to accomplish. And yet, how long can we expect men and women to wait — men such as the unnamed person in the video who spoke of his feelings of being trapped and disaffected and stuck on the plantation forever?
Ilene Berman, Artist and Educator
Q. What is your reaction to the discussion that ensued during the program last week?
A. I took part in two other Delmar Divide discussions in the days leading up to being on the Pulitzer Panel. What I noticed at all three events was the need for people to be able to publicly tell their stories about the Divide. I think that is what Franz’s video did: it gave the people of St. Louis permission to do publicly what they had been doing with friends in their own homes; it empowered them to ask to be heard. This is such an important step in understanding the history of racial division in our city and it cannot be rushed.
Q. What do you think are the best next steps for St. Louisans interested in topics of racial and economic disparity in St. Louis?
A. I think we need to continue to publicly listen to each other. In our desire to ‘move forward’, we cannot silence our neighbors on either side of the Divide. Only after everyone feels they have been heard will we be able to move to the next step of problem-solving what to do. I would like to see the Pulitzer Foundation and the History Museum create panels of listeners (I would be happy to volunteer) and sponsor a series of well-publicized day-long events inviting people to come to be heard. Part of the legacy of the Divide is that we do not know each other.
The Pulitzer looks forward to continuing projects around the subjects of economics and race in St. Louis. We hope to incorporate the topics into future programming, specifically into a new, design-focused initiative, that will highlight the city as a living organism.