Inspiring context. by Nathan Webster

Charlotte was in Copenhagen last week, where amongst other things she gave critiques to the graduating students at Copenhagen Contemporary Dance School. Their performance took place at the old Carlsberg Brewery building, which is now a facility for dance. Unfortunately in August 2017 "Dansehallerne" are closing their doors at this pretty spectacular venue. So, if you are in Copenhagen over the Summer this venue is worth a visit!

Panel discussion. by Nathan Webster

Nathan and Charlotte participated in a panel discussion this morning with the artists DeeDee Darby-Duffin and Amy Jorgensen on how to engage your network - at the Mountain West Arts Conference.

NE PLUS ULTRA: ADAM BATEMAN by Nathan Webster

Adam Bateman

Adam Bateman

Adam Bateman received a BA in English and Spanish at BYU and an MFA in Sculpure from Pratt Institute. He is an artist and curator who has exhibited his work internationally, across the United Sates and at every major art museum in Utah. He is the 2008 recipient of the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Visual Artist Fellowship and the 2013 Joan Mitchell Fellowship. He has curated projects in Los Angeles and New York City as well as for a few venues in Utah including CUAC, a non-profit space that he operated for twelve and half years in Salt Lake City. 

Adam is a close friend and collaborator of NOW-ID - he even performed in our "NOWHERE" show back in 2015. It has been so inspiring to see his extraordinary commitment and generosity to the art scene in Utah and how incredibly significant he has been in shaping our community.  This interview is a tribute to him and CUAC!

Please enjoy!

Charlotte Boye-Christensen

 

Tell us a little bit about your background; when did you know that you wanted to be an Artist? 

I grew up in Ephraim, Utah.  It was small and poor and had very limited opportunities in lots of ways.  Art opportunities in particular were limited.  My aunt Kathleen Peterson is an artist and I grew up next door to her and always thought I might want to be an artist, except I thought I wasn’t talented enough to do it.   

I lived for a year in Guatemala City when I was 23.  While there I discovered bohemian life… I would hang out at coffee shops and talk about Che Guevara, read poetry, and talk about art.  So clichéd.  I started making drawings.  When I returned to BYU I took a 3D design class from Brian Christensen who encouraged me to keep making sculptures and keep pursuing art as a focus of study.  This eventually led to my decision to go to Pratt Institute for graduate school in Sculpture. 

You chose to focus on Sculpture as your medium - why? 

I was an English Major with a Spanish Minor.  I discovered the world of ideas and of critical theory.   Through my sculpture classes that I took by accident, I found out that the world of ideas collided with the world of making things.  I had always built things my whole life.  It was a revelation.  

Tell us a little bit about your creative process - do you work conceptually or formalistically? 

I totally work conceptually—even though I think my work has a strong aesthetic/formal presence.  I almost always start with an idea then, through mental work, I develop a way to manifest those ideas in a visual way—the concepts also tend to engage with the intersection of visual culture and ideas.  I usually conceptualize what the artwork will look like before I start and then simply fabricate it.   Now that I’ve started painting, I feel like a “real” artist like never before, because I have much more of an intuitive process with them. 

Examples of Adam Bateman's work over the years.

What have been some of the highlights of your career as an Artist so far? 

That’s hard to answer because they range from personal breakthroughs to new ideas to museum shows and awards.  Maybe I’m most proud of being a Joan Mitchell Fellow.  That is a real honor. 

Who are some of the people who have inspired you in your work and why? 

Theorist Kenneth Burke through Greg Clark, and Greg Clark himself have been hugely influential.  Neither are in the art world but both write about symbolic language and identity—Greg Clark about how those ideas apply to the landscape and how it influences identity.  A graduate professor, Robert Zakarian, has influenced the way I look at art and the way I understand it.  Matthew Choberka and Jared Latimer helped me understand painting.  Elizabeth Tremante changed the way I think of landscape painting.  Countless conversations with Jason Metcalf, Aaron Moulton, Micol Hebron, Laura Hurtado, and Enoch Lambert about ideas and about art have shaped my ideas.

Who are your three favorite artists? 

Pierre Huyghe, Matthew Barney, Robert Smithson.  I guess. 

What do you think are the most important features that a successful Artist has? 

I have been doing a lot of thinking about this lately.  I’ve been redefining what success looks like.   By the numbers, only 0.5% of all MFAs in art ever hold a tenure track position.  Only 0.08% of all BFAs + MFAs (Bachelor of Fine Art + Master of Fine Art) ever make a living solely as an artist.   Those are ridiculously low odds.  I think success is being able to make art you want to make and exhibit it sometimes. I think if you’re able to continue doing that, you are contributing to culture and expressing yourself in a meaningful way. Reaching economic success and critical acclaim involves too much that is outside of an artist’s control.  

You have been so prolific in your career, working Nationally and Internationally - why was it important for you to come back to Utah and be based here? 

Ultimately my art is about place and identity.  It’s about how aspects of Americanicty have been institutionalized and made visual—how institutional architectural forms re-enforce American Identity.  My version of American Identity is tied to this place.  It’s tied to Utah. I also like that there is opportunity to make a difference here.   

Tell us about the idea behind creating CUAC - what role did you feel that it played in Utah and why was it originally based in Ephraim?

When I moved from NYC I was concerned that I wouldn’t have a community of people around me that understood contemporary art in the way I did. I felt like I had it within me to help create that community—to retain artists that might otherwise leave the state, to attract Utahns living elsewhere to return, to bring my colleagues from elsewhere to spend time here.  It was originally in my home town because I was able to inherit a 501(c)3 and a building and make it into my vision.  The door opened there.  

Having run CUAC for 12.5 years now, first in Ephraim and later in Salt Lake City - how do you feel that the arts community in Utah has changed over that period of time and having been such an advocate for the arts here, what do you think are the strengths but also the weaknesses of our community? 

When CUAC opened (as a contemporary art space), there were only two or three contemporary artists in Utah who were exhibiting their work outside of Utah.  Now there are about 40.  Since CUAC opened, BYU’s MOA and UMFA and Nora Eccles Museum and Utah State and the Harris Gallery at Weber State have all hired contemporary art curators; Salt Lake Art Center changed it’s name and focus to be UMOCA, GARFO and Kayo and NOX Contemporary and God Hates Robots and Granary Art Center have been open; Rio Gallery has hired a contemporary art focused Felica Baca.  Our little community has grown a lot.  I can’t say how much CUAC has catalyzed that, but we have at least been part of a shift in zeitgeist.  

I think the biggest strengths in our community are the strong programs BYU and Weber State have and the large number of ambitious and talented young artists that come out of those programs as well as UofU and Utah State (and Snow College).  There are lots of good artists here.  The weakness is the availability of venues for those artists to exhibit their work and get support.  There is still as strong feeling among financial supporters of the arts that is suspicious of contemporary art—not because of content, but because it competes with more traditional art that is strong in our state.  There is still a feeling that contemporary art is the weird anomaly compared to the big brother of traditional regional art without the understanding that the reverse is true with a global perspective.  

Images from CUAC (Central Utah Art Center) in Salt Lake City.

How could the community have helped in preventing the closure of CUAC? 

This is a tricky question.  There are two answers, at least.  The first is that for a cultural non-profit to thrive, it needs a solid, regular source of income that the organization can count on to cover things like rent and basic operations. ZAP Tier 1 recipients receive somewhere around 1/3 of their operating budget from ZAP each year. They can count on that as a baseline to raise money against.  They then seek funding to support programming.  CUAC lost that important component of our funding.  There isn’t much most people can do to replace that.  We have been super fortunate to have that support for so long.  That is what we lost. That loss is why we are closing.   

On the other hand, CUAC, and all non-profit arts organizations rely on community support for the other two thirds of our budgets. This support goes directly into programmatic community offerings, in CUAC’s case, exhibitions and education programming.  The costs directly related to exhibitions (e.g. shipping, artist travel, painting the space, printing postcards, etc) came to about $60,000 each year.  CUAC had about 12,000 visitors each year.   If each person who visited CUAC had donated $5 each year, we could have paid for our exhibition programming.  This is something I think most people don’t understand.  If people want cultural institutions to thrive in our city, they should give money to support them.  Even small amounts like $5 really help if there is a culture of supporting organizations we love and want to see continue.  I hope people in Salt Lake will read this and choose their five favorite non-profits and commit to donating $5 or $50 or $100 or whatever they can to supporting them.  If we all do this, important offerings will continue to exist and will even grow.

What is the next chapter in your life - tell us about some of the projects that you are working on these coming months? And is there a project that you have always wanted to do?

The month of May is about building a large sculpture that will go to Las Vegas for a museum show in September.  June is a residency at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans.  In July I’m installing a permanent sculpture at Southern Oregon University.  I’m hoping to do a lot of backpacking in the desert.  I’m hoping to go surfing in Costa Rica.  I’ll be applying for lots of jobs too. 

Looking towards the future – where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing in 25 years?

I have no idea how to reasonably answer this question.  If I was independently wealthy I’d operate an exhibition venue in Salt Lake City and I’d make art.  If doors open the right way, I’ll be a famous artist and I’ll be engaged in the development of community through cultural organizations.  I feel like the reality is that there are forces outside of me that can impede those things from happening or they can make them happen.  I think a likely scenario is that like most other good artists, I’ll keep making my art and keep scrambling to pay the bills.  I thought that would have been in Utah.  Now it’s looking like it might be somewhere else.

NE PLUS ULTRA: MIME ARTIST YASS HAKOSHIMA by Nathan Webster

Yass Hakoshima in "Maze". Photo courtesy of C. Wang.

Yass Hakoshima in "Maze". Photo courtesy of C. Wang.

Yass Hakoshima began his career while dancing with the Yokoyama Ballet troupe in Japan. His initial success led him to the United States, where he studied modern dance with Erick Hawkins and mime with Etienne Decroux. In the late ’60s Hakoshima made his stage debut in New York, and thereafter embarked on a 10-year tour of the United States, performing in over 400 cities in 49 states.

In 1976, he established the Yass Hakoshima Mime Theatre, incorporated as Danmari Ltd. He has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Suntory Foundation, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Soros Foundation, Deluxe Corporation Foundation, and from many other corporations and individuals. Mr. Hakoshima is now an international favorite, touring from New Zealand to Montreal, and Hong Kong to Berlin.

I have known Yass and his wife, the dancer Renate Boue for close to 20 years now and am completely inspired by their endless creativity and pursuit of artistic excellence. Yass is an extraordinary performer with an incredible amount of stamina and curiosity for the world around him.  

Please enjoy.

Charlotte Boye-Christensen

 

 

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND; WHEN AND WHY DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU WANTED TO BECOME A MIME ARTIST?

When I was ten or twelve years old, I was a good story teller. I explained stories in a convincing manner to my classmates and friends. In fact, I enjoyed doing this myself. During my life in Tokyo 1955-58, working at Tokyo Keikan, I took daily ballet classes with the Haruki Yokoyama Ballet and mime classes with Hieronobu Oikawa, who had just returned from Paris, where he had done studio work under Etienne Dercroux. While the Yokoyama Ballet Co. had been touring in Hokkaido for a 3-week engagement, I danced in “Coppelia” and “Swan Lake.”   As you can imagine, we always performed on large stages with wonderful audiences.  Somehow I got the idea to try out some of my created mime pieces. During the intermission after the first performance I proposed this to the artistic director and to my surprise, the offer was accepted. I would be performing my own choreographed solos! Because at that time very very few artists were showing European style mime, only at a few occasions Japanese people were able to see mime when they were watching European movies. Therefore my appearances were very unique at that time for Japanese audiences to see mime in a live performance, and it became a great hit during the Hokkaido Ballet tour. On a big stage, one person doing something called Mime was a great challenge. During that time I was also reading a lot of literature and constantly searching Western theatre history, and finding Western art forms, specifically about the art of mime, which at that time was very little known in Japan. Twice I was able to see Marcel Marceau perform in Tokyo, which confirmed my vision of getting more and more interested in the art form of mime.

WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BREAK-THROUGH PART AS A MIME?

After many years of choreographing numerous performance works, I realized that one of the popular mime styles, the so-called 20th century classic short vignette, which is so beautiful and absolutely stark, sharp, direct and showing human expression. It holds a poignant deep meaning like a powerful black and white calligraphy. However to exist among the other “big brothers” like opera, symphony concert and many other types of theatrical forms, which use enormous visual effects like stage sets, costumes, fantastic songs, dialogues, all of which can over-whelmingly impress audiences with enormous excitement. Mime on the other hand, and especially soloist performing on the big stage, without song, no talking, just demonstrating body expression of everyday gestures in life, was not enough! I found one clue: ”visualization of music” could help me to step out of the short vignette style. I concentrated on 15 to 20 minute scenes of short stories or events, well edited, and still keeping a poetic sense and deep meaning. I listened to selected music over and over until the entire score was built into my body.  I enjoyed it so much because I finally found it: Freedom of Expression!

HOW DO YOU CREATE A CAREER FOR YOURSELF AS A MIME AND WHERE DO YOU FEEL THAT THE BIGGEST AUDIENCE IS FOR YOUR WORK?

Yass Hakoshima in "Spell". Photo courtesy of Johan Elbers.

Yass Hakoshima in "Spell". Photo courtesy of Johan Elbers.

My career began originally in Europe when I lived in Germany and gradually began to create evening length programs that I could offer to various presenting organizations, such as universities, arts centers, theatres etc. When I moved back to the USA in 1966,  I had my NYC debut at the 92nd street Y and also at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, which were attended by several representatives of artist agencies. I was signed up with one agency. I stayed with them for over ten years, touring all over the USA in all states but one! It was a very hard touring time. Sometimes I toured in my own car, sometimes I flew, sometimes taking a bus! It was a very strenuous period, with one-night stands, visiting hundreds of colleges and universities, community concerts,festivals.

In order to make ends meet I had to be my own stage manager, lighting designer, performer, choreographer, music director, costume designer, mask maker, props creator etc etc.

All these performances were mostly one-night-stands, including also one- or two-week residencies. Eventually, in 1976, other agencies became interested in my work and I was represented by an International agency (Kazuko Hillyer International) in New York for 13 years.  Now I would be touring to larger festivals and theatres around the world.

Simultaneously I would also work with international agencies in Europe, as well as in Asia. And I was touring practically all year-round. The biggest audiences for my work are definitely in Germany and in Taiwan because I had so many performance tours in these countries. Also audiences in Australia and South America were equally receptive and understanding.

I SEE YOU AS SUCH A POWERFUL STORYTELLER - CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. HOW TO CREATE A CHARACTER? DOES INTUITION PLAY A ROLE IN YOUR PROCESS?

Mime is the art of creating a world of reality. The performer re-creates the world around him as well as represents and expresses his own inner world for others to see. The “outer” world contains objects, people, animals, and organic life of all sorts, which become the sum of the performer’s environment. The “inner” world consists of his/her own feelings, thoughts, impulses and dreams. Illusion can be created objectively. Objective mime creates objects and environments around you. In subjective mime, you become the object itself, such as marionette, tree, flower or eagle.

One of the most important aspects of a mime performance is the creation of illusion. When a mime creates a fantasy — something that is there when it really is not - that is an illusion. When you see a mime perform, you will see many illusions - invisible objects such as a wall, a door, a chair, or movements such as the blowing of the wind, the rocking of the waves of the sea, an eagle flying in space.

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR.

Yass Hakoshima in "Melan".

Yass Hakoshima in "Melan".

One of the most recent highlights of my career has been my annual national tours in Taiwan, twelve times from 1983 to 2003. The Taiwan audiences named me “Shan Tao An” (Chinese for Yass Hakoshima). One of the most important stages I appeared on during my professional career was one week of performances at the Taiwan National Theatre, a 3000 seat fantastic theatre and wonderful audiences. Opening my career as professional artist were two special theatres in Germany: in Berlin the Akademie der Künste and the beautiful Rococo style Markgrafen-Theater in Erlangen. My first New York performance was at Kaufman Hall at the 92nd street Y and the same year (1966) I appeared at the Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival in a program with Edward Vilella and Carmen De Lavallade.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION ABOUT MIME THEATRE?

Mime is simple body language to express a story or essay, events, illusions, crazy fantasies, fables or daily street scenes, dreams, etc. These are raw materials for artistic choreography.  However, how to break it down to simple body language format is the crucial point.

Marcel Marceau created most obvious and very common scenes of every-day-life in a poetic way, with comedic nuances and great facial expression. His creations were easy to understand.

However the simple way to express in an artistic way is always very difficult. After Marceau’s worldwide success from 1976 until around 2006, street mimes appeared on every corner in the USA to entertain and amuse audiences in comedic acts.

Of course, everybody enjoyed watching their plays and comedic acts. However those mime artists did not give the public a sense of the ART FORM of mime. Gradually people left from those acts and labeled these performers white-faced meaningless entertainers because it is so easy to start moving around without much training or experience, special talent or serious artistry. Anybody can copy actions in a white face, and therefore people gradually lost interest in the art of mime. The public does not know the various styles of exciting, high level of classic, abstract mime, dramatic or comedic mime performed in the theatre by artists who have been trained for many years, who can compete with other art forms like opera, spoken theatre etc. When we ask people "what is mime,” people usually answer immediately, “I know it, a white-faced street entertainer or comedian! They are so funny and cute!” Is that all?

Yass Hakoshima in Melan. Photo courtesy of Raul Gil.

Yass Hakoshima in Melan. Photo courtesy of Raul Gil.

I have met so many people during my touring time, and at that point I thought seriously that I have to teach and educate people about the ART of mime. This encompasses the comedic act, to give laughter for a complete opposite situation, such as in the tragic drama of human behavior.

WHO ARE SOME OF THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE INSPIRED YOU IN YOUR WORK AND WHY?

Composer George Crumb, whose music has inspired me tremendously for many of my recent works. Stefan Odry, photographer in Germany. Akira Kurusawa, film director. Jean Louis Barrault, actor/mime. Comedie Francaise, Jules Dassin.  Film director, Vaslav Nijinsky. Igor Stravinsky. All of these have such explosive, artistic, creative energy, and yet they are very human.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE THREE MOST SIGNIFICANT FEATURES A GREAT MIME HAS TO HAVE?

A. Creative power to submerge into the concrete illusion or fantasy world.

B. Vivid memory – memorable, detailed events that the artist encountered throughout his/her life. (The power to submerge into your illusional world).

C. A physically and spiritually completely well-trained body.

Yass Hakoshima in "Black Angel".

Yass Hakoshima in "Black Angel".

WHERE DO YOU LOOK FOR INSPIRATION?

Street scenes, daily events, films, video, museums, books, music, photographs.

YOU HAVE SUCH AMAZING COMEDIC TIMING, YET YOU ALSO MANAGE TO DO MORE DRAMATIC ROLES, WHAT DO YOU PREFER AND WHY?

Since 2001 I put all my energy and past valuable experiences into dramatic, abstract work, accompanied by music (mostly live music) and simple costumes, masks, sculpture and paintings. Adding my choreography, creating multi-disciplinary arts projects.

This is what I thoroughly enjoy!

WHAT COUNTRY IN THE WORLD DO YOU THINK HAS THE LONGEST AND MOST APPRECIATED HISTORY OF GREAT MIME?

Italy, France, China, Japan, India.

IF YOU HADN'T BECOME A MIME WHAT PROFESSION DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE EXCELLED IN/AT?

My mother was an opera singer, so I was introduced to music at an early age. I could have continued studying music. I love conducting and could see myself having become a conductor.

LOOKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE, WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE AND WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE DOING IN 25 YEARS?

I will be continuing to create new work, teaching, lecturing in the US, Europe and other foreign countries.  I am also planning to publish a book consisting of tour memories, with photographs and essays. I am looking for a publisher now!

www.yasshakoshima.com

Yass Hakoshima, his wife Renate Boue and Nathan in 2013.

Yass Hakoshima, his wife Renate Boue and Nathan in 2013.

We are excited to welcome Eric Hofer to our NOW-ID Board. by Nathan Webster

Eric Hofer

Eric Hofer

Eric Hofer grew up in Loa, Utah as a misfit amongst the small town status quo. His love for art, music, and theatre was planted in that state of futile rebellion, and has grown to a deep appreciation of all forms of expression that challenge the true self to emerge. Eric has an MBA in strategic management from Regis University, and is a Vice President at Goldman Sachs where he just returned from a long-term assignment in Bangalore, India. In addition to writing music and lyrics, his other creative outlets are his efforts as founder and CEO of Ephemeryde, Inc. (mobile app development in India and USA) and as founder of I Am Solar (environmental education and activism). Married to Ashley Mason, a brilliant and compassionate psychotherapist.

NE PLUS ULTRA: Architect ED RAWLINGS by Nathan Webster

Ed's head.jpg

Ed Rawlings

 

Ed Rawlings has practiced architecture in New York City for the last 28 years. A graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he has led several award-winning projects, including Dance Theater Workshop/The Dance Building, The Roosevelt Island School, the Pedestrian Walkway Canopies at Newark Liberty International Airport, and 215 Sullivan Street. After starting his career in New York City at Michael Fieldman and Partners, Ed opened Rawlings Architects in 1998. 

I have known Ed for close to twenty years, as I went to Tisch School of the Arts with his wife, Jennifer Phillips, an extraordinary dancer based out of NYC. It has been inspiring to see Ed build his architectural firm in NYC with integrity and vision and to see the scale of the projects that he has successfully completed. I have always loved talking to him about the creative process and wanted to give you, our readers a window into the world that he has created.

Please enjoy!

Charlotte Boye-Christensen

 

Tell us a little bit about your background. When, where and why did your interest in architecture emerge?

I grew up as a “corporate brat”- our family moved often as my father worked for American Can Company which had facilities all over the world.  I was born in Los Angeles and at the age of 4 we moved to American Samoa, then England, then Puerto Rico, then New Jersey and Connecticut for high school.  From each place we lived, we would travel extensively.  As I recall, a trip to Sydney, Australia from American Samoa in 1970 brought me to the Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon, which was still under construction, but clearly discernable as to what it would be.  I knew I wanted to be an architect at that moment at the age of 6.  Traveling extensively through Europe as a child also made a great impression on me and I have vivid memories of Rome, London, Paris, Barcelona, and Copenhagen.  I studied architecture at Rensselaer in upstate New York and have been obsessed with design ever since.  I guess a terse way to explain this might be that the opportunity to shape the world we live in and hopefully make it a better and more beautiful place is the role of the architect.  It is by nature a kind of naively optimistic endeavor, but it seems like something worthwhile nonetheless.

How long did it take for you to build your company Rawlings Architects to become a sustainable business and did you know quite early on that you wanted to start your own company and why?

After graduating from Rensselaer, I continued to teach design studio there for about a year and a half while working part time for the firm Architecture+ in Troy, NY.  I moved to New York City in 1988 and have lived in Brooklyn since then.  Working for Michael Fieldman and Partners from 1988 until 1998 taught me much about how to design buildings, run projects, and manage a practice.  I think most architects probably want to have their own firm, I certainly always did, as it allows the most freedom to work out design problems.  For me it began incrementally with side projects which I worked on during nights and weekends.  Michael Fieldman has always been very supportive of my work and we developed a unique transitional arrangement in 1998 when I opened Rawlings Architects.

What projects helped define your company and why?

I would say our defining project was the first project of the new firm which was the Dance Theater Workshop (now NY Live Arts).  We were originally hired to “peer review” a proposal that a developer had offered to enlarge Dance Theater Workshop’s two story former garage in Chelsea, in return for residential space above.  I saw an opening and produced an unsolicited alternate design, taking advantage of zoning code knowledge I had amassed of the years.  Our design had about 50% more sellable residential area and a larger theater and support space.  This was compelling of course, and led DTW to abandon the previous developer and solicit other proposals for our design.  When the dust settled we had landed our first new building in New York City and were the architect for the Dance Theater Workshop portion of the building as well as the residential portion above.  David White who was the director of DTW was extremely supportive and championed our design throughout the process.  And this project was also a labor of love - my wife Jennifer Phillips is a modern dancer trained at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, which is how I know you [Charlotte]!  The project was successful for both DTW and the developer and won an AIA award in 2005. Charles Blaichman led the development team and is friend and client who continues to commission our work. We have been fortunate to get most of our private sector work through word of mouth, we don’t actively market.

Above: Dance Theater Workshop (now NY Live Arts). Photo by Edward Hueber.

What is the most challenging aspect of running an architectural firm in NYC?

Money.

New York is an expensive place to do anything.  Producing good architecture is very labor intensive, so there are challenges of balancing things.  It is also more and more about collaboration and having a great team.  My partner Steven Kilian has collaborated with me since 1999.  One of our core principles is to search for an elegant solution which solves multiple problems simultaneously.  This kind of an approach can often lead to unexpected solutions. Sometimes I think getting a building built is analogous to putting together a movie or a performance piece - it takes a lot of people, with very different skills, and it takes a certain spirit of making something together.  Someone has to have the helm, but everyone needs to own it.

You have been involved in such a wide range of projects from Dance Theater Workshop's new building in Chelsea to the Thompson Boutique hotel - what type of projects do you prefer to work on? What projects would you like to work on that you haven't worked on yet?

Above: Thompson LES (now 60 LES). Photo by Edward Hueber.

We have been fortunate to have worked on many new ground up or major renovation projects in New York City including public schools which we have worked on since 1988.  Multifamily housing, hotels, and educational facilities are the 3 main project types we currently have on the boards and each have their unique qualities that often inform the others.  Our recent 215 Sullivan Street project which is an adaptive reuse and addition to a Children’s Aid Society building designed by Calvert Vaux is a recent award winning project I am also proud of. 

I don’t believe a firm needs experience in a certain type of project to design a great solution, just a willingness to dive in and ask a lot of questions and imagine scenarios.  Sometimes a cinematic imagining of inhabiting is a way to get at it.  Often it is a very repetitive process of testing iterations, evaluating, discarding and trying again.

As to possible future projects, I could say I would like for us to be doing more performance spaces, libraries, museums or higher education facilities – but really I think the more honest response that gets a little closer to our approach is that each project is unique and presents interesting intellectual and expressive opportunities and that there is always a compelling solution waiting to be discovered.

Above: 215 Sullivan Street project, NYC (photo by Alexander Severin).

I still have a candle stick holder that you designed twenty years ago do you have any products that you are thinking about right now?

We are currently very fortunate to be busy with buildings to design, so we are not working on any industrial or product designs at the moment.  We think of a building on a continuum from the smallest scale to the urban (and global as sustainability and energy become more dominant considerations).  I do have some ideas for things like a shopping cart and an eCup but they always seem to stay on the back burner…

Given the mission of NOW-ID - what is your experience designing for dance and theater - I remember seeing an installation you did for Ellis Wood Dance in NYC some years back, which was pretty extraordinary?

I have always been interested in dance and performance and the relationship and contrasts with architecture.  My wife Jennifer danced with Ellis Wood Dance for many years, and several times Ellis invited me to design sets for her pieces.   I loved the process of trying to find a balance of a set design that supports the work but does not upstage, creates a mood that reinforces or opens up the work, is also easily deployable and transportable, and is not expensive.  Some of the later sets became almost Sol LeWitt-like instructions for assembling things for a future tech crew.  One of my favorites was a piece that used colorful rock climbing rope, monofilament, fishing line weights and spring clips.  The rope was suspended a few feet above the stage forming a square in plan, the monofilament suspended the rope and the weights pulled it down, forming an irregular zig-zag when viewed from the audience.  It formed an internal architectural space, implied a landscape, and was really easy to transport and quick to assemble and strike.  Another favorite was a video piece I produced as a backdrop with incredible music composed and performed by Daniel Bernard Roumain. I spent a lot of time with a digital video camera, taught myself video editing, and listened to Daniel’s music constantly.  It was a wonderful experience and a great honor to see Hurricane Flora performed at Dance Theater Workshop with Jennifer and the company performing on stage.

Above: Ellis Wood performing in Ellis Wood Dance designed by Ed Rawlings.

What or who inspires you in your creative process?

That is complicated as I think about it.  I guess it is a range of disparate things all rolling around.

Renzo Piano, my daughter Adeline, Stanley Kubric, the Carmen Herrera painting we saw yesterday, the way a cat walks out of the room, Nadia Sirota’s music, the Pantheon with rain coming in the oculus, what is dark matter really?  I guess for me, a way that seems to work is to immerse myself in a problem for a long period of time and then leave it and go for a run or visit a museum and then return to it and look at it again upside down.  

What are your ambitions for Rawlings Architects moving forward?

I would like us to design more things.  More importantly, I would like to grow the practice into something that can continue for more than just my tenure, and to establish a culture with the team that can endure for making the built environment a better place.

Where do you see yourself in 25 years?

Hopefully alive and with Jennifer and Adeline.  New York City.  Continuing to design and transitioning the firm to younger partners as Michael Fieldman did for me.  Continuing to be a guest critic at architectural schools.  A sailboat in the picture would be great too.

You can see more of our work at www.rawlingsarchitects.com

 

 

 

An Industrious Year ...an Expansive Future. by Nathan Webster

Dear Friend of NOW-ID,

2016 has been a busy year that many of us will not forget anytime soon, for so many reasons.

In January We did a Meet The Artist event featuring Swiss director Rolf Heim, Danish composer Peter Bruun and Danish Musician and Artistic Director of the Copenhagen Figura Ensemble Jesper Egelund. A small concert followed by a conversation and Q and A with our audiences about the ideas and themes that we were exploring in EXODUS.

In February Charlotte and NOW-ID did a residency at Powder Mountain through Summit's Artist in Residency series. Summit Powder Mountain's Arts Initiative provides opportunities for working artists to produce site-specific work utilizing the inspiring landscape of Powder Mountain, Utah. The Film "Without Walls" was created in collaboration with cinematographers: Josh Eichenbaum and Marshall Birnbaum and dancer Kate Linsley.

In March Charlotte representing NOW-ID did a residency with Compania Danza Contemporanea CCU in Mexico creating a new work titled "Cut"

In May we held our annual Summer workshop Space As Collaborator presenting 8 pieces in 5 days and doing the final showing at the Leonardo Science museum in Salt Lake City. 

In June we started rehearsals for our biggest undertaking yet as a company: EXODUS - a co-production with the Figura Ensemble out of Copenhagen. This project featured the work of 15 local, National and International artists. EXODUS, like its collaborators, took both an international and domestic perspective exploring human migration and movement, a topical subject nationally in political debate, and globally - most pressingly observed in the exodus from the Middle East and North Africa to Europe. 

We did three shows locally in Salt Lake City at the Marriott Center for Dance in July and then took it to the Copenhagen Opera Festival and later to the Funen Opera House in August. The Politiken Newspaper in Denmark featured the production as one of the 10 highlights of the Copenhagen Opera Festival 2016 and called the production: "Powerfully explosive". We send our thanks to the Oticon Foundation in Denmark, who made the tour possible for us. 

Charlotte stayed on in Copenhagen in August and did two residencies both with the Royal Danish Ballet School. 

In September we held our annual Fundraiser House Of Apocalypse at Addictive Behavior Motor Works for 144 guests and featuring the work of 18 different artists. We presented opera, dance, a teenage punk band, a fire whiptress, a belly dancer, the Litas, The Queen of Gasoline and so much more.

In October and November Charlotte completed residencies at Simon Fraser University and at the Training Society of Vancouver, at Brenau University in Georgia, at Wichita State University and more.

And finally, in December we presented our version of a Christmas performance: It's Not Cracker at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City. This work was performed over two nights and featured choreography by Charlotte, sets by Nathan and the performers: Tara McArthur, Brad Beakes, Gary Vlasic and dancers from the incredible BBoy Federation.

2017 begins with excitement as we head back to the studio to start rehearsals on a new project.

We would be remiss not to acknowledge that many of us look to the future with some anxiety but maybe it is important to remember the words of Maya Angelou: "Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage." 

Remaining fearless, vigilant and thoughtful and allowing our voices to be heard through our artistic expression is an important thing to hold on to as we head into 2017. We believe that more than ever, artists who have the privilege of any audience must speak clearly about the issues that matter most. 
 
We realize that we all receive many appeals for donations from all kinds of worthy causes. I’m writing to see if you would consider making a contribution to NOW-ID. As a relatively modest organization, your gift will have a significant impact on our ability to carry out our mission.

Thank you and Happy Holidays!

NEXT WEEK'S PERFORMERS by Nathan Webster

It's Not Cracker is next week! Look for a preview in both Cityweekly and in the Salt Lake Tribune, and make sure to get your tickets here.  It will be a blast - killer art and conviviality... with snacks, beverages and surprises. See above photographic introduction to the DJ & Dancers of INC. Clockwise from top right: Artemis, Karen Osteveros, Max Crebs (Baby Blue), Benjamin Ukoh-eke (Wesley Swipes), Joshua Perkins (Text), Alonzo 'Mini Cooper' Cooper, Keiko Morgan Goshorn, Samnang Heng and, in the middle, Tara McArthur and Brad Beakes. SEE YOU THERE!

It's Not Cracker is next week! Look for a preview in both Cityweekly and in the Salt Lake Tribune, and make sure to get your tickets here.  It will be a blast - killer art and conviviality... with snacks, beverages and surprises.

See above photographic introduction to the DJ & Dancers of INC. Clockwise from top right: Artemis, Karen Osteveros, Max Crebs (Baby Blue), Benjamin Ukoh-eke (Wesley Swipes), Joshua Perkins (Text), Alonzo 'Mini Cooper' Cooper, Keiko Morgan Goshorn, Samnang Heng and, in the middle, Tara McArthur and Brad Beakes.

SEE YOU THERE!

Giving Tuesday. by Nathan Webster

In the spirit of Giving Tuesday, tickets for our upcoming show are 10% off for all of today using code GIVINGTUESDAY.  Get yours or just donate - both at this link here!  

What's the show you say?  It's Not Cracker, at Utah Museum for Contemporary Arts on December 16 and 17...  A twist on the holiday celebration and battle/mix of contemporary and street dance with Tchaikovsky and contemporary beats.  Check our project page to learn about the dancers curated by the B-Boy Federation.

Why give to NOW-ID?  Because you believe in the power of art to move society for the better! We are proud to push ourselves to share with you some of the best performances, gatherings, events and workshops we can imagine... Learn more and support NOW-ID here!  

Thank you!

Charlotte and Nathan

SAFE AND SPECIAL by Nathan Webster

Charlotte and I returned from Vancouver four days following the event... and while midnight wake-ups and discomfort continue, it has been good to be home, in particular for the times we have connected with friends. 

While it feels an evolutionary trajectory has jumped the tracks - and it is a challenge to be in this new place - the last two weeks have, to us, reflected much and thus: 

There are things we can no longer take for granted and perhaps never should have.  

Much hurt has brought us here and there are many newly injured. Many will be in this place for some time and that, for a spell, is OK - we all need to feel this.

But.

And.

We will all need each other to get thru this.

As not everyone is blessed with so many choices nor the perception/capacity/ability to live, give and heal as others may, we, as artists and communicators - as actors in the world – commit to engage our role seriously, with rigor, and yet not without a sense of hope and lightness. 

While recognizing the need to care for one’s own well-being and that of our loved ones, so too does the well-being of community need care. None of this is exclusive.

We do hope you join us for our upcoming event - Your being with us is always a gift that we do not take lightly - and, as NOW-ID’s mission alludes, we believe in the power of art to move society for the better, and this is something that we create together. 

We are not in this for ourselves alone, nor for entertainment, distraction or comfort. Come for those, sure, but also for the power of being, connecting and creating in community, for the energy kicked up and for release… 

And for Charlotte and dancers’ battles. 

NOW-ID’s It’s Not Cracker takes place this December 16th and 17th at Utah Museum of Contemporary Art.