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CULTURALLY SPEAKING

By Cornelia Seckel
ART TIMES June 2008


Raymond J. Steiner reading from his novel The Mountain at Mezzaluna Bistro Latino & Gallery in Saugerties, NY.

Raymond Steiner’s novel The Mountain was successfully launched at a celebration held at ART TIMES and then at the first Reading and Book signing at Mezzaluna Bistro Latino & Gallery in Saugerties, NY. The response from readers is very positive and they particularly like the detail of Catskill Mountain/Hudson Valley Folk Lore and History and the revealing of an artist’s sensibilities as he evolves from sketcher to painter. We have developed quite a list of book signings, readings and discussions and as more are added I will print the schedule in ART TIMES as well as on our website: www.arttimesjournal.com. The next signing will be on Fri., June 13th 7:30 at Lotus Fine Art on Rock City Rd., Woodstock, NY and then on August 2, at the Woodstock Artists Association Museum, Woodstock, NY. Barnes & Noble in Kingston, Casa del Arte in Highland, The Colony Café in Woodstock, the Kingston Library, Karpeles Museum in Newburg are already on the list with dates to follow (still in the works are readings at the Salmagundi Club in NYC and down in St. Augustine, Florida). Let me know if your organization would like to sponsor a reading and discussion.

Evelyn Kish of Cedarwood Center for the Arts in the downtown business area of Port Jervis, NY, told me that their aim is “to provide opportunities where artists and craftspersons can share a common bond in their love for the creation and promotion of arts and crafts; have a forum which will help raise awareness and instill appreciation of art in all its forms in the local community and beyond; and be a venue for marketing artists’ works.” To achieve these goals, Cedarwood has on-going art & crafts exhibitions and sales, lectures and multi-media demonstrations, classes in various media, and participates in community events. Open for business daily from 11am to 5pm except Wednesdays and reached at 845-856-2307, they expect to be ‘‘a place where art thrives” and I certainly hope they do  • Also in Port Jervis is UpFront Exhibition Space, a new art gallery owned by Debbie Raia and Gordon Graff who saw a need for an interactive artistic experience, and will showcase artists and performers. They expect to host special events, open mic nights, poetry readings, live music shows and host small meetings. UpFront is encouraging the business community to sponsor the arts and artists. Their first exhibition opened on May 1 and will run till the end of June. For more information, contact curator Greg Zukowski at 845-856-2666.


ArtTable's 2008 Awards Luncheon: 
(L to R) Lila Harnett, founding president of ArtTable, Emily Rafferty, president, Metropolitan Museum of Art; Vishakha Desai, president and CEO, Asia Society, recipient of ArtTable's 2008 Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts; Joan Mondale, 1997 award recipient; Lisa Dennison, Chairman, Sotheby's North and South America, keynote speaker; Peggy Loar, president of ArtTable; Elizabeth Sackler,  president, Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation and 2006 award recipient and Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, Chairman, Asia Society. 
 ( Photo: Elsa Ruiz )

ArtTable, founded in 1981 by a handful of women brought together by Lila Harnett to exchange ideas, is now a national membership organization for women leaders in the visual arts with 1,000 members in NYC and 8 affiliates and chapters across the US. I became a member of this organization several years ago and find their vast programs more than meet their mission to be supporting women in the arts at all stages of their careers. Programs include: visits to private and public art collections, discussions by Museum Directors and Curators and others on various subjects of interest, trips to areas outside NYC, programs for professional growth, networking via the internet and at gatherings (I always bring lots of business cards and in true ArtTable mode don’t take up too much of any one’s time as there is a room filled with people to learn about) as well as the informal breakfast meetings. In the past few years a new educational program, “Oral History Project”, has gathered nearly 30 interviews. I am particularly excited by the work being done to connect young women interested in the arts with internships and volunteer relationships that will help them to explore further what they think they would like to do. Students and young professionals in arts administration, museum studies, and art history programs are invited to participate in mentoring roundtable discussions regarding careers in the arts hosted by ArtTable members from different spectrums of the arts community. One of the organizations that ArtTable collaborates with is High 5's Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC) Program which gives students in the NYC high schools the opportunity to attend cutting edge theater, music events, dance performances, museums and a host of art galleries while improving their writing skills. High 5 began when a New York City high school student visited Europe and found affordable student tickets to the opera, the theater, and the symphony widely available. She saw that teens regularly took advantage of the discounted tickets and formed an active part of arts audiences. When she returned home, she wanted to replicate that experience for teens in New York City and, with her involvement, High 5 began as a volunteer effort in 1993, a cooperative undertaking that included staff at the American Symphony Orchestra, The New York Times and Ticketmaster. Two years later, in 1995, with a grant from Citigroup, High 5 made the transition from a volunteer to an independent non-profit organization with a full time Executive Director and a small staff and board. Since then, more than 100,000 tickets were sold; advertising has reached millions of readers; and they have built a mailing list of more than 50,000 teens and their parents, mentors and teachers, even expanding into other cities including Columbus, Ohio; Freeport, Long Island; Seattle, Washington; and Auckland, New Zealand. More about them at: www.highfivetix.org. I must say that as a former teacher and career counselor I am very excited about these programs that enrich young people’s lives and proud to be a member of an organization that supports this work. More about ArtTable and the work done at www.arttable.org.


Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO, Asia Society, 2008 recipient of ArtTable's 15th Award for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts, addresses globalization of the art world at ArtTables annual award luncheon held at the Mandarin Oriental in New York City. (Photo: Elsa Ruiz)

Each year ArtTable honors a member of the arts community for Distinguished Service to the Visual Arts. This year, it Vishakha N. Desai, President and CEO of the Asia Society (www.asiasociety.org), was honored at the 15th Annual Award Luncheon. What an exciting, elegant, warm and friendly affair held at the Mandarin Oriental NY Hotel in Columbus Circle, NYC. The Luncheon was part of the 2008 Award Luncheon Weekend that included an annual members meeting, conversation and reception. The Conversation was between Vishakha Desai, honoree, and Kathy Halbreich, Associate Director of MoMA. The two women had been friends and colleagues for 20 years and each prepared questions for the other that led into delightful dialogue. One of the strongest ideas I came away with was Vishakha Desai saying that it is critical for world understanding and peace for us to know each other culturally and that this is the basis of what she is doing. In accepting the award the following day she said that Art illuminates culture and transcends cultural barriers, art is the cultural connector and very much part of the economic and political world we live in. Many of us are aware of this and it is heartwarming and encouraging to know that such a key player among the world’s cultural powerbrokers is this strong, understanding, smart and exuberant woman. I was honored to meet her again — we’d met and chatted at an opening at the Asia Society many years ago. The 460 attendees (many were key figures from the arts community) were welcomed by Dena Muller, Executive Director of ArtTable. Peggy Loar Voorsanger, President of ArtTable, introduced the keynote speaker Lisa Dennison, chairman, Sotheby’s North and South America and former Director of the Guggenheim Museum, NY.  Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, Chairman of the Board of the Asia Society, offered personal remarks and accolades about Vishakha Desai, giving us some insights into how it is to work with her, her energy, vision and determination. Emily Kernan Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and last year’s recipient of the Award introduced the Honoree. I am so proud to be a member of this group and add to their good work in whatever ways I can.

That’s it for this month. Remember that our next issue combines July and August and calendar information deadline for those months is June 12; advertising June 23rd.

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