Steve Lambert http://visitsteve.com art, etc. Fri, 12 Dec 2014 04:14:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1 NY Times Special Edition featured in “Is Satire Saving Our Nation?” http://visitsteve.com/news/press/ny-times-special-edition-featured-in-is-satire-saving-our-nation/ http://visitsteve.com/news/press/ny-times-special-edition-featured-in-is-satire-saving-our-nation/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:54:31 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4140 The New York Times Special Edition is included in a new book, “Is Satire Saving Our Nation? Mockery and American Politics” by Sophia A. McLennen and Remy M. Maisel, published by Palgrave Macmillan

Steve Lambert NY Times Special Edition featured in Is Satire Saving Our Nation? photo

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Victor Manuel Cázares Vazquez will Talk with Anyone About Anything http://visitsteve.com/news/press/victor-manuel-cazares-vazquez-will-talk-with-anyone-about-anything/ http://visitsteve.com/news/press/victor-manuel-cazares-vazquez-will-talk-with-anyone-about-anything/#comments Tue, 25 Nov 2014 13:43:10 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4128 Victor Manuel Cázares Vazquez is the latest to repeat my I Will Talk With Anyone About Anything project, this time in Nuevo Laredo, MX. It got him in the local news.

Thanks Victor!

Steve Lambert Victor Manuel Cázares Vazquez will Talk with Anyone About Anything photo

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Video: Lecture at Grand Valley State University http://visitsteve.com/news/talks/video-lecture-at-grand-valley-state-university/ http://visitsteve.com/news/talks/video-lecture-at-grand-valley-state-university/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 04:06:41 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4113 This is the talk I gave at Grand Valley State University. During the Q&A I was first told I was a finalist for Art Prize, so that’s why none of the issues around the funding and giving away the prize are mentioned.

This is what I was thinking about and talking about in September 2014. Topics covered include:

  • Growing up in San Mateo, CA
  • Liberal Education
  • What art is for
  • Jesus of Nazareth vs. Jesus the King
  • Monet’s Haystacks
  • Futurist Theory
  • Some work I made
  • The problem with awe and wonder
  • The problem with explicit persuasion
  • Power

And there are jokes.

Watch it here:

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404 Video: QualStream Will Get You Back Online http://visitsteve.com/made/404th-wall-video/ http://visitsteve.com/made/404th-wall-video/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 03:44:36 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4101 In 2011 I had an idea in the middle of the night. Instead of a 404 Not Found Error page on my website, I would make a 404 Not Found video that would become “The Most Awkward 404 Not Found Page on the Internet.”

That went around.

A couple months ago I was invited to create another video for the 404th Wall Project. The 404th Wall Project – I’ll say intentionally – I never understood. It had to do with streaming a video signal to Dubai from, I think, Scotland. While assurances were made, everyone involved seemed to expect problems with the signal. So much so, they commissioned videos for when it all went South. That’s where I came in.

I asked my old friend Scott Vermeire to join. He and I recorded a 30 minute in-character tech support/sales video for a company called QualStream Solutions, LLC. As Josh and B.B., we were going to stay on the line until everything was up and running again.

I’ll warn you, it’s about 30 minutes long. I think it’s worth it, but if you don’t agree that’s fine. It’s not for everyone. However, word from the audiences there was that they either enjoyed it immensely, or found it eerily similar to real-life experiences.

(Note: originally it was over an hour, but there was a problem with the sound so we re-did it.)

About the 404th Wall Project

Hosted by The NewBridge Project and spearheaded by artists Alexia Mellor, Anthony Schrag and Dominic Smith, The 404-th Wall is a satellite project of the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA), taking place in Dubai, 30 October-8 November, 2014.

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No Thanks ArtPrize (UPDATED) http://visitsteve.com/news/no-thanks-artprize/ http://visitsteve.com/news/no-thanks-artprize/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 03:21:57 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4055 I’m not keeping the money.

Last week I learned I was a jury pick for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids. Shortly after I found out I was on the short list for the public vote as well. At that point I had a shot at the $200,000 public vote prize, the $200,000 juried prize, and a 1 in 4 chance of winning a $20,000 jury prize for my category.

It’s a lot of money.

I didn’t enter ArtPrize with the hope of winning. I was curated into a show during ArtPrize. I had heard a bit about the contest and decided to give it a chance and have the piece reach an audience it may not otherwise. I was certain I had no shot at winning. I liked that my piece was understood and appreciated by critics and the public alike.

ArtPrize is hard to explain. It’s a project of Rick DeVos, who comes from a very wealthy family. How did they make that money? Founding Amway – Multi-Level Marketing, which is a polite term for a pyramid scheme. They’re married into the family behind Blackwater, the private military outfit. They’re against unions and advocate for school voucher programs. They’ve been major donors to Focus on the Family, Acton Institute, Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich’s campaigns. You may have read that article I sent last week, or about their unionbusting and plan to defund the Left in Mother Jones. (I encourage you to read them. It made my choice much easier.)

What bothers me the most is the DeVos family has, for generations, been on the wrong side of the fight for civil rights for LGBT people. And they back their opinions with millions in political money against civil rights. It’s a long story, but the end is: they haven’t changed.

Tomorrow night, I may win tens of thousands of dollars of their money.

Now, I could do a lot with that money. I’m trying to build up Public Forum. I’m trying to raise money for the Center for Artistic Activism so we can continue doing our work. I mean, I don’t have to tell you I could use the money.

But I had to ask myself, how bad does it have to be for me to say no to the money? In this situation, where is my line? And I realized, “oh, it’s behind me.”

So today I pledged, if I win I will not keep any of the money. I will hand over all my award money to the LGBT Fund of Grand Rapids. I will also volunteer to come back to Grand Rapids with the Center for Artistic Activism to work with LGBT to fight for equality.

The Center for Artistic Activism has worked for equal rights for LGBT people in Russia and the former Yugoslavia, in the most homophobic countries in the world. We’re prepared for Western Michigan.

The reason I became an artist is because I believe it helps create free human beings. It can show us other ways of looking at the world, other ways the world can be. It makes us more empathetic, more understanding, and more open. It helps us grow. I think the money behind ArtPrize is working against, what I see as, the spirit of art itself.

Update:

I did a short interview on Eyeteeth and talked about this more.

Update: ArtPrize Responds and I Have Some Questions

ArtPrize has posted a response. Overall, I’m pleased. There’s a few things I could nit-pick at (for example, they say “political statement” I say it’s an ethical position) but that’s to be expected. I do have a few questions I’m hoping to get answers to now that ArtPrize has welcomed the conversation, as they put it.

  1. Did the LGBT Fund give $50,000 to ArtPrize, or just the Grand Rapids Community Foundation? It’s very different. Personally, I can’t imagine the LGBT Fund using money specified for those issues on Rick DeVos’ project, so I am quite skeptical of this.
  2. Kevin Buist’s explanation of the budget re ArtPrize was confusing. What percent of funding comes from DeVos connected money, and what’s independent? When 55% is corporate giving, and one of those corporations is Amway, a DeVos owned company… Well, it would be more clear it was explained as n percent DeVos connected funds and x percent independent funds. The numbers, as given, almost seem meant to obscure the real data.
  3. I was really hoping to find out if Rick DeVos and ArtPrize will speak up and take action for equality, love, and acceptance for LGBTQ folks. Not to mention the other issues I talked about. But that wasn’t mentioned in their response.

Glad to hear they “welcome the conversation” though and I can’t wait to have it.

ArtPrize, you know how to reach me.

Steve

UPDATE: ArtPrize Responds Again in an open letter from the Exec. Director

Christian Gaines, Executive Director of ArtPrize, published “An Open Letter to Steve Lambert” on Monday titled “A Message about ArtPrize, Social Equity, and Inclusion.” Please read it. For all their talk about welcoming conversation, I hoped to get some answers to my questions – I didn’t – but what what I did learn has severely eroded my trust in the organization. Below is my response.

Rick DeVos, what is your silence protecting?

Christian,

Thank you for responding.

I’ll get to my main questions shortly, but you’ve reminded me to send a thank you card to the Frey Foundation, who put up the money for that $2000 seed grant you made a point of mentioning in your letter. Every cent helped pay a portion of the round-trip shipping to get my sculpture out to Michigan. I am especially fortunate to be one of the 25 who received that grant. The other 1512 artists this year each had to fend for themselves to put on ArtPrize. This lack of respect for artist’s labor (when ArtPrize prides itself on millions in revenue it generates) has been a consistent criticism since ArtPrize began. 25 grants, that ArtPrize does not pay for, are a step forward but there are many artists left whose labor needs to be compensated fairly.

Now regarding my questions: I wish you would have answered the ones I asked.

My first question was simply if LGBT Fund money was used for ArtPrize. Kevin Buist’s statement conflated sponsorship from Grand Rapids Community Foundation with their LGBT Fund, but they are quite different in scope and intention. You didn’t answer my question, and in fact you left me more confused about the LGBT Fund’s role.


So I called them.



I talked to Diana Sieger, the President of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation. Diana explained that the LGBT Fund is focused on helping homeless LGBTQ youth, which is estimated at 40% of the homeless population in the area. (You see, when cultures and families like ones from the Christian Reformed Church don’t accept and love their children for who they are, many sadly end up on the streets.)

She also said the LGBT Fund was created just a few months ago, well after the Community Foundation grant was given for Art Prize. Interesting.

Then I got my answer.

The grant for ArtPrize came from the general fund and supported, explicitly: translating text into Spanish and creating mobility pathways for the disabled.



Spanish translation and mobility pathways?

You’re talking like you’re crossing the finish line when you just left the starting blocks. Congratulations on the $50,000 grant for diversity and inclusion, but let’s be honest, this only directly benefits LGBTQ people who are in wheelchairs and/or only read Spanish.

So why mischaracterize this support the way you did?



In fact, why mention it at all?

At first I thought it may be a miscommunication, but I looked back at what you and Kevin wrote and it seems you deliberately made it unclear. As representatives of ArtPrize, the slippery way you and Kevin publicly described this even had me confused. I asked you to be straightforward about the involvement of the LGBT Fund and you chose not to answer. Instead you further blurred not just the funding source, but the work the funding paid for. I had expected us to have an honest exchange, but I can’t help but find your statements disingenuous. I now wonder what ArtPrize has really done (not said publicly, but actually done) to improve inclusion? And why should anyone trust an answer this time after being so evasive and misleading?

The second question I asked was what percentage of money comes from DeVos’ family interests and what percentage is independent. This still hasn’t been stated plainly in the way I requested. Perhaps because DeVos money is so entangled in Grand Rapids that it’s hard to say if a supporter is free of their influence. The DeVos family has a share in numerous corporations and foundations in Grand Rapids, as well as real estate – is it even possible to untangle into a simple figure? Perhaps not, and I am asking too much.

My last question was if Rick DeVos and ArtPrize will speak up and take action for equality, love, and acceptance for LGBTQ.

As far as your own position and feelings about LGBTQ issues as an individual, this is not a bigotry audit of you or your staff. I understand you have LGBTQ co-workers, friends, and family – we all do.

As an organization, conversation and board resolutions are a step, but what is important when it comes to equality is action. You’ve already undermined my trust about your words, which makes me just as doubtful of your follow through.

Regardless, let’s not lose sight of the real issue of why I pledged to donate the ArtPrize money and why your connections are controversial. None of ArtPrize’s public declarations of acceptance or internal policies can undo the damage the DeVos family has done for decades to LGBTQ rights, and to our unions, to our schools, and our culture. And ArtPrize remains directly connected to DeVos.

You asked how I would further improve LGBTQ inclusion efforts at ArtPrize. I’d like to help, so I thought about this for a long time.

ArtPrize could continue to do more to be welcoming and accepting of all people and really lead the way for equality for all. It would be wonderful. I’d like to see it happen.

But then people will make the connections to the unfair labor policies the DeVos family supports, and how that connects to ArtPrize’s very structure of launching a city-wide art show with little to no administrative, shipping, installing, or financial support for the hundreds of artists and spaces involved. That will become an embarrassing issue for ArtPrize also, and you will have to say you welcome the conversation, and then implement those changes.

Then people will make the connections to attacks on public schooling, and how those cuts affect the education of people in the area, particularly arts programs, and how that connects to ArtPrize’s artists and audiences. That will become an embarrassing issue, and you will have to say you welcome the conversation for that too, and then implement those changes.

Then people will make the connection to how the DeVos’ operate Amway and how its policies and profit system exploit people and primarily benefits those at the top, and they will again understand how that connects to the way ArtPrize treats artists and the region. That will become an embarrassing issue, and you will have to say you welcome the conversation for that as well, and then implement those changes.

Then people will make connections to how anti-democratic the DeVos family operates in throwing millions into policies they desire, instead of participating democratically with citizens on equal ground. People will see how that connects to ArtPrize and how citizens and the artists involved have no say in how ArtPrize is fundamentally run and impacts their city to the benefit of DeVos real estate holdings, investments, and development companies. That will become an embarrassing issue, you will have to say you welcome the conversation for that too, and then implement those changes.

I thought about this a long time. It’s a mess, because this is not just about LGBTQ rights. ArtPrize has a lot of work ahead.

I do want to offer something though. The first thing, the very first thing I would suggest to improve ArtPrize, is have a heart to heart with Rick DeVos and see if he is willing to stand up publicly for equality. Not equality within your office, but for the nation. See if he really believes in it. Ask if he will donate to the LGBT Fund. Ask if he will donate to the the LGBT Resource Center at Grand Valley State University. Ask if he will speak out publicly for same-sex marriage rights.

If not, I would separate myself from him as quickly as possible.

I know Rick DeVos has said in interviews he does not want to talk about politics. However because ArtPrize was birthed and continues to run with DeVos funds, given the context and history of that money, the outspoken beliefs and political influence of his fellow family members, and the political nature and ramifications of ArtPrize, staying silent is one luxury and a priviledge Rick DeVos can not afford. What is his silence protecting?

In your letter, you left off the last part of Hrag’s quote, which echoed my original request, (my emphasis added) “Rick DeVos and ArtPrize, make a statement to demonstrate that your mission isn’t only an idea, but a commitment to something more.”

Good luck with all your work. I wish you the best,

Steve Lambert

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On Utopia for Keri Smith’s The Imaginary World Of… http://visitsteve.com/made/on-utopia-for-keri-smiths-the-imaginary-world-of/ http://visitsteve.com/made/on-utopia-for-keri-smiths-the-imaginary-world-of/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 20:19:08 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4045 First, Keri Smith is great. I’ve known her and her husband for about 10 years. We used to be neighbors. She’s on the advisory board of the Center for Artistic Activism. And she makes great books.

Steve Lambert On Utopia for Keri Smiths The Imaginary World Of... photo

This is her latest, The Imaginary World Of…, and I wrote one page of it. Keri asked me to write a few words on Utopia, so I did. I thought she was asking lots of artists to write a little something she would include. In fact it was just me.

I got the book in the mail, re-read what I wrote, and I still liked it.

My page is licensed under a Creative Commons license, so I’m sharing it here. However, you should check out Keri’s books, because they are good.


On Utopia

by Steve Lambert

download a PDF

The problem with reality is it’s so easy to see.

Look around. There it is.

Go outside. There’s some more.

You can’t leave reality’s presence. It’s always there to remind you and it all seems so tangible and permanent. So real.

In fact, it’s not permanent at all. Things are always changing and in the long term, everything is temporary. Also, our idea of what reality is is never complete – after all, we can’t know everything. On top of that, our idea of reality is usually inaccurate – some of the great moments in life are when we learn things and change our minds. That’s how we grow.

When we think about the future, this reality can get in the way. Our incomplete and incorrect ideas of reality, and reality’s persistence, end up tainting our imagination of what is probable in the world. The resulting visions of the future are tainted as well, and usually not very different than our current sense of reality.

It takes extra effort and imagination to set those tainted visions aside and dream up a reality we’d prefer, not to mention explore the innumerable futures that are possible.

But why do this? It is certainly more difficult.

Well, it’s definitely more fun. The world as it is could be a lot better. If you’re going to imagine the future, it’s a lot more joyful when you can escape from mistakes we’ve already made and envision something radically new. But there is another reason.

Utopia is a combination of three greek words; Eu (good), Ou (not), and Topos (place). Utopia translated is “good not place”. It is important to remember, as a “not place,” it is impossible to arrive at utopia. The reason we imagine utopias is to provide a point on the compass that orients us on our travels. Without utopia, we’re lost – we are traveling without direction, guessing and hoping that we are moving forward. The purpose of utopia is not a destination, it is to give us direction so we can progress.

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Unrest: Art, Activism, & Revolution at the Helen Day Art Center http://visitsteve.com/news/exhibitions/unrest-art-activism-revolution-at-the-helen-day-art-center/ http://visitsteve.com/news/exhibitions/unrest-art-activism-revolution-at-the-helen-day-art-center/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 16:56:58 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4041 Through Nov 23rd, the New York Times Special Edition is part of  Unrest: Art, Activism, & Revolution at the Helen Day Art Center

About the show:

Artists have been at the forefront of revolutions for centuries, producing work that has an immediate political impact, or is responding to civil unrest. This exhibition takes its inspiration from the Arab Spring, and looks at the impact that artists have on political and social reform in countries like Egypt, Yemen, Israel, Palestine, Iran, and the United States. Unrest looks at artists as activists, revolutionaries and visionaries.

Participating Artists:

  • Lara Baladi
  • Because We Want It (Steve Lambert, The Yes Men, and many others)
  • Murad Subay
  • Public Studio
  • Packard Jennings
  • Shirin Neshat
  • Michael Rakowitz
  • Claire Fontaine
  • Pedro Reyes
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Pizarra Urbana del Capitalismo http://visitsteve.com/news/studio-log/pizarra-urbana-del-capitalismo/ http://visitsteve.com/news/studio-log/pizarra-urbana-del-capitalismo/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 16:31:40 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4039

An artist collective in Santiago did a remix of my “Capitalism Works For Me! True/False” project and Candy Chang’s “Before I Die” project.

They sent me the video, but my spanish is pretty bad. I asked them to subtitle it so I could share it with you. And they did!

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Capitalism Works For Me! True/False crashes the Labour Party Conference http://visitsteve.com/news/exhibitions/capitalism-works-for-me-truefalse-crashes-the-labour-party-conference/ http://visitsteve.com/news/exhibitions/capitalism-works-for-me-truefalse-crashes-the-labour-party-conference/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 16:17:21 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4036 Upper Space crashed the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, UK with the Capitalism Works For Me! True/False on the back of a flatbed. Watch the video:

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Photo Series: NYPD at People’s Climate March http://visitsteve.com/made/photo-series-nypd-at-peoples-climate-march/ http://visitsteve.com/made/photo-series-nypd-at-peoples-climate-march/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:44:12 +0000 http://visitsteve.com/?p=4004 We approached NYPD officers along the People’s Climate March, showed them our sign, and asked if we could take a photo with them. Most were good sports about it. In fact, some of the most intimidating looking turned out to be the most pleasant.

Victoria Estok approached the officers about the photos, Steve Lambert shot them.

Note: Officers mentioned to us they are not allowed to make political statements – we respect that. These photos are not meant to show any endorsement by individual officers, and only demonstrate good will towards the participants.

Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo Steve Lambert Photo Series: NYPD at Peoples Climate March photo

These photos are licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license.

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