The International Sculpture Center Conference in Philadelphia was fun with tons of interesting people from all over the world! I think about 250 or so, but less than last year. I saw many of the same people that I previously met in Kansas City. Julian Voss-Andreae goes regularly to these events and knows more people than me. So he is fun to hang out with in the bar late at night! It took place at Moore College in downtown, only two blocks from our hotel in the center of the city.
One of my favorite presentations was a round table discussion by a group of artists from Ghana that created a contemporary art college (without walls) called blaxTARLINES. It goes out into their communities and makes stuff from whatever they can collect. Then they give it back to their community. They have been transformative across Africa and produced El Anatsui an amazing contemporary artist that makes art that is reminiscent of African tapestry design themes only made of crushed beer cans and stitched to create giant tapestries. Look him up. He now sells work in America for $500,000 and up.
Another panel discussion featured four professors that tried to define the limits of what is still considered sculpture. I think they agreed there wasn't one even though they didn't agree. They let/encourage their students redefine the boundaries of "art in space." They acknowledged that college art programs are a privileged sanctum completely removed from the reality of making a living through art. And that's a good thing.
Philadelphia has a ton of public art including over 3000 building murals that were everywhere and, as a result, very little graffiti! I guess graffiti artists are too busy doing contract work for the Philadelphia City Mural Project. Lots of giant old industrial buildings have fallen into the hands of the creative community, unlike Portland where our old buildings get swept up by developers and beer companies. One session featured the dynamic people that were creating their public art expansion and encouraging much in the non-public realm. One of the receptions featured the ISCs regular 8x8x8 art show featuring 40 or so small sculptures of every sort.
My biggest disappointment was that I missed the bus going to The Seward Johnson Atelier and Grounds for Sculpture because I got carried away with a wonderful conversation with the group of professors trying to identify the definition of sculpture. Damn, too many good things at once!
I hope our Pacific Northwest Sculptors group can help the ISC identify similar presenters and tours of our (hopefully) dynamic sculpture community next year when ISC comes to Portland. Thanks to Julian's persistent badgering of the ISC leadership and sharing his visions of how great the Portland art scene is. I guess we have one year to make Julian honest! ICS has not yet identified a venue for the October event. It looked to me that the volunteers had a blast helping to create the event and we will have opportunities to do the same here. I'll share more information when I know more. Or better yet get on the ISC info list.