Local creative thinkers recount artistic journeys both at home and abroad

Advertisement

Columbia campuses are aflutter with new and returning students; downtown shops are extending their open hours once again to offer caffeination and comfort late into the night; tales of summer are ready to be told. The Tribune sought out a few local artists who have traveled far and wide and inquired about what they’ve taken part in over their not-very-lazy summer months.

photo

Derek Frankhouser/Courtesy

MU art student Derek Frankhouser spent the summer in New York City to
participate in two printmaking initiatives: the Robert Blackburn Printmaking
Workshop and the not-for-profit organization Booklyn, an art book
distributor.

MU art student Derek Frankhouser spent the summer in New York City to
participate in two printmaking initiatives: the Robert Blackburn Printmaking
Workshop and the not-for-profit organization Booklyn, an art book
distributor.

photo

Photo by August Kryger

Shea Boresi joined curators Jennifer Perlow and Joel Sager at PS:Gallery before jetting off on a European honeymoon.

Shea Boresi joined curators Jennifer Perlow and Joel Sager at PS:Gallery before jetting off on a European honeymoon.

photo

Marcia Vanderlip/Tribune

Monica Hand, of Cave Canem, and MU professor Scott Cairns
survey the ruins of Acropolis in Greece.

Monica Hand, of Cave Canem, and MU professor Scott Cairns
survey the ruins of Acropolis in Greece.

A GLOBAL CONVERSATION

Two noted University of Missouri writing professors, Scott Cairns and Aliki Barnstone, co-directed a writers’ workshop in Greece over the summer, moving from an initial tour of Athens to the island of Serifos — and, thankfully, dodging riots along the way. This is the third year the workshop has taken place, Cairns said; the first year there were seven participants, which quickly grew to 17 the second year and around 30 this year. The group spent five weeks in Greece, learning modern Greek in the mornings and then splitting into various writing workshops — fiction, poetry, translation and food/travel writing — in the afternoon. Most evenings, the group was enlightened by readings from writers both from Greece and the United States, including Liana Sakelliou, Adrianne Kalfopoulou, Tryfon Tolides, Brady Kiesling, Natalie Bakopoulous and others. Some of the readers and speakers were tapped to read rather spontaneously: “Aliki’s been going to Greece since she was a girl,” Cairns noted, so she “has known a lot of these people because she’s grown up with them.”

This year was an especially unique one for the writing workshop, Cairns said, because a cohort from Cave Canem came along, accompanied for a short time by Professor Cornelius Eady. Cave Canem has established a fellowship program for African-American poets, several of whom were able to travel to Greece with the MU group.

The creative writing program at MU is “founded upon the premise that literary tradition is an ongoing thing,” Cairns said. In Greece, he said, the students are encouraged to translate the works of native Greek writers, and vice versa. Creative writing should honor what has been created over time and geography, he said, but often writing programs can become insular. Part of the primary purpose of continuing to go to Greece is “to make it internationally engaged, and to encourage our students not to write just for Americans but to enter what I consider to be the ongoing global conversation,” Cairns said.

THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

Derek Frankhouser, a senior studying art at MU and profiled in a Tribune Niche feature a few months ago, took his summer to New York City to participate in two printmaking initiatives: the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and the not-for-profit organization Booklyn, which “distributes artist books to collections, institutions and museums,” he said. His time at the Blackburn Workshop was spent producing editions of books for professional artists. At Booklyn, he worked on an ongoing project to archive the work of Fly, a New York-based comic artist, musician and illustrator.

Frankhouser also spent time working on a project for the Undergraduate Research Mentorship in art at MU under the guidance of Professor Chris Daniggelis, as well as “exploring the city’s museums and galleries and searching high and low for the best brick-oven pizza.” One exhibit that particularly affected and inspired Frankhouser was the Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective of Lee Ufan, a Japanese artist who was part of the notable 1960s avant-garde movement Mono-ha. “The curation was perfectly aligned with the architecture because chronologically the exhibition displays the efforts of 40 years of work as you ascend the museum ramp,” Frankhouser said. “I was taking in four decades of this artist wrestling with virtually the same idea, and halfway through the work, I became so excited to reach the top and see the conclusion.”

Frankhouser had ample opportunity to consider his most intrinsic values and sense of purpose in the framework of the “city that never sleeps.” “In every bar in Brooklyn sits a poet, painter or actor who pours drinks all night and pounds pavement all day looking for an opportunity,” he observed. “If you don’t experience fame or instant success, you have to level with yourself and decide if you are doing something because it really interests you. I like to make pictures, and I’ll be doing that relentlessly whether or not people are going to look at them.”

THE ART OF RELATIONSHIPS

The newest face of PS:Gallery, Shea Boresi joined curators Jennifer Perlow and Joel Sager in May in their endeavors to exhibit and sell quality art by local and national artists. Of course, that was right before she was swept away in a whirlwind European honeymoon for a month. Visiting the MU Writers Workshop in Greece in addition to touring Ireland, France and Italy, Boresi returned for the last part of the summer to settle in at PS:Gallery and learn the ropes.

Boresi just got her first set of business cards, she mentioned with a grin. “I’m supposed to help scout out artists and set up events,” she said, “so it’s good for me to appear professional.” PS:Gallery reviews artist submissions every so often; the gallery usually plans out two shows in advance, Boresi said. But no submission is left behind. “We review what is sent to us,” she added, but the three employees make every effort to host memorable works — which turns out to be even better if each artist’s series plays nicely with the other artists in a particular show.

Boresi also is taking responsibility for most of the external communication that the gallery has been growing over the past few years. She has begun writing for the blog, updating other social media and taking charge of hosting gallery events such as readings on Feed Your Soul Sundays. “A big part of what I’m learning right now in the job is people,” Boresi said. “I came in with my love of art already established, and I knew how to talk about it in the broadest sense. But so much of what we do is actually very relationship-driven. … I’m learning a lot of names.”

Of course, “the finer points of accounting are left to Jennifer,” Boresi said with a chuckle. “But there are only three of us, so it sort of winds up being that everyone has their hands in everything.” She appreciates the varied nature of her work: “I like to be useful on multiple levels rather than within very strict confines,” she said.

ROAD WARRIORS

Over 10 days in June, acoustic modern folk band Mary and the Giant crisscrossed the Midwest in a whirlwind tour, playing city after city and putting the “stomp” into various stomping grounds. Beginning with an impromptu concert in small-town Wisconsin and ending in St. Louis, the violin-cajon-guitar-vocal-bass quintet played back-to-back shows, winning new fans along the way.

The first night was one of the most bizarre nights of the tour, violinist Michael Schembre remembered. After its first planned venue unexpectedly canceled, the group ended up in a bar in small-town Wisconsin, and the bartender offered to let them jam. “This couple shows up, … and it was their one-year anniversary,” Schembre said. “After we started playing, they were blown away.” The husband offered the group $100 to come back and play at their house.The band was pleasantly surprised to go from no show to playing for a large group that night, Schembre said.

After the surprise show in Star Prairie, Wis., the group moved on to Minneapolis and then down to Ames, Iowa, where the band was interviewed on the local alternative radio station and blew out the venue, earning an invite back in the fall. The band eventually moved on to Des Moines, Iowa, playing a spontaneous house concert back in Ames afterward. “You really develop fans for a long time. These people are going to come out every time. They’ve met you personally. You’ve played in their home. … They feel a very close connection,” Schembre reflected.

The band jumped over to the Wrigleyville area of Chicago and then Cleveland, Ohio — “I think about 7 people showed up,” added Schembre with a wry grin. The group then traipsed to Columbus, Ohio, before ending up in St. Louis. “Just through playing and meeting people, we’ve developed a legit following completely out of state,” Schembre said.

Reach Jill Renae Hicks at 573-815-1714 or e-mail [email protected]

Copyright 2011 Columbia Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

nineteen + 18 =

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.