Monday, April 21, 2014

Excavating Memory Project (part 3)

Link to the film overview of the project
Excavating Memory (part 3)
Mesa Arts Center OVerview (part 2)
Mesa Arts Center Spark Festival (part 1)

Excavating Memory Project
Three components
Pueblo Grande-Archaeology
The Heard Museum-Ethnology
Mesa Art Center-Fine Art

Pueblo Grande Museum and archaeological center is a modern museum and preservation facility in the heart of Phoenix. Including, hands-on indoor activities, well produced exhibits, and a walking tour of a ball court and a large ruin, the center offers a varied and enjoyable learning environment. Presentations are current of a multimedia and hands on nature, looking at and discussing the ancient Hohokam civilization the earliest Phoenix valley residents.

The Heard Museum features the art of historic and contemporary Native populations. Cutting edge relevant art is compared and contrasted to traditional and historic works. Some archaeological information is presented but the transition from archaic and extinct, to living cultures is at the forefront of the museum.

The Mesa Arts Center is the largest comprehensive visual and performing arts campus in Arizona. With it’s numerous classrooms, studios, and other venues, it is ideal for a variety of presentations and programs. My plan is to increase awareness of archaeological studies and work, living and active Native communities and their links to the past, and encourage the creation of art based on the viewers personal memories.

Excavating Memory
We live in a society that is leaving an empty archive. Archaeologist will need to retrieve information from hard drives in the future to learn how people communicated, viewed themselves and wrote. Letters once meditative, thoughtful acts, sealed with kiss and whiff of perfume, have been replaced by brief texts and tweets. Likewise keepsakes and souvenirs fill our dumps created without craft in third world sweatshops like most of our current material culture.

What is it that fascinates us with the tangible nature of keepsakes a souvenir? Are we losing our connection to touch to cyberculture? Will touch become more important to digital natives? If digital natives would prefer to post a picture, will they also collect a souvenir?

We are losing a generation that survived a world war, the Great Depression, the Cold War, civil rights and the Vietnam era. What remnants does this generation harbor, what keepsakes or items do they have to remind them of days gone by? I would like to know personally, but more than that shouldn’t we be asking seniors to pass on their information and experiences?

The Upper Strata Theory
We exist in the current strata, we are surrounded by the uppermost strata the one we are creating. Memory necessarily exists in the lower strata substrata. Archaeologist are concerned with mapping, defining, and recording levels of earth that form unique groupings or strata. Being able to view forest beyond us or the trees that make up our daily life takes a component of solace. All art is conveying the chaos of emotion from a point of calm. Recognizing our personal strat break, the moment when we move into a new strata can prove difficult. We move through history from day to day few of us will shape it. Like a bit of shell, a grain of sand we are part of a shore and vast history the ocean. Nonetheless what would we know of the Santa Fe Trail, of pioneer folks, the American Civil War were it not for journals, letters, newspaper articles and of course the creation of art.
Imaginary Souvenirs
I propose a set of activities to conjure up the past, combing the gathering of precious or frivolous items. Arranging them into a simple composition, as a point of discussion, a talisman to evoke memory. The experience would be film put online as a series of films.
The final step would be to replace the actual items with found, created items that represent moments or markers in the participants life, strata. Or as is discussed features in the strata, that might define the strata.
If not for remembering wouldn’t we forget?
So the program I am proposing reaches out and connects three very different cultural centers, involves the gathering of oral histories from seniors, a web based portion, several short films, the creation and exhibition of simple works of art. In the end the work will be a document of several seniors, their lives and memories. By putting the works on display, getting the local media involved, and the web based portion the program has the potential to be a wide reaching learning tool and catalyst for a larger dialogue, about our aging populations, the importance of preservation and cultural survival.
Part I
Several senior students from the Mesa Arts Center agree to take part in the project. They can be from any of the art programs at any level.
Part II
The project involves the use of archaeological theories, terms, and practices. A trip to the Pueblo Grande Archaeological Center and use of their online educational materials in order to explain and make the participants aware of the larger ideas in the project.
Discussion of strata, features, and other terms can be easily addressed at the museum as they have numerous very well made displays explaining the basics of archaeology.
Tour the ruins discuss and try to imagine what went on at the site, what was life like?
Participants are encouraged to take notes record their thoughts. Pay close attention to the inclusion of any rock art, symbols and shape on pottery, other symbolic representation.
At this point my personal experiences in the field can be discussed and added to further illustrate the process of archaeology.
Part III
Onto the Heard Museum its mission and educational materials are geared toward living cultures though they have some archaeological materials. Discuss this transition and the balancing act the Heard has to perform. Look for language that may be offensive defining some cultures as extinct or historic. How do the works and images of Native Americans vary from popular images, in particular the images the seniors grew up with? How is culture defined versus subculture? Seniors are a subculture, what prejudice, misunderstanding, and difficulties do both Native populations and seniors face in the larger American mainstream? What about Native seniors? Are they treated as libraries of knowledge, elders, or thrown away?
Again the online materials from the Heard should be looked at addressed and notes taken.
Part IV
Excavating memory reaching the substrata
Discuss a strata profile the mapping of strata.
Participants should draw a simple profile the present at top, the major moments of their lives, as strata breaks and features. If a moment is to be a feature what sort of artifact would represent that feature in a drawing? A wedding ring, a pacifier etc..does it have to be that literal.
A closing discussion of how archaeological strata forms, how it is defined in the field and the dangers of misreading such information. For next time students are asked to bring a few tiny items that relate to their strata four to five. No photos allowed.
Part V
Students should then discuss their profile, the symbols in it and the items they brought in for the exercise. All of this should be filmed for the web portion.
Begin thinking symbolically a wedding ring or photo of a child are too easy what else could be used to represent these ideas and events in their lives?
For next time students are encouraged to visit a hardware store, thrift shop, rummage in their garage for found objects that can represent moments in their lives. Only four to five objects with one object representing the participant.
Part VI
Imaginary Souvenirs
Arrange the found objects, do they form a circle, do they form a line, a grid and why? Was it challenging to sum up a lifetime with four to five objects? Discuss why they picked what they picked and why the self portrait object is present. Create a composition with the objects that can be displayed.
Part VI
Discuss the upper strata what is life like for the participants at this moment. Think of symbol a item or way to represent the now. This can be drawn, painted or found or modified found object.
further work into the substrata create symbols for various moments of their lives abstract or literal.
Sum up the experience the work, how did finding an object versus creating an object influence their final work? What did they learn about symbolism in art? Discuss Cornell, Nevelson, and Tinguely.
Display the works post the films ask the question can we do better with our subcultures including our seniors? Can we show more respect? Do other cultures have elders versus burdens? Is youth and beauty valued more than age and wisdom? Why? Is the ultimate price of consumer culture thrown away people?
Jonathan Sanchez
ARE 6933

Pueblo Grande Museum and Archeological Park
The centers educational mission and goals resources and displays were studied to determine if their site could be used my program.

Mesa Arts Center
The center will provide the classrooms and studios needed to complete the program. The program I have in mind is in keeping with the larger mission of the center as presented on their website.

The Heard Museum
The wording of the educational material the use of culturally sensitive language, that hints at larger holistic culturally inclusive approach. The program I purpose will be working with seniors for which culturally sensitive language might be new. Further, and understanding of the way we talk about native populations has changed over time with our attitudes toward these populations.

Adams, J. Room 13 and the Contemporary Practice of Artist-Learners Studies in Art Education, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Fall, 2005), pp. 23-33  
Developing a collaborative environment in the art classroom.

Americans for the Arts (2008) “Developing a logic model”
Used this as a general overview for approaching funding questions.

Wholeism idea getting students to see how things are interconnected and related. A complete reinventing of the classroom and an argument for such a reinvention. My thinking in this program is to fuse history, cultural, archaeological, and art studies into one presentation.

Cleveland, W., Morris, W., Takeshita, E. (2013) Learning Culture and Change: A Place-based Community Arts Training Model.

What is Art? What is Community?
What is Community Development?
What is the History and Ecology of Arts-based Community Development?
Where do I fit in this landscape?
All important ideas to consider as a basis. Further, the ideas of my proposed program are focused on helping to document members of the local community, and encouraging the community value their seniors.
I used this site to develop a sense for the general practices needed to write and present a proposal.

Cordell, L (2000) The Prehistoric Pueblo World. University of Arizona Press.
The term Ancestral Puebloan People versus Anasazi and the my basic knowledge of archaeology are taken from this book and others from Cordell.

Mann, C. (2012) 1493: The uncovering the World Columbus Created. Vintage books.

Adams, J. Room 13 and the Contemporary Practice of Artist-Learners Studies in Art Education, Vol. 47, No. 1 (Fall, 2005), pp. 23-33

“With the wider public, contemporary art has acquired significantly improved status and popularity; whilst the standing of these practices and their display and dissemination continues to grow, there has not been a similar bestowing of status or even legitimacy upon the production of art in schools. This article examines ways of analyzing classroom art practice as the collaborative art production of artist-teachers with artist-learners, a collaboration that is defined as a learning community of art practitioners, using cultural, community, and pedagogical theorists (Adams, 23).

While this project was being researched the City of Phoenix was making plans to slash spending for community centers, public pools, parks, and senior services. My art based project suddenly took on more importance as the cuts were in fact passed. To read more on this shameful stuff.
The city manager's trial budget contains a reduction that would close the Sunnyslope 

Community Center effective July 1, 2014. This would impact the summer program season. 

Please consult the city manager's budget page for more details.
some of what will happen
• Close 13 community centers, eliminating classes, programs and special events attended by about 500,000 residents: 84.5 positions (part-time workers); $6.22 million savings.
• Close three senior centers, which provide meals and recreation and social services to elderly and disabled residents: 11 positions; $697,000 savings.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

An Overview of the Mesa Arts Center (Mesa, Arizona)

An Overview of the Mesa Arts Center (Mesa, Arizona)
The second part of my project on the Mesa Arts Center for ARE 6933 Art in Alternative Spaces (the UF art education program)
Mesa History
The first prehistoric people to live in Mesa were the Hohokams who flourished in the valley for over 1,500 years.  They were farmers and canal builders who lived in large communities of up to 500 people.  They are best remembered for their construction of a large network of irrigation canals.  The prehistoric Hohokam canals were incredible works of labor and engineering.  The hand dug system, irrigated over 110,000 acres and was the largest in the prehistoric world. Several archaeological sites can be viewed in the region today.
The Hohokam irrigation system transformed the soils of the Salt River Valley, allowing them to grow abundant crops for their use and for trade.  The Hohokam traded cotton cloth for seashells from the Gulf of California and for exotic birds from the Yucatan. Eventually, the Hohokam began to move from the area as they experienced a period of overpopulation, nutritional stress, and warfare.  They disappeared from the area by around 1450 and there has been no explanation as to where they went. The oral histories of several current tribes hint at ingestion or their incorporation into other tribes. 
Between the time of the decline of the Hohokam culture in the 15th century and the mid 1800's, no long-term settlement existed in the Mesa area.  Intermittent conflicts between the Pima and Maricopa along the Gila River and the Yavapai and the Apaches in the Salt River Valley, ensured that the region would not be settled during that time.  It was not until the establishment of Fort McDowell by the United States Army on 1865 that permanent settlement was created in the area.  It was believe that Canyon De Chelly on the site of the current Navajo nation was full of gold. Efforts were made to secure Arizona for mining interest, this included containing, subduing, and removing whole groups of people. The effectiveness of the Fort helped to pave the way for Anglo settlements in Phoenix, Tempe, and Mesa. 
In 1877, the first European pioneers settled the Mesa Area.  Sent from Utah by Brigham Young, the "Utah Company" was originally sent to establish "stations on the road" supporting the Church's expansion into Mexico.  They built their first homes and businesses in what is known as Lehi, now in Northern Mesa.  The rich soil near the Salt River was perfect for growing crops.  The Pima and Maricopa living in the area helped the pioneers carve out a life in the desert. Additionally, Tempe founder Charles Hayden loaned money to the company and other resources to help the colony create a community. 
The second group of Mormon settlers to arrive in the area was known as the Mesa Company.  Arriving on 1878, this group distinguished themselves by settling on the mesa top and by clearing ancient Native American canals so that water could be diverted to the higher ground.  By the early 1880's, nearly 300 people had settled in the Mesa area, most living within one square mile of downtown. 
Cultural, diversity has been a part of Mesa's history from the earliest days of the settlement.  The people who made up the companies of the Mormon pioneers, white Europeans in terms of ethnic background, and the Native American people already living in the area were soon joined by other immigrants including African Americans, Chinese, Mexican, Japanese, and Arabs, came to farm, to open businesses, and to work construction.  The town saw a major boom as construction of nearby Roosevelt Dam brought ample opportunity for work and leisure in town.
Agriculture was the foundation of the Mesa economy until after World War II. Dairy farming and stock-raising were an ever-increasing sector of the agricultural economy.  Much of the Mesa workforce was employed in agricultural-related industries.  Surprisingly, agriculture was an important factor in attracting tourists to Mesa by the early 20th century.  The Roosevelt Dam became a main attraction along with prehistoric ruins including the Hohokam ceremonial site Mesa Grande.
In the years following WWII, the economy underwent a major transformation.  Many factors were at work, including the mechanization of farming, the availability of affordable air conditioning units that made living year-round in the desert comfortable, the advent of the cold war, and the rising popularity of the Old West.  The economy began to change from agriculture to one based on the high tech, tourism, and service industries.
Over the years, the little town that began as a "station on the road," continued to thrive.  The population doubled every decade except during the 1920's, and the city soon far outgrew its original one-square-mile boundary.  The road has not always been easy for the citizens of Mesa.  The city has endured epidemics, two major depressions, and has sent its sons and daughters off to two World Wars.  Extreme heat, floods, and drought have also tested the spirit of its people. 
Unfortunately prejudice and racism have also impacted nearly all of Mesa's diverse communities to varying degrees over the years.  African American residents felt the impact of this more than any other groupLimited as to where they could buy homes and where they could send their children to school, black Americans had to work hard for even their basic rights.  Until desegregation took place in the 1950's, many minority citizens found themselves segregated in parks, swimming pools, movie theaters, dance halls, restaurants, and just about anywhere else local residents might congregate for business, play, and social activities.  Arizona was also the site of relocation camps for many Japanese Americans during World War II. However, since the end of that war and the desegregation that followed, ethnic minorities have made great strides.  Their stories-good, bad, and in-between-are as much a part of Mesa as any that might be told.
In May 1979, the city was named an All American City by the National Municipal League.  Mesa was honored for its efforts to address community problems through cooperation among citizens, schools, civic groups, and local governments, including the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Today the city of Mesa is a thriving desert community bounded on all sides by smaller neighboring towns.  The only other city in Central Arizona that is larger than Mesa is Phoenix.  It is the 38th largest city in America and boasts a population of nearly 500,000.
Mesa has attracted industry giants like Boeing, General Motors, and Tally Industries while developing the old Williams Air Force Base into a full-scale regional and commercial airport.  In addition to boasting the largest community college in the nation, Mesa has attracted multiple educational institutions from around the nation have established college facilities in Mesa.  The city is also a leader in producing a thriving cultural economy with multiple museums and the Mesa Arts Center.
Without a doubt, Mesa will continue to grow and create an identity of its own in the Salt River Valley for years to come.
About the Mesa Arts Center
The movement to construct the Mesa Arts Center was championed by Wayne Brown, who served as the Mayor of Mesa from 1996 to 2000.Under Brown, the city passed a quality-of-life bond issue in 1998 to help pay for the center.Though he left office in 2000, Brown and his wife, Kathy, continued a private fundraising campaign for the arts center.The couple ultimately raised more than $4.5 million from the private sector beginning in 2000.The Mesa Arts Center's sculpture courtyard is named for Wayne Brown.
The Mesa Arts Center, owned and operated by the City of Mesa, is a unique, architecturally stunning, international award winning facility located in the heart of downtown Mesa. Arizona's largest arts center is home to four theaters, five art galleries, and 14 art studios. Guests, patrons, and students come to Mesa Arts Center to enjoy the finest live entertainment and performances, world-class visual art exhibitions, and outstanding arts education classes. The facility is an architectural showpiece and a destination for visitors to the Phoenix area. The Mesa Arts Center mission is to inspire people through engaging arts experiences that are diverse, accessible, and relevant.
The Mesa Arts Center is a performing and visual arts complex in downtown Mesa, Arizona. At more than 210,000 square feet, the $95 million facility, completed in 2005, is the largest comprehensive arts campus in the state.
The Mesa Arts Center encompasses four performance venues, from the intimate 99-seat Farnsworth Studio Theater to the 1,600-seat Ikeda Theater. The center is also home to the Mesa Contemporary Arts, which houses five art galleries with 5,500 sq ft of exhibition space. The facility also features 14 unique visual and performing art classroom studios. Multi-use areas throughout the campus provide both indoor and outdoor gathering and presentation spaces.
Located on a prominent site in the central core of Mesa, Arizona, the Mesa Arts Center is the signature project for this growing city, the 40th largest city in the United States and the largest suburban city in the country.The complex was designed by Boora Architects of Portland, Oregon in associations with DWL Architects + Planners, Inc., of Phoenix, 
Mesa History Museum
Boora architects
Mesa Arts Center Website
City of Mesa Website
Numerous interviews with staff, instructors, and volunteers.

Extensive discussions with education director Billy Jones.