Welcome to Timeless Rhythms Studio, online art journal! Look at some of my posted art (above), read my entries and feel free to comment on any part of the blog that interests you! Most of my art is available for purchase and I can also be commissioned for a variety of custom painting projects, from portraits to murals. Contact me here by leaving a comment on any post. I look forward to hearing from you in my Timeless Rhythms Studio, online art journal!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lily Yeh- Barefoot Artists

Barefoot Artists

Lily Yeh! Who IS she?

Part 2, Part 3 * Does anyone know how to use "DownloadHelper?" How do I use it to download multiple videos (such as this particular YouTube version!), to then make into one video_ so, I can upload a more sane presentation (from my desktop) of ONE VIDEO, to post to my blog? This particular video is too good to watch all chopped up in three segments! If you know how "DownloadHelper" works, to accomplish THIS PARTICULAR TASK then, please leave a comment. Thanks in advance for your help!


Biography Perspectives Quotable Contact

An artist whose masterpiece is a neighborhood transformed in Philadelphia

Inner city communities face obstacles that often feel insurmountable: crime, poverty, pollution, crumbling urban fabric, social alienation, and other tragedies, which can crush the spirit of people living there. Despair becomes the biggest problem as everyone—inside the community and out—loses faith that things can actually change. What’s needed most is a way to crack through that sense of hopelessness.

Placemaking can play that role in hard-hit neighborhoods, by putting the emphasis on improving the place itself rather than viewing it as a morass of dysfunctions, each of which is addressed in the narrow terms of particular issues or professional fields. Focusing on place, which often begins small by planting flowers or cleaning up a littered street, proves to skeptical residents that positive change is possible. The energy generated by little victories builds momentum for major

That’s exactly what Lily Yeh did in North Philadelphia, which among all the struggling communities across the U.S. , stood out as one of the saddest when she began work there in 1989. She gave the neighborhood a new sense of possibility by utilizing the principles of Placemaking—a term not known to her and hardly ever used at that time—to launch a unique and far-reaching project.

Yeh would seem an unlikely candidate to make a difference in the inner city. She is not a social worker, urban planner, or economic development expert, not a wealthy philanthropist, political powerbroker, or business executive. She is an artist who grew up part of a socially prominent family in Taiwan (her father was a general in Chiang Kai-Shek’s army) and came to the U.S. to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Fine Arts, eventually becoming an art professor at the Philadelphia School of Fine Arts. The tough streets of Philly’s African-American ghetto must have felt as far from her background— Asia, Ivy League, art school—as the planet Neptune.

But as a student, she was inspired by the writings of Gandhi, Martin Luther King and, later, Nelson Mandela. In 1989, she had been in Beijing showing her paintings at the Central Institute of Fine Arts when she witnessed the brave and tragic protests at Tiananmen Square. That experience convinced her that being an artist, “is not just about making art…It is about delivering the vision one is given…and about doing the right thing without sparing oneself.”

But she had already found the chance put this philosophy into practice. While touring a group of visiting Chinese artists around Philadelphia a few years earlier, she brought them to the North Philadelphia studio of dancer Arthur Hall, who asked her help in reviving a particularly grim stretch of the neighborhood outside. Yeh was shocked at the state of the streets—vacant lots strewn with rubble reminiscent of photographs of bombed-out cities at the end of World War II—and didn’t quite know where to start.

But she knew something had to be done. So she began gathering up the trash, which drew the attention of local kids wanting to know, she recalls, what “this crazy Chinese lady” was up to. Soon their parents were watching too, and Yeh realized she had some collaborators for what was to be the most important art project of her life. Soon everyone was involved in cleaning up the area, painting murals, and creating an “art park,” which became the pride of the community.

More than 20 years later, this area is still poor with high unemployment, but hope is returning thanks to the Village of Arts and Humanities. That’s what the small art park Yeh and a group of neighborhood kids started has grown into—a tangible symbol of renewal that covers more than 120 formerly vacant lots with murals, numerous sculpture gardens, mosaics, parks, community gardens, playgrounds, performance spaces, basketball courts, neighborhood art studios, and even a tree farm.

“The entire community seems to take part in the use of the spaces,” writes Kathleen McCarthy, who nominated the Village for PPS’s Great Public Spaces listings. “As we walked down the street, trying to find one of the parks, a man walking beside us directed us to the Ile Ife Park, and told us the history of it and the wonderful artist, Lily Yeh who started the park. He spoke with pride that this was a part of his community. We sat on the benches made of smashed tile and mirror, making wonderful curves and places to sit. Across from us, women sat and smiled, waved. Children ran over and asked us to hide them during a game of hide-and-seek…. I've never felt more welcomed in an unfamiliar place.”

Six buildings have been rehabbed into workspaces for Village projects with local residents getting on-the-job training in the construction trades. A daycare center has been established and abandoned housing refurbished. A new initiative, Shared Prosperity, has been founded to boost economic opportunities in North Philadelphia.

“All this happened under the radar of the City of Philadelphia,” writes Abby Scher in Yes magazine, “whose city planners and social workers were nowhere to be found in the neighborhood.”

Residents now look forward each year to their annual neighborhood theater festival, with plays written by young people drawing on their own experiences in North Philly. Several have these works have been performed as far away as Mexico and Iceland. Fall brings the Kujenga Pamoja festival (Sawhili for “together we build”), which culminates in an elaborate coming-of-age ritual for kids who have spent the summer preparing for the festival and working in job training programs.

“One of the most powerful things I learned,” Yeh told Yes magazine, “is that when you…transform your immediate environment, your life begins to change.”

Yeh’s observation was seconded by James “Big Man” Paxton, who gave up running drugs in favor of making mosaics for Village projects. He went on to teach hundreds of neighborhoods kids both the basic masonry skills and the creative dimension of making mosaics. “I was a lost soul in the community, disconnected from my family, looking for a way back to reality on the tail end of a 22-year drug addiction,” he remembered shortly before his death in 2005, and Yeh, “wrapped her arms around me and taught me to believe in myself.”

The Village of Art and Humanities has changed how residents of North Philadelphia think about their home. As the neighborhood blossomed with more public places where people could safely and pleasurably gather, its community spirit and positive sense of itself has grown. And that changes how others view the neighborhood today. Philip Horn, director of the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts, notes it, “changed the perception of the [wider] community from ‘there’s something wrong with these people’ to ‘there’s nothing wrong with these people’.”

Leaving the project in the hands of local people, Lily Yeh has now founded Barefoot Artists, Inc., which draws on the experience of the Village of Art and Humanities to help other struggling communities in the Congo, Kenya, the Republic of Georgia, China, Ecuador, Taiwan, Italy and the Ivory Coast. She has spent a lot of time in Rwanda, as a founder of the Rwanda Healing Project she works with children to restore peace, joy and beauty in communities ripped apart by the genocidal civil war.

Lily Yeh on Art and Placemaking

“When I see brokenness, poverty and crime in inner cities, I also see the enormous potential and readiness for transformation and rebirth. We are creating an art form that comes from the heart and reflects the pain and sorrow of people’s lives. It also expresses joy, beauty and love. This process lays the foundation of building a genuine community in which people are reconnected with their families, sustained by meaningful work, nurtured by the care of each other and will together raise and educate their children. Then we witness social change in action.”

“I never dreamed that I could change things. Even now, it's not on my agenda to make people's lives better, to revolutionize the system. I don't see myself as a social activist. I am an artist. What I am about is sharing that sense of joy when I am creating with many people, with whoever wants to be a part of that process. It's not that I came to make their life better. People say, ‘You improve so many people. You make people happy.’ I say, ‘No, people make me happy.’ I need other people.”

“Around us there is all this unspeakable tragedy that everybody hides: Prison. Murder. Drugs. Abandonment. Men drifting away. All the things that society says are shameful. If people hold these in themselves, eventually they destroy a person. In life, there is the bright and the darkness. Our society hides the darkness. I say, no, let's understand what that is. So our joy is rooted in the depth of our tragedy and challenge and difficulty.”

“We are all dysfunctional; we are all separated from the whole. We are not more dysfunctional in the inner city. We are just more exposed. We can't even get through the day, with basic needs and so forth. But somehow, together, we make it whole. You see the mosaics? It's perfect: taking broken pieces, recreating and making something beautiful.”

The real impact of the Village is on all the individuals we come in contact with, particularly our children. They talk differently. They act differently. Because they went through an environment where they really mattered, they look at the future and they dream.

About Lily Yeh’s Work

“It has given me a great sense of pride to read in the newspapers and see on television people talking about my community in relation to beauty and hope rather than drugs and death.”
— The late James “Big Man” Maxton, a neighborhood resident whose life was transformed by his involvement with the organization

“She is willing to fight anyone for this neighborhood. She believes in me, and I believe in her.”
— John Ballard, a president of the Germantown & Lehigh Merchants Association and a store owner, working with The Village to strengthen the local commercial corridor

“It would not be an overstatement to say the opportunities she provides save lives.”
Philip Horn, Executive Director, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts
Contact Info

More Information on Lily Yeh and the Village of Arts and Humanities:

Village of Arts and Humanities

Barefoot Artists

PPS’s Great Public Spaces

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Omo People

True living poetry...
Growing up in multiple cultures, I remember as a young child realizing that wisdom, in what our societies have always referred to as primitive_ the wisdom one can find in primitive cultures has much to teach us all, if we are open to recognizing this truth.
Beautiful pigments, beautiful life in nature, beautiful art full identity with one's environment; what good reason is there to grow up?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sisters on the Path WE are making with our lives!

This truth is my breakfast, lunch and dinner, my soul food, my breath, my heartbeat. I would not be here in this life at all, if it were not for art first and foremost.
In art is everything; my love for my family, the eyes that hold beauty close to my quaking heart; the passion I feel where injustices continue, the compassion I can express as I wake up to the gifts within this great relationship, that enables me to wake up to all of this life while I am in it; speaking to what I see, feel, touch and by which I am touched...

The director of, Who Does She Think She Is?, Pamela Boll & her three sons:

I am planning to host a showing of this film in my community. I am very curious and interested to connect with other women like me. I hope this is so successful that after the showing there is a natural consensus that we collectively create a place where we can all meet regularly to create community together!
I would like your help to make the viewing happen? I am looking to raise funds to purchase the House Party Kit in time for the November 8th nationwide event!
Contact me here via this post as I check my blog daily!! Thank-you.

*Who Does She Think She Is? Find Them/Us on facebook!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ArtPrize Winner!

Let me just say, if you are just now finding this whole concept: ArtPize, hence just discovering the event that only ended JUST today then, I want to say: YOU MISSED IT!!

An incredible social/cultural experiment that has been going on in Grand Rapids, Michigan, of all places. No offense to Grand Rapids yet, this IS how real change happens doesn't it?! The event actually started months ago and was envisioned as the biggest art and sculpture exhibit, taking over an entire community as the gallery and allowing the public to vote on what is good art. No museums, galleries, artist's reps, yadda, yadda, yadda... The winner took a $250,000 cash prize home! How much art could YOU make with that many clams?

Check out this year's inaugural event winner: Ran Ortner! Congratulations Ran!! The artist's own web site is here.

ArtPrize! I dare you to check out the web site. Learn all about this idea and start preparing to participate next year!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Who Does She Think She is?

As the energy in my body slowly winds down into a cold, my spirits about life and employment possibilities following suit, I puruse my facebook page one more time before calling it a day. Lo and behold if another woman artist in my fb network, hasn't posted a link to the very thing that lifts my courage-in-general! Thank-you Dana!!

Who Does She Think She Is? is catching fire! Debuting on the 17th of this month across the country. It is a high time documentary on the areas of my and every woman artist who has ever said: "Yes! I Can!", about our own lives, families and careers in the arts_ a long time ago!
It's just in the meantime, this creative-family-centered frontiering path on mass scale, has taken many of us off into the hinterlands without compass or map. However, I think this film: what I am calling a mirror just from what I can tell from the previews, holds up a light! A beacon; a beautiful and powerful reflection back to us all! A lighting up of the many, many incredibly, undeniably precocious pathways within this vast & spacious territory of art, explored by fearless women artists with families, in America!

Don't take my word for it; I am coming down with a cold! Go here and take a look in this mirror, letting the light of recognition shine just for yourself! If you are a woman artist with a family, there are allies looking back at, and talking with you! In my entire life, I am beginning to sense the timing within my own natural rhythm may actually be coming into alignment in the big picture, for a blessed change that is for the better... I think it is quite possible that we are all on the verge of becoming a profound, national territorial network of creativity in family life, with the impact of this movie!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

ArtPrize- Have YOU Heard About It?

ArtPrize - Sep. 23 - Oct. 8, 2009 - Grand Rapids, MI

Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize
October 2nd, 2009

Nicole Caruth is a freelance writer and curator living in New York and frequent contributor to the Art21 blog. She’ll walk around ArtPrize, observe, listen and write about her experience here. Nicole’s thoughts and opinions are her own and in no way represent an endorsement or objection from ArtPrize toward an individual artist or venue.

Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, Sept. 23, 2009. Photo: N. Caruth

There’s still so much to write about ArtPrize, but the time has come for me to say goodbye. By the time you read this I’ll probably be passing through Detroit on my way back New York. I leave you with some general thoughts, hopes, ideas, and suggestions for the future (at times knowingly contradicting myself):

Don’t try to define art. Something or someone will always get left out that shouldn’t be.

Don’t complain about there being too much art to see. There’s too much of everything right now — ArtPrize reflects our larger culture. Too much art is a good problem to have.

Don’t let the conversation stop with ArtPrize. Keep it going year round. The discourse is larger than any one event. More talk will (hopefully) lead to more informed votes next year.

For sure, there is a direct relationship between location and votes. I don’t know if that’s something that can (or should be) solved by ArtPrize.

Artists: Now you know what you’re up against, so do what you do best and be more creative. Turn it up a notch (without compromising your craft or message), collaborate with other artists, and win this thing next year. As one artist commented this week, “If you can’t beat them join them.” Start planning for 2010 now.

Winning is not everything. I applaud artists who recognized from the beginning that ArtPrize is about more than the popular vote and prize money.

I’ve followed the top 25, 50, … lists since day one, and some days I’ve appreciated having them as a gauge. But they are indeed distracting. I hope ArtPrize will hold these numbers back next year until voting ends. I am certain the conversation around the event will sound quite different.

Criticism is valuable and necessary, but so is enthusiasm. Og Mandino said: “Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no mater how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles.”

There’s been a lot of talk about conventional exhibitions and events that ArtPrize should model itself after in order to enter the “serious” art world. Don’t look to the ivory towers, make those people look at you. They need change more than ArtPrize.

An event like ArtPrize would be extremely difficult for most museums to pull off, because of the bureaucracy of institutions and “high brow” thinking that governs all that they do. Grand Rapids is lucky to have a free agent like Rick DeVos that has taken an interest in art. (I swear he did not pay me to say that.)

Embrace your inner circus/state fair and set up cotton candy and ice cream stands. Offer a food map next year (with bakeries in bold). Okay, that’s totally  selfish.

There is always room for improvement. But, all suggestions aside, I fear that ArtPrize will make too many changes in years to come and start to look like another art fair or biennial. We don’t need any more of those — they push communities out more often than they bring them in. What makes ArtPrize radical and  fresh is its openness. I hope you don’t lose that.

Thank you Grand Rapids, Paul Moore, Rick DeVos, Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Jeffrey Meeuwsen, and everyone else at ArtPrize for having me. I can hardly wait to see what happens next year.

Posted by Nicole Caruth in General

4 Responses to “Eyes on the Prize: The Future of ArtPrize”

Jordana Dickinson says:
October 2, 2009 at 3:55 pm

It has been great to have you blogging about Artprize Nicole. I feel totally honored just to be a apart of this awesome competition. Even though I didn’t make it in the top 100 I am already energized and am working on my project for AP 2010. Go Artprize:)

Kim Boynton says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I agree…we don’t want ArtPrize to become like other “high brow” art events. I also agree that venue may have played too large a role, but clearly 1200+ pieces needed a lot of space. Love the state fair/food map addition…maybe I should open a downtown bakery before next year.

This event reflected our city’s culture very well…homey with a little bit of sophistication! It makes me proud to be a Grand Rapidian. I applaud Rick and his crew for giving our city the most fun I’ve seen in a very long time! I know there are those already plotting for next year and I am excited for what is to come (and it isn’t even over yet).

Heather Miller says:
October 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm

I really agree with what you have to say here. Thank you for writing it.

Kristen Roberts says:
October 2, 2009 at 5:12 pm

You know…I’m not sure I’d change a thing. This felt fresh and young and surprising–you seriously never knew what you were going to see. Rock on, ArtPrize!

This has been one incredible event and nowhere have I seen, read or heard that ANYONE else is reporting about this cultural happening outside of Grand Rapids, MI. Why IS that? If you have heard about the 2009 ArtPrize (an event that has some history in other states, in previous years!)_ leave a comment! I would like to build national momentum in favor of ArtPrize traveling the country, popping up all over the place for the benefit of artists in their communities, AND communities also!!

Favored Dark Horse of Art Prize, Grand Rapids 2009, Public Cultural Event!

Sorry, Young Kim
October 2nd, 2009

If you are following ArtPrize on Twitter, you may have noticed the new hashtag #sorryyoungkim.

The creation of that hashtag comes from an outpouring of affection for one artist and grief he did not make it into the Top 10. It is one of the most remarkable stories from the first week of ArtPrize, how Young Kim from North Carolina went from obscurity to the talk of the event over the course of a few days.

Young Kim is showing his piece, salt & earth, at 47 Commerce SW. It’s a beautiful, vacant one story space that is perfectly situated for the piece. However, it’s perfectly situated in the middle of a mass of construction. Roads are closed and construction crews are working on the block to the north, to the south, to the east and to the west. As traffic flow goes, it’s a venue in quarantine. Add to that Young Kim is not here promoting himself like so many other artists are, and you start to see the odds were stacked against him from the beginning.

But the piece speaks for itself.

Saturday night, I went to 47 Commerce around 9:30PM. There were maybe five other people in there, but whispers had begun that it was something to check out. Sunday, Brian Kelly posted the video embedded above and the buzz about Young Kim started to catch fire on Twitter and Facebook. Monday came with cold weather, rain and high winds battering the city. That evening, one of my coworkers walked over to 47 Commerce in the rain and said it was packed out.

Above, you can see the flow of votes for the front runner (unnamed here) next to votes for Young Kim during each day of the week. Kim’s votes trickle in while the front runner starts strong. Then, when the cold and rain hit the city, the front runner plummets while Kim holds the line. The final 24 hours was an all out sprint. And if it’s any consolation, Young Kim, it was very close.

Over the next week, a lot of stories will be told about the Top 10. For the tens of thousands who have come to ArtPrize, I hope you take the opportunity to dig around and find pieces like Young Kim’s that are tucked away all over the city.

Listen to Michigan Public Radio’s story on Young Kim (and Tanglefoot) today during All Things Considered and here.

Posted by Paul Moore in General

It's like discovering the work of Wolfgang Laib, and the moment everyone realized that Maya Lin, a young architect student from Yale, was winner of the Vietnam Memorial!!

You have a career Young Kim and there are no apologies needed for THAT. Congratulations!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I HAVE to post this all over the blogosphere!!

Materialists WILL and are decry/(ing) this movie, like well-trained DOGS!! Yet, if materialists will go here and learn about the cycle of reusing materials in more healthy ways that ARE being developed, then maybe slowly, the average materialist will begin to understand stuff is still possible to attain, just the way your little pavlovic-driven unconscious is addicted!! WooHoo!! Sorry, I couldn't stop myself from the initial criticism of the reactionary...! Get over it and LISTEN until your neuro-transmitters make the connection!! Sorry!

Severn Cullis-Suzuki

These stories of stewarding national consumerist habituation, are NOT perfect, yet, they ARE beginning the change for the better! Can YOU help? Add to this? Come up with a BETTER way?? Then DO IT! The world needs your contributions too, NOT reactionsm which is so CHEAP anyway!! Listen to your own fundamental human values and learn to recognize them in other people "across the isle" from you. We aren't in a competition to win! What? Life on the planet... you stay... you go...?!! Whose death panels? Whose grandmother gets it in the chest?!! Come on, CHEAP, HABITUAL REACTIONISM IS what is DEAD!