I have always had a special affinity for art in places where art “isn’t supposed to be.” Certainly, most of us enjoy an afternoon browsing a gallery or museum, but there is something really nice about finding art in unexpected places. These nice moments can take many forms, but the logic underlying our appreciation of charming graffiti, or the rich voice of a talented troubadour, or a dancer swept up in the beauty of a sunny afternoon in a park, is that art is not a bounded part of our lives. It permeates our various spaces because art is part of what keeps us all going. Often, these moments of beauty also remind us of the power of art to speak to social and political issues that are important to us.
My favorite artists, then, tend to be those whose work directly engages with social issues. One such artist is my friend Sean Starowitz who recently moved to Bloomington. Sean was hired as our city’s new assistant director of Economic Development for the Arts. I am proud to call Sean a friend, and excited that Bloomington is going to have the chance to collaborate with him.
Sean and I met a few years ago in a professional capacity and we have since maintained a friendship. I’ve enjoyed keeping up with the numerous projects he is a part of, many of which you can read about on his personal website.
The BREAD! KC project supported Kansas City’s artistic community through micro-financing events that combined a community meal with the democratic process. The Equal Playing Field project explored to what extent sports can be a means by which inequalities are erased. Byproduct: The Laundromat brought experimental jazz and soap-making demonstrations to a local laundromat.
I believe that Sean will be a great addition to Bloomington. His work is both aesthetically interesting and socially engaged – the best kind of art. I hope you’ll get to meet him, but if not I’m certain you will soon see great new collaborations between our city government and Bloomington’s creative community.