22 Jan

FLORIDA TODAY Coverage 9/17/2015

  • Posted by Tina Lange
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  • Andy Anderson, Art of Sustainability, BCA, Brevard Cultural Alliance, Eastern Florida State College, Florida, Kinetic Art, Kinetic Sculpture, Lyn Dowling, Marcia Gaedke, Neil Levine, Palm Bay, Ralfonso

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BCA, Palm Bay Prepare for Kinetic Art Fest, Art of Sustainability
By Lyn Dowling, For FLORIDA TODAY
2:31 p.m. EDT September 17, 2015

Kinetic art fest takes place Feb. 2016 at EFSC in Palm Bay.

Jeff Kahn 1

(Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF KAHN)

Three years ago, community groups and North Brevard businesses, in conjunction with the Brevard Cultural Alliance, presented an art festival that was nothing like the typical art festival. It had no rows of tents, no paintings on easels or sculptures on shelves, but focused on what it called “arts in the digital domain.” Art & Algorithms drew worldwide attention to Titusville and became a much-respected annual event, destined to return to the downtown area Oct. 5-11.

The BCA, which celebrates its 40th anniversary as an organization this week, and Palm Bay officials hope for much the same, moreover, with liberal helping of environmentalism, with the Art of Sustainability, which is planned for February 2016 at Eastern Florida State College in Palm Bay.

The festival, set for Feb. 17-21, will feature kinetic art, defined by the Guggenheim Museum as, “art of both real and apparent motion,” in this case, giant pieces designed to catch the wind and water power, for the sake of environmental consciousness. If all goes according to plan, those pieces created by artists from this country and abroad, will be installed around the campus’ lake and its environs.

Confirmed artists include Jeff Kahn (jeffkahnsculpture.com) and Ralfonso (ralfonso.com). The sculptures will be on display Feb. 17-March 17. The kinetic arts fest theme will be bolstered by symposia and workshops tied to issues ecological — sustainability — crucial to an area like Palm Bay, which has so much land and water, so many natural resources. If all goes according to plan, it should do for Palm Bay what “Art and Al” did for North Brevard: give it an artistic identity of sorts, and the attention that goes with it.

“It’s a really interesting story,” said Neil Levine, BCA’s executive director. “A few years ago we came to the conclusion that we really wanted to build the capacity for local communities to celebrate themselves, to arrive at a new vernacular for themselves. In our opinion, events such as traditional art fairs were fine, but we wanted to find something sufficiently different to attract people to these communities.”

It is a matter of identifying an event with an area, he added. “In the north of the county, you have a large number of people who care about how they are perceived. What’s different about them? The answer, of course, is technology, and we found a fun arts and culture (festival) that completely complements that. So Art & Algorithms was the name of the first such event, and people, not just here, but throughout the world are paying attention. It gives them an opportunity to be proud,” Levine said.

Next came Palm Bay, at the opposite end of the county, with a different sort of identification.

Jeff Kahn 2

According to his website, “Transcending Tides” is part of artist Jeff Kahn’s Unseen Forces collection of kinetic sculptures. Kahn’s work will be presented at the Art of Sustainability in Palm Bay. (Photo: PHOTO COURTESY OF JEFF KAHN)

 

“What we wanted to do there was help the people of Palm Bay look at the perception of what Palm Bay is and to be proud and positive about it,” he said. “Palm Bay has more flora and fauna than you can shake a stick at, so we wanted to … have the perfect art form, and that is the Art of Sustainability.”

The Art of Sustainability will be art in part. “We really want to create symposia and workshops, so over the course of three to five years, we can bring in more delegates to discuss sustainability. Really, we are using art to provoke debate. This is not art for art’s sake but art as catalyst,” Levine said.

That is fine with the people of the city of Palm Bay, which was described by BCA spokeswoman Tina Lange as a “committed partner” of BCA, as are EFSC, Harris Corp., Marine Resources Council, Waste Management and the National Endowment for the Arts. Palm Bay’s economic development administrator and Brevard County Commissioner Andy Anderson is working with groups to put the festival together. “

We probably haven’t done as much as we could have to promote the arts and culture in Palm Bay, so this is an opportunity for us,” he said. “Palm Bay has a lot of land and a lot of water. … Everyone talks about our natural beauty, and we have easy access to natural (attractions); we will have one of the largest bass fishing and birding areas in Florida. It is all about our natural environment. So we feel that attracting sportsmen and sustainability go hand in hand.”

He was especially enthusiastic about that rare NEA grant, only the second time such an award was handed to Brevardians. The first went to Art & Algorithms. “Two years ago, Arts & Algorithms was fortunate enough to deliver a program for young people with a grant from NEA, (which) had never funded (an activity) in Brevard County before,” Levine said. “The NEA will be involved with Art of Sustainability, too.”

Neither Levine nor Anderson would speculate about the potential effect of Art of Sustainability on Palm Bay, but Marcia Gaedcke, president of the Titusville Area Chamber of Commerce, praised Art & Algorithms. “It really has been a great experience,” she said. “The recognition that we are recognized in the art community on an international basis is wonderful. We’re building relationships with other events and other artists throughout the world. People are … taking notice of Titusville and North Brevard as a cultural destination, and from there, they look at other opportunities in the area.”

Though such recognition will not happen overnight, it will be worth the effort and the wait, she added. “Our goal was to bring tens of thousands of people to this area for a unique festival of the arts,” Gaedcke said. “We’re not quite there yet, but we’ll get there; we can see the recognition the festival already has brought and it’s already going faster than we thought when we started. It’s different, so people have to be patient, but the notoriety and recognition it will bring to the community is a big win. … This is a big win and a big opportunity.”

Anderson thinks so. “You know, Palm Bay already has had art and culture; we just haven’t really promoted it,” he said. “But now there’s a professional class here that wants (it). There are so many millennials here who demand these things, and we want to prove that we will serve them. And you know what? It’s cool. Capturing wind power, capturing water power with art? That’s cool.”

Follow Lyn on Twitter: @lyn_dowling.

The details:
The Art of Sustainability, a kinetic sculpture event presented by the Brevard Cultural Alliance and the city of Palm Bay, takes place Feb. 17-21 at Eastern Florida State College, 250 Community College Parkway S.E., Palm Bay. In addition to the kinetic arts festival, the wind sculptures will be on display Feb. 17-March 17. Call the BCA at 321-690-6817 or visit artsbrevard.org. Send a Tweet to @artsbrevard

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