LEA: more on the closure, and a move to save it

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Another World, May 2017

Following my post on the forthcoming closure of the Linden Endowments for the Art (see: Linden Endowment for the Arts to officially close), committee member JMB (Jo) Balogh posted a personal statement on the closure to Facebook.

As I’m not active in any capacity on that platform, Jo subsequently sent me a copy of her comments via note card, and since I have received numerous questions both in IM and via Twitter, etc., on why the LEA might be closing, I sought Jo’s permission to reprint her thoughts below.

At the same time, and for interested parties, there is a new in-world group for those would would like to see the LEA’s work continue into the future in some manner.

Jo’s Comments on the LEA’s Closure

Again, please note, as Jo states, these are her views on the LEA closure, rather than any form of official statement on the matter; nor do they represent the views of other committee memebers. Nevertheless, they may help shed some light on things.

This is a personal statement, not on behalf of the committee, just my point of view.

For quite a while it was obvious to the Committee that the LEA program as such was slowly dying. Applications for grants were way down and there were complaints that LEA had become boring and predictable. The committee had shrunk in numbers and giving up the right to apply for a grant made becoming a member a non starter for many good people. We spend months discussing it amongst ourselves and in meetings with LL. We concluded that it was not fixable within the current framework and that the only way forward was to step down and let a new group of people with new innovative ideas take it forward. Basically for LEA version II to be started from scratch again, just as it was in 2010. So that’s what we did. We stepped down and left it with LL.

So this is where it stands. I’m sure that LL would be happy to provide the regions again if some of you can come up with a solid proposal for promoting the Arts in Second Life and be willing to run it because it is takes work, a lot of work, trust me on that. It’s a labour of love because it is not paid work. In those years since 2010 Art in SL has changed dramatically and will continue to do so. Go for it! Make it happen.

JMB Balogh (Jo Balogh)

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, April 2016

The New In-World Group Seeking a Continuance of the LEA’s Work

Potentially (but not necessarily) as a result of Jo’s comments, a new in-world group has started, called LEA 2.0 The New Future~ SAVE LEA! Which can be joined by visiting the group join boxes at LEA 5 (up until the end of August 2019, at least).

Founded by artists Tansee Resident and Riannah Avora, the function of the group is described as:

Join Group to SAVE The LEA Sandbox, AIR grants, Core grants and the future of SL Virtual Art and Creativity. Be Proactive. This is an opportunity for “Positive” voices to be heard and be a part of the continuing growth and innovation of virtual art and creativity at LEA with dignified and equal respect to all concerned artists.

Please Be specific with your suggestions. Offer reasonable solutions.

Suggestions can be sent to either Tansee or Riannah in-world or dropped into the green boxes placed on LEA 5 (again, at least until the end of August 2019). In an introductory note card, Tansee adds:

Be Proactive & Positive. Avoid Negativity. Write your suggestions and observations on a note card. Be specific. Be respectful. Offer realistic solutions and explanations why you think something will work and how you envision it working. We have 2 weeks to compile input & present to LL. The plan then is to have a meeting at LEA Theatre.

So, if you wish to contribute ideas of a realistic and positive nature for the future of the LEA – or some next generation LEA – now is the chance to do so.

Linden Endowment for the Arts – Love, Henry, July 2015

For my part, I would simply suggest the following regarding an future organisation akin to the LEA:

  • Keep things simple, keep them open. One of the long-running critiques concerning the LEA was its star-chamber like nature. Meetings were largely closed-door affairs, the by-laws tended to discourage guests  rather than welcome them (with some understandable reasons for doing so); the grant selection process came to be seen (and not entirely fairly) as biased in favouritism; the blog / website never really reported on committee activities, furthering perceptions that it was all somehow secretive, etc.
  • Revisit the AIR grants: these were set-up at a time when arts installations had to be largely built and scripted by hand, making them intensive builds. Times have changed, and as more recent years have shown, installations can be developed using prefabricated mesh elements that can be used in a transformational manner, rather than being built from scratch. So, are 6-month grants actually still required? Could they be reduced somewhat to allow a greater range of expression through a year? Need they all aligned, starting and finishing on the same dates twice a year, or could they be set to operate on a more rolling-style basis with smaller groups of them overlapping with start / end dates? Is 20 AIR regions actually too much to be properly managed, and would a smaller number be preferable?
  • Utilise outreach and engagement. This loops back to the first bullet point in some respects. For assorted reasons, it is not unfair to say the LEA often tended to be regarded as being “apart from”, rather than “a part of” the broader diversity of arts and expressionism in Second Life. Better engagement with the broader arts information groups (e.g. SL Art, Cercle Fafner, to name two of the more prominent groups) would therefore perhaps be beneficial.

There is a lot more on specifics that will likely need to be looked into – up to, and including, I would suggest – the Lab’s own involvement in any LEA-like organisation (and their willingness to be perhaps be more involved than has in the past been the case; but then, this is the Linden Endowment for the Arts – at least for the time being). However, I offer these points as more generic points for possible discussion, if deemed relevant.

Should you have ideas of your own, then please – as noted – contact Tansee and Riannah, or drop your feedback into the green boxes on LEA 5 while they are available; and if you’re interested in keeping track of what might come of this move, join the in-world group.

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Cica’s Dogwood in Second Life

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

An arid land surrounded by the sea, conical hills sprouting from its back to rise above both the nude ground and denuded briar-like trees – this is the strange landscape that greets visitors to Dogwood, Cica Ghost’s latest installation in Second Life.

Within this landscape is an equally curious mix. Two slightly porcine dogs, the kind you might expect to see romping through an animated film, appear to stand guard either side of a ramshackle pair of fences that  themselves appear to be protecting a group of strange structures.

Looking like a mix of gourds, pearl drops and long-necked vases, these structures sprout valve-like arms from  necks rising up to open mouths. Combined with their sometimes bent shapes, these “arms” and open mouths give these forms a comically anthropomorphic look about them, little little odd women and men waving little arms at one another or to visitors, and exchanging conversation.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Two more dogs stand among these structures, again appearing to have dropped in from an animated film. One is a toothy and slightly worried-looking bulldog, the other an almost Chihuahua-like companion. Together they have an air of a Laurel and Hardy pairing about them.

Also scattered across the island are black birds, standing some in groups some on their own. With their colouring, long legs and beaks, they resemble a cross between a stork and a crow; but like the dogs and the strange structures, they have a strong sense of individual personalities.

Both dogs and birds are nicely animated – the eyes of the dogs dart around, while the birds move their eyes, turn their heads and raise the occasional leg as if about to take a step, then lowering it again in an change of mind.  These animations, together with the multiple avatar sit points with their share of dances waiting to be found throughout the region, add a subtle dynamic to this setting.

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

But sitting under a hazy sky, even with its oddly comical-cum-fairytale look, it’s hard to completely understand Dogwood – until that is, you reach the south-west corner of the region. It is here, with a narrow channel of water acting like a moat to separate it from the rest of the land, that a another hill rises. It is topped by a tall tower, reached by precarious-looking flights of steps stacked together without support. The tower is itself enfolded by the scaly tail of a great, wingless wyvern, who rests his bulk on the crown of the tower, eyes roving over the landscape before him.

Tower and wyvern add a further fairytale feel to Dogwood – but it is what lies within the tower, at the end of that precarious stairway that offers a key to Dogwood. A lone flower stands here, the brightness of its colours and the redness of its pot standing in strong contrast to the rest of the landscape. Put them with the quote Cica has selected to frame the installation, and the poetry of Dogwood falls into place:

Just living is not enough… one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.

– Hans Christian Andersen

Cica Ghost: Dogwood – July 2019

Perhaps initially hard to grasp but equally quirky and cheekily humorous, Dogwood is genuinely poetic in its presentation, carrying a rich vein of fairytale under the banner of the Andersen quote.

SLurl Details

  • Dogwood (Dueville, rated Moderate)

Pixtoria: the art of Davenwolf Dagger in Second Life

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

I recently gained an introduction to the photography of artist, photographer, and Second Life resident, Davenwolf Dagger as a result of his participation in the July exhibition at Kultivate’s The Edge gallery (see: Kultivate: The Edge Gallery – July 2019), where his presented an eye-catching collection of black-and-white photos entitled The Blacksmith Series, that particularly caught my eye, both for the richness of their narrative and for the fact they indirectly reminded me to recall the time I was lucky enough to spend in Tasmania.

Coincident to my review of that exhibition, Davenwolf also sent me an invitation to visit his in-world gallery, Pixtoria Galleries – an invitation I was happy to accept.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

Split between two levels, one on the ground and the other in a skybox, Pixtoria is a veritable tour de force of Davenwolf’s art  – and quite engagingly so. The ground floor provides an introduction to his digital images, running from the abstract through to fractal-like pieces to those suggestive of exotic, alien landscapes to a – for me – fascinating piece entitled DNA, with is marvellous suggestion of constructs and building-blocks and hint of architectural constructs.

The ground level gallery space is small, offering a social area on its upper floor rather than more images, but it is enough the whet the appetite and encourage the visitor to click the teleport disk to reach the sky gallery.

I’m a bit of a creator and perfectionist so I’m always making something. Whether it be in SL or the real world I like to keep myself entertained by creating artworks, photography, drums, videos, sculptures etc., you name it and I’ve done it over the years. Some projects I’ve had with better success than others but I eventually get there in the end.

– Davenwolf, describing his life and art

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries

The sky gallery is a much larger affair, split into two levels of two halls apiece, the upper levels connected to the lower by elevators. The lower level is home to more of Davenwolf’s digital art, one hall devoted to pieces that continue the themes evident in some of the ground level pcitures, with experiments in line, colour, form and tone. Some of these offer a clear fractal influence (Trident, the triptych like Connections and Spiral), while others present more “organic” forms.

Across the floor, in the other lower level hall are some utterly wonderful images expressing the beauty of geometry as a model for art. Spheres, rings, cones and more sit on chequerboard patterns and under expressive skies, their colours and reflective surfaces offers wonderful depth, so much so you feel like the reflections should move in response to your own camera / avatar movements. Tucked into one corner of this hall are two pieces – Urban Decay and Stranded – that each contain an especially powerful narrative.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: The Blacksmith Series

The upper levels of the gallery featured, at the time of my visit, two exhibitions of Davenwolf’s photography. The first focuses on The Blacksmith Series, his marvellous black-and-white series noted above, captured in an old working environment in Launceston, Tasmania, and, across the intervening atrium, Ward 21 Morisset Asylum.

The latter is an utterly evocative series, taken (I assume) in a disused wing of the psychiatric hospital that opened in 1908 either within, or very close to, the town of Morisset, New South Wales, Australia. Reaching its peak in the 1960, when it houses up to 1600 patients, today it still tends to dominate the town’s reputation, despite now having a patient population roughly one-tenth the number from the 1960s.

Davenwolf Dagger – Pixtoria Galleries: Ward 21 Morriset Asylum

Davenwolf’s pictures capture halls and rooms now broken and decaying, but which are now the home of graffiti. Utilising light and shadow, camera angle and choice of lens, and the occasional image of a man, Davenwolf uses the condition of the ward and the presence of the graffiti to give  – and pardon the term, no pun intended whatsoever – graphic interpretation of a mind in turmoil.

When viewed as complete sets, The Blacksmith Series and the Ward 21 Series are striking in their storytelling. However, the individual pieces within each also stand as collectable images in their own right.  Similarly, the digital images offered through the gallery will natural grace any art collection, making any visit to Pixtoria Galleries doubly worthwhile.

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Linden Endowment for the Arts to officially close

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Eidola, 2019

The Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) is to officially close on August 31st, 2019. The announcement came via a notice came via a note card circulated via the Linden Endowment for the Arts Info group, and follows on from a contraction of the scale of the LEA’s operations in Second Life and an announcement made in November 2018 stating the organisation would be going through a restructuring.

The Committee of the Linden Endowment for the Arts regrets to inform residents of Second Life that the LEA regions will be closing at the end of August 2019…

The Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) was established to help create a centre of arts activity in Second Life. It was founded in 2010 and launched its first events in 2011. For the last eight years, it has been a collaborative venture between Linden Lab and the arts community. Guided initially by a board of renowned Second Life artists and more latterly also bringing in people with a strong interest in promoting the Arts in Second Life, the LEA has been committed to providing access to engaging experiences in the arts for the Second Life community. Over the last eight years, through its exhibitions, programs, and events, the LEA has fostered awareness of artists’ contributions to our virtual world and encouraged others to get involved and be inspired.

– from the announcement of the LEA’s forthcoming closure

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Exodus: A Trip for Life, 2017

Sponsored by Linden Lab, and with 29 regions at its disposal, the LEA was initiated under Mark Kingdon’s tenure as CEO at Linden Lab to function as something of a “arts council” in Second Life, run directly by a committee of residents. The core ideals behind the LEA – as expressed on the official website were to:

  • Provide a starting point for artists in Second Life, and for those interested in art to make connections and display their work.
  • Encourage and cultivate art and artists within Second Life.
  • Foster community, creativity, and innovation among artists and all residents interested in art.
  • Provide a way for artists to promote their art.
  • Collaborate with existing art regions, galleries, exhibits, and performance spaces to help nurture their valuable participation in SL arts.
Linden Endowment for the Arts: City Inside Out, 2015

The regions were split into two primary programmes: the “core” regions (nine in all) which could be used by artists from across Second Life for relatively short-term projects, and 20 Artist in Residence (AIR) regions that could be “booked” for six months at a time. Following the announcement of the restructuring in November 2018, the 20 AIR regions were wound down as the last batch of installations for 2018 came to an end. With the formal closure at the end of August 2019, the remaining nine core regions will be shut down.

The LEA was a brave attempt to try to help promote arts within Second Life, although its very nature was bound to be somewhat controversial. Indeed, following its formation, there was a certain degree of hostility directed towards it, a lot of which was unfair.

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Speculum, 2015

As was pointed out to me after I wrote the article on the 2018 restructuring announcement, running any organisation like the LEA is going to be a thankless task; there is no remuneration for time given, there is always going to be hostility over actions taken and the grants awarded, and so on; it really can be a thankless task. Nevertheless, there were times when the committee really didn’t help itself, such as failing to adequately act in accordance with its own by-laws after a committee member openly griefed a privately-held arts region in 2015 (other than hiding those by-laws when challenged under them following said incident).

However, there can be no doubting then when all is said and done, the LEA did a tremendous amount of good for the artists who participated in its programmes, offering many the means to express themselves and reach audiences in a manner that might never otherwise been able to achieve.

Linden Endowment for the Arts: Astral Dream Project – Leonardo 500, 2019. One of the last LEA core region exhibitions

For example, there have been collaborative projects too numerous to mention; there have been individual installations offered for use by a wider community (take Chic Aeon’s MOSP installations for example); there have been works embracing political and social issues (such as the 2LEI installations); investigations into matter of health (which through their construction and presentation may well have offered catharsis to the artists behind them). There have been installation that have allowed the many faces of art of be examined, explored and enjoyed music, song, dance, storytelling, the visual interpretation of classic works. And there have been those that have simply offered the opportunity for us to express joy and laughter – and so much more.

As such, and while the LEA many have had its warts and at times had to face undue criticism, it has through its nine years of existence been a force for good for those arts who have been able to make use of its facilities and it has certainly helped enriched art within Second Life and allow many to appreciate work and installations they might otherwise never get to see. So, it’s not unfair to say its passing will be missed.

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The Vordun: new home, new exhibits and some favourites

The Vordun Gallery and Museum

The Vordun Gallery and Museum, curated and operated by Jake Vordun, has relocated to its own full region, and as a result has undergone something of an expansion.

Connected to its former home on the region Jake has his Fancy Decor business, the new Vordun Gallery and Museum now boasts two floors, offering highly flexible display space with – at present – nine gallery halls (although some look like they could either be expanded or split, depending on the needs of individual displays).

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Pictures of the Floating World

As I discussed exactly two years ago just after The Vordun originally opened (see: The Vordun: a new art experience in Second Life), one of the attractions with this gallery is the care with which Jake and his team have striven to make a visit to The Vordun something of a an experience that mirrors a visit to a physical world gallery or museum – and this is certainly continues with the gallery’s new location.

I wanted to expand the non gallery areas. The lobby in the old build was a small cube. I think the newer big lobby with café, bathrooms, elevator, coat check etc, gives it a more real-life feel. Plus adding the second floor adds a ton of new space for more exhibits!

– Jake Vordun on expanding the Vordun Gallery and Museum

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Claude Monet

The realism element was particularly reflected in the initial exhibit at the Gallery, European Masters, 300 Years of Painting, offering as it did a scripted audio tour of the pieces on display. In the intervening years, European Masters has become something of a permanent fixture at the gallery, and I’m pleased to say this is still the case following the move as it continues to occupy the main ground floor hall.

The ground floor also sees three other exhibitions that were open at the time of the move also continue. Two of these, Pictures of the Floating World and Proverbs of the Low Countries, I wrote about in June 2017 (see: Floating worlds and Dutch proverbs in Second Life). Both of these are again exhibitions designed to not only reveal the art to visitors, but actively engage the visitor with the art. Sincerely Yours / Postcrossing, meanwhile, brings to life the fascinating world of postcrossing.com, which invites people to sign-up and send a postcard to a total stranger in another part of the world, thus joining a chain of sharing that has seen some 40 million postcards exchanged at the rate of 187 being sent per hour!

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Claude Monet

The rear hall on the ground floor is home to one of the new exhibitions at the gallery: Claude: Monet Impressions, a celebration of one of the founders – and possibly the greatest exponent  – of French impressionism Claude Monet. With something of a focus on some of Monet’s more famous paintings – notably those of his gardens at Giverny – this is at the same time a varied exhibition, featuring some of his portrait work and touching on the man and his life as well. All of which makes for an excellent introduction to Monet for those unfamiliar with his work.

The upper floor of the gallery holds the promise of the return of A Night to Remember, commemorating the loss of the RMS Titanic. This interactive installation had its début in Second Life at the Vordun as a part of the gallery’s original opening. It then travelled to the LEA where it was expanded somewhat (see: A Night to Remember in Second Life). Thus, the forthcoming its re-opening at The Vordun will be something of a coming home.

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Rembrandt

Also on the upper floor The Vordun offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves into the life and work of the great Dutch master, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn – but form an unusual angle. Best remembered as painter, Rembrandt was also a master draughtsman and printmaker, being a pioneer in the world of etching. It is this aspect of his art – for which he was perhaps most famous during his lifetime – that is celebrated here. Be sure to touch the images to gain deeper insight into each of them.

Alongside Rembrandt is another interactive, experience-driven exhibition, Musica Antiqua, a most engaging journey into music from the middle-ages to the Baroque period (the era of Bach, Vivaldi, Albinoni, Handel, Percell, Pachelbel and more). It features models of various instruments paints and  – most immersely – the music of the instruments themselves through audio and video.

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Musica Antiqua

As with some of the other exhibitions at The Vordun, this is a HUD-driven exhibition (the HUD should auto-attach on entering the exhibition space, providing you have accepted the gallery’s experience. If you haven’t, you’ll again be asked to do so). Audio can be heard by pressing the number on the HUD corresponding to the instrument  / painting you are viewing. Three additional button (indicated by the number with the video icons alongside them) will open a playback panel in your viewer, but note that a) you may have to click the panel to engage video playback; and b) playback is dependent upon HTML / Flash support in your viewer – an nearby chat link will help for those experiencing issues, and depending on their view of the security of Flash.

Across the hall from Musica Antiqua and Rembrandt is another unusual exhibition of physical world art – one perhaps at times overlooked outside of stately homes in Europe: that of tapestry. Threads of Gold celebrates this art through both wall hangings (perhaps how we most often think of tapestry) and upholstery embroidery – the latter again through the use of models.

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: Threads of Gold

The Vordun has cut a path of its own in terms of Second Life galleries, focusing as it does on physical world art. I personally find this one of the great attractions with the gallery; by doing so, it can bring the world’s art and artists to an audience who might otherwise never have the chance to experience the personal delight of what is to all intents and purposes a “first-hand” view of the art that the printed page can never really match.

That said, and allowing for the lean towards making The Vordun as close as possible to the feeling of visiting a “real” gallery, I did again find myself wishing in places that displays that do not provide auto-zooming used larger versions of the images they present (overall quality of the original image allowing, of course). This would potentially make them easier to appreciate by those less skilled in camera manipulation or who – more particularly – might suffer from poor vision.

The Vordun Gallery and Museum: The Great European Masters

Emphasising physical world art is something Jake would like to increase, as he informed me during a visit. “I’d love to have some Second Life artists showcase their physical world art.” There is nothing planned for this as yet, Jake has been focused on getting the gallery moved and the new exhibitions opened. However, we did discuss a few names, and SL artists who are not averse to displaying their art in-world might want to contact Jake directly to discuss their work and possible opportunities.

In the meantime, congratulations to Jake and his team for the gallery’s expansion and four new and very engaging exhibitions.

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Kultivate 4th Anniversary art show

Kultivate 4th Anniversary Art Show

Sunday, July 14th marked the opening of the Kultivate Magazine 4th anniversary art show in Second Life.

Since its inception, the brand has grown to encompass the website, the side-by-side Kultivate AIR and the Windlight galleries, The Edge gallery, specialising in black and white images, and the arts community as a whole through the provisioning of personal art spaces on the Kultiate home region of Water Haven. In addition, Kultivate has provided fund-raising support for Team Diabetes of SL, Rock Your Rack (supporting the National Breast Cancer Foundation – NBCF), and Feed a Smile.

Kultivate 4th Anniversary Art Show: Vee Tamas

For their fourth anniversary, Kultivate presents a 2D and 3D art exhibition in a steampunk-themed setting. Some 27 artists are participating in the event, which also features a week of entertainment as well.

Obviously, with so many artists participating, the range of art on display is broad, with avatar studies, landscapes, colour images, monochrome, physical world paintings, mixed media, and more. All of the art is displayed in the open air, with the region’s default windlight providing a strong neutral background light to fully appreciate the pieces on display.

Kultivate 4th Anniversary Art Show: VictorSavior

I admit to inevitably being drawn to some of my favourite artists – Cybele Moon with her fabulous fable-like images; VictorSavior, who again offers a wonderful mix of art: hand-drawn avatar studies, paintings of historical figures, landscape paintings and the most engaging series of oriental-style wall hanging featuring ink-drawn images and words; Jamee Sandalwood’s wonderful landscape and region studies; and so on. However, all of the art makes this a more than engaging visit.

Entertainment for the week through to July 20th comprises (all times SLT):

  • Monday, July 15, 2019 16:00-17:00: Dimivan Ludwig.
  • Tuesday, July 16, 2019 16:00-17:00: Mavenn.
  • Wednesday, July 17, 2019 16:00-17:00: Wolfie Starfire.
  • Thursday, July 18, 2019 16:00-17:00: TBD.
  • Friday, July 19, 2019 16:00-17:00: Erika Ordinary.
  • Saturday, July 20, 2019 13:00-14:00: Closing parting.
Kultivate 4th Anniversary Art Show: Elle Thorkveld

There are also special raffle giveaways for those attending the entertainment events with prizes including two LumiPro lighting systems, a Serenade Photo Studio Pro, Tillie’s Pose Stand, Fotoscope FotoFrame Publisher, the Beachyhead House from DAD Designs and the Camden Photo Studio from Maven Homes.

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