Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Why do people do this? Other than the obvious reason of sitting on the property with hopes of eventually making money. Are there more complex reasons that we are missing?
What is already being done to stop speculators, We've heard about code enforcement and the city taking over properties, but what else is there and are these the most effective things that can be done?
What should be done. How can the people in a neighborhood stop this from happening? How can the city stop it short of taking people's property away (because no one likes eminent domain)
What conditions lead to an area becoming ripe for speculators? How can these things be combated?
These are not questions I have any sort of answer to, I'd love to hear what everyone thinks about this.
So many relationships in cities seem to be symbiotic, but the relationship of the speculator to the city seems to be inherently parasitic. They contribute nothing to the city (except property taxes) and get rich when property values do go up. I'm totally over simplifying the whole situation, but since it is something that so many people have mentioned, perhaps we should look into it as a class?
I just found several interesting groups on Facebook that discuss and share secrets of Baltimore and other cities. They are called "secret city" groups that discuss the happenings within places like New York and San Francisco to name a few. Since we as a class are beginning to understand the value of the intricacies and secrets of cities, maybe we should use this group as a forum for discussion. When looking at the "Secret Baltimore" page, it was apparent that each person posting had a different idea of what "secrets" were worth sharing. I realized that the MICA community has its own unique vault of "secrets" that are worth exploring. There are many places featured in these "secret city" groups, and all are interesting to look at and think about. Check it out!
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Though Markusen’s “Artistic Dividend” is distinguished from our previous readings, it holds several important similarities. Currid, in the text “How Art and Culture Happen”, emphasizes the low involvement of the city in cultivating of a cultural district. Local government must adopt a “benign acceptance” of creative development, as any efforts on their part will be only disrupt local artists. Markusen agrees, stating that the artistic dividend is “a product of long term commitments by philanthropists, patrons, and the public sector”. Another similarity found between Currid and Markusen is the concept of opportunity tied up in social networking. Currid places a strong emphasis on the role of “cultural producers, cultural gatekeepers, and owners and managers of entertainment venues” in contributing to the success of a creative sector. Artists are drawn to dense concentrations of these parties, not because they seek the alternative lifestyle therein (which may indeed be true), but because the social connections formed are the key to a successful career. Markusen observes the same, stating that the networking of fellow creative contributors offers “opportunity to improve both their [artist’s] craft and methods for enhancing their exposure and incomes." The agreement of these two reputable social scientists offers a firm support for the role of informal networking and low government involvement in the formation of the creative sector.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The transition of lofts into their current state can be explained by a hierarchal process – beginning with small industrial manufacturers, then artists, followed by middle-class tenants, real estate developers, and finally the bourgeois upper-class. As deindustrialization made manufacturing firms increasingly obsolete, the buildings that housed them transitioned into cheap residential space for artists. Once the pioneer residents laid the groundwork, lofts became an acceptable form of alternative living for the middle class. Recognizing a profitable demand, developers institutionalized loft living, creating a market for the upper class. This process is far from a natural phenomenon. The popularity of loft living did not arise without the involvement of the state, this ranging from benign acceptance to real estate subsidies. Lending institutions had their hand in the process as well, loaning developers the cost of acquisition and construction costs. As Sharon Zukin states, “To praise the spread of loft living as a result of spontaneous market forces is to accept the real estate developers’ view of the world and to ignore the state’s and banks’ complicity in the construction of this world” (pg.3). Despite this institutional involvement, loft living lends its existence to pioneering artists. Artists who, in need of space, recognized the potential of obsolete manufacturing structures as a solution.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Neo Bohemia: How fetishization of the working class manifests itself in where bohemians choose to live
" These people were not slummers and they were certainly not philanthropists; they came to revel and discover, not aid and uplift... [they prided] themselves on a hedonistic familiarity with the city and its gaudy and besmudged riches. Compared to these diversions , the everyday struggles of the shop floors were altogether too tedious and, with few exceptions, were ignored." (56)
While Lloyd is writing about the bohemians living in the village in the 20's, this appropriation of all of the glamorous elements of the city's underbelly with ignorance of its struggles is something that is alive and well in bohemian culture today. One example is hip hop, hip hop is often talked about by bohemians with a certain reverence because it is a discussion of all of the over the top, glamorous aspects of poverty. While hip hop sometime gives a nod to struggle and the real aspects of poverty, it by and large ignores it, and even when it does, it is often described with a certain grace and an element of cool. This is the music listened to by many bohemians at their parties and while they may be able to appreciate the production values and seedy lyrics, they generally have little understanding of what it means to sell drugs, lose a friend or get shot at (it's up for debate how many of the artists producing the music itself even have an understanding of those things, but thats another converation entirely)
Another manifestation of this is the idea of living in a loft. Bohemians occupy spaces that were once used as space of production, and they fetishize this as well. One example of this post industrial decor is Urbus Orbis Cafe which Lloyd writes about in his book as well. He descibes the former sweatshot as having tables built out of the exposed brick walls with machine parts like gears and cogs embeded into them. Bohemians have not only taken over the physical spaces of industrialization, they have also co-opted the aesthetics of it. Perhaps this could be tied to trying to hold onto a degree of authenticity or to pay homage to the working men and women before them, but either way, thier fetishization of the working class manifests itself in the environment that they build for themselves. I may not have the strongest case to make for "Industrial Chic" being tied to the way that bohemians admire the working class, but I do think that there is a link to be made.
Though this philosophy is naturally antithetical to American capitalism, in the long run it actually paved the way for economic consumption. Here lies the first paradox observed by Lloyd: as the Bohemian movement was recognized by the mainstream, the area of Wicker Park became more commercially viable. Such media outlets as MTV, Billboard, and Fortune magazines boasted the “new economy” of the area. Corporate culture saw the opportunity to attach itself to a hip and edgy neighborhood and, under the guise of “indie”, succeeded in doing so. This contradictory turn of events is illustrated on a more personal level through Lloyd’s field notes. In 2003 he found himself attending a party for the local web design firm Buzzbait. Though only a year old, the business had experienced rapid expansion. In fact, it was rumored that Buzzbait had recently received a $5 million offer of purchase. Suddenly these Bohemian entrepreneurs were finding themselves rewarded by the very corporation they opposed. During their celebration, Lloyd found himself talking to a young musician about the theory of gentrification. Her disdain for the subject was obvious. Meanwhile she, a perfect exemplar of bohemia, was fueling the very trend she despised. The paradox is clear. Once the lifestyle deviant becomes commercially viable, its politics sadly contradict. Bohemia, when exposed to it’s enemy, becomes flawed.
This also brings up what concerns me most which is what about the people who have lived in this area their whole lives and witnessed the rise and the fall of the neighborhood. While I appreciate that the city wants to build an arts and entertainment district for me and my fellow artists and give me tax incentives and stuff like that, I can't help but ask why can't they put that kind of money into building up better neighborhoods and schools and businesses for people who have needed it for so long. Not to say that the people living in Greenmount West and Barclay don't need this too because they are struggling too. Again, are they going to be able to afford to live in their neighborhood once these plans kick into gear? The Old Town Mall in East Baltimore was once the heart of Baltimore and a thriving market that served its community. It's also a failed urban renewal project that has been suffering since the late 80s. That place and its residents and business owners have been promised funding and redevelopment for years and are still waiting for something/anything to happen down there. It doesn't get nearly as much attention has Station North. The same thing goes for sections of the west side of downtown. I guess it's pretty complicated and also hard for a broke city like Baltimore to tackle these problems all at once and we should be happy that something positive is happening somewhere and maybe that will be a start to something bigger and better for Baltimore. It will be interesting to see where the city is in 10-15 years down the road.
Just some thoughts......
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
So, the studios increase from 15~30 (in 2003~2006) to 50 after 2 years, there are not only fine arts, includes all kind of visual art likes illustration or design, performing art, fusion Korean classical music etc. With increasing art studios, Mullae-dong is naturally known of an “art district” to many people, finally there were held Mullae International Arts Festival(MIAF) in 2009.
In 2010, “Mullae Art Factory”(transits directly; in English they named Seoul art space_Mullae) opened on Jan 28. It means that Mullae-dong art ditrict, so called “Mullae Arts Creating Village”, is acknowledged by people and government clearly. It does not complete, however, it is ongoing now. The government planed that make it being a famous art district so let many people move to there and develop regional economy.
P.S. Unfortunately, there are few information in English.
District information in Wiki
Seoul art space_Mullae
Throughout middle and high school I worked in the studio in order to get into classes for free with other young people. This totally made it possible for young people who couldn't afford or have their parents afford classes to take classes and get instruction.
But this area is far to suburban to be considered an arts district and I wondered what places close by were/are considered arts districts. After searching I found one in Hyattsville, Maryland. It's pretty unnatural and kind of odd. It boasts that it is near the metro and Washington D.C.. It also claims that its homes include environmentally friendly and energy efficient amenities as well as a gallery/art space. But would an artist actually live here? Or be attracted to living here?
Thursday, February 4, 2010
When a city has a naturally developed arts district, the local government usually acts upon it to help build it up and make it thrive. However, what happens when a city has more than one arts district that has naturally occurred? Will the city acknowledge all the arts districts and try to build up various areas, or decide on one? Will the city even acknowledge these various other districts that they are not actively promoting, or will they completely deny the existence of them within the city?
This phenomenon has actually occurred within the city of Pittsburgh. There is the main Cultural District that is located downtown that the city actively promotes through the events of the monthly Pittsburgh Arts Crawl, Festival of the Arts, and numerous theater and gallery events that occur all throughout the year. However, this is not the only arts district. Another self-made thriving area is the Penn Avenue arts district, located approximately 5 miles up the street from the main Cultural District.
The Penn Avenue arts district is run by a non-profit organization called the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. They promote the opening of new DIY galleries, concert spaces, eating establishments, theater productions, among other events and venues. There is also first Fridays, Unblurred, which is heavily attended regardless of weather conditions. This entails free shows, gallery openings, street theater, etc. However, there is no promotion of this area by the city, and therefore, the attendance by the city is much lower than what it could be, because it is virtually unknown. Many of the buildings have had issues getting funding, and are run down. However, there is cheap living available.
Along with the Penn Avenue arts district, there is another arts initiative happening just outside the city of Pittsburgh, (less than 5 minutes drive). The Braddock Arts Initiative started with the election of a new mayor to the area. He is promoting subsidized living for working artists in many of the abandoned warehouses within the formal steel mill town. There is a large artists population that has worked on house rehabs, urban farming, and public arts projects. The most well known public arts project is the Points of Interest project, which is located all over Braddock. The main problem Braddock faces is the Mon-Fayette expressway that has been proposed numerous times, which would run a highway directly through the town of Braddock to connect Pittsburgh, Pa to Charlestown, WV.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There already seems to be, in my opinion, a tension on North Avenue. On the south sides exists Charles street where young college kids gather for movies and drinks.. etc, while the north side is almost desolate, even with the installation of The Wind Up space and a few other attractions on the north side of the street. Perhaps tackling neighborhoods is the easiest way to go about revitalizing Baltimore City, but with the continued efforts in bringing up single areas also increases the checkerboard throughout this city.
It's not to say that I am not a believer in the Station North plan, I just worry about the continued tension that will naturally exist between its surrounding communities.
Is development in the Station North area really a good idea? This is a question that has been posed to me by a lot of people I live and work with. The guiding idea the people have when they ask this question is "I like my neighborhood the way it is". There is already a vibrant, functioning art community there, the rent is affordable and and the quality of life is by many of these people's standards decent. There seems to me to be a rift between the criteria different populations use to evaluate the quality of a neighborhood.
Take vacant space as an example. There is a house on 23rd and Barclay that regularly hosts concerts in the basement. Not only is it a place for the arts and music communities to gather, but it provides a space for touring bands to stop, play, sleep and make some money. But why can this house in the middle of residential neighborhood host these loud shows that often go until late at night and attract minimal noise complaints? Because the houses on either side of it are vacant. If this was not the case, then this important gathering place could not exist. The space is a an open space that allows for interesting and experimental things to happen without the pressure of making money (to dispel a common misconception, the vast majority of people that host house shows do not use door money to pay their rent).
Yes, it's possible that in the process of development, a multi-use performance space could be created to house these kinds of events, but this brings up the old adage "if it aint broke, don't fix it". There is something to be said for self organization, and this seems to be frequently overlooked by people seeking to develop an area (sometimes even if those people are living in the neighborhood.)
This system may seem parasitic and unproducative, but it would be meiopic to ignore the cultural production and the potential for future capital that can be generated by the experimentation going on within this decidedly anti-capitalist space. Furthermore, Elizabeth Currid, made it clear in her article that these spaces of open socialization are important to an arts economy. Would the institutionalization of these DIY spaces change this? I'm not sure, but I do know that these spaces as they currently exist are an asset to the arts community and should be preserved in the process of development.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A friend sent me this New York Times article about the city of Paris buying the buildings housing artist squats, renovating them and turning them into residency programs. It sounds like a really interesting way of dealing with things. Has anyone heard of any sort of precedent for this?
Heres the link: http://travel.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/travel/31headsup.html?8dpc
In his chapter “Who Is Your City?,” Richard Florida states that the world is both “flat and spiky”. In a global economy where technological advances have made communication virtually limitless, location seems to lose its significance. However Florida contests that, though financial dealings are without borders, financial centers form in specific geographical locations. Where connectivity is made easy, it is limited to a handful of global “peaks”. These peaks are distinguished by their population density, economic activity, and innovation. As a centrifuge of innovation, peaks attract and nurture the creative class. Where creative innovators, implementers, and financial backers are all located in a concentrated area, constant contact is afforded. This connectivity allows for an efficient flow and execution of ideas not otherwise possible through digital exchange.
The innovative force of a global peak is something I have witnessed firsthand. While attending school in Illinois I lived both in the city of Chicago and it’s surrounding suburbs. Though in the suburbs I received an arts education, I found that creative assets were much more accessible within the urban center. Wicker Park, an arts district located on the West Side of Chicago, was my invaluable resource. While working there I was in constant contact with fellow members of the creative class. Artists, gallery owners, magazine editors and program directors surrounded me in and outside of work. These creative people were integral to the inspiration, critique, and implementation of my ideas. Though technology connects me to the rest of the globe, my exposure to innovative people and resources was alarmingly location-specific. Richard Florida was correct in stating that the world is not as flat as it appears.