Thursday, February 28, 2013

New friends from Maryland Arts Day

Hey there,

So I thought I'd just share one of the highlights of Maryland Arts Day, which if you didn't check out my Tweet Cheat Sheet for it, you should.

But other than connecting with legislators and public officials, I love the chance to catch up with colleagues in the arts you might not have seen in a while, as well as meeting new friends. So this blog's dedicated to several of them.

The first was actually someone I'd cross paths with before, but we didn't formally meet at that time. It was at the Creative MoCo's Arts & Economic Prosperity IV - Summit.

I remembered her because during one of the opportunities for discussion, she mentioned how she pays for her child to go to Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC because there isn't a comprable high school of the arts in Montgomery County. Granted, this isn't to say that there aren't MC high schools with good and quality arts programs, but I digress.

While waiting to meet with our district's delegates, all the arts advocates continued to get to know each other better, and she started telling her story. One of her current projects, if I remember correctly, is to provide a comprehensive resource for high school students and young adults, to know what their options for professional education, training, and development are, in the arts.

I thought this was admirable, and definitely hope to take more soon!!

The next new friend I made was actually a pair of gents involved with the Veteran Artist Program. Here's just an excerpt for the about page on their website.
The arts have been a powerful, therapeutic tool in the healing process for many combat veterans reintegrating back into society and transitioning back into civilian life. The arts, however, also represent something else. Hope. Dreams. A Future.
Whether it is painting, writing, performing on stage, acting in a movie, or singing opera, the possibilities are limitless. VAP exists to provide other veterans the encouragement, motivation, and means to follow their passion in unchartered territory. Through networking, collaborations, mentorship, and actual productions veterans can realize it is not too late to pursue their dreams.
They debuted this phenomenal PSA at Maryland Arts Day, "Art is an Option".

What's funny is that I'd actually connected with them earlier in the day, thanks to the #MDArtsDay2013 hashtag, so it was great meeting in real life. Definitely recommend you Like the organization on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

And a third new friend I made was Paula Ross, Director of Development at the Metropolitan Ballet Theatre & Academy. They've got a lot of amazing things going on and coming up, but one thing in particular she shared was how they started experimenting with Kickstarter, by way of doing a fundraiser for their upcoming production of Thumbelina. And the video was adorable!!

Plus, they made their goal, and then some!! They have one day left, and if you've worked in the arts, you know that there is always a need for more funding, so if you can afford to give any amount, I recommend you do.

Anyway, that's that. Just thought I'd share, because the DC area arts community just keeps getting smaller and smaller.

And I love it!!


Sunday, February 24, 2013

More public art discovery in DC

Hey there,

This post is a little belated, but just wanted to share a couple of more public art discoveries I made. This is the first follow-up to my last discovery, the New York Avenue Sculpture Project. And you can read more about what has inspired this "rediscovery", I should say, from my post, Ingress: Rediscovering my world through public art.

I touch on it in that last post, but just in case, i do acknowledge the fact that these discoveries are merely taking the time and energy to take a closer look at work that I've honestly driven by most of my adult life, to know its name and the artist behind it.

So with that, the first piece of this post is off of Georgia Ave, titled (Here I Stand) In the Spirit of Paul Robeson, by Allen Uzikee Nelson.

"This steel (possibly Cor-Ten steel) sculpture stands like a sign in the middle of the intersection. It rises upwards and opens up into a large face created with heavy African influences. Greenish glass frames the face. The artist describes it as a "Janus-face"."  

The other piece was A Survivor's Journey, by Joel Berger, in the Brookland area of DC.

Everyday in the District of Columbia, 76 calls are made to the police for help with domestic disputes and violence. The mural will raise awareness about domestic violence in our city, and spread a message of hope and healing.

So yeah, that's a couple of more new public art discoveries for me.

Until next time,


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What do Gollum, Morgan Freeman, & Ian McKellen have in common?

They've all been impersonated by white guys on to me, because I APPARENTLY don't watch YouTube as much as I thought I did.

So I was hanging out with my fellow gaymers during our weekly game night, and during one of our gaming breaks, we venture to YouTube for some brief entertainment.

So first it started when someone referred to a link they had posted on their Facebook wall earlier today. I wasn't ready for the miserable Gollum, singing about a dreamed he dreamed.

His facial expressions are just icing on this geeky, fantasy/musical cake.

Then somehow this was a transition to a guy who "supposedly" did a kick-ass Morgan Freeman impression. And all i could make of it was "titty sprinkles". Yeah, this one's note safe for work.

Yeah, wasn't ready for that one either.

And this holy Youtube trinity was rounded up by a guy who not only did a great Ian McKellen voice, but did a dramatic..."reading" of Baby Got Back.

DEFINITELY wasn't ready for that.

So there. Just thought I'd share. Any YouTube videos of celebrity (real or fictional) impersonations saying, reading, or singing something that's completely random?

Let me know in the comments,


A MD Arts Day Tweet Cheat Sheet - when politics, social media & the arts collide

Hey there,

So I decided to post this up on my personal blog, because it was a nice intersection of several topics that are of particular interest to me.  I'm going to Maryland Arts Day for the third year in a row, representing Class Acts Arts.

And I wanted to make myself a Twitter cheat sheet, at least of all the people and organizations mentioned in the formal program, as well as whichever delegates I could find on Twitter (after two or so hours...).

Would have loved to do one of all the delegates attending and organizations represented, but I'm sure we'll find each other tomorrow. Maybe next year, I can get access to a attendee list ahead in time enough to to so. And if missed anyone, I apologize. This is certainly not a comprehensive list.

But I digress, here it is, complete with hyperlinks!!

You may also view or download the PDF at Google Drive.

Maryland Arts Day 2013 Tweet Cheat Sheet

Americans for the Arts - @americans4arts
Maryland Citizens for the Arts - @ArtsAdvocate_MD
Maryland State Arts Council - @marylandarts
Susquehanna - @susquehannabank, Lead Sponsor
Veteran Artist Program - @VetArtistProg, A New Partnership
Governor Martin O’Malley - @GovernorOMalley

Clarice Smith Center - @claricesmithctr, ED Susan Farr is the ‘13 Sue Hess MD Arts Advocate of the Year
Lt. Governor Anthony G. Brown - @ltgovbrown
Strathmore - @strathmore, Performer Matt Wigler was an Artist-inResidence in 2010
Manhattan School of Music - @MSMPresents, Performer Matt Wigler is a current student

Delegates on Twitter (some not as active as most)

District 2B (Washington County)
Neil Parrott - @neilparrott

District 3A (Frederick County)
Patrick Hogan - @PatrickNHogan

District 3B (Frederick & Washington County)
Michael Hough - @houghdelegate

District 4A (Frederick County)
Kathy Afzali - @Kathy_Afzali
Kelly Schulz - @KellySchulz

District 5A (Carroll County)
Justin Ready - @JustinReady

District 5B (Baltimore County)
Wade Kach - @WadeKach

District 6 (Baltimore County)
John Olszewski, Jr. - @JohnnyOJr

District 7 (Baltimore & Harford Counties)
Pat McDonough - @Pat_McDonough
Kathy Szeliga - @MarylandKathy

District 9a (Howard County)
Gail H. Bates - @BatesGail
Warren Miller - @delwarmill

District 11 (Baltimore County)
Jon Cardin - @JonCardin
Dan Morhaim - @DanMorhaim

District 13 (Howard County)
Guy Guzzone - @GuyGuzzone

District 14 (Montgomery County)
Anne R. Kaiser - @DelegateKaiser
Eric Luedtke - @EricLuedtke
Craig Zucker - @DelegateZucker

District 15 (Montgomery County)
Aruna Miller - @arunamiller

District 16 (Montgomery County)
Bill Frick - @billfrick
Ariana Kelly - @DelArianaKelly

District 17 (Montgomery County)
Kumar Barve - @KumarBarve

District 18 (Montgomery County)
Al Carr - @alfredcarr
Ana Sol Gutierrez - @asolg
Jeff Waldstreicher - @jwaldstreicher

District 19 (Montgomery County)
Sam Arora - @sam_arora
Bonnie Cullison - @Del_Cullison

District 20 (Montgomery County)
Tom Hucker - @tomhucker
Heather R. Mizeur - @heathermizeur

District 21 (Anne Arundel & Prince George’s Counties)
Barnara Frush - @delegate61hotma

District 22 (Prince George’s County)
Alonzo T. Washington - @DelegateATW

District 23B (Prince George’s County)
Marvin E. Holmes Jr. - @MarvinEHolmesJr

District 30 (Anne Arundel County)
Herb McMillan - @herbmcmillan

District 31 (Anne Arundel County)
Don Dwyer - @DelegateDwyer
Nic Kipke - @Kipke

District 32 (Anne Arundel County)
Pamela Beidle - @beidlep1

District 33A (Anne Arundel County)
Tony McConkey - @McConkey

District 35A (Harford County)
H Wayne Norman - @DelegateNorman
Donna Stifler - @DonnaStifler

District 36 (Caroline, Cecil, Kent & Queen Counties)
Mike Smigiel - @MikeSmigiel

District 37B (Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot & Wicomico Counties)
Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio - @jeannie_riccio

District 39 (Montgomery County)
Kirill Reznik - @DelegateReznik
A. Shane Robinson - @DelSRobinson

District 40 (Baltimore City)
Shawn Z. Tarrant – @DelegateTarrant

District 41 (Baltimore City)
Jill P Carter - @jillpcarter
Sandy Rosenberg - @delsandy

District 42 (Baltimore County)
Susan Aumann - @Susanaumann

District 43 (Baltimore City)
Maggie McIntosh - @DelMaggie43
Mary Washington, PhD - @DelMaryW

District 44 (Baltimore City)
Keiffer Mitchell - @KeifferMitchell

District 46 (Baltimore City)
Luke Clippinger - @lukeclippinger

District 47 (Prince George’s County)
Jolene Ivey - @joleneivey

Please bookmark and share with anyone else interested,


Monday, February 18, 2013

My four social media pillars

Hey there,

So I thought I'd share what have become the four pillars supporting my social media philosophy. And by no means are these necessarily original. As any other good college graduate, this is a synthesis of ideas that have made sense and been useful to me. All combined and distilled, these are the four things which form the support of my social media philosophy, regarding its professional use and how I apply me time and energy, when assisting and managing social media with the organizations I'm involved with.

Coordination - "the harmonious functioning of parts for effective results"

So while this might not be as much of an issue with small organizations (with a staff of one or so) or large ones, I think that this might actually be one of the biggest challenges for mid-size organizations. Coordination with social media is referring to coordination on all levels, with content, with programming, with existing messaging, etc.

It speaks to social media not happening in a vacuum, like some red-headed step child of a company. It means that at least those in leadership knows what is happening with social media, and that whoever is managing social media, is working in conjunction with other departments. One great way to start, which I will actually be doing as part of my work on a newly formed Communications & Media committee with SpeakeasyDC, is share an editorial calendar with the Social Media person, or start one that is at least shared by all department heads.

Finally, I like the last part of the definition, about "effective results". It's one thing to throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks. It's another to not just analyze what sticks to do more of it, but to tie in stuff that works with the goals of other departments, more donations with development, ticket sales production, brand recognition with marketing, etc, and what measurements will inform them about successful efforts.

Integration - "the act of combining or adding parts to make a unified whole"

Yes, some of you might be saying that integration and coordination are sometimes used synonymously, but for the purpose of these pillars, I'm focusing on the definitions that are different enough to address separate aspects.

Where coordination might speak to the actual management of social media and how it connects with the rest of the organization, integration speaks to it holistically, in terms of something that needs to be a part of every aspect of a company. Not only that, it needs to be consistent with branding guidelines, so that regardless of what channel you reach your audience, to them it aesthetically feels like it's coming from the same place, in look, in tone, etc. Actually about to go through a rebranding process with an organization I'm involved with, and you can be sure I will be reminding them about the implications and usability for our social media presence.

It's also not a matter of if social media is useful for any particular aspect of an organization's work on any level, from day-to-day office busywork to the occasional board meeting, but can social media be integrated into a process to open a window to the world, whether it be telling a behind the scenes story, providing a space for conversation where there wasn't any before, or simply for the purpose of transparency in what makes art happen.

Translation - "a change to a different substance, form, or appearance"

When consulting on social media, one of my main takeaways I hope to leave people with is that, as much as possible, this should not be significantly more work than what you're doing already, like if you have a communications or marketing plan in place. My caveat is that using social media well is so much more than about marketing or communications, but more on that next time.

One example, we recently had an e-blast go out at my work at Class Acts Arts, for Black History Month, highlighting all of the artists on our roster with relevant programming. I "translated" that e-blast, into a series of shares one day, highlighting each of the artists we mentioned in the email, over the course of the afternoon.

Another example would be a show I just saw with another organization I'm involved with, and there were chapter/scene titles throughout the concert to help provide a loose narrative. Those prompts could have easily been used as conversation starters on social media leading up to the performance.

So it's taking copy/text and images you might already have and be using through other, more traditional media platforms, and figuring out how you might share it on Facebook, tweet it, etc.

Re-appropriation - "to set apart for or assign to a particular purpose or use, again"

So this is somewhat related to translation, but this speaks more to new opportunities, rather than existing ones. An example that comes to mind is another one with SpeakeasyDC and the wealth of videos from performances which we have up on our Vimeo channel.

A project I've taken upon is going through them and cataloging them according to various meta data, date(s) the stories took place, location, organizations mentioned, cultural references, etc., so that we might re-share them at appropriate moments. We had an LGBT pride-show, which speaks to those videos being reshared each pride month. If we have stories that relate to holidays, we can post them again leading up to those holidays.

So re-appropriating speaks to seeing how content you've created and have on hand, whether marketing, archival, whatever, can still be used in the future.

That's it!!

Let me know what you think in the comments,


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Top Ten posts from the last year

Hey there,

It's almost spring cleaning time, and even though it's already the middle of February, I still feel like 2013 just got started. And after getting back from a one-week trip to Mexico (which I still need to finish uploading photos and videos from and top the mini-blog series off), which is the first time I really got to disconnect in a significant way from tech and social media, I've been in a somewhat reflective mood.

Reflective of life, the universe, everything (bonus points if you got the reference!!), and part of that has been trying to be more thoughtful about using the information I have at hand to inform the work I do.  I like data, and particularly with social media, want to better about using it to do more thoughtful work.

And at some point, it made me wonder with my own blog, what my most read posts have been. No, this doesn't mean that I'm going to stop writing about what I'm inspired to blog about. But at the same time, I want to make sure I learn what I can from what you all find more interesting and engaging than some of the other content I might share.

That being said, here are my top ten read posts from the past year (which is about when I began to endeavor blogging a bit more consistently).
  1. The Les Miserables Movie as Arts Advocacy
  2. What's hate got to do with it: Last week's FRC Shooting
  3. Being in a Greek chorus (I particularly love this one, because I'm in one again, in a production of Xanadu here in DC)
  4. Comparing 10 DC theatres on Twitter
  5. 15 minutes of fame & Trisha Paytas
  6. Ingress: Creating fields within fields (although this is actually dated; this no longer happens)
  7. "Success: It's not always what you see"
  8. 10 links and 10,000 tweets
  9. Why to only friend people you know on Facebook
  10. 10 things to know about the Niantic Project
So that's that. Just thought I'd share, in case there were any posts some of you might've been interested in, but hadn't seen yet.

But that just about seems to cover most of what I write about generally: the arts, social media, LGBT issues, and geeky things every now and then.

Now I'm wondering if I should do a post highlighting my least read posts...

- JR

Behind the scenes of My Big Fat Gay Wedding

Hey there,

So just wanted to do a quick behind the scenes blog about tonight's Gay Men's Chorus of Washington concert, My Big Fat Gay Wedding.

It goes without saying that the title and topic itself is certainly relevant. Just search Google News for "gay marriage".

That aside, I got to sit in on last night's final dress rehearsal and loved the concert. It's a wonderful selection of showtunes, but hearing it performed by an all-male chorus certainly adds a different quality to most of them, like this selection from The King & I.

And although presented in concert format, with my fellow chorus brothers arranged in white chairs, as attendees to the actual wedding that will take place on stage, the order of the concert definitely gives an emotional narrative, if not a literal one.

In addition to full chorus numbers, there are a wonderful number of solos as well, including this patter number from Company.

The chorus also has a guest artist joining us for this concert, the vocally stunning Matt Alber.

I practically melted in my seat, when he ran through his first number. And he's very personable. After the dress rehearsal was finished, he shared a musical moment with us, which we got to capture through photos and videos. Here's mine.

So that's that. While I'm certainly stoked to be doing Xanadu, our other spring show coming up in March, I'm definitely bummed that I won't be joining my fellow GMCW chorines on stage for this concert.

If you are free tonight, I highly recommend you check it out, playing one night only at GW Lisner Auditorium, tonight at 8pm,

- JR

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Mazatlan Carnaval Night 2: The Plaza Machado

Hey there,

So night two at the Carnaval in Mazatlan was spent in the Plaza Machado, which took on a complete transformation with the night.

As usual, Nico and I were looking for a place to eat, and once again, there were plenty of vendors.

There were also bands, all over the place.

In fact, if you stood in certain areas, you could here two to three different ones at a time.

From groups wondering among the crowd to some who were stationed on stages.

We passed the status of Al Jolson, on our quest for food.

And found a place that was a combine art gallery/dining venue. I need to get the name of it from Nico.

It was packed with work on the walls, and even smaller pieces on each table.

We ended up ordering and splitting a great nachos dish.

And ventured back out into the Plaza Machado, as we made our way home.

Up next: day 3!!

- JR
  • Click here, for the previous post from this trip.

Friday, February 08, 2013

A day at Mazatlan's Professional School for Dance

Hey there,

So it's Day 2 in Mazatlan. It was Nico's final day of classes before they got off for Carnaval, so I went with him to class at the Escuela Profesional de Danza de Mazatlán, the Mazatlán Professional School of Dance.

As I mentioned in a previous post, with the support of the Municipal Government of Mazatlan, through the Institute of Culture, Tourism and Art, the school was founded by the Delfos Contemporary Dance Company. All the company members teach classes, and the maestro of the class I got to sit in on was Omar Carrum.

The class was great. Particularly because despite not having studied spanish in over a decade, whatever I didn't understand verbally, I could still pick up through body language. Definitely inspired me to move again, once I get back to the states.

Fun fact, if you attended the Bates Dance Festival, in '07 or '10, you probably recognized the teacher's name, as Omar was one of the international visiting artists, those years.

Anyway, after class, we grabbed a quick snack.

And we returned in time to watch a Delfos Danza rehearsal, in one of the studios.

Afterward, the company members received feedback from a couple of people, including a guest choreographer.

Then Nico showed me other parts of the school. We got to the art studio in time to watch Delfos Danza company members working on some pieces, as part of an open class.

And then we made it up to the cinema room, for a presentation by students taking a music class. They demonstrated and shared what they learned about equalizing sound, and different tools to do so, from programs on a laptop to actual knobs on a monitor.

Then we stopped for a bite to eat, on the way back to Nico's place for the afternoon.

And that was day 2 in Mazatlan. Now I'm resting and relaxing before we go out for Carnaval festivities tonight!!

- JR

Coronation of the King of Joy at Mazatlan's Carnaval

Hey there,

So here's a post from last night's Carnaval experience. Mostly a photo narrative, again, hope you don't mind.

First we made our way to the beach and walked along it to get to the opening night festivities there. At this stage was the Coronation of the King of Joy.

The street was packed with people and vendors, selling food, wigs, lights, and drinks.

We were STARVING, so we stopped for some food.

I ended up getting two servings of two tacos each. They were delicious. And the beer helped wash it down perfectly.

We continued to walk around.

And I found just what I wanted for desert. Crepas...with Nutella.

They even had maple syrup as a topping option...and I had to try it. You can see mine on the left. Again...delicious.

We made our way to the stage, as Cristina Eustace was performing.

By the way, she old-school retweeted/mentioned me earlier:
So that was pretty neat. But I digress. Nico and I proceeded to grab one more drink and a table looking out over the party.

And then we called it a night.

To be continued,


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Mazatlan day 1: walking around before Carnival

Hey there,

Decided to walk around while Nico was in class. First goal was breakfast, so I found a place along the beach to head to. I actually got lost at first, but after quick check with Google Maps, found my way again.

This was confirmed visually as I began to see Carnival signs and decor.

What was neat with the theme of La Linterna Mágica, was the incorporation of film in the design of some of the materials.

So I made it to the beach, finally.

And walked along it 'til I found the breakfast place, in the lobby of the Hotel Posada Freeman. The buffet was worth every peso.

The tables were all set and ready to go, for Carnival.

But there were places to eat all along the beach, and I definitely want to try a different one as often as possible.

Walking along, local stagehands were still setting up.

Which just reinforces my own experience from working at the patriot center, in that stagehands make the world go 'round!!

Kept walking along the beach and came across this mermaid statue.

And then I made my way back inland. I was on the hunt for museums near the Plaza Machado, and on my way discovered that while i was in time for carnival, I was a week late for a First Friday artwalk!!

Now I know, for my next visit. Anyway, I finally made it to the Plaza Machado.

Walking through the plaza, I came across this bust of Romana de la Pena de Careaga, in memory of this member of the local rotary club.

Not going to lie, until this, I didn't know Rotary Clubs were International. You learn something new every day, right?

Which holds especially true for the next bit of public art I came across, a statue of Al Jolson.

Al Jolson was a white American jazz singer who performed in blackface, at least this was the only Al Jolson I could immediately find. The only thing is the discrepancy of the instrument in the statue, but I'll try to dig around some more later on.

Glad I kept walking around, because I ended up right at Nico's school, the Professional Dance School of Mazatlan, in the Municipal Arts Center. I actually noticed Nico's roommate, Karen, sitting at a cafe, first. Then I saw students dancing to a band that was promoting their performance at the carnival. Finally I saw Nico standing there.

I got to meet more of his classmates, as well as the founder of a relatively new company he's a part of. What's neat is that the school was started by the Delfos Contemporary Dance Company, with the support of Mazatlan's municipal government, through its Institute of Culture, Tourism, and Art, and the company is the resident one of the Angela Peralta Theater.

The timing was perfect, as they were finished early for the day, so we headed back to his place to get out of the sun and relax before tonight's festivities!!

On a tangential note, I'm not sure how other browsers are, but Google Chrome has a great translate extension. Some of the pages do offer an english version, otherwise, if you don't speak spanish, I apologize if some of the links aren't useful for you.

That's it for now. More to come later. Happy Carnival!!