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Difficulties At The Beginning-Part One-The Petition

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The Vision

What is a Social Enterprise?

A social enterprise is an organization that applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being—…..They can also take more conventional structures. What differentiates social enterprises is that their social mission is as core to their success as any potential profit.

Many commercial enterprises would consider themselves to have social objectives, but commitment to these objectives is motivated by the perception that such commitment will ultimately make the enterprise more financially valuable. These are organisations that might be more properly said to be operating corporate responsibility programs. Social enterprises differ in that their commitment to impact is central to the mission of the business. Some may not aim to offer any benefit to their investors, except where they believe that doing so will ultimately further their capacity to realize their social and environmental goals, although there is a huge amount of variation in forms and activities. Social Enterprise on Wikepedia

 PART ONE: THE PETITION

Andersen Design is taking time out to re-organize. We need to plan for the next century, and a new generation, much like a fashion house. Our product line and our name recognition can  provide an interesting work experience for a creative team with varying levels of skills. This process requires our time and attention and a supportive network and funding. Andersen Design is a company with extra-ordinarily unusual assets in our large line of classic, market proven designs and our name recognition. We applied for fiscal sponsorship as a social enterprise for a training facility for our production, envisioned as a network of independently owned slip casting studios located in Maine’s rural low income regions.

After taking a considerably longer time than normal to come to a decision, the board decided that the use of the term “production” translates as being in the ceramic slip casting business only for the money. The wording of the decision suggested that if the term “making process” been used instead, Andersen Design might have been accepted as a social enterprise. It is the way the contemporary world turns, on a linguistic phrase.

In the 1950’s the Age of Plastics, Andersen Design’s founding mission was tp create a hand made art product affordable to the middle classes
Let’s take a look at the word “production”, which is said to signify that one is singularly motivated by money. Production is a function of wealth creation. If nothing is produced, no wealth is created. The non-profit and state capitalism sectors  are functions of wealth re-distribution. Wealth cannot be re-distributed if there is no wealth created. Wealth is not created unless something is produced- thus “production” is associated with making money (wealth creation) and wealth re-distribution is associated with the public benefit, as if to say it is a binary choice.

The rise of the social enterprise challenges the notion that a person or entity must be  motivated exclusively by either creating wealth or by a higher purpose. The concept acknowledges the will to good as independent from the economic system in which participates.

My book, Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production, makes a case for why a re-adjustment in the perception of social benefit is needed. My book is based on seven years of research into the Maine economic development statutes and related history. It is a local story with wider significance, The story begins with the Longley administration, at a time when the governor called the heads of Maine’s largest industries in to lead the Legislature. The Legislature deemed that central management of the economy is an essential government function which must be done through public private relationships. The first mission of the board was to create a publicly chartered private investment company that could sell stock with tax credits worth 50% of the investment. The charter contained a clause which still remains in the Maine statutes long after the Maine Capital Corporation has been repealed. This clause grants 100% tax exemption to all companies investing in Maine small businesses. The language of the statute does not use the term “refundable tax credit” but  a tax credit which is simultaneous with a 100% tax exemption, makes sense only if the tax credit is a refundable tax credit, meaning if no taxes are owed the taxpayers owe the holder a cash payment. The Longley doctrine was created by and for the upper crust of the Maine economy. It is justified by deeming it to be for the public benefit, which the Legislature can do simply because it is the Legislature.

Refundable tax credits came into use in the USA in the mid-seventies. In the years since, inflation soared dramatically across the USA:

State capitalism is not only a wealth redistribution system but it also a system which leverages and re-leverages debt, contributing to inflation. Since the Longley doctrine was implemented in Maine. the gulf between the rich and the poor has widened, mirroring what happened across the USA. The widening gulf has coincided with growth in the philanthropy sector, as the free enterprise economy has shrunk under the burden of underwriting state capitalism. Under state capitalism the ownership of the means of production is being transferred to a public-private hegemony, a statement which is supported in my book.

The Andersen Design business plan is for a training, design and marketing center in which we can train the skills and proprietary techniques for producing our line. Andersen Design’s marketing, name, and intellectual property rights can sustain a network of independently own production studios, which will produce Andersen’s line on a contractual basis. This puts ownership of the means of production into the hands of those engaged in the making process. A contractual terms of agreement with a sufficiently funded Andersen Design can provide a financial foundation for the independently owned slip-casting studios. The independent studio can chart it own course, either by continuing to work closely with Andersen Design or going in another direction. or both. The plan includes operating parameters created by Weston Neil Andersen, which is the control panel of a free enterprise system.

Andersen Design is in the unique position to propose such a network, because of the unique nature of our assets, and our history of being one of the few western ceramic companies which did not move the making process overseas to the global low cost labor market, and yet was able to compete against products produced by low cost labor because of the quality and individuality of our art. Andersen Design influenced its surrounding environment as a small ceramics industry grew in the region.

In recent years, due to various factors, Andersen Design has suffered from under-capitalization. Today economic development ideas, consistent with Andersen Design’s philosophy, are being funded by the philanthropy sector. In order to apply for funding, Andersen Design must be fiscally sponsored for its core purpose, as described in our business plan (available on request).

The philanthropy sector provides  a plethora of economic development alternatives to the ideas entrenched in Maine under state capitalism, documented in my book.

THE PETITION

The Maine Technology Institute is a non-profit corporation chartered as a broad public charity by the Maine Legislature. The statutory charter for the Maine Technology Institute provides that the governing board of the charity can own intellectual property rights and make a profit. The non-profit purpose of the Maine Technology Institute is, in short, to support private companies developing products for the commercial market, which is said in the statute to be an IRS approved (501)(c)(3) purpose. There is be no issue in matching the purpose of Andersen Design with the non-profit purpose of MTI. However, currently, MTI’s only function is to provide matching funds to private enterprises already well capitalized. MTI does not serve a broad spectrum of the economy.

Please sign the petition for MTI to serve the broad economy in Maine by offering fiscal sponsorship for all Maine Made Products. Maine Made Products is a state program and is not a non-profit corporation. A fiscal sponsor must be a non-profit corporation.

Please give what ever additional support you are able to promote this petition so that companies like Andersen Design can have access to economic development funds consistent with our philosophy and purpose.

www.andersendesign.biz

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Reinventing Andersen Design Can Revitalize American Slip Casting Industry

Reinventing Andersen Design Can Revitalize American Slip Casting Industry
When my father died, I became 50% owner of Andersen Design with my sister. A 50-50 ownership is far from ideal.  On the surface, my sister and I do not always see eye to eye, but I  think that we do so on a deeper level. Human communication takes mostly takes place in conscious awareness while deeper levels are subliminal. If I had to chose between agreement on one of those levels, I would choose the subliminal because it transcends the here and now, which is a for ever evolving process emergent from the subliminal. Most people have families and know that the family dynamics are unique to each family and not easily communicated to those who have not been existing within that dynamic for their whole lives- or a good part of it and it is not my intention to try to do so. Our business seeks to find other partners. I am finding the most immediately accessible connections are those that are part of the existing free enterprise system- the independent ceramic slip casting productions with which we are in  a process of  establishing relationships and Google Products and adwords, which I am just now starting to understand, which I did not when I first targeted Google Products as a solution.I feel like the plan that will transform this business is emerging as if reading a book. I know the whole plan is outlined in the book but I as I am reading it, only a part of it is revealed to me- but I know the entire plan is there and will continue to unfold.A while back someone came into our retail store and told us about crowdfunding and said that we should do it. I tried this and found that I had no network of support. We had plenty of likes and shares on Facebook but hardly any responses to the “call to action”, This is the nature of Facebook, where more people respond to images and headlines than actually click on links to read what the images and headlines are there to communicate. So I said to myself, we need to be in an environment where people are in the shopping mode and that’s how I hit upon Google Products.But even then I did not understand that Google Products is designed as a system interacting with Google adwords and that Google adwords is an online auction for ad spaces which are constantly emerging when ever a user instigates a search and Google delivers the results, Some searches take place in Google Shopping clearly identifying that the user is in shopping mode- other ads may be distributed on related websites that feature ads. The merchandiser must target his own audience through selected keywords.

Google has developed an advertising campaign system. Large companies selling many products on the internet are using the Google adwords campaign all of the time for all of their products, or at least all in stock products, although there is a pre-order option which requires a specific date when the item is anticipated to be in stock. All products sold through Google Products must be in stock.

Since Google Products is an online auction, one must plan ones bid strategically. The bid (percentage going to Google) times the quantity in stock = the dollar value of one’s bid for the ad space but Google’s explanation of the auction emphasises that quality is also a factor and that one may win the auction with a lower bid if the quality is right.

Google does not explain what constitutes quality but I think we have that factor for the search term “ceramic birds’ because we have been on the top of that search page since we launched our website and if you search “ceramic birds” on images, we are found throughout the page of displays. However if you search “ceramic birds” on shopping, we are currently not to be found and that is because we have not yet launched our adwords campaign.

We are working on launching an adwords campaign for our Chickadee. I have no idea until I try by trial and error what the magic numbers are for “unit price x quantity”  needed to win a top spot on Google adword auctions – but I know that Andersen Design has been doing catalogue sales through out our history and I extrapolate that if the in stock numbers for Google products could be maintained in the range of the quantities needed to satisfy catalogue orders, that probably is a winning number. If a catalogue can sell that quantity of stock- so can we through Google Products. We have an established record as top sellers in high profile catalogues and other retail venues. The established marketability and classic appeal of our product is our strength.

 

Google adwords directly links to this app on our new Ready To Ship website 

At this point our production capacity has been reduced to a fraction of what it was once was and so I will be launching the Chickadee with relatively small stock quantities. I will be running an ad campaign in which we pay whenever there is a call to action response- in other words whenever a sale is made. If results are slow at first, I will keep the price per unit constant until we meet our target for a minimum number of items in stock. At that point one can play around with changing both sets of numbers in the bid equation. We will also be paying attention to which key words are generating the highest response, which I believe is information that will be available via Google analytics. This is a very interesting process requiring talent and skill.

Our entire business is composed of interacting interesting processes. We need to establish a larger team- perhaps at first a board and then perhaps stockholders as well as independent outside contractors and of course employees.

This business can generate business for outside American slip-casting productions-I have located about three in the United States and they are interested. I feel our business has a unique capacity to revitalize American ceramic slip-casting, an industry which was one of the first to be re-located in global low cost labor markets. I believe that in terms of the way the world is turning – pointing the the way China is currently building sand castles in the sea to change the definition of international waters – that this is an opportune moment to revitalize American ceramic slip casting.

Andersen Design can work with an outside shipping and customer service providers- and all sorts of other functions, generating middle class jobs which can train unskilled workers and provide a stepping stone to high income jobs based on performance – for anyone.

Ultimately we would like to develop training centers to pass on the special glazes and decorating techniques needed to produce our line of American ceramic nature art. We can easily work with  outside American ceramic slip casting productions to produce our functional designs. Functional designs are attractive in may different glazes. However of line of American Ceramic Nature Art is inseparable from our own original art glazes. To pass this on we need to work with slip casting productions in close proximity to us  that will have their own management team with Andersen Design functioning as professional consultants. Once we have passed on our understanding to a manager, that manager may also become a professional consultant for Andersen Design art glazes and other processes.

We welcome inquiries from anyone with an interest in becoming part of this project.

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Honor Thy Father : Remembering Weston Neil Andersen

Honor Thy Father : Remembering Weston Neil Andersen

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Weston Neil Andersen was an American ceramic designer, craftsman and entrepreneur who in 1952, established Andersen Design Stoneware with his wife Brenda in the coast of Maine, USA, . He was also my father whom I loved and cared for and was cared for by during the latter years of his life. This is the story about the last five years in which he suffered from a brain injury. Weston was known throughout his life for his analytical mind, which was not affected by the brain injury but it compromised his ability to express his thoughts in complete sentences. During the last five years of his life, Weston spent many hours in deep reflection, seldom seeming to be bored. At times he would sleep for a very long time and when he awoke , he would say that he gotten a lot of work done. In mild weather, he spent many hours of the day sitting on the front porch taking in the natural surroundings and the community walking up and down the street which usually left him in a very good mood.

During his younger days, both Weston and his wife Brenda professed to be agnostics but both in their own unique ways came to accept the existence of God.

Brenda died in 1994.  Before her death, Brenda was in a coma for many hours with the family gathered around her. I was at a turn of holding her hand when suddenly I felt a spiraling motion swoop down. encompass and transport me into an open sky colored pink and filled with gold rimmed clouds. I felt an indescribably deep love and then just as suddenly l was back in the room and Brenda was conscious and calling for Weston. Brenda told Weston that she loved him, not words that came easily to her during her life and then she died.

Some will surely find the telling of this experience unbelievable but I can only testify to what happened as I experienced it, which seemed an experience in which there was no separation between my mother and myself as she/we were embraced by God’s love. My Mother’s encounter with death as revealed to me through the experience was as emotional as the way that she lived her life. As Dad used to say, she was always emoting. The visual imagery that I experienced was consistent with the Catholic background in which my mother was raised as a young English girl in London before and during World War II.

Weston & Brenda in the 1950’s – photograph by unknown

During the years after Brenda’s death and before Weston suffered macular degeneration which interfered with his ability to read, we shared many common reading interests uncommonly found in our larger community. Dad and I both read extensively in esoteric wisdom and quantum theory- which is to say the philosophy emergent from quantum physics, which does not prove the existence of God but which is consistent with the teaching of esoteric wisdom. Dad read Carlos Castaneda and I read Christian Hermeticism and we both read David Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order and The Non-Local Universe by Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau among many other books. When he could no longer read, Weston listened to the entirety of the New Testament on tape.

These three early wine decanters display Dad’s approach to ceramic design and glazes

Through out his life Dad was accustomed to seeing ghosts in our very old house in Maine. This did not frighten him, nor did he consider it to be anything unusual. The ghosts were as much a part of the natural world as any other phenomenon  He often spoke of the Sea Captain in the living room. Once he told me that the woman in the other room was very up set and that I needed to go and talk to her. I did so, although I could not see the woman.

Weston was a man of great intellectual and analytical capacity but with the brain injury limiting his ability to express his thoughts, his heart took on a stronger presence. He spent hours contemplating his life and often spoke of his wife, his mother, father, siblings and others he had known in his life. At his age he was aware that his days on this earth were numbered and it appeared to be that he was preparing himself for his own judgment day as he spent hours upon hours in contemplation of his life, past present and the future when he was gone.

During the period after his brain injury, Weston relived his life chronologically and so we came to know him at many different stages of life As a boy.Weston lived on a chicken farm. One day, as an elderly man he suffered a seizure. When we entered the hospital we heard someone screaming  “Chicken” . It was Dad, who appeared to be reliving an early memory when he first realized that the chickens were destined to be killed. and was very upset by it.

When World War II broke out.Weston considered declaring conscientious objection but realized that if someone were trying to kill his family, he would kill them and so he enlisted. One day during his latter years he was in tears over a recollection of a man who had returned from the war missing his legs.

The morning that I took this picture of Weston, the expression on his  face was clear and innocent. I probably told him that he looked so handsome. Many of the caretakers who saw Dad over the years would say the same. At many times he had a engaging  and gentlemanly nature that charmed the people around him.

On other days he looked like this:

I am thinking thoughts too intense for words !

When my parents started their ceramics business in 1952, they did so on a shoe string budget and so they took their own photographs and published their own catalog

Years later I followed in their tradition designing our website and taking the photographs of the ceramic work. I set a makeshift studio up on the kitchen table where my father usually sat.

In this picture Dad is sitting at the table on which my makeshift photography studio is being constructed. The bright sunlight comes streaming in through the window as father is sleeping in his chair.  Weston designed and constructed The kitchen table in the 1950’s when we first moved into the house and it became the center of many different activities.

This is a photo that I took  in one of the kitchen table photography sessions of of the ceramic Blue Jay designed by Weston,

This Portrait of an Eating Dick is the last sculpture that Dad created in his life time.

The bright afternoon light streams in the window interacting with the shadows and light of the makeshift photography studio on the kitchen table. Suddenly Dad became very animated and was in a verbal rhapsody describing the rhythms and forms in the display and counting them.

After Dad’s brain injury counting and the spelling of words took on particular significance, used for emphasis or explanation. If in pain, the word “ow” was spelled. Once when we called the paramedics because Dad had fallen out of bed, Dad explained everything to them by spelling the words as if spelling the words clarified the meaning, a curious phenomenon indeed. Spelling has to do with the ability to express thoughts to others involving the part of Dad’s brain, which never fully recovered. leading one to wonder if the actual process of thinking is primordial to the process of communicating in language. Did spelling take on such meaning because of its function as a tool of communication?

Despite the brain injury and despite the fact that cameras had changed dramatically in appearance since the days when Dad took photographs, he understood the process of taking pictures from within and without. Once, when the afternoon sunlight was particularly bright, he said “I hope you know what you are doing !” It amazed me that he grasped the process of taking a picture and how such a bright light might affect the results. In this picture he is smiling for the camera,  So sweet !

In the years after Brenda died, Dad worked on this sculpture. After his brain injury he spent time observing it. One day while sitting on the front porch as he often like to do, he turned to me and asked that I would make a sculpture of him.

Dad would become involved when I worked on a sculpture, turning it as I worked and always letting me know what he thought. Here he is touching some wax sculptures in the works.

Here Dad sits in the morning having his coffee. The mug on the table with the funky tear drop designs is a form created by Weston, who designed a series of original mugs and a large line of functional forms  in addition to a line of wild life sculptures.

The day Dad fell and injured his brain, he was working on a project to have the mugs produced for the commercial market. I have now taken over the project. This is one of my favorites. Dad hand scraffitoed the spiral on the mug himself. I have to figure out how to translate this decorative technique into a commercial process. I understand his thinking on this project, not just in terms of the mug but in terms of the evolution of our family ceramic business.

Two hand cast stoneware steines, one decorated by Brenda and the other decorated by Weston

 One day Dad was looking sad and said that he had nothing to do. A few weeks later he said, “There are three people here and so there a three musicians.” (This was said as a full sentence which was extremely rare.) I gathered up all the instruments I could find and we all played. Dad took to the keyboards. As a young man Dad’s mother had wanted him to learn to play the piano but he refused. He did not play in a learned way but he played with deliberation, He preferred to play when no one was around but we could hear him in the other room.

Throughout his life Weston enjoyed classical jazz. As a young adult he went to Chicago and New York and listened to the greats playing in small venues.

One day we put on Sade and he listened to her for several hours. He said it is very involved. We introduced him to Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan and Mazzy Star, He stayed up late into the night listening to trance like music of Mazzy Star over  and over again.

A few days before Dad died I was picking out the notes to Sweet Georgia Brown. I asked Dad if it sounded right and he looked at me and smiled his sweet smile.

 

During his life Dad was in the hospital on many occasions and we became accustomed to hearing the  lectures about how he may not make it this time around. The most convincing time was when he fell down and suffered the brain injury. The doctors said that what was good for the heart was bad for the brain and that Dad would never be off the breathing tube. That night as I drove from Portland to Boothbay with my nephew we both agreed that although Dad had had many miraculous recoveries this time it sounded much more challenging and then we both said at about the same time- But this is Weston! The next day Dad woke up and removed the breathing tube. By the time I returned to the hospital he was already walking around the place in his walker although he had a giant bruise on his head. The older doctor looked at the younger doctor and said “Forget your ever saw that MRI !”

In the days afterwards, while recovering from the brain injury Dad was speaking over and over again about system management. That is when it hit me how that Dad’s unique talents were as much about system management as about art and design. He was system managing his own brain recovery. He was also speaking a great deal about fishermen and fishing, It did not escape me, with the common interest I shared with my father in esoteric wisdom, that the fish is an ancient symbol of Christianity.

Dad survived that injury to live five more years, dying at the age of 93. Three days prior to his death he was sleeping deeply and as peacefully as I had ever seen him sleep. Around five in the morning of the day that he died, my sister checked on him and found him sleeping with a large smile on his face. Dad often worried during his life time and I would tell him, you just have to have faith. I think he found that faith. He chose when to go. Of course I wanted him to stay longer but I have accepted the wisdom of his decision. People say the are sorry for our loss, which I appreciate, but I really do not feel a loss because I do not feel my father is gone, he just went on to another stage of his journey, like the ghosts he used to see in our house and consistent with the nature of time in quantum theory and esoteric wisdom, Dad is still very much with us.

And still enjoying the view from our front porch.

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Photograph Weston Neil Andersen at 91 in Maine Art Photography Show

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Photograph Weston Neil Andersen at 91 in Maine Art Photography Show

My photograph of my Dad, taken when he was 91 was accepted into the Maine Photography Show, curated by Tillman Crane

Dad died on the last day of February this year at the Age of 93. I am sure it was his decision. He slept for three days before his death. I have never before seen him sleep so long and so peacefully. My sister checked on him at 5 am on the day he died. He was still sleeping peacefully but she said, he had a large smile on his face.

They say he threw a blood clot and then had a heart attack. It was quite sudden.  He has a strong  presence still. I understand what he wants for us to do and I hope we are up to it. I always told hin that you have to have faith. I have a feeling he found it before he died and that faith includes a faith in us.

So  Dad’s picture will hang in the Maine Photography show at the Boothbay Art Foundation, a foundation that he helped to start.

It is the first of my photographs that I have printed. Printing is just as much a part of the process as taking the picture and then editing the picture.  i look forward to printing many of my other photographs .

The reception is on April 10 from 5-7

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Images: Andersen Studio Gallery

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Bait & Switch- The Two Terms of Agreement on The New England Foundation For The Arts Website

Bait & Switch- The Two Terms of Agreement on The New England Foundation For The Arts Website

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In 2007,  I became aware of the unusual claim over artists property rights found in the Terms of Agreement for The New England Foundation For The Arts, which distributes grant money to artists, much of it sourced in the National Foundation For The Arts federal government program but NEFA is not a government agency- it is that new breed of entity known as the public-private relationship and partners with all the state art bureaucracies in New England, which also serve as channels of distribution for NEFA grants, but the state bureaucracies do not have a terms of agreement such as that found on NEFA.

When I read the Terms  of Agreement in 2007, I was shocked and brought it to the attention of the Boothbay Art Foundation whose legal council looked at it and expressed no disagreement with my view but dismissed it as a Terms of Agreement which would never stand up in a court of law.

Since then I have periodically been in email correspondence about the Terms of Agreement with NEFA but until very recently nothing changed. The most recent conversation was in October 2013 with The Maine Arts Commission concerning NEFA associating with The University of Maine to present a workshop on intellectual property rights.

NEA GRANTS

NEFA makes claims over intellectual property rights of work, not only published but also deep linked through its website. The statute for the University of Maine corporation, an instrumentality of the State of Maine includes claims to ownership of intellectual property rights. Both parties are examples of instances in which the individual creator of the works needs to be wary of claims that these two powerful institutions are asserting. The claims may or may not stand up in a court of law, but the institutions will likely have deeper pockets to fight a legal battle than the individual.

And so, as unpopular as it may be to question the ethics of organizations distributing grant money to the art world, I am publishing this here because I believe that we as a society based in freedom of the individual need to be questioning why NEFA is so obstinate about NOT changing the Terms of Agreement, which I have been questioning for seven years- and why suddenly after seven years there are now two terms of agreement- the one which has long been in place and a new one which satisfies the same standards of fair business that are found in Adobe and Google Term of Agreement.

The very existence of two terms of agreement, one fair by free enterprise standards, and the other claiming unjustified ownership of intellectual property rights is evidence that NEFA knows exactly what it is doing, which only becomes apparent to the general public if one examines the terms with the scrutiny of a detective. Most do not and so I am offering my own such examination of the double terms found on the NEFA website and submitting that it is the age old bait & switch at work.

The new and fair Terms of Agreement applies only to listing one’s information in the data base. When using the website in any manner- ever so minor- for all of an instant- constitutes agreement  to the Terms of Agreement which has been solidly in place since at least 2007- this according to the deeming authority of the powerful public-private relationship which is The New England Foundation for the Arts.

According to what NEFA so deems, one does not even have to click on the Terms of Agreement found at the bottom of the page to have agreed to its terms. All one has to do is make one search on their website and according to NEFA, that constitutes that you have agreed to the Terms for using their website. My advice- avoid NEFA at all costs. The same grants that they distribute can likely be found on the New England state art bureaucracy websites.  I speculate that the reason for the difference goes to the difference between laws regulating state and private entities. The public-private relationship offers a convenient route around both, perhaps not quite legal- but whose watching?

Hegemony

The age of the internet discourages  Terms of Agreements as a two way street. Online Terms of Agreements are presented on a take them or leave them basis , which works out fairly in many cases. Google and Adobe present fair agreements. The regional quasi non-governmental art foundation- the New England Foundation for the Arts is exploitative- During the course of a recent dialogue it came out that NEFA now apparently publishes two Terms of Agreement- one which displays when a person registers and another in the footer. The one which displays upon registration is new to my knowledge and much closer to the Google and Adobe models which limit the rights of the organization over what is published by participants to what is needed by the organization to provide the services offered. The terms of Agreement in the footer is the same as it has been when I  first encountered it in 2007. I discussed my objections  HERE

BOTH Terms of Agreement include the paragraph of the title Integration and Conflicting Terms. :  The only difference is that in the original agreement  the New England Foundation For the Arts site is identified and in the new agreement – the one which dispalys when one registers the words are “this site” , The web address for the new terms of agreement is http://www.creativeground.org/terms-use , making “this site” equivalent to creativeground.org which describes itself as “A project of the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA)”- the project being “New England’s Creative Economy Directory”

So it is fair to say that the new terms of Agreement is the ultimate governing contract for the directory listing, while the Terms of Agreement found in the footer of the  New England Foundation For The Arts website is the ultimate governing authority for NEFA.  The difference between the two is that one is a directory of names and addresses and the other manages “grants, convenings, online tools, and research”  and so it is fair to say that if one merely enters one’s information in a data base, one is governed by the Creative Ground Terms of Agreement. Whenever one uses the latter resources, one is governed by the NEFA terms of agreement – this of course being my layman’s analysis and interpretation, which is all most have when deciding whether to agree to the terms.

 

Creative Ground.Org Terms 

Commentary Compare this to almost the same paragraph in the Terms of Agreement for NEFA and you will find that there is an extra set of actions included in the NEFA terms which are“otherwise accessing or using the site ” placed after “by submitting a search request if you are only performing searches on the site, The latter sentence is almost identical to the one in the CommonGround Terms which reads BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE CREATIVEGROUND SITE,  This is further evidence that the Terms of Agreement which opens on registration applies only to the directory listing for which there is only one function available- the search function of the directory- when using any another function such as searching for grant information, the NEFA Terms of Agreement apply, but for those not paying careful attention to all these details, they might believe that the Terms of Agreement that pop up when registering for the directory are the Terms of Agreement for the entire site, which is an innovative application of the age old bait and switch.
In the paragraph titled “Integration and Conflicting Terms, there is a reversal in the use of specific and general identifiers. Now the CreativeGround Terms of Agreement uses the general identifier “this site” while the NEFA Terms of Agreement uses the specific identifier for NEFA.  The use of general and specific identifiers is reversed in the NEFA Terms of Agreement for the same section- No Accident! When you go to the CreativeGround About Page, it clearly identifies Creative Ground as a project of NEFA and the page is signed by the The CreativeGround Team at NEFA.

 

BY CLICKING “I AGREE” IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER WHO CONTRIBUTES CONTENT, OR BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE CREATIVEGROUND SITE, YOU REPRESENT AND WARRANT THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS AGREEMENT AND THE CREATIVEGROUND (TM) PRIVACY POLICY, INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE HEREIN, AND EXPRESSLY AGREE TO AND CONSENT TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED THEREIN REGARDLESS OF HOW OFTEN YOU USE THIS SITE.  THIS AGREEMENT SHALL HAVE THE SAME LEGAL EFFECT AND FORCE AS A WRITTEN AND SIGNED DOCUMENT BY YOU.
IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER, YOU MAY BE NOTIFIED VIA E-MAIL IF THIS AGREEMENT IS AMENDED OR MODIFIED.  IF YOU ARE A USER OF THE CREATIVEGROUND (TM) SITE WHO ONLY PERFORMS SEARCHES ON IT, WE WILL BE UNABLE TO NOTIFY YOU OF ANY CHANGES.  REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE REGISTERED OR NOT, HOWEVER, ANY USE OF THE SITE BY YOU AFTER ANY AMENDMENTS OR MODIFICATIONS TO THE AGREEMENT SHALL BE DEEMED ACCEPTANCE OF THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THIS AGREEMENT.
  • Integration and Conflicting Terms.    This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and any other terms expressly incorporated by reference herein constitute the complete and exclusive statement and agreement between You and Us with respect to use of this site and supersedes any and all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, statements, agreements, and understandings, whether in oral, written, or electronic form, between You and Us concerning the use of the site and Our service…. ( the rest is identical to NEFA terms)

 License.    By submitting any content to Our site, You grant to Us, until revoked by you, a royalty-free, non-exclusive, license only to use the content in a non-commercial manner as We deem reasonably necessary for the operation, administration and promotion of this site.

NEFA Terms 

Commentary The placement of  the words  BY CLICKING “I AGREE” at the beginning of the section below ( found at top of page), lends the impression that agreeing to the terms requires clicking “I Agree”. However a comma is used to separate  sets of actions, all of which constitute agreement to the terms, ie- “by submitting a search request if you are only performing searches on the site“- or by “otherwise accessing or using the site “ means that you have read and agree to the terms, which is to say, even if you have never clicked on the terms when you use the sites search function, NEFA is declaring that your action of using the search function is admittance to having read the terms and agreeing to them ! Why are they doing this? 

 BY CLICKING “I AGREE” IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER WHO CONTRIBUTES CONTENT, BY SUBMITTING A SEARCH REQUEST IF YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING SEARCHES ON THE  SITE OR BY OTHERWISE ACCESSING OR USING THE SITE, YOU REPRESENT AND WARRANT THAT YOU HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THIS AGREEMENT AND THE NEW ENGLAND FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS PRIVACY POLICY, INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE HEREIN, AND EXPRESSLY AGREE TO AND CONSENT TO BE BOUND BY ALL OF THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS CONTAINED HEREIN AND THEREIN REGARDLESS OF HOW OFTEN YOU USE THIS SITE. THIS AGREEMENT SHALL HAVE THE SAME LEGAL EFFECT AND FORCE AS A WRITTEN AND SIGNED DOCUMENT BY YOU.  IF YOU DO NOT AGREE WITH THE TCU, DO NOT USE OR ACCESS THE SITE.
IF YOU ARE A REGISTERED USER, YOU MAY BE NOTIFIED VIA E-MAIL IF THIS AGREEMENT IS AMENDED OR MODIFIED. IF YOU ARE A USER OF THE SITE WHO ONLY PERFORMS SEARCHES ON IT, WE WILL BE UNABLE TO NOTIFY YOU OF ANY CHANGES. REGARDLESS OF WHETHER YOU ARE REGISTERED OR NOT, HOWEVER, ANY USE OF THE SITE BY YOU AFTER ANY SUCH AMENDMENTS OR MODIFICATIONS TO THE AGREEMENT SHALL BE DEEMED ACCEPTANCE OF THE MOST CURRENT VERSION OF THIS AGREEMENT.

 

 18. Integration and Conflicting Terms. This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and any other terms expressly incorporated by reference herein constitute the complete and exclusive statement and agreement between You and Us with respect to use of the NEW ENGLAND FOUNDATION FOR THE ARTS site and supersedes any and all prior or contemporaneous communications, representations, statements, agreements, and understandings, whether in oral, written, or electronic form, between You and Us concerning the use of the site and Our service. This Agreement, the Privacy Policy, and other terms expressly incorporated by reference shall be construed as consistent with each other whenever possible, but if such construction is unreasonable due to conflicting terms, the terms of this Agreement shall control. To the extent that Our site contains any content posted by Us, including but not limited to answers to “frequently asked questions” (“FAQs”), which may conflict with the terms of: (a) this Agreement, this Agreement shall control; and/or (2) the Privacy Policy, the Privacy Policy shall control.

 

 8. License. By submitting any content to Our site, You grant to Us a perpetual, unlimited, irrevocable, royalty-free, non-exclusive, assignable, and worldwide license, to make, copy, perform, publish, display, distribute, transmit, translate, modify, prepare derivative works and use the content in other works in any form, media, or technology now known or hereinafter developed for the full term of any rights that may exist in that content. You also agree to waive and never assert any moral rights that You may have in the content submitted to Us.

Few will want to take heed and perhaps there will be no price to pay for that but these kind of Terms of Agreement do not stubbornly persist, year after year, for no reason what so ever. I do not know if the NEFA terms of agreement ever pops up when one goes to use the functions of the NEFA website, but in my opinion the small change of wording in paragraph 18 had to be intentional and it uses the term “this site” to identify that the terms apply to CreativeGround.org. Why is “Creative Ground.org” not stated, corresponding to the way The New England Foundation For The Arts website is identified in the Terms of Agreement for the NEFA website? It is traditional in legal contracts to include definitions but there is no definition given for the term “this site“. I submit the answer is in service of non-transparency. Whenever there exists evidence of a concerted effort to protect non-transparency, the question “Why?” should be taken very seriously.-

The statement at the top of both Terms of Agreement is declaring that the user does not have to click “I AGREE” to have agreed to the terms- he just has to make any minor use the site to agree to the terms- as so deemed by NEFA and the part of the site that the user will make use of are governed not by the CommonGround.org agreement but by the NEFA agreement.

The new development is worse than before- most people will not take a close look. I had to take both paragraph 18’s and compare them side by side to figure out that there was a subtle but significant difference between them. Most users, when reading the Terms of Agreement that pops up when one registers will believe that is the agreement for the NEFA website. Fewer will click at the link in the footer. The section at the top which begins with “by clicking “I Agree” is likely to be skimmed and not carefully examined and so the full meaning will be missed. It is  quite a devious bait & switch that NEFA is pulling on the public which their non-profit foundation purports to serve.

This seems like a contract writ by Kafka and hardly something that would stand up in courts in the United States of America in which I have lived- but the USA of the past is changing rapidly these days and the Terms of Agreement to which NEFA has obstinately held tight- seems as if planned to fall into perfect step with a new world order.

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Koons &Clinton – What Were You Thinking?

Koons &Clinton – What Were You Thinking?
 
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ba·nal

bəˈnäl,bəˈnal/adjectiveso lacking in originality as to be obvious and boring.
“songs with banal, repeated words”

On November 30, 2012 , Jeff Koons, star of the blue chip art galaxy, was awarded the first United States Medal of Art by the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The main reason given for selecting Koons is that he is very famous and shows in top of the market art galleries. In the honorary speech, Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton recognized Koons for the time in that year when he spoke before an audience of 1000 listeners in China. According to Secretary of State Clinton Mr Koons “inspired cross-cultural appreciation and thought-provoking discussions among the city’s art community”. Inspire he did- but not exactly in the way Koons and Clinton fantasized

“One of the great characteristics of our country are our public-private partnerships. They are really at the core of how we do everything. De Tocqueville noticed that, but we’ve continued to perfect and increase our extraordinary partnerships between government and businessbetween civil society and academiaOur partnerships are really at the core of who we are and what we do. And this program could not exist without those partners. So on behalf of the Obama Administration, and especially everyone who works in our Diplomatic Corps around the world, we have been blessed by your generosity……

[Each of these artists] are living testaments to the timeless and unending human urge to create and connect,” she continued. “So they provide us with another language of diplomacy, one that evokes our universal aspirations as human beings, our common challenges, and our responsibilities for thinking through and addressing the problems that we face together……

Just think of what each of these artists means for people yearning to express themselves, that young artist living under a repressive regime, that budding painter who’s not quite sure where he or she fits in. Now, not all of these people will ever meet any of these artists, but they will learn about them and themselves, maybe even know something of their spirit and tap into a deeper level of inspiration, because they will encounter their works………”. Hillary’s amazing speech!

On July 29 2014, artnet news reported that a Chinese Company is producing copies of Koons work, which is to say the company is turning the tables on Koons, on Clinton, and on the USA.

All the while that the high end art elite in the western world was waxing prolific about Koon’s tribute- or was it a diatribe ?- to banality, someone was making the so called banal art work and someone else was making a living selling it. Strip down a layer of the glossy rhetorical surface and the subject matter of Koons art is not banality, it is making a mockery of cultural objects being primarily produced in China and other global low wage labor markets which are both  ridiculed and celebrated as banal by the intellectual elites of the western world. Is this what diplomacy has come to ?

As an artist, Koons taps into the philosophy of global capitalist marketing luxury to the wealthy while producing it in low paid labor markets. Koons doesn’t produce his own work in China- at least not yet. He hire hires USA workers to produce his astronomically priced work which resembles copies, made larger than life, of work that is often produced in international low wage markets and then sold in USA markets . Alternatively, Koon’s art is appropriated from ordinary things- such as his balloon dog, looking exactly like an over sized dog made out of a twisted balloon but in Koons case made out of stainless steel, a very expensive material. If Koons works are not direct copies of something else they look like they are trying to be so generic as to be devoid of any quality beyond commercialism.

In 2012 China, producer nation, has become wealthy and Koons and Hillary are courting China’s favors. Can Koons and Clinton really be surprised that those who are the makers of objects which Koons ridicules in his art will apply the same business strategy to the selling of the most expensive art in the world as they do for everything else- produce it for less! Are not the Chinese known for knocking off American designs and technology? How disconnected are Koons and Clinton from the culture of the audience before whom Koons delivers his speech?  Koons is the producer of the most expensive objects in the world which are often copies of work produced in China! Here in China now to inspire you! And Inspire he did ! Now the nation of the low wage laborer are making copies of Koons’s luxury art! How post-modern is that? Will the Chinese copies of the Koons copies of objects made in China succeed in deflating the value of Koons work? And then in turn will the deflation in the value of Koons work deflate the value of his imitators- creating the ultimate art world downward spiral? Will the appropriation of Jeff Koons imitative art work by those who are the objects of imitation be heralded as the next big thing in Post Modern Art ? Commercialism appropriating the the title of high art by producing it in less expensive materials and making more money by selling to to the masses than Koons selling it to the wealthy elite? – Just another international dialogue taking place in with one of the languages of diplomacy!

If the price of Koons’s work starts tumbling down, it seems apropos. The internal message coming from Koons work  is down and out despite it’s expensive price tag. It is down right cynical and out of internal inspiration. Jeff Koons has nothing to say beyond mocking the ordinary and the importance of cold hard cash. There is nothing at the center and no true development as an artist. Koons keeps on repeating versions of the same thought he had in the 1980’s and then sold that thought to the world of art & stock alliances- the alliance that built the eighties art market in which Koons rose to fame and wealth and Koons participated in both, working as a wall street trader before becoming a rock star in the arts. Now he is the anointed diplomatic ambassador of administration of The United State’s first rock star president !

The ugliest moment in Koon’s career was when he mounted a show of over sized photographs of himself and his Italian Porn Star wife, La Cicciolina having sex. If Koons ‘s work is cynical and empty- then this is the darkest chapel of the Koons religion. Koons is making his mark on the art world, canine style. Porn is as cynical and empty as the involuntary message of Koons’s work which speaks on its own and cannot be helped with carefully crafted rhetoric.

Recently, in Maine in one of the forums surrounding the Brand Company’s newest incarnation as art dealers, I said that I just didn’t get why huge oversize pictures of Jeff Koons engaged in acts of sex with his porn star wife and hanging on the walls of the Leo Castelli Gallery (actually it was the Sonnebend Gallery) was anything other than over sized pornography. It was suggested by Ed Beem, the author of the article, that I responded to Koons work that way because I do not understand it:

Jeff Koons is a marketing genius, but it is too easy to dismiss work you don’t understand. In the late 19th century, people thought Impressionists were no-talent poseurs and even the immortal Winslow Homer had his naturalistic paintings compared to muddy doormats. Koons made the market part of his art just as Warhol made production part of his. Most of the artist who show in Maine galleries create beautiful decorative objects. Only a handful are engaged in the eternal international dialogue that is the life of art.

 Mr Beem claims there is an eternal international dialogue coming from Koon’s work but all he can say about it is that the marketplace is a part of it- as if that were something so easy to miss for those uneducated in the proper thought process for understanding Koons’s high art!  But Beem is right ! There in the marketplace lies the smidgen of content in Koons work- but barely a smidgen and that is totally disconnected from the real international dialogue from the world responding to Koons’s cynical marketplace objects. Koons turned ordinary objects of commerce into fine art for no other reason than making it over sized and out of very expensive materials and selling it at a high price. The eternal international dialogue is reflected in the Chinese doing what they always do in international trade. The Chinese copy products made by others and produce and sell them for less. When Koons delivered his speech in China- that is the international exchange that he engaged. That’s the eternal international dialogue about art which has made the marketplace part (all?) of their art, Mr Beem. The eternal ubiquitous dialogue takes place in the real world of global commerce!

Mr Beem had concluded his own blog about the Portland Art Gallery with these words:

The true value of art lies in the making of it. Owning a work of fine art conveys a certain status, but, more importantly, it permits the collector to participate, albeit vicariously, in the ongoing search for meaning that is the work of all serious art.

Koons is one of those artists who prides himself on never touching is own artwork, instead hiring others to create it under his instructions. Like an aristocrat, Koons keeps the actual process of making the art at an arm’s distance. But Koons is a marketplace art star and that is what some in Maine mistake for “serious art”- in other words “investment art”- not just an object of beauty and meaning to the individual, which decorates the walls, but art representing a high end price tag ! Beem speaks for a faction that yearns to re-invent Maine as yet another extension of the New York City art market. Mainers need not buy into that. We have our own life style and values which intrinsically finds it way into the genuine voice of Maine artists living and working in the unique locality which is Maine. By being true to who we are, we can also be part of an eternal cross cultural dialogue- taking place in an entirely different galaxy than the one inhabited by Koons. A galaxy in which marketing is just a function that enables the artists to express a higher content- not where marketing has become the one and only content of art, which is the mark made by Koons in a high priced art world, gazing at its own navel and mocking itself.

RELATED POST: THE INHERENT VALUE OF MAKING THINGS

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