On April 30th, 2017 from 3pm – 5pm the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey will present a panel “In Discussion: Walking as a Radical Act.” This talk, featuring five artists and writers, will look into the act of walking today.
The discussion will be moderated by artist, writer and critic Christina Kee. Kee currently works with The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation and has been a frequent moderator for the New York Studio School Evening Lecture Series. Joining the discussion will be William Helmreich, author of The New York Nobody Knows, Walking 6,000 miles of the City; David Rothenberg, philosopher and musician and author of Why Birds Sing; visual artist Simonetta Moro whose work explores psycho-geographies and our relationship with place; and the exhibiting artist Matthew Jensen.
“Walking as a Radical Act” is one of several events held in connection with the Art Center’s Spring 2017 exhibition Park Wonder: Rediscovering Northern New Jersey Landscapes by artist Matt Jensen. Jensen spent over 120 hours walking four New Jersey landscapes including Watchung Reservation, the Passaic River Waterway, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and Gateway National Park, Sandy Hook Unit. The exhibition is the culmination of these walks and will include images and objects that Jensen gathered while exploring these landscapes. The exhibition is funded by a National Endowment for the Arts “Image Your Parks” grant. The exhibition opens on Thursday, April 20th.
Director of Education and Community Engagement Sarah Walko notes, “Through the experience of working with this artist, we came to wonder more deeply about the act of walking and what it means today. Are we walking less because it is not fast enough for the pace of our world? Are pre-determined routes necessarily safer? And a question relevant to the current political climate – what is the effectiveness of walking as a form of protest/tool for change?”
Panel Full Bios:
As a child growing up in Manhattan, William Helmreich played a game with his father called “Last Stop.” They would pick a subway line, ride it to its final destination, and explore the neighborhood. Decades later, his love for exploring the city is as strong as ever. Putting his feet to the test, he decided that the only way to truly understand New York was to walk virtually every block of all five boroughs–an astonishing 6,000 miles. His journey took him to every corner of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Helmreich spoke with hundreds of New Yorkers from every part of the globe and all walks of life. He finds that to be a New Yorker is to struggle to understand the place and to make a life that is as highly local as it is dynamically cosmopolitan. Truly unforgettable, The New York Nobody Knows will forever change how you view the world’s greatest city.
William B. Helmreich is Professor in the Department of Sociology at City College. He also teaches at the CUNY Graduate School and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Faculty Membership Committee of its Program in Sociology. Professor Helmreich’s specialty areas are race and ethnic relations, religion, immigration, risk behavior, the sociology of New York City, urban sociology, consumer behavior and market research. Professor Helmreich is the author of fourteen books, including The Black Crusaders: A Case Study of a Black Militant Organization (Harper & Row); Afro-Americans and Africa (Greenwood Press); The Things they Say Behind your Back: Stereotypes and the Myths Behind Them (Doubleday); Against All Odds: Holocaust Surviviors and the Successful Lives they Made in America (Simon & Schuster); and What Was I Thinking: The Dumb Things We Do and How to Avoid Them (Roman-Littlefield). His latest book, about how New York City has changed in the last 35 years, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in New York City, will be released by Princeton University Press in September 2013. In addition to books and publications in scholarly journals, Professor Helmreich has written for the New York Times, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times and has also been a guest on Oprah Winfrey, The Larry King Show, CBS Morning News, CNN, ABC Nightline, and guest anchor on NBC TV News.
David Rothenberg has written and performed on the relationship between humanity and nature for many years. He is the author of Why Birds Sing, on making music with birds, also published in England, Italy, Spain, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Germany. It was turned into a feature length BBC TV documentary. His following book, Thousand Mile Song, is on making music with whales. It was turned into a film for French television. As a composer and jazz clarinetist, Rothenberg has sixteen CDs out under his own name, including On the Cliffs of the Heart, named one of the top ten CDs by Jazziz Magazine in 1995 and a record on ECM with Marilyn Crispell, One Dark Night I Left My Silent House. Other releases include Why Birds Sing and Whale Music. He invited many musical colleagues to join him on Whale Music Remixed, with contributions from noted electronic artists such as Scanner, DJ Spooky, Lukas Ligeti, Mira Calix, Ben Neill, and Robert Rich. Rothenberg’s duet CD with keyboardist Lewis Porter, is Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast. Next is a duet with British electronic music wizard Scanner, called You Can’t Get There From Here.
His 2014 CD features Pauline Oliveros and Timothy Hill, called Cicada Dream Band. His 2015 CD featuring live performances with nightingales is Berlin Bülbül, made together with Korhan Erel. In 2016 he released And Vex the Nightingale with Czech accordionist Lucie Vítková. David Rothenberg is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Music at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, which has encouraged and supported all of his creative projects since 1992. A recent article on Rothenberg’s whale work appeared in the New York Times, along with articles in The Wire and on Living on Earth. His latest book on insects and music, along with a companion CD, was published in April 2013 by St. Martins Press under the title Bug Music. It has been covered in the New Yorker, the Wall St Journal, the New York Times, on PBS News Hour and on Radiolab. Previous books include Sudden Music, Blue Cliff Record, Hand’s End, and Always the Mountains. His book on the evolution of beauty, and how art and science can be better intertwined, is Survival of the Beautiful, published by Bloomsbury in 2011. There have been nice reviews in the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and the Telegraph. Rothenberg is currently writing a book and making a film about playing music with nightingales.
Simonetta Moro is an artist and educator based in New York. Her work deals with architecture, mapping, and memory, explored primarily through drawing and painting, in which she seeks to create a poetic experience of place. Through a representation of the phenomenological world and its manifestations, places become repositories of memory, points of departure for imaginary journeys, vectors of time and space, and sites of exploration and intervention. Walking is often part of Moro’s process and is related to drawing, understood as a way to increase conscious attention. The environment is experienced in duration: a protracted, continuous time in which a place manifests itself and offers itself to be rendered visually, whether as a map or a panorama.
Moro’s work has been exhibited in the US and Europe, including: BRIC Art and Media House, New York; Center for Architecture, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the American Academy in Rome, Italy; and the Harris Museum, Preston, UK. Two of her maps have been recently published in Katherine Harmon’s book You Are Here NYC: Mapping the Soul of the City (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). Simonetta Moro studied art in Italy and the UK, and is currently the Director of The Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA).
Last year the Art Center was the only museum in New Jersey to be awarded an “Imagine Your Parks” grant, and only one of fifty-one “Parks” grants nationwide. It’s a grant initiative from the National Endowment for the Arts created in partnership with the National Park Service to support projects that use the arts to engage people with memorable places and landscapes. The art center was awarded the grant for an exhibition by visual artist Matthew Jensen, a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow, who has exhibited at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, the Brandywine River Museum and the Brooklyn Museum and his work is in the collection of the National Gallery of Art, the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Matthew spent 120-days exploring four northern New Jersey landscapes this year including the Passaic River waterway; Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge; Watchung Reservation and Gateway National Park. His explorations begin as walks, and will result in an exhibition in the museum that integrates photography, sculpture, found materials and local history. His exhibition, Park Wonder, will be on view at the Art Center from April 17, 2017 through July 16, 2017.
Moderator: Christina Kee
Christina Kee is an artist, art writer and curator currently working with The William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation. She has been a contributor to artcritical and hyperallergic, and written numerous catalog essays for emerging and established artists including Esteban Vicente and Jack Bush. She has been a frequent moderator for the New York Studio School Evening Lecture Series, as well as appeared regularly as a speaker on the artcritical Review Panel. As a Canadian who can’t really drive, she was thrilled to be invited to a discussion devoted to covering long distances on foot.