Think of Gina Burnett as the unofficial artist in residence of Chautauqua Institution’s Amphitheater. Burnett, wrapping up her third season as an Amphitheater usher, has the responsibility of scanning patrons into the Amp for the morning lecture and cleaning up after they leave. She has turned that clean-up process into an art project.
The seven-week season for School of Art students came to an end Friday, Aug. 9, with a final cleanup of the Arts Quadrangle. Among the final items removed were two black planks suspended with fishing wire and a linked chain — both hanging from a tree.
“Chautauqua’s very hard to describe,” said Billy Collins, former poet laureate of the United States, “as anyone who’s asked to describe it probably says.”
This marks Collins’ fourth visit to the Institution. He noted that whenever he comes to Chautauqua, it seems to involve some time-travel to a simpler, more thoughtful time. He described the place’s origins as very philosophical, which perhaps explains why so many people on the grounds are buzzing about the chance to spend their Friday nights watching a conversation between a poet and a musician.
Barbi Price, a docent at Chautauqua Institution’s art galleries, has a trunkful of bottles and cans. Sometimes, bags of bottles sit waiting for Price in her driveway when she gets home at night. The bags often come with little notes, saying things like “Here’s a few to help out.”
Tami Hritzay, an art teacher in the Special Studies Young Artists program at Chautauqua Institution, said she spent 30 years blabbing to everyone about how she wanted to write and illustrate a children’s book.
As Visual Arts at Chautauqua Institution’s Don Kimes tells it, when he asked the artist Charlie Hewitt to start a printmaking program at the School of Art in the 1990s, Hewitt famously asked, “Can you get your hands on a screwdriver and a rock?”
At Open Studios night last Monday at the School of Art, the first thing 7-year-old Jackson Kuhn did was make a beeline for art student Molly Berger’s ceramics studio. He traded a rock he painted — and autographed on the back — for one of her mugs. Kuhn loves ceramics; he takes classes in it through the Special Studies’ Young Artists program, and he started selling painted rocks last year to raise money for a ceramics student scholarship through the Chautauqua Fund.
In 2008, Dennis Ross was asked by Vanity Fair if he thought the map presented by T.E. Lawrence to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 could be applied to the Middle East today. Ross said the notion was inconceivable. But five years later, Ross said he believes the map — which separates countries of the Middle East by their individual tribes, sects and clans — may have “a lot of possibility.”
“This is not the Middle East that you knew before,” he said. “It is a Middle East that is changing.”
At the VACI Open Members Exhibition, which opened Monday in Fowler-Kellogg Art Center and runs through Aug. 22, longtime Chautauquan Enid Shames spent several minutes staring at a video piece called “The Aesthetics of Informatics in a Wandering America.” [w/ SLIDESHOW]
At the beginning of Barbi Price’s weekly tour of Chautauqua Institution’s art galleries, she almost set Fowler-Kellogg Art Center on fire. She wanted to dramatically reveal the violin silhouette that Collin Everett’s Dada-inspired glass sculpture made on the gallery’s wall, so she held a manila folder in front of a bare light bulb pointed at the glass.