ImageWhat city in the United States is second only to New York in the number of artists per capita? Unless you live there you probably would not guess that it would be Somerville, Massachusetts. That statistic along with its proximity next door to Cambridge, one of the country’s centers of innovation and technology development, made Somerville a natural choice for a TEDx event. Historically Somerville encompassed many railway and industrial lands and was home to the birth of Marshmallow Fluff, the Bertucci’s restaurant chain and the chain that would become Stop & Shop. Today Somerville is a wonderful mix of students, artists, working class people and demographically it is a mix of long-time Irish-, Italian- and Portuguese- American residents and newer immigrant populations from Brazil, Haiti, El Salvador, India, South Korea and Nepal.

The day-long independent TED event brought more than 25 presenters and at least five different musical acts to the stage at the Arts at the Armory facility, a repurposed armory that now is home to a wide range of visual arts, dance, theater and musical performances. The presenters at TEDxSomerville ranged from the mayor of Somerville, Joseph A. Curtatone, to Joe Grafton, the Director of Somerville Local First, a key player in the advancement of the local movement in Somerville, to Brian Whitman, a co-founder of EchoNest, a music Discovery platform to Monica Poole, one of the organizers of Occupy Boston, to Alex Feldman, performer and comedian who specializes in non-verbal communication methods. The presentation of the concept of “Community Supported Manufacturing” from Chris Templeman was particularly interesting. He talked about a great concept for a community funded cooperative to make every day appliances be much nicer constructions.


The music included contemplative folk from Jenee Halstead, old-school analog experimental synth from Keith Fullerton Whitman, and energetic sounds from both Grooversity and Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. The “house band” that played between the sessions was the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, who wrote an entirely new set of songs, each one themed with the material from the presenters. Sheer brilliance!

The truly eclectic nature of the presenters, the art installations and delicious food from local restaurants (the Chocolate from Taza and the Ethiopian food from Fasika was particularly delicious) made this event a perfect TED experience.og


next week, August 9-13, brings the National Poetry Slam competition to Boston. The schedule of events can be pretty daunting so I’ll help you out….go to these two opening bouts Bout 10 at All Asia in Cambridge and Bout 17 at Cafe 939 in Boston. My nephew Dylan Garity is on the SlamMN! team from Minneapolis and he is definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately I have to travel for work otherwise I’d be there as well. In case you have any concerns about what you might see or hear…here is Dylan performing at a competition last year.

good luck Dylan!


creative talents seem to run strong through my family…my niece Julia Franzosa in California is a very talented photographer….you can check out some of her work here. If you find yourself in northern California seeking a photographer, look her up

the revolution

My nephew Dylan is a senior in high school in Corvllis, Oregon. He recently had a poem published in Teen Ink which is a very cool magazine and website dedicated youth art and writing. I’ve reprinted his poem here with permission but you should go check out more of the great work at Teen Ink as well.

The Revolution

By Dylan G., Corvallis, OR

The Revolution will, indeed, be broadcast
displayed in high definition on every wall
for children looking up from their games
and fat middle-aged men digging for another handful of chips
as faceless bodies in tattered clothing run past on screen
and a head is blown off to scattered but polite applause
Mom and Dad comment on the clarity and detail of the image
while little Junior stares in blank apathy
and fiery flashes are reflected in his jaded grey eyes


cornell.paul-virginia.jpgI just finished reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read this back when I was in college and I thought it was a book that warranted a revisit in my adulthood. I still feel that this book is more about madness than it is about any of the topics that you will find discussed in reviews on Amazon or Wikipedia. This brings me to a recurring theme of this blogorrhea… today we went to the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem to see the newly opened interactive Origami exhibit. The interactive part was very nice and exactly as you would expect but the pieces on display were amazing. My favorites were “Attack of the Kraken” and “Hyperbolic Cube”. These works, both done from a single large sheet of paper, show a type of dedication to the art that I think must arise from a certain type of insanity. Further explorations in the museum took us to the other current special exhibition, Joseph Cornell: Navigating the Imagination. I had not heard of Joseph Cornell prior to this but after seeing this work I am now going to investigate his life and work much more deeply. If you do nothing else, go to the interactive site at the museum’s website and just spend some time there…you will not regret it….and if you like that, then you must go see the exhibition.  From the website: “Joseph Cornell is one of America’s most innovative modern artists, known for his distinctive box sculptures, collages and experimental films that continue to influence many artists, writers, poets, filmmakers and designers.”. Again, to me, this work shows some definite signs of madness. From Thoreau, via Wikipedia: “ Many, no doubt, are well disposed, but sluggish by constitution and by habit, and they cannot conceive of a man who is actuated by higher motives than they are, accordingly they pronounce this man insane, for they know that they could never act as he does, as long as they are themselves.”


i’ve been contemplating adding pictures to my blog entries…this one seems worthy (via gizmodo)…one of the best “mash-ups” i’ve seen in a while…if you dont get the reference then google rene magritte and the son of manmagritte has long been a favorite since brother bob had the poster of La Chateau des Pyrenees in his room when we were growing up


 Technorati Tags: Rene Magritte, Art, Laser Etching

new artwork

here’s some new artwork from Alexander ..more crazy creature motifs

 Technorati Tags: artwork


another great rainy day activity wth the kids is doing papercraft…thanks to boingboing i found paperforest where artist Jaime Zollars provides links to great papercraft projects, many of them free to download and print…beyond just the basic origami, scissors, and glue are required for most of these…we have done a lot of simple ones for kids, some more complicated ones like the schloss neuschwanstein, and even some crazy kinematic ones…many of these remind me of my model-building days of youth…i never did finish the roller coaster project but it was a great lesson in getting cams and followers to work properly


i heard this great story on npr this morning from a woman who discovered that her father had a can of campbell’s soup signed by andy warhol in his closet…i’ve always thought it interesting how andy warhol has managed to make people put very strange values on strange objects of art…this story is an interesting twist on that…

…on a different but related note…one of my and my family’s favorite books is uncle andy’s about a visit to andy warhol in nyc written and illustrated by andy’s nephew james warhola

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