|Have you seen this artist and conference organizer?|
I really get a kick out of most newspapers and TV that say they follow "The Arts." What they usually mean by that terminology is everything but visual art unless it's on a commercial scale like Takashi Murakami, who sells Louis Vuitton handbags at his shows, or perhaps Jeff Koons, who creates giant reflective balloon animals as public sculpture. So let's just say that my expectations were not high when I saw that WGBH in Boston had featured the encaustic conference on "Greater Boston," the evening news show hosted by Emily Rooney.
Money Talks and the Media Walks (after it)
Of course it was money that drew attention to encaustic - the medium Jasper Johns used to paint the flag, formerly owned by author Michael Crichton, that sold recently for $28.6 million. You can just see the head scratching that went on when those writing and telecasting about The Arts were asking themselves, "Uh, what the hell is encaustic?" So enterprising and emmy-winning reporter for WGBH, Jared Bowen, found "encaustic" at Montserrat College of Art, which had been promoting itself for hosting the encaustic conference.
|President Stephen Immerman|
On July 8th Emily Rooney presented Jared's piece about the the encaustic conference at Montserrat. On camera were the new President of Montserrat, Stephen Immerman; the Director of the Montserrat Gallery, Leonie Bradbury; and Julie Shaw Lutts, who demonstrated how she uses encaustic in her work. Jared said that Montserrat had "taken ownership" of encaustic by presenting the conference, which he referred to as a "massive brainstorming session" where "the small number of artists scattered across the country" who use this "style" come together to talk to each other. President Immerman said that he had never heard of encaustic prior to his arrival at Montserrat and described the conference as "a group of artists teaching each other."
|Joanne with Miles Conrad at the 2010 conference|
"Where's Joanne, " I kept wondering as I watched this piece. I kept waiting for Joanne Mattera, the Director of the Encaustic Conference, to appear on camera since she was the person who conceived the conference in the first place and brought it to Montserrat and is the person whose incredible energy, passion, contacts and vision have made the conference the wonderful experience that it has been for each of its four years. Joanne's ground-breaking book, The Art of Encaustic Painting, (known as the bible of encaustic) established her authority in the medium of encaustic and led to encaustic's current flourishing popularity (despite what Jared had to say about its limited use). I waited until the end of the video, the chat between Jared and Emily after the video and the end of the segment and nowhere did I hear the name of Joanne Mattera. "How could Montserrat have let this happen?" I asked myself. Are they trying to take credit for Joanne's work? Where is Joanne to correct these wrong descriptions of the conference as a DIY-fest where the 25 people who use the "style" come together in an art potluck? How could this happen?
|Joanne introducing scholar Roberta Bernstein, 2010 keynote speaker|
I am angry that Montserrat could pretend that this conference was all their own idea. I'm angry at the injustice of their taking the credit because I know how hard Joanne has worked on developing the annual encaustic conference into the incredibly well-organized, informative and enjoyable event it is. She does everything from the top down on this conference with very little help from Montserrat. I found her this past year on the day before the opening of the conference delivering palettes and setting up tables in the classrooms. Meanwhile, she was the one who had:
- arranged the juror for the conference show
- found and invited Roberta Bernstein, the Jasper Johns scholar, to give the keynote talk
- reviewed and accepted proposals for talks and classes
- scheduled all those talks and classes - including all the contact with presenters
- conceived, arranged and moderated the panel of guests for Saturday morning
- invited the artists, chose the works, hung the show and wrote about "Wax Libris II: The Library Show"
- devised and developed the plan for "Best Foot Forward," the wonderful hallway show of works by all the conference attendees
- designed, wrote and continually updated the conference blog
- answered all the questions, completed all the details, and barely drew a non-conference breath during months of preparations
|Joanne moderating the Saturday morning panel at the 2010 conference|
But perhaps it was not Montserrat who was responsible for this glaring omission of Joanne from the story of the encaustic conference, but rather Jared Bowen, who missed the lead in the story?
So I tell you what I'm doing to find out the truth: I'm writing to Jared Bowen and Emily Rooney at WGBH and to all the staff at Montserrat including President Steven Immerman, Laura Tonelli - Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs - and to Jo Broderick at the Montserrat Public Relations Department. I want this injustice to be corrected and for Joanne's vital role in the conference to be acknowledged and applauded. If WGBH does not do it, then Montserrat should post the correction on their website. I urge everyone to write and get this fixed. Meanwhile, I have started a FaceBook group called "Where's Joanne?" and I urge everyone to join.