From The Manhattan Times, February 2004
Creating art, and community, online
by Mike Fitelson
With the popularization of the Internet came the promise of communicating anytime, anywhere, about anything. A group of local, and not so local, artists is exploiting that ubiquity with a project appropriately titled, Now:Here:This. It is collaborative art for any artist who has felt isolated during the creative process and for any viewer who wanted a peek inside the imagination of a maker of art.The premise is succinct. Every Friday at 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, artists create – a photograph, drawing, sculpture, whatever. They then email a digital image of the artwork accompanied by a response to the question: “What is the most important thing on my mind right now?” Both are posted to www.artistsunite-ny.org.
Now:Here:This is the brainchild of Peter Ferko, a photographer and president of the locally based organization Artists Unite. He participated in a similar project several years ago while living in Washington D.C. and was drawn to recreating a sense of community on the Internet, something that is difficult for artists, a transient bunch, to create in the bricks and mortar world.
“They move so much,” said Ferko, who himself has only lived in Washington Heights for about three years. “Almost everybody I know has moved in the last five years.”
The group that has emerged since the project began Jan. 2 is scattered geographically
but collective in spirit. The art is interesting and often inspired by the project
itself. But additional layers of artistry are created by pairing the art with
the thoughts and comments of the makers.
Some of the dozen artists took the assignment at its most literal, such as Jayme McLellan in Washington, D.C. who wrote, “Gotta get up. Gotta take a photo.” next to a photo of a window. In the context of the project, however, the window represents the entryway to his imagination.
The first entry in the project is by Washington Heights painter Tim Folzenlogen who photographed himself holding a clock that read 11:00. The image was presented alongside text: “Ask the questions that you always have but never ask. Express the thoughts that flow through your heart and mind – the ones you never voice.” Ferko responded to this invitation by commenting on the Web site, “Folzenlogen threw down the gauntlet. Is anyone going to pick it up?”
Dialogues are present elsewhere as ideas careen from one artist to another. Artists Unite co-founder Rosa Naparstek wrote, “I have been affected by the images, language and integrity of the other participants and am inspired to go beyond my usual mode of work and challenged to create fuller dialogue and communication.”
“Everyone is impressed with how serious and sincere that (the project) has been taken,” said Ferko during a face to face interview. “By having such a cutting edge project it would encourage people who live in Washington Heights and Inwood, but peddle their art wares elsewhere, to take part and say cutting edge art happens here.”
One of the project goals was to expand the universe of artists affiliated with Artists Unite, which annually stages the “Hot Nights, Cool Sounds” concerts in Bennett Park and was a primary participant in November’s Uptown Arts Stroll. On that level Now:Here:This has begun paying off, attracting two newcomers. “I’m thinking that’s cool, I already have two new people participating,” said Ferko during an interview. “I’m hoping that it snowballs.”
Now:Here:This is open to any artist, but submission does not guarantee publication. Visit www.artistsunite-ny.org to view the work or for information about participating.