Monday, September 6, 2010

Sloup #5: June 2010

Chinyere E. Oteh
For more information on The Cowry Collective:

Please describe the artistic project a Sloup Grant would help you accomplish:
I am the founder of a brand new timebank called The Cowry Collective. Our mission is to strengthen community among people of African descent through a bartering network. While we seek to make positive impact primarily in the Black community, we realize that all of us, no matter our ethnic origin are interconnected, and we welcome anyone who is aligned with our mission and has a passion for social justice and community building. Time banking is simply about spending an hour doing something for somebody in your community. That hour goes into the time bank as a time dollar (a cowry as we refer to it). Then you have a cowry to spend on having someone do something for you. It's a simple idea, but it will have powerful ripple effects in building community connections in and around St. Louis. A Sloup Grant would help us to creatively spread the word about our timebank by enabling us to get some professional design help to streamline how we spread the word about our timebank namely by creating a logo and a website. We could also use the funds to assist us with purchasing the official Timebanks USA software ($400) to track all community time dollars or cowries given/received to the Collective. To this point I have been working alone and on a budget of what I can afford from my own finances to create business cards, build our social networking power via Facebook and Yahoo Groups web pages, designing flyers and holding bi-monthly new member orientations. While my endeavor might not be considered primarily artistic, as a community artist, I do see the place a timebank can hold in the art world either by assisting working artists through volunteer hours from the timebank, promoting local community artist shops and gathering places on our website, and by inspiring local artists to get involved in giving to their community through our timebank by volunteering hours in art instruction or creating art installations in blighted neighborhoods, etc.
What is important to you about receiving a Sloup Grant, instead of, say, winning the lottery or getting an NEA grant?
The Cowry Collective is all about local community building and the Sloup Grant is focused on promoting local artistic projects that need a little help. I see a perfect fit in that The Cowry Collective is a new time bank in need of some backing – both from new members who will donate time and services and from local businesses, donors, in the form of financial or in-kind donations. I am very community-oriented and would appreciate a Sloup Grant even more than a larger foundation grant in our start-up stage because we will be using local money to do good for the local community. How perfect.

A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals:
I am a resident of Gravois Park, working on rehabbing a multi-family building with my partner. I am a mother to an almost-two-year-old. I am a Washington University graduate (2002) and community artist who has completed the Community Artist Training (CAT) program at Regional Arts Commission (2007). I teach photography and creative writing through the Photography Project (UMSL). I am very passionate about making my life more simple, enjoyable, healthy, and artistic and fun. I enjoy teaching and I like creative solutions to seemingly big problems. While in the CAT program a friend of mine shared with me an article on a timebanking community in Maine and I was struck by the idea. Fast forward three years and I am fully committed to orchestrating big community change by convincing people that giving an hour of their time to a stranger or a neighbor could have profound effects on their own life.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):
I recently taught a Photography Project for Lydia’s House. I worked with children who live there to create self-portraits that did not reveal their identities. We had a lot of fun photographing their shadows, writing poetry from the vantage-point of Lydia’s House, and making collages of their favorite things within a silhouette tracing of their heads. The final products were stunning – work that I am most proud of being a part of in my three years as a Photography Project teacher. However, at the exhibit opening at Urban Eats and at UMSL none of the children or their families attended. It was really disappointing because they had put in the hard work and expressed themselves in ways they hadn’t before and it was on display for the public to see and I really wanted them to get a chance to get the recognition they deserved. I think their self-esteem would have been infinitely boosted by a public recognition of their exhibit by their mothers and family members, but their absence is simply a reminder to be mindful of the barriers each of my students may have because of their life circumstances to attending exhibits or even our regular classes.

Who is your favorite (any kind of) artist this month?
My favorite artist this month is Rick Lowe – founder of Project Row Houses. I would love to see something like this around Cherokee/Gravois Park/Dutchtown!

Submit the above information to by the Saturday before this month's Sloup. Your answers will be distributed in a packet of this month's proposals to all Sloup attendees and they'll vote on their favorites. That's all there is to it!


Your name or the title of your organization: Pancake Productions (Robert Severson, Pancake Master/Proprietor)

Please describe the artistic project a Sloup Grant would help you accomplish: Continue recording, producing, releasing, and distributing fine artistic material in a wide range of media and disciplines, including (but certainly never limited to) music, film, video, photography, art, and beyond.

What is important to you about receiving a Sloup Grant, instead of, say, winning the lottery or getting an NEA grant? It’s reassuring to know that the grant comes from interested parties—people like us who are community- and arts-minded and –oriented, and who love soup. It’s also comforting to know that even if we don’t end up as this month’s choice, that at least the grant went to someplace that deserved it as much as we did, and we can tell exactly who that was, and have a little joy for the fact that this process is in place regardless of who receives the Magical SLOUP Stack O’ Cash™.

A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals: Existing in the filmmaking/music/performance/art sphere within Saint Louis for over 10 years, I’ve seen labels and collectives and organizations come and go. Some of them don’t even bother to keep so much as a website alive for posterity/archival purposes, which is sad and frustrating, since it’s stuff I care about, and want to see last in some form or another, or at least have a way to remember/remind. I’ve been sort of the opposite way—I’ve had this website, and this “production company” for the longest time, but the slow trickle of projects has not been enough to sustain Pancake Productions as a viable name or a reputable entity in the way I’d prefer. So, I’m taking matters into my own hands with little more than whatever money (however meager, or otherwise) and experience (however plentiful, or otherwise) I’ve been able to accrue in my time creating and collaborating, and making the promise that whatever else may happen, Pancake Productions is here (and has been for nigh upon a decade) to stay. Primarily a film production company in its formative stages, recently the focus has been on (recording and) releasing recorded music for the masses through whatever variety of avenues we deem possible and appropriate (CD, vinyl, internet, other, or some combination thereof). However, as stated, no project is too small, or too big, or too this, or too that. We’re willing to consider just about anything. We want to make great things happen. For you, for us, for St. Louis, for everyone.

Already well within the pipeline for 2010 (and beyond?) are musical album releases from defunct sweet acousticsters The Shitty Friends, seven-years-extinct-monster-girl-popmeisters The Fantasy Four, prolific satirical hip-hop-a-thon-ers King Kong Magnetics, rock-and-lollers Popular Mechanics, and “the world’s cutest band” (Jason Ankeny,, Bunnygrunt. A handful of others are only in the very infantile stages of discussion, to the point that I’m reluctant to mention them here, no matter how excited I might be about them. I’m perfectly happy to continue patronizing and publicizing local arts using frequent dips into the shallow pool of my laughable savings account, but every little bit helps, of course, SLOUPsters.

Most importantly, if you are an enthusiastic artist of any kind and are interested in releasing something, anything, via the Pancake Productions imprint, to the general public, and consider yourself a match for any or all of what you’ve read here today, we want to talk to you post-haste, whether you vote for us tonight or not—heck, even (maybe especially) if you’re the competition. I’d be lying to say I don’t intend to slap the Pancake Productions credentials onto whatever personal projects I do eventually set out to accomplish, but a vanity project this is decidedly not—it’s about making excellent stuff occur by and for the people all around us. You’ve already taken a step in that direction by attending SLOUP, and for that, I thank you.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal): I’ve registered a Pancake Productions team for the local 48 Hour Film Project every year for the last several years. The first time I did so, our film was selected to appear in the “best of” screening here in town. Of course this was something of a great honor, and we even took home an award. In subsequent years, our films have never even made it to the best-of screenings, but that isn’t really why we do them. If it was, we probably woulda quit by now! For me at least, it has become more about making a product in which I can have some pride, and having fun in the process of making it. This year (2010), for the first time, we did not even turn our movie in on time (but still got it in early enough to screen with the other films), which means it wasn’t eligible for any judges’ awards (only an “audience favorite” award). I wish I could say the film was late because we were studiously making it pristine and putting the final touches of perfection upon it, but the truth is we were subject to computer abilities and speeds less proficient and slower (respectively) than anticipated, and didn’t even get to see the final movie we turned in before turning it in. Since then I’ve been touching it up some, as we do on occasion with these 48 Hour Films, to make it into something comprehensive and high-quality for later perusal as part of the Pancake Productions catalogue. Regardless of the receipt (or lack thereof) of any awards, though, you can bet we’ll be back at it next year, trying again.

Really that is the whole idea of this proposal—being able to make something sweet happen; something to make us proud. This is no vanity project, I just want people to do their best, have a good time, and make their mark however they can.

Who is your favorite (any kind of) artist this month? Gösta Thames, Ralph Lysell, Hugo Blomberg, and the rest of the team that designed the Ericofon in the late 1940s. Also, Meat Loaf.


Name and contact information:
Eric Ryszkiewicz | | 314-520-1147

Artistic project a Sloup Grant would help accomplish:
I will use a sloup grant to fund promotional materials for a project titled “daydream lullaby: sleep | wake | delete”. This will consist of ~200-300 oversized postcards that promote an event in fall 2010, this event will serve as a joint CD EP release party and photo show.

Funding will cover most or all of the costs for the design and printing of two-tone postcards, to be distributed near the end of the summer. This work will be contracted through a local artisan print shop. Thus, the entire monetary value of the grant will go towards supporting St. Louis artists working in their trade.

The music on the “sleep | wake | delete” EP consists of many layers (typically 5-13) of soft, intertwining guitar lines, and could not be performed live without a large ensemble. The corresponding black and white photography appears in the packaging for the EP, and larger format prints will be available at the show. Postcards will be thematically and aesthetically related to the items and event they promote.

What is important to you about receiving a Sloup Grant:
I am not known in St. Louis as an artist, musician, or photographer. More important than the monetary award, I believe that being able to promote this project as somehow receiving the sloup stamp of approval will provide more visibility. I will return the favor by noting sloup as a sponsor.

A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals:
I’m doing a series of related music and media projects as “commerce information entertainment” with a focus on the creation of quality goods, services, and experiences. A previous sloup application did not yield a grant, but the experience got me interested in trying to craft a more convincing proposal. Here, the grant money will definitely go towards the production of a tangible “art product” within a specified time interval, and this item will be given away as a promotional item. Is it art? Is it part of a larger project? Is it promotional crap? You be the judge.

A previous project of yours, and some ways it both succeeded and failed:
Several years ago, I built a human-powered vending machine as a Halloween costume. This was essentially a large, frame-mounted cardboard box with casters, a plexi-glass front window, coin slot, snack retrieval door, and a panel on which a variety of food items were displayed. I’d intended on attending the Central West End costume contest, but wound up going to a house party instead. Once the initial novelty wore off, most people were pretty content to ignore me, especially if I wasn’t moving around. I thought it would be a lot of fun (it was), but spent most of the time drinking beers alone in a cardboard box.

Who is your favorite artist this month?
I went to see the Gordon Matta-Clark show at the Pulitzer two weekends in a row before it closed. The conical intersect video made a larger impression than I’d initially thought, and I find myself examining it separately through the lenses of video and performance art in addition to the final building cuts. Hope you didn’t miss it!

Your power animal and/or icon:
T. Rex. Have you scoped my tyrannosaur arms?


name or organization and contact:
The May Day Orchestra
Tim Rakel

a project a Sloup Grant would help us with:
The May Day Orchestra has recorded a new musical project which we will release as a vinyl LP as well as a CD. "Songs For Ota Benga" is the working title. It was recorded at a studio on Cherokee and the material has been played live at such venues as the Black Bear Bakery, Foam and the Schlafly Tap Room.

why a Sloup grant is more important than winning the lottery, etc:
A grant coming from a community who get together to support art means more than a gift from a faceless entity, even if the latter has more money. This is also why this group makes its music, not to make money, but to interact with people.

about us:
The May Day Orchestra consists of members of various local bands including The Union Electric, Tenement Ruth, The Rats & People, Theodore and Grace Basement. Tim Rakel, the songwriter in the group, has composed "folk operas" to do more than just play songs but tell some stories and history as well. The "Ota Benga" project has local connections to Saint Louis and has relevant ties to the current war in Congo.

a previous project:
The group's first project "May Day, or Songs For Lucy Parsons" was in some part successful in that we released a vinyl record and got it out to a small audience. Its failing was a lack of distribution and sustained performance which we are improving upon this time around.

favorite artist this month:
Tom Waits. The five regular and current members of the band all concur, as well as the six-year old child that attends some of our practices.

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