Tag: Culture

In Her Own Words. In Her Own Art.

I met Tori Tinsley through Kamal Sinclair. Tori is a former participant of Kamal’s Entrepreneurship in the Arts seminar. When Kamal told me Tori’s story, I was so touched that I had to reach out to her. I asked her if she would write a little about her experience in the course. More importantly, I wanted her story to demonstrate that art is communication. It is how we have captured moments in this life. Brief. Beautiful. Moments.

This is Tori’s story…

Last year in March, my mother was diagnosed with fronto-temporal dementia (FTD), a progressive disease that shrinks the frontal temporal lobes of the brain and causes changes in personality, loss of memory, and eventually death. As my family and I struggled with this prognosis and looked ahead to what the future might bring, I continued to work in a highly stressful job as an art teacher at a residential treatment facility for youth with behavioral and emotional challenges. As my summer break approached, I spent hours online looking at summer programs, continuing education courses, and any other outlet I could find that would allow me to escape the anxiety, anger and fear that followed me day to day. While looking at Savannah College of Art’s continuing education courses, I saw a class for Arts and Entrepreneurship and signed up immediately. I had always been mad at myself for not taking a business course as an undergraduate painting major or as an art therapy graduate student. This class appeared to have enough sustenance to keep me busy over the break and might lead to the creation of a successful art business.

After the first class, I realized how little I knew about the importance of focusing my intention and market research. I knew it was going to be a lot of work over the next 8 weeks, but I was excited to learn more and the class fed my need for a creative outlet. Kamal Sinclair, our gifted and inspiring instructor, led us step-by-step through each phase of business planning. Because she’s done it herself, Kamal understands how an arts-based business is created and run.

During the second or third class, Kamal introduced us to the concept of a Blue Ocean, or a business idea that is not being developed by many others in the same market. During a discussion about Blue Oceans, our class watched a video about the artist and theoretical biologist Sala and his project One Thousand Paintings. Sala’s series takes a look at the value of art by providing a finite amount of paintings, each having a painted number from 1 to 1000 on canvas. As the number of sold paintings in the series increases, the price of the existing artworks also increases, thus following the laws of supply and demand (you can learn more about the process at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIbyLlnKk9s). I was so amazed that this biologist had cracked into theories behind the value of art without having an art background, that I was inspired that I might be able to investigate an important theory of my own through art as well.

As the pressures from my mother’s progressive illness   increased, I began to be consumed by it and looked for answers online. After having difficulty finding information about the disease and not having any FTD local support groups to turn to, my sister and I started talking about creating a website about FTD to help others find information and support. We wanted to call it Mom’s Laugh in order to pay homage to my mother, whose laugh was always the hallmark of her personality, and to highlight the effect FTD has on personality. One day around the same, the idea of the Mom’s Laugh Project surfaced. The bare bones of the project came first; basically, what if I created paintings and donated money from the proceeds to FTD research, but destroyed ones that were not sold in order to raise awareness of the disease. The more I thought about it, the more details developed and a stronger sense of purpose grew within me.

I remember running the idea by my husband and him saying, “Did you think of that by yourself?” I knew at that point that I had something and took it back to my class to get feedback and see how it could be developed further.

In class, Kamal and my classmates agreed that there was something special about the idea. In each subsequent lesson, they gave me feedback on how I could market my idea, who I should contact, and what directions I could take my business. By the end of the class, the Mom’s Laugh Project had a website, a board of advisors, and a small series of paintings started.

A few months after the class was over and I was back in my 9 to 5 job, I continued thinking about the Mom’s Laugh Project and working on it little by little. In March of 2010, one year after my mom’s diagnosis, I collaborated with my friend Jenny Henley to show the work in her gallery space. I had also contacted The Association of Fronto-temporal Dementias (AFTD) and they were delighted to assist in spreading the word about the project and exhibit. To date, 19 paintings have been sold and we have helped raise close to $1500 for the AFTD.

This past spring, I left a full-time job to focus on the Mom’s Laugh Project, spend time with my mother, and work as a contract art therapist with two organizations. In addition to the Association of Fronto-temporal Dementias, the project has also led to collaborations with the Alzheimer’s Association, Emory University’s Neurology Department, where my mother receives treatment, and Atria Buckhead, where my mother now lives. I do not believe I would have been able to channel my grief in such a positive and constructive way had I not taken the business class with Kamal last year. I highly recommend this class and ones similar to it to anyone looking to start an arts-based business, or any business for that matter.  

I want to wrap up with a favorite quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu that I often say to myself when overwhelmed with challenges stemming from taking care of my mother and her affairs: “Nothing is too much trouble for love.” It gets me through the most difficult of situations and always leaves me with a smile on my face. I encourage you to also state this affirmation when thinking about the kind of life you want to lead. If you want to love what you do and channel your creative spirit, then I say take the plunge and invest in yourself by allowing yourself to follow your dreams. It is one of the surest ways of leading a contented life that will benefit both you and the community in which you live.

To learn more about Tori Tinsley and her artwork, visit her website http://www.toritinsley.com

Resource Market for the Arts – Save the Date

Save the Date!
Resource Market for the Arts
October 4, 2010

October is Funding for Arts Month at the Foundation Center!

You’re invited to come to the Resource Market for the Arts to network
with peers and learn about available funding, resources, and services.
There’s information for everyone!

Preceding the market, Susan Weiner, executive director of the Georgia
Council for the Arts, will speak on “Arts Advocacy Now!” Come for the
program and stay for the market.

Monday, October 4, 2010
1:00-1:45pm Arts Advocacy Now!

Where: Rialto Center for the Arts

Register now

Watch our calendar for information about other programs and events in October.

Presented by:

Foundation Center-Atlanta, Fulton County Arts Council,
City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs,
Georgia Council for the Arts, C4 Atlanta,

Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, and South Arts

The Culture of Arts: Or Just Another Story About Monkeys

Okay. You may be familiar with the story below. But stay with me. There is a point…

Five Monkeys

There was an interesting experiment that started with five monkeys in a cage. A banana hung inside the cage with a set of steps placed underneath it. After a while, a monkey went to the steps and started to climb towards the banana, but when he touched the steps, he set off a spray that soaked all the other monkeys with cold water. Another monkey tried to reach the banana with the same result. It didn’t take long for the monkeys to learn that the best way to stay dry was to prevent any monkey from attempting to reach the banana.

The next stage of the experiment was to remove the spray from the cage and to replace one of the monkeys with a new one. Of course, the new monkey saw the banana and went over to climb the steps. To his horror, the other monkeys attacked him. After another attempt, he learned that if he touched the steps, he would be assaulted.

Next, another of the original five was replaced with a new monkey. The newcomer went to the steps and was attacked. The previous newcomer joined in the attack with enthusiasm!

Then, a third monkey was replaced with a new one and then a fourth. Every time a newcomer approached the steps, he was attacked. Most of the monkeys beating him had no idea why they were not allowed to climb the steps or why they were joining in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing the fifth monkey, none of the monkeys had ever been sprayed with water. Still, no monkey ever approached the steps. Why not? Because as far as they knew it was the way it had always been done around here…

Two things we accept because of our current culture as an art community:

Artists starve – The assumption is that if you choose the life of  the cloister…uh, I mean arts, then you have chosen poverty. Your art sustains you more than food, clothing, or shelter. But lets take a lesson from our friend Maslow: you cannot achieve self actualization without meeting basic needs. So much of art creation is in self actualization.

The arts community is fragmented – I can only speak to what I observe now but I see a community that is coming together. I see young leaders emerging with amazing talent and intellect.  There is a time to lean on colleagues within a particular affinity group; yet, there times when all of the disciplines, in one accord, strive for toward policy change, community outreach and public awareness. Collaboration should be organic and further the mission of all parties involved.  A varied arts community is to our advantage…as long as we can come together at the right moment–and I think we will.

Culture – As in biology, grow in a special preparation. Atlanta is our petri dish. We can grow our own culture.

Special note: I ripped this lesson off from my husband. He used this framework for a morning office meeting. When I told him “thank you” for letting me use this idea, he replied: “sure, baby. we share the same brain anyway.” That is the culture of us.


Just a brief update from your neighborhood arts service organization:

Tonight we will be participating in Gather Atlanta. Come see us, and visit all the other cool groups there as well. In preparation for Gather, we have put together a rocking one-sheet. We will have this up on our site next week for you to download. We also created an email sign-up page on our website. Our email solutions provider is Atlanta’s very own MailChimp.  We love MailChimp (and no we did not receive money for writing that). Join our list!

Over the next three weeks we will:

  • File  for our 501 (c) 3 – we have an attorney thanks to Georgia Lawyers for the Arts
  • Create a Board Development Plan
  • Develop our first Fundraising plan
  • Develop a plan to launch our professional development seminars in late fall
  • Spec out our website – and put out an RFP for programmers (later we will move to designers)
  • Work on our branding & Media

We also have two potential strategic partnerships that we hope to implement. We want to gather more details about both before we announce our plans, but as soon as we know, you will know.

Did I mention you should join our email list? Yeah. You should. Our list will give you the opportunity to learn more about C4 Atlanta AND about other organizations as well. We plan to make our general email only go out once per month (with the exception of advocacy alerts and items that need immediate attention).

We hope to see you at Gather Atlanta!


P.S. – Join our email group!