It was a good discussion and I'm looking forward to our next get-together. Near the end of the confab Bryan asked for ideas. Here's my first one, off the top of my head. As a working title, let's call it the "CultureWorks Billboard Art Project."
It's a variation on the "Rush Hour Art Show," a billboard project staged in Richmond about 20 years ago.
Six companies chip in $8,000 to $10,000* to underwrite the project. The project's end product will be 18 outdoor billboards that stay up for a month or so. Each billboard will feature the art of an area artist. The billboards will be produced by enlarging art that has been submitted by artists who will compete for selection.
Section Process: A committee of appointees will pick the best 45 or 50 of the submissions for display at an art show in a downtown gallery. Hopefully, the committee will be a group with varied backgrounds and tastes. Not just the usual (well-connected) suspects. Maybe some blogging artists should be on the committee?
The viewing public will be invited to vote for their favorites. The public will also be able to vote online, too. A web site will exist to show the art in the contest and record votes. The top six will be winners that get their art blown up and made into a billboard.
The sponsoring companies will get to pick one each. And, the committee will fill out the last set of six by picking the best of what hasn't already been picked. The total will be 18. The billboards might all go up at the same time, or spaced out over some period of time.
The contestants will be working with a broad theme. It could be as wide as the river, or as tall as a skyscraper. It could be something like depicting First Friday scenes, or the Richmond Folk Festival. The theme could be drawn from Richmond's history, or it could be futuristic. Today, I'm not going to try to think up what the theme ought to be.
Letting everyone/anyone vote in what will be a third of the winners would make it truly different from most such art shows, in which all winners are chosen by experts.
If the blogosphere is used as the prime way of disseminating the first wave of information on this project, the bloggers could "own" it, to some extent. That would give it the cachet of a bottom-up phenomenon, rather than another artsy thing for and about fat cats.
This post is just the bare bones concept. Lots of other details would have to be worked out.