Creative Capital Dinner Project Takes Place at 18th Street Arts Center October 5 and Is A Safe Harbor For One Night

This past September, Creative Capital announced  the Dinners Project, a platform for artists and communities around the country to host potluck-style gatherings in locations across the United States from October 4 to 7, 2018 to ensure artists’ voices are an active part of civic discourse leading up to the midterm elections. Fourteen Creative Capital Awardees of various artistic backgrounds plan to host dinners in their respective cities as part of this series. Last night in Los Angeles Creative Capital artist Kristina Wong held her dinner in Clayton Campbell’s studio at the 18th Street Arts Center, which produced the event for Kristina. About 25 persons attended the potluck, and sat down around 6:30 as the sun set and the Supreme Court news of the day was filtering in, exhausting everyone. Still, this was the perfect time to break bread with a group of thinkers, educators, artists and creators who care deeply enough about what is going in their community, state, federal government and upcoming elections to spend an evening with strangers and have a conversation. One big take away from the evening was simply finding comfort in not being alone with the stress of emotions from the past two weeks of Supreme Court hearings.

The purpose of “the Dinners Project is part of For Freedoms’50 State Initiative, designed to encourage nuanced artistic thinking and organizing in politics nationwide. Creative Capital is contributing to the initiative with the dinner model by facilitating local conversations and connecting them to an ongoing national dialogue, furthering its commitment to supporting artists and their communities.” I saw the official packet of questions for the evening sent to Kristina, and the comments were “this looks like it was written by a consultant.” It contained general topics to warm up the dinner party participants generally about art and civic engagement, what art has inspired you, things like that. But then it veered off into professional development questions about what sustains artists practices, completing surveys, and enough material to sustain a six hour banquet, never mind the 2 1/2 hour pot luck dinner we had signed up for with a more relaxed atmosphere in mind. The academic veneer was jettisoned, Kristina forged ahead with the questions that mean something to her and it was a great evening. A handful of significant questions were asked as the dinner guests sat at different tables and spoke among themselves, then responding to the entire group with one person reporting back. The content is too varied to report here, but may come out eventually on these web sites or Creative Capital, so keep checking:,

At the end of the very full evening of conversing and listening, we lingered for another hour, discussing further, sharing other stories, but for me the notion that artists are going to organize from this dinner with the mid terms being a month away seemed distant. Larger view thinking was in the room instead, replacing the immediacy of the sting of defeat over the Kavanaugh nomination most of the participants had carried into my studio earlier in the evening. Our party was a diverse group from the numerous socio economic and ethnic groups we have in Los Angeles; this is the kind of audience 18th Street Arts Center regularly attracts because of what it stands for, which is diversity and inclusion. Yet is seems the complicated political Left has been having trouble talking among itself these past few years, and one wonders if the evening had worn on, would our disagreements had surfaced and how civil would we have remained with each other? There is such a tremendous amount of emotion always just below the surface of any conversation these days. But last night in my old studio with its long history where Judy Chicago made the Dinner Party; where numerous other artists have lived and worked; where Suzanne Lacy’s Otis College Public Practice Studio used to hold forth; and where I now live and work; we all had the warmth of comradeship and the feeling that we were in a safe harbor where we could speak our minds, not be laughed at, attacked, vilified, torn down, but be heard with respect.

Posted on October 6, 2018 in Creative Philanthrophy, Entrepreneurial Models, Newsworthy, Presenters and Presentations

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