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The following press release was received via email on 12/08/2008, From Beyond Baroque President Fred Dewey

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For Immediate Release

Beyond Baroque Announces

Major Expansion of Board To Meet Arts Crisis in LA

Venice, California, December 2008. A group of community organizers, business and religious leaders, editors, and writers gathered in the Venice Canal Historic District to join nationally recognized, 40-year old literary icon Beyond Baroque’s Board of Trustees. Committed to responding to the broad challenges facing Los Angeles’s most prestigious institutions, the enlarged group announced an campaign to broaden and deepen the organization’s outreach and resources. New members joined returning President Fred Dewey and Secretary Amélie Frank and standing board CFO Richard Modiano. Says Dewey, “An institution with an amazing history just got a little more amazing. Experiment and preservation can now advance together.”

The eight new trustees have been chosen from divergent backgrounds and will bring an exceptional mix of skills, love of the arts, business, religious, and legal expertise, a commitment to the Venice community, and proven track records. Among them are the president of Venice’s Voice of the Canals; the executive director of City Lights Bookstore and Publishers in San Francisco, recently celebrating its 50th anniversary; a Venice attorney who won a national victory preserving the area’s progressive history of affordable housing; publisher of San Francisco-based RE/Search publications, active for three decades; a Pasadena Unitarian minister; writer and scholars versed in LA history and the national poetry landscape; and those with experience in international and local business. All live in or spend significant time in Los Angeles and are familiar with its specific and distinct challenges.

Beyond Baroque is located near the beach, in the old Venice City Hall built in 1906. It has a recognized history of helping emerging and established writers, providing a nurturing place to meet and build new community, offering free workshops, literary and cultural events, publications, a 40,000 volume archive, bookstore, project room, backyard garden, and curation of public art projects. It has nurtured or featured on its staff many of Los Angeles’ internationally known underground writers and has become one of the premiere reading spaces in the United States. Everyone from Raymond Carver and Christopher Isherwood to Allen Ginsberg and Patti Smith have come there. Its focus has always been to preserve Venice’s strong counter-cultural and bohemian roots.

Amanda Seward, a local organizer and Venice attorney who secured historic designation for Lincoln Place and fought to preserve its low-income apartments, appreciates the Center’s key role in Venice. “Beyond Baroque is a Venice treasure, fitly housed in the original town hall of our community,” adding “I am excited to be part of this dynamic organization.” Seward served on the Mar Vista Community Council Board and was co-founder of the Mar Vista History Society. In addition to early work with CNN in Europe, she has extensive experience in the film industry, chairs the Residential Council of LA Conservancy and serves as Board Chair of the Pico Youth and Family Center.

Grace Godlin, a community advocate, local Venice Beat historian, and neighbor for three decades, praised the institution’s efforts to “honor, preserve, and protect the rich literary history of Venice and Los Angeles, to inspire and enrich future generations.” Godlin is a former LAUSD teacher. She wrote the play "A Night With the Holy Barbarians,” about the Venice Beats, premiering at Beyond Baroque. She is President of Voice of the Canals, the residents’ organization of the Venice Canals, and serves on the board of the Venice Historical Society.

Elaine Katzenberger, Executive Director of City Lights Bookstore & Publishers in San Francisco, one of the country’s most legendary and historic bookstores and imprints, added, "It's wonderful to become part of the Beyond Baroque community. There is nothing like this organization anywhere in the country, not in San Francisco or New York for that matter. I am eager to help expand and build on the amazing work it has been doing."

New board member Paul Sawyer, a Unitarian minister from Pasadena and former student of poets Charles Olson and Robert Creeley concurred: “It is important that this long-standing creative literary institution be strengthened in this capitol cinematic city.” Sawyer, who has brought poets like Robert Duncan and Vincent Ferrini to the LA area, has been active in national interfaith projects. He is Chair of Media Democracy Project, worked on Pasadena charter reform, is a radio commentator, and serves on the boards of Community Access TV Pasadena and the Jackie Robinson Youth Center. He co-founded the Poets Union in Berkeley.

Valley Contemporary Poets co-director Jerry Garcia, whose business V.6 Postproduction, Inc., in Burbank, serves studio advertising and publicity divisions and has produced promotions for the California Special Olympics, Children of the Night, KCET, Project Angel Food and the MS Society, brings valuable business and marketing experience to the organization. “Beyond Baroque has played an important role in my mentorship as a writer, as it has for thousands of people spread out all over the country. I want to give back, using my extensive experience in the motion picture business to strengthen fundraising and visibility,” said Garcia.

Steven Flusty, writer, editor, and recent program director for the Department of Geography at the University of York, in Toronto, is an LA native and worked at LA's Community Redevelopment Agency. He has written and edited several books on Los Angeles and other global cities. Back from a conference in Beijing, Flusty noted that “as for many cities now, erasure of institutional memory is constant in LA. Continuity in supporting alternative, non-commercial culture and literature is vital, and I am glad to be part of that at Beyond Baroque.”

Founder and editor of RE/Search Publications in San Francisco, V. Vale, agrees. Publisher of over forty books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, including books on William Burroughs, Wednesday Workshop facilitator Bob Flanagan, and others, Vale launched Rough Trade Records in the US and has worked closely with The Lab, a San Francisco non-profit. “We’ve been coming down to do events at Beyond Baroque for years. I love Beyond Baroque’s openness and atmosphere. I want to help keep this spirit alive.” San Diego writer and Professor David Matlin, author of a recent book on the American prison complex praised by Howard Zinn, Ishmael Reed, & Fanny Howe, has been publishing since the 1980s and is another student of Creeley’s. Looking at the Center historically, Matlin says, “Beyond Baroque’s work of the last ten years affirms an approach to culture almost extinct in America. Beyond Baroque has shown courage. I’m eager to assist that.”

A National Advisory Board member since 2002 and a Beyond Baroque author, Ammiel Alcalay, living in New York, observed the board expansion in light of the Center’s imprint, begun by Dewey in 1998. “It tackles projects no other institution I’m aware of has the conceptual tools to handle.” He added, “Those that think globally and act locally are few. It is exciting to see Beyond Baroque, one of our truly vital national arts institutions, move forward decisively on both fronts.” Alcalay served as the inaugural Lannan Chair of Poetics at Georgetown last year, is a CUNY Grad Center professor, advisor to the North American Network of Cities of Asylum and Levantine Center in LA, and is finishing his second book with Dewey. Beyond Baroque Books has published 16 titles to date.

Matlin, Flusty, Sawyer, Garcia, Seward, Godlin, Vale, and Katzenberger were sworn in with returning members Dewey and Frank, joining standing member Modiano, on December 1st, 2008, in Venice.

Over the last year, Executive Committee members Dewey, Frank, and Modiano have been working with a team of consultants to negotiate a new, 25-year lease for the organization in its three-decade Venice home at 681 Venice Blvd. This is now nearing completion with the City. Joining the executive committee will now be Garcia as Vice President and Seward as General Counsel.

To mark the launch of the 40th Anniversary Campaign, Dewey announced a $20,000 donation from a major LA artist living in Venice who, though preferring anononymity, began in the underground and is very sympathetic to the institution’s spirit. He joins internationally celebrated donors to Beyond Baroque Ed Ruscha, Mike Kelley, and others.

Beyond Baroque will begin, this spring, a series of public gatherings, conducted with its advisory boards, to listen and collect ideas on how the 40-year institution might better serve the LA and national arts and literary communities.

 

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TJ Sullivan is a literary author, investigative journalist, photographer and college instructor whose work has been published in a myriad of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and The Detroit News, the latter of which he delivered while working as a paperboy during his childhood in the City of Detroit. Sullivan's writing has received many top national honors, including the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the second oldest journalism award in the United States after the Pulitzer Prize. Other state and national accolades include first-place awards from Best of the West, the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors, the Associated Press News Executive Council and the Los Angeles Press Club. In 2006, Sullivan was commissioned a Kentucky Colonel, the highest title of honor bestowed by the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the home of his alma mater, the University of Kentucky. Sullivan's years as a full-time newspaper reporter were spent at several esteemed publications, including the Santa Fe New Mexican, The Albuquerque Tribune, and the Ventura County (CA) Star. Sullivan has also written for NBC Universal, The Dallas Morning News and the preeminent public affairs website LA Observed. Sullivan is frequently sought as an informative and entertaining speaker on the craft of writing, the art of investigative reporting, and the intricacies of state, county and municipal government. His presentations have been featured at professional development conferences conducted by both The Poynter Institute and the national Society of Professional Journalists. Sullivan has taught journalism courses and coached writers at UCLA's award-winning student newspaper, The Daily Bruin. He has also taught as a part-time faculty member in the Journalism Department at California State University, Northridge. And, in 2006, he was an adviser to SPJ's The Working Press, an internship program for college-level student journalists. Sullivan is currently at work on his third novel, [working title "Howard is Home from The Loop"]. He lives in Chicago, Il.