Community involvement and leadership is a means to create the evolution and change one wants to see in their world. This is as true for me as it has been for many of my colleagues, artists and professors. My evolution as an artist and educator wouldn’t be complete without the support I have received from many communities, organizations and individuals. I have been and continue to be fortunate to continue practicing fine arts and teaching in higher education. In the journey, you begin to realize that it is your time to contribute. I started my contributions early on while founding the Citizen Gallery and Arts Collective in Richmond, Virginia in 1995. The project started as a simple idea, we wanted to exhibit art and music to the community in Richmond and have all ages music concerts for young people. The gallery quickly became quite popular and regular exhibitions, concerts, poetry readings, and community meetings began to take shape. The popularity of the venue was due in part to the excitement of young people wanting to be a part of a scene, but the venues popularity was also apparent in the calibre of the musical and artistic talent that came to perform or exhibit. Very well known national acts were quietly performing for free on the Citizen Gallery stages and giving young people the chance to see new and interesting art and hear experimental art and rock music. The Citizen Gallery was very short lived. The building was in poor condition and Richmond, a very conservative city at the time, did not think highly of artistic expression and the exposure of young people to new ideas. The Citizen Gallery was shut down by the city government a year after it started.
In 2008 the Contemporary Art Center, a small arts organization in Las Vegas, Nevada, asked me to become a part of their executive board. I began working for the organization in planning and strategy to help build a sustainable model. I was elected to be President of the Board of Directors in early 2009. The organization was going through difficult financial times and was wholly dependent on the work of volunteers. I was able to secure a grant from the National Endowment for The Arts in 2009 and employ an Executive Director. I was also able to secure several grants from the Nevada Arts Council as well as help coordinate a vibrant exhibition schedule and partnerships with other arts institutions. The investment in time and effort however took their toll and I had to step down in 2010.
In 2012 I was called to leadership when I joined the Board of Directors at the Currents International New Media Festival in Santa Fe. Amongst the roles that I played were planning and funding committees as well as technology and design duties. The Currents festival is one of the longest running New Media festivals in the country.