What a Difference a Day Makes
Fun-A-Day supplies local artists with motivation, tight deadlines, and a daily routine.
by Rachel Swan East Bay Express 2/3/10
Great art begins when we court the Muse, but sometimes the Muse needs a little kick-start — or a self-punishing regime. So thought Nick Lally, who decided, in December 2004, to propel his career forward by writing a song every day the next month. At the time, he lived in Philadelphia and belonged to a scene with several like-minded, enterprising artists. A couple friends decided to follow his lead by writing songs-a-day of their own. Someone else vowed to draw something every day. Once four people signed on, Lally suggested they organize an exhibit to showcase their work. They solicited work from other local artists — basically anyone with the drive and wherewithal to produce 31 pieces in a month — and launched their first Fun-A-Day show in Lally's six-bedroom Victorian. Fifty artists participated, and several performed live. "A couple hundred people came," Lally remembered. "It was shoulder-to-shoulder all night."
Thus emerged the Artclash Collective. In its second year, the scrappy crew moved to a community arts space in West Philly called the Rotunda. In 2007, they cleared out a boxing gym and hung 2,000 pieces of art for one night. In 2008, Lally and a couple collaborators decided to move out west and bring Fun-A-Day with them. By then, the exhibit was entrenched in Philly's art scene and had spawned parallel events in Boston, Pittsburgh, Santa Cruz, North Carolina, and Portland, Oregon. The rules were simple: No jury, no commissions, no profit motive. They results were often remarkable: Jam-packed shows with paintings, video installations, diary entries, audio recordings, and some remarkable work made on the fly. Last year, the Collective presented its first Bay Area iteration at Queens Nails Projects in the Outer Mission, featuring original music videos by East Bay Express contributor Jonathan Mann (who conceived "Saving Newspapers: The Musical," among other gems), and Wendi Wing, whose black-and-white "Apple a Day" series featured drawings of 31 different apples.
For many artists, Fun-A-Day has served as a creative engine and motivational force. It has also spawned a cottage industry. Mann kept up the daily routine following last year's event and has amassed 391 songs to date — including a Fun-A-Day anthem about his frustrations with the project.
This year's Fun-A-Day show will be the fastest turnaround ever, said Lally, who is now pursuing an MFA in digital arts at UC Santa Cruz. This week he got together with fellow organizers Michael Hyde and Molly McIntyre to install all the work in time for Friday's opening at Rock Paper Scissors Gallery (2778 Telegraph Ave., Oakland). The show will include drawings, paintings, songs, performance art, photography, textiles, and installations. Lally contributed a series of woodblock paintings. McIntyre collaborated with Wing on "Greener Grass," a photo series that finds beauty in the everyday. The rest is under wraps until showtime. Fun-A-Day in the Bay opens Friday, Feb. 5. 6-9 p.m., free. ArtClash.com
Five years ago, a group of friends in Philadelphia came up with an idea for an art show. The plan was to have artists complete a work every day for an entire month and display the pieces at a gallery at the end of the month.
The "Fun-A-Day" project, as it came to be called, was quite a success and nearly 50 participants showcased an eclectic variety of art ranging from found metal objects and plastic water bottle puppets to Polaroid photos and 4-inch square canvas paintings. The show's organizers, members of the Artclash Collective, said they achieved their goal of helping people push themselves to explore their artistic boundaries.
After founding member and artist Nick Lally moved to Santa Cruz last year, he and two other Philly friends decided to host a "Fun-A-Day in the Bay" show.
Nearly 60 artists are expected to display their work in Fun-A-Day Saturday at Queen's Nails Project in the Outer Mission.
"We're really excited to see who comes out," Lally said. "There are a lot of great artists in the Bay Area and we're looking forward to seeing all the completed projects."
Submitted work includes drawings, poems and photography.
"I went out every day for the past month with my camera with the intention of finding that 'special' shot," said Maggie Frankel, who is showing 30 pictures.
The images Frankel took with her "big ol' Canon" include San Francisco skyscrapers, close friends and random things she saw while toting her camera.
"The pictures are all just (of) things I appreciate," Frankel said. "They all somehow pertain to my life."
The main idea is to encourage people to do whatever type of art they want to do regardless of outcome, said Michael Hyde, one of the show's organizers.
"We really want people to get past self-imposed limitations," Lally said. "We want these to be fun, participatory shows that help create a community of artists."
Philadelphia’s Artclash Collective began modestly enough: A group of friends decided to motivate one another with a flurry of creative busy-ness. Two decided to write a pop song every day of the month, two others agreed to draw a picture each day, and two more chose to treat their lives as art, yielding triumphs of daily bed-making and carefully detailed awkward moments. The culmination was the “Fun-A-Day” exhibit, a full month of devotion on display. Like an elaborate, slightly neurotic, but charming game of show-and-tell, “Fun-A-Day” has proven irresistible, growing exponentially in size and popularity over the last five years. Proving this is not just a Philly phenomenon, a group of transplants, including a founding member of Artclash, launched the first “Fun-A-Day in the Bay” this January, asking for sets of 31 anythings from anyone. Always up to challenges of free, artful quirkiness, San Francisco responded with a harvest of songs, drawings, movies, poems, and sculptures, as well as a bounty of whatever: apple cores, mustaches, rumors, dust-ball monsters, mix tapes, pizza crusts, pantyhose, dreams, yetis, bedhead portraits, tarot readings, quilting squares, burnt remnants, muffins, puppets, shingles, mold — you get the idea. Tonight, the results are on display.
A group of West Philly artists are resolved to make January fun.
Looking back at January 2009, how are your resolutions coming along? Did you go to the gym? Call your mom? Eat local? Not yell ”asshole” when you got cut off in traffic?
Did you remember to have fun?
For five years, a loose collective of West Philadelphians have urged people to have fun at least once a day for the first 31 days of the year, and document it. This Saturday, the fruits of the annual Fun–A–Day project will be on display at Studio34, a yoga studio on Baltimore Avenue.
About 60 participants are cramming evidence of a month’s worth of joy into the exhibition space for just one evening.
All the Fun–A–Day projects, whether they can be exhibited physically or not, are on the Fun–A–Day blog, including 31 Dreamers (describing one dream a day) and 31 Fractures (making contact with one lost friend a day).
Mike Servedio, one of the organizers, said having a daily creative challenge boosts morale during the typically depressing month of January. He’s considering a move to San Francisco, and has planned for his fun to be a series of swan songs. Servedio had a friend videotape him playing a song in 31 familiar spots around Philadelphia. The video will be played on loop at the show.
”When we started it, it wasn’t about exhibiting. It was about doing it,” says Servedio, who will stay in Philly a little longer due to the worsening economy. ”It’s great we have a show—it’s always amazing—but it’s really about doing something you love to do every day.”
As Philadelphia ex–pats migrate to other parts of the country, Fun–A–Day follows them. Last year Pittsburgh got in on the act. A handful of Servedio’s friends successfully moved to San Francisco last year and have pulled together local artists and crafters for some Philly–style fun.
Jonathan Mann is a musician in Berkeley, Calif. He wrote a song every day, including such hits as ”I’m Drunk Because The Economy Sucks,” ”I Love Battlestar Gallactica” and ”Little Pink Boombox.” He also created the Fun–A–Day anthem, entirely written and recorded while on a train from Connecticut to New York.
Mann says creating something every day means you have to give up your self–censoring mechanism. The embracing community of Fun–A–Day helped him accept that some days are going to suck, most are going to be okay and some are going to rock.
”Anytime you put something online you have to be prepared for the masses critiquing you and not in a constructive or elevated way,” says Mann, who earns his living making online videos for Bay area clients. ”Especially on YouTube. It’s notoriously seedy.”
In the past, Philadelphian Kate Duncan has used Fun–A–Day to work up ideas and products she could sell on Etsy.com. For the project, she swapped something hand–made with a stranger through the mail every day during the month of January. Unfortunately, she won’t be exhibiting anything because she gave away everything she made.
”I really wanted to force myself to make art just for the process. I had to mail it off to somebody,” Duncan says. ”They might think it’s stupid and not realize that to me it’s art, but I wanted to do something entirely for myself.”
Fun-a-day keeps OU grad student dancing away
by Meghan McNamara The Post, OU 2/24/2009
Last month Caitlin Nolan baked a daily batch of vegan muffins. This month she dances for 30 minutes every day at a different location in Athens.
The Ohio University graduate student is not fulfilling a New Year's resolution. She's developing a yearlong project inspired by an annual art exhibit that started in Philadelphia, Pa., five years ago.
"I was approaching this almost as an experiment," said Nolan, who is studying printmaking. "I'm really interested in blurring the lines between art and life."
Fun-a-day is a project that encourages artists or non-artists to incorporate a creative activity into their daily schedule during the month of January, said Nick Lally, 29, one of the founding members of the Artclash Collective, which started Fun-a-day. The project has since spread to Pittsburgh and various locations in California.
An exhibition displays the projects developed during the month, he said, adding that he's seen everything from a painting-a-day to a tattoo-a-day project that displayed examples of bad body art.
"Some of them turn out to be very journal-like types of exercises," Lally said, adding that they reflect things about daily life. "I think people go places they wouldn't necessarily go."
Whether it's the top of the parking garage or the Glidden Hall elevator, Nolan heads to a different location at 2:15 p.m. every day with a video camera and a boom box to dance with a few friends and any passersby that care to join.
So many people feel self-conscious about dancing even in places, such as a bar, where it's expected, Nolan said.
"I've always allowed myself the freedom to dance," she said. "What really is so ridiculous about just dancing?"
Friends and acquaintances compile the play lists, and many of them found out about Dance-a-day by following her blog that documents the project, Nolan said.
Dance-a-day is an example of art that is able to exist outside a gallery, said Max Wheeler, a senior studying printmaking who frequently dances with Nolan.
"There is a definite point to this," he said. "We force ourselves to spend most of our time doing things that we don't want to do. It's about making every day a beautiful thing."
Just Do It
by Kelly White Citypaper 12/27/06
You finally started walking your dog every day, and now they want you to make art on top of it?
The Artclash Collective's Fun-A-Day assignment takes serious commitment, but last year's event was a productivity slam with 50 artists, musicians and poets submitting 31 projects each.
"I decided that I would write and record a song every day in January," says organizer and artist Nick Lally. "My friend Mike liked the idea and said he'd do the same. [Then] our friends Kara and Corey, who don't make music, said they'd make a drawing a day." Other entries tackled Awkward-Moment-A-Day and Make-Your-Bed-A-Day themes.
The next Fun-A-Day is scheduled for Feb. 17, giving participants plenty of time to fine-tune their creations before the Feb. 10 deadline. Amateur Picassos shouldn't let procrastination deter them, says Lally. "We have displayed every piece of art that has been submitted for our shows."
The ArtClash Collective is all about inclusion. That's what's driving the second annual Fun*A*Day event, which gives ordinary people a chance to display one month's worth of their own artistic (if at times eccentric) creations.
The idea for Fun*A*Day, and the birth of the collective itself, came about when one of its founding members decided to write one pop song each day in the month of January. His friends quickly embraced the project and decided to embark upon 31 of their own creative endeavors. "I figured it would be a good way to get myself motivated," explains Nick (yes, just Nick), another member of the ArtClash Collective. The group passed out fliers to advertise the event, and, come February, they had garnered a healthy collection of everything from 31 little picture books to 31 mouth molds to almost 50 other sets of 31 pieces of art.
Although the cramped quarters of Nick's old house will be traded in for the more spacious Rotunda in West Philly, the artistic showing at this year's event should be just as diverse as last year's. "So far we've shown every piece of art that we've received for each show we've done," says Nick. Potential works for this year include blurry-photo-a-day, flowchart-a-day, scathing-political-comic-a-day, and even bling-a-day, whose artist boasts on ArtClash's Web site, "Watch out, bitches, this is tight!"
And if the promise of unabashed creativity hasn't already lured you, the event will also feature the Girls' DJ Collective, live performances of some of the artists' works, and an art auction whose proceeds will benefit Common Ground, the Chiapas Peace House Project, and two local charities.
Starting Over: Artists (and Amateurs) Working in New Media
by Doree Shafrir Philadelphia Weekly 10/15/05
Don't let anyone tell you West Philly is a slacker haven. The Artclash Collective has been putting on art-related events-like a 24-hour art-making party-since January. Their latest project "Starting Over" solicited work from local artists whose only imperative was that they work in a medium they'd never worked in before-painters screenprinting, filmmakers drawing, musicians sculpting and the like. Saturday's show also features performances by three local bands, turntable action by the Girls' DJ Collective and a silent art auction to benefit hurricane victims. Art and activism have never looked so good together.