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Drugs, Freedom, and Responsibility at Burning Man

Editor's note: This is a repost of the piece I wrote about Burning Man last year. I couldn't top it, so I'm sharing it again. Enjoy.

Having just emerged from one of the most epic experiences of my life, I'd like to share a few thoughts before returning to my usual news-skewering routine. Don't worry, it's about drug policy, although I'm proud to say I did manage to go an entire week without thinking about the drug war much at all.

I just spent seven days in the desert with 50,000 very enthusiastic adventurers, more than a few of whom engaged in the recreational use of mind-altering substances other than alcohol. Now, Burning Man is about much more than drugs, and even among those choosing to consume, beer seemed to be the most popular choice. But there was also a robust and visible psychedelic culture to be found there, making the event a rather vivid depiction of what happens when you release thousands of rabid psychonauts in harsh desert conditions and let them do whatever the hell they want.

Let's just say the outcome is substantially more graceful and orderly than even my own wide-open mind could have anticipated. I've seen far more sloppiness and idiocy at any football game I've ever attended than I did at Burning Man, even after dark when the serious weirdos really get down to business. Not even an abundance of liquid acid can unravel the inherent civility that takes hold when an intentional community of caring and curious people unites to celebrate free-expression on its own terms.

No major festival is entirely immune to the disruptive influence of individual trouble-makers, but Burning Man has established an impressive track record of general safety and cohesion going back many years now. It's a brilliant exhibit in the viability of expanding the boundaries of acceptable human behavior, particularly insofar as anyone who doesn't want to see naked people driving around in fire-breathing dragon-cars can simply choose not to attend.

The whole experience for me became yet another reminder of the profound stupidity of attempting to purge the psychedelic experience from our culture. If the paranoid fulminations of the anti-drug demagogues even approached the truth, an event such as this could never exist, for the playa would be soaked in blood and tears before the first sunrise. Once it's understood that the post-legalization drug apocalypse we've been taught to fear for so long is nothing more than a mindless fantasy, the justification for war evaporates faster than sweat under the desert sun.

re:Form -- Art Auction and Cocktail Reception

An art auction and cocktail party is being held in Los Angeles to benefit the Drug Policy Alliance.  For more information and to register, see: http://www.reformartauction.org/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/

Date: 
Thu, 02/10/2011 - 7:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: 
2622 S. La Cienega Blvd. Honor Fraser Gallery
Los Angeles, CA 90034
United States

The Writing on the Wall: Calendar Portrays America's Longest War

It's easy to say and easy to document, but quite difficult to really internalize, the human suffering and the outright absurdities wrought by our 40-year-old war on drugs. Sometimes it takes a picture to drive the point home. The Drug Policy Alliance has teamed up with award-winning artist Ricardo Cortes to produce an engaging, eye-catching 2011 wall calendar about the history of drug prohibition in the United States.
Publication/Source: 
Alternet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/148791/the_writing_on_the_wall%3A_calendar_portrays_america%27s_longest_war

Prison Art Gallery: Our First Spring Prison Art Show in Downtown, DC

 

It's fun, it's free, it's convenient, and it features (live, in person) ex-prisoner artist Jahi Foster-Bey. Join us as we unveil our latest prisoner-made art and jewelry for 2010. It's happening this Saturday and Sunday (March 13 and 14) 10 AM to 6 PM at the north entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro in downtown Washington, DC.

 

Multi-talented artist Jahi Foster-Bey will be on hand to answer your questions about creating art in prison and what it takes to succeed as an artist on outside. You've seen Jahi perform at the Kennedy Center, viewed his commissioned work in Spin magazine, and seen his extraordinary art on display at the Prison Art Gallery. Now meet him in person and purchase a unique ring, bracelet or necklace he created for just $15.  Come out and show your support, while walking away with something beautiful.

 

If you're not going to be in Washington, DC during the weekend, please visit our website by clicking here to view and purchase hundreds of works created by presently or formerly imprisoned artists.  Thank you.

 


 

All art on this page created by artists represented by the Safe Streets Arts Foundation, including "Obama" by Jahi Foster-Bey

 

"The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating both the Prisons Foundation and the Victims Foundation, is proud to sponsor the annual From-Prison-to-The-Stage Show at the Kennedy Center and the Prison Art Gallery at 1600 K Street. NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC, three blocks from the White House."

Gallery logo 

Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Stars of “From Prison to the Stage” at Kennedy Center return to Connecticut

[Courtesy of The Safe Streets Arts Foundation] We are pleased to report that the Judy Dworin Performance Project, which was a big hit at our "From Prison to the Stage" show at the Kennedy Center on Sept. 5, has returned safely to its home in Hartford, Connecticut. The Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP) was founded in 1989 as a nonprofit organization to provide support for individual artists, particularly the silent and silenced. Over the past 20 years, JDPP has provided innovative, inspiring, educational and collaborative art rooted in the belief that the arts can be a powerful agent for change. Upcoming events of JDPP: • October 30, 6:30pm - Excerpts from the award winning The Witching Hour at the Old State House in downtown Hartford • Nov 5, 6 & 7, 7:30pm - Premiere of What I Want to Say at Charter Oak Cultural Center, an evening that celebrates past pieces and debuts from the Judy Dworin Performance Ensemble. • Feb 2 - Dreamings, a piece created at York Correctional Institution (women's state prison), as further developed by formerly incarcerated women and family members of the incarcerated, at Kinsella Performing Arts Magnet School. Upcoming residencies: The Moving Matters! Residency program of JDPP brings movement-based multi-arts residencies into schools, prisons and community centers through collaborative multi-arts projects. • A 5th year in residence at York Correctional Institution, with workshops in dance, song, storytelling, poetry and personal testimony on the theme of "Bridging the Divides" to culminate in July • A further development of the York Moms & Kids program bridging the divide between incarcerated mothers and their children. For further information about JDPP, its performance or residency work or DVDs of work listed here, please visit www.judydworin.org or contact JDPPinc@gmail.com or 860.527.9800.

Prison Tattoo Art Contest Winners

 

Hello everyone,

We have the winners for the 2009 Prison Tattoo Art Contest. Go to our web site and check them out.

www.shotcallerpress.com

We received so much astonishing art that it was difficult to choose the winners, but as usual, we have. We have also selected other artists to be displayed in "Prison Ink" the tabletop tattoo art book that will be released sometime in 2010. Watch our web site for changes and other announcements regarding "Prison Ink".

If you have not been notified regarding the contest you are not a winner. Winners have already been notified. Artists selected to be in the book will be receiving their notification within the next few weeks. Please do not contact us about your status we will send out all notifications by US mail. 

We would also like to apologize for our late beginning for the second short story contest. The delay is due to limited funds. We will be holding the contest real soon - our priority is paying the winners of the art contest. Thank you for you patience and understanding in this matter.

Remember our stories can change the world,

 

Theresa M. Huggins

CEO, Shot Caller Press, LLC

theresa@shotcallerpress.com

503-890-1027

 

Safe Streets Arts Foundation: International Publicity for Our Prison Art Show

Canadian Radio Station Interview about our Upcoming Pano Prison Art Show

(Listen to It at Your Leisure)

Gallery logo

 

Listen to our interview

 live on Monday, June 8, 10:30 pm Eastern time on a prominent Vancouver, Canada radio station at www.coopradio.org or, if you miss it, listen to the podcast at www.rabble.ca.

 

The subject of the radio interview is

 our upcoming free art show featuring "Pano" art created in prisons across America. This is a special show called "Pano in American Tradition" at Takoma Park Community Center (Gallery 3), 7500 Maple Ave, Takoma Park, Maryland from June 12 to July 25, 2009. The art is part of the collection of the Safe Streets Arts Foundation, which operates the Prison Art Gallery in Washington DC. The opening reception will take place on June 12 from 6 to 9 pm, and will feature live music by ex-prisoner guitarist Dennis Sobin, who has performed at the Kennedy Center.
 
Paño art draws on the deepest emotions of prisoners whose artistic expression is limited only by the materials at hand. The word paño (Spanish for cloth or handkerchief) has come to mean the art form itself -- a ball point pen or colored pencil drawing on a handkerchief.
 
Scholars have yet to determine the origin of paño art but some believe that it emerged in the 1940s among Chicano prisoners in the Southwestern United States who drew on the handkerchiefs or torn bed sheets. They do this because finding materials for artistic expression is difficult.
 
The portable and economical aspects of the Paño (handkerchief) allow prisoners to share their work with family and friends, use in bartering, and to mentally escape prison life. Today paño art is associated with Chicano inmates around the country, both male and female, who neatly fold paños into envelopes and mail them to loved ones.
 
Paños typically depict prison life, loved ones, dreams, memories, or personal experiences. Paño artists take much of their imagery and inspiration from the larger visual arts vocabulary of Chicano art conspicuous in murals, posters, low rider cars, graffiti, and tattoos. 
 
Most prisons offer handkerchiefs for sale in the commissary and tacitly sanction the art. Panos are collected in great numbers by convict patrons. The Smithsonian Museum has a pano collection, recognizing the uniqueness of this art form.
 
The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating both the Prisons Foundation and the Victims Foundation, is the sponsor of the annual From-Prison-to-The-Stage Show at the Kennedy Center and the Prison Art Gallery in Washington, DC. It is supported through the generosity Lloyd S. Rubin, ex-prisoner and international arts consultant.


For more information about the free Pano art show sponsored by the City of Takoma Park and taking place at the Takoma Park Community Center (Gallery 3) from June 12 to July 25, 2009, contact Stéphan Janin at:  tpahcexhibitsdirector@hotmail.com

witherspoon

"The Safe Streets Arts Foundation, incorporating both the Prisons Foundation and the Victims Foundation, is proud to sponsor the annual From-Prison-to-The-Stage Show at the Kennedy Center and the Prison Art Gallery at 1600 K Street. NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC, three blocks from the White House."

Location: 
Takoma Park, MD
United States

Dennis Sobin Escapes from Jail!

[Courtesy of Prisons Foundation] Even as our director Dennis Sobin prepared to go to jail in October 2009 for violating a court order by attending a City Hall public hearing, he planned his escape. We were pleased to furnish him with the escape tools he needed. They consisted primarily of writing paper and music composition paper. Dennis explains: "That's all I needed to get out of prison. I used the writing paper to author books and articles, and the music paper to compose music. In this way my mind was able to escape from jail, even as my body stayed behind." On April 16, 2009, with his six-month sentence completed, Dennis's body was able to join his mind on the outside. Welcome home Dennis! Don't forget: When in Washington, DC, please visit the Prison Art Gallery, 1600 K St. NW, Suite 501, Washington, DC where you will find over 1000 works of art by imprisoned artists from across America.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Sobin "Behind the Wall" 17

Dear Friends, The Prisons Foundation is now working with nonprofit organizations to set up in-office branches of the world famous Prison Art Gallery. If you have only a wall in your office to spare and a corner for a small attractive art rack to display prison art (it looks like a magazine rack), you can take advantage of this no-risk opportunity to have your own mini Prison Art Gallery! In the last six years the, the Prisons Foundation has used prison art to heighten public awareness of the humanity of prisoners and increase its revenue. Last year alone, the D.C. Commission on the Etas and Humanities and the Art Appreciation Foundation (headed by ex prisoner philanthropist Lloyd S. Rubin) awarded us more than $115,000 in grants. You can do as well or better! You owe it to the prisoners in your state and to the bottom line of your organization to consider this no-cost, no-obligation opportunity! Below is the proposal agreement you would sign to receive 50 - 100 pieces of beautiful art by imprisoned masters to get you started: Agreement to Establish an In-Office Branch of the Prison Art Gallery 1) This agreement is between (your organization; herein called the "sponsor") and the Prisons Foundation (herein called the "Foundation"). 2) The Sponsor will establish and operate a branch of the Prison Art Gallery at the Sponsor's office or other designated address. 3) The Foundation will supply original art made in prison to be displayed and sold to the Sponsor on a contingency basis. The Sponsor pays shipping of $2.00 per art piece in advance of shipment, or supplies its UPS, Fed Ex, etc. shipping number to cover the cost of shipping. 4) The Foundation gives the Sponsor permission to use the name "Prison Art Gallery." 5) The Sponsor will keep regular hours and will not charge any admission to the public to view Prison Art Gallery artwork. 6) The Sponsor will offer the art for sale using set-donation guidelines outlined by the Foundation, but if any of the pieces of art are not sold during a six month time period the Sponsor may offer them at whatever donations-price it can negotiate with potential buyers. 7) Of the donations received, the Sponsor will keep 40% (forty percent), with the remainder going to the Foundation (to cover art preparation costs and profit sharing with the prison artists). 8) The Sponsor is allowed to accept additional art from other (non-Foundation) sources as long as the art has been created by prisoners or ex prisoners. The Sponsor will give the Foundation 10% (ten percent) of gross sales of art that comes from non-Foundation sources (to cover the expenses of publicity and ongoing support that the Foundation will supply). 9) The Foundation will include the Sponsor's name in all of the Foundation's publicity, press releases, publications and mailings. 10) The Foundation will provide the Sponsor with copies of successful grants proposals it has used to win grants for the Sponsor to utilize. 11) Money due to the Foundation for art sales by the Sponsor will be calculated and paid by the Sponsor to the Foundation each quarter on January 5th, April 5th, July 5th and October 5th. 12) New art will be provided by the Foundation to the Sponsor quarterly as pieces are sold by the Sponsor. 13) The Sponsor will send whatever unsold pieces it wishes back to the Foundation and will receive new pieces in return. This will allow the Sponsor to have a rotating display and to always have a fresh inventory. The Sponsor will pay shipping costs both ways. 14) The Sponsor has the option of purchasing from the Foundation limited edition prison art prints for the wholesale price of $10.00 (ten dollars) each, with the Foundation paying for shipping costs. These prints are 11" x 17" hand-mounted on 16" x 20" art boards, individually numbered and encased in clear, acetate protective sleeves. These prison-created works of art can be sold by the Sponsor for $25.00 - $100.00 each, with the Sponsor keeping all of the revenue received. 15) This agreement can be terminated by either party with a 90-day notice, at which time the Sponsor will return (at its own expense) all unsold art provide by the Foundation, and cease using the name Prison Art Gallery. Now that you have read this proposed agreement, we hope you will take the next step by emailing us information about your organization so that we can discuss the next step for establishing a branch of the Prison Art Gallery at your location Yours for justice, Dennis Sobin Prisons Foundation 1600 K Street NW Suite #501 Washington, D.C. 20006 A CALL FOR SUPPORT: The Prisons Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that promotes the arts and education in prison and alternatives to incarceration. We are now accepting tax deductable donations. The support of our supporters, quite bluntly, is what keeps us going. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Prisons Foundation so that we may continue to promote the arts in prison and help encourage the wonderful atistic talent we cultivate everyday. *Note the views in this letter are those of Dennis Sobin. Please send your comments directly to him.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Sobin "Behind the Wall" 16

Dear Friends, We are expecting an outstanding "From Prison to the Stage" show at the Kennedy Center this year (Labor Day weekend). Excellent plays and proposals sent to our review committee continue to arrive weekly. Playwright and Virginia inmate Hakim M. Abdul-Wasi sent us his terrific play "The Love that Divides." It compellingly tells the story of the turmoil in a Christian family when one of its members returns home as a converted and committed Muslim. It got high rankings by our review committee. Another excellent submission is by the Judy Dworin Performance Project. It's a collaboration between this well-known performance group and women at a maximum security prison in Connecticut. Entitled "Time In," here is an eye-opening and moving multi-arts piece that that integrates dance, music and dialogue in exposing the hopes and hardships of women in prison. In other news about our production "From Prison to the Stage;" we have a contact in Michelle Obama's office and have invited the First Lady to be one of our presenters. Stay tuned for more exciting updates about this widely acclaimed annual event that gives imprisoned playwrights and composers the recognition and prominence they deserve. Yours for justice, Dennis Sobin Prisons Foundation 1600 K Street NW Suite #501 Washington, D.C. 20006 A CALL FOR SUPPORT: The Prisons Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC that promotes the arts and education in prison and alternatives to incarceration. We are now accepting tax deductable donations. The support of our supporters, quite bluntly, is what keeps us going. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to the Prisons Foundation so that we may continue to promote the arts in prison and help encourage the wonderful atistic talent we cultivate everyday: *Note the views in this letter are those of Dennis Sobin. Please send your comments directly to him.
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

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