Brooklyn Arts Council
"To promote and sustain the arts in Brooklyn; and to serve the arts, and through the arts, to serve the community as a whole." — Brooklyn Arts Council Mission
For years I worked in the college administration arena, at times playing teacher to the first-generation student lost in the complexity of college admission, at times playing mentor to the anxiety-ridden perfectionist whose resume beat my boss', at times playing advocate for the liberal arts on recruitment trips in Asia. I loved that work. It was an exercise in facilitating opportunity. Every day I'd listen to student stories that made the world at once larger yet more familiar. Every day I'd see students lose themselves in the breadth of possibility.
When I left my most recent position in education, I explained to my then-boss that I was leaving to pursue whatever that thing was that drew me to understand people, their stories, and their potential.
"I'm going to work for art in a barn in the woods in Ohio," I said to her.
After absorbing the announcement she asked, "What will your role be?"
"We're… still fine-tuning that."
"So you're not sure what you'll be doing in this barn in the woods?"
"…right," I reluctantly divulged.
Ultimately, she reassured me by saying that the move sounded on-brand and made her feel a little bit happier about the world—that people still did things like that. Moved from glistening California to wholesome Ohio to work in the country on faith. I had a good boss.
I still have a good boss. Patrick describes his entree to our professional world in this way:
"Art was the thing that saved me. Growing up in one of Ohio's most violent neighborhoods and being caught up in its trappings as a young man, it was falling in love with and pursuing art that gave me hope for another kind of life."
Art is a mysterious advocate. It works on behalf of all of us. To work for art is to work for each other. The intention to work for each other (capital E capital O?) is part of the Blackletter ethos.
I'm not suggesting that our branding and design firm is the same as an art studio. But there are ways in which worlds collide.
We got the call from Brooklyn Arts Council this fall when we were all getting a little bit homesick for New York City—its bagels, its museums, its jam-packed togetherness and utter solitude, its roasted cashews, its constant hum (okay, guilty; that was just my own homesickness list)—and a lot eager for a challenge.
"Guess who just called?" Patrick asked.
"Robert Duvall," someone may have suggested.
"Bobby D!" I may have shouted.
"Yes," he said sarcastically. "And also, Brooklyn Arts Council."
The room immediately filled with a familiar, almost breathless, surge of hope.
Despite having worked with museums, non-profits, artists, architects, art schools, musicians, and chefs, the flood of possibility ushered in with new projects doesn't weaken over time for us. And sometimes there are standouts. 2019 brings with it the chance for us to work for and with an advocate of that puzzling thing invisibly holding us all together. That mysterious connection driving us all. What affirmation. What opportunity.