Sunday, January 11, 2015

JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED



Alan Rado of Adrado (Chicago), Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O'Haire (Atlanta), Stephen Fechtor of Fechtor Advertising (Columbus, Ohio) and Matt Walker of WHITE (Washington D.C. area).

ST. LOUIS (MO) Every year, we invite a panel of distinguished creative leaders to consider the best work done in the course of business in our town. St. Louis has a robust advertising community and supports the annual celebration of the craft. By entering, agencies, design firms, production companies and clients are hopeful of recognition of their efforts. If their work is judged to be among the best they will earn an ADDY.

The success of such a program depends heavily on the integrity of the process. To that end, the people chosen to objectively review hundreds of submissions in an effort to identify the best work must be a credible crew. This year we were fortunate to have pressed four outstanding judges into service: Alan Rado of Adrado (Chicago), Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O'Haire (Atlanta), Stephen Fechtor of Fechtor Advertising (Columbus, Ohio) and Matt Walker of WHITE (Washington D.C. area).  

A by-product of such a confluence are the sidebar conversations about the state of an industry. digital disruption, social media, and the technologies that are forever changing the way we communicate. Still these judges seem to agree on the paramount importance of building upon on strong strategic platform.  Alan is a seasoned art director who teaches at two colleges in Chicago, Patrick is an agency principle in Atlanta. He was once a flack advance man for a circus. Stephen once called St. Louis home.  Although not a sports fan he finds himself at Ballpark Village with a cacophony sound brought on by a St. Louis Blues hockey game in overtime and NFL playoff fever in the air on Saturday night. Matt shows his good sportsmanship after travel delays flying the friendly skies from Washington D.C. – The youngest judge, Matt is perhaps the most vigilant in looking for advertising that shows it is based on a strong concept.

The outcome of this year’s judging is a secret (of course) until the winners are made public next month. But this group of judges made sure that ADDY recognition means something. Hats off to Joe Mastroianni for managing an orderly orchestration and Kristy Tucciarone and her inspired students from Lindenwood (Go Lions!).  Thank you judges.

P.S. Thanks also to Pat Scullin for the suggestion of checking out YouTube video of BOB HOFFMAN - The Golden Age of Bullshit. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Three Movies

The Truth is Stranger Than Fiction



I love the movies particularly those that look at people and history in retrospect. During the break between Christmas and 2015 New Year holiday, I was in the audience for three stunning examples of the truth being stranger than fiction. Unbroken, Big Eyes, and Foxcatcher each tell a story beginning with historic context: Unbroken (in the 40s), Big Eyes (in the 50s-60s) and Foxcatcher (in the late 80s).  
Unbroken - After a near-fatal plane crash in WWII, Olympian Louis Zamperini spends a harrowing 47 days in a raft with two fellow crewmen before he's caught by the Japanese navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. Directed by Angelina Jolie with screenplay written by Joel and Ethan Coen.    Big Eyes  - In the late 1950s and early '60s, artist Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz) achieves unbelievable fame and success with portraits of saucer-eyed waifs. However, no one realizes that his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams), is the real painter behind the brush. It isn't until the Keanes' marriage comes to an end and a lawsuit follows that the truth finally comes to light. Foxcatcher - Led by multimillionaire sponsor John E. du Pont (played by Steve Carell), the greatest Olympic Wrestling Champion brother team – Mark and Dave Schultz  (played by Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo) join Foxcatcher to train for the 1988 games in Seoul.
You can’t help loving Zamperini. He died in 2014 and is among the last of that Greatest Generation engaged in the world at war. Surely Angelina has made a good career move toward directing. You can’t help wondering about the evolution of sexism and complex relationships of marketing and pop culture challenges to traditions of fine art. Finally, you can’t help wondering about the motivations and demons of a mentally ill paranoid schizophrenic who believes people close to him are part of some kind of international conspiracy. Even with time, the truth may or may not come into clear focus through the lenses of moviemakers. At best, the truth well-told sheds light on issues and circumstances and allows for further thought. These three films are thought provoking indeed.




1.    

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Wayne & Karen Celebrate Gold


Karen and Wayne in 1964,
Civil Rights, Muhammed Ali,
Escalation of the Viet Nam war.
 The Saint Louis Cardinals beat the New York Yankees.
Wedding bells and now we wonder.
Estimations and Calculation;
Projecting - budgeting over and under; 
Counting, funding, machination;
Decades of spreadsheets and a little bit of grief.
A ladder to heaven falling back to earth;
Goodwill and unfailing belief;
Effort of a man unmeasured by net worth.
Always, Forever -In God we trust;
With memories of the Past,
We look forward, as we must.
Churches, community, friends -  family first and last.
Traps, trouble, putts per round and more;
Golf is life and he’ll tell you his game is on the mend.
A toast, Fifty years - To the love, to you and yours.
To the one only Wayne and the incomparable Karen.





Monday, December 22, 2014

Donald Judd

Laumeier Completes Conservation Project


(ST. LOUIS, MO) – Laumeier Sculpture Park announced the successful completion of its Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1984. The conservation project was made possible by a 2012 Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1984, consists of three open-ended cubes made of concrete panels, placed in a row for the viewer to look through like a tunnel. An additional concrete panel is placed vertically inside each cube at varying angles, calculated to change the viewer’s perception when looking through them. The square form appears frequently in Judd’s work and is considered a prime example of the conceptual interests of the Minimalist movement. Laumeier, in partnership with St. Louis County Parks, has provided continuous care to protect and preserve the structural and artistic integrity of Donald Judd’s Untitled, 1984, for its 300,000 annual visitors for nearly 30 years.

Originally loaned to Laumeier for two years. the artwork would be exhibited outdoors for the first time, Judd designed a temporary foundation for the piece and sent Kirk to supervise the installation at Laumeier in 1985. His design “floated” the three concrete units on top of 8 x 8 foot timbers stacked 3 feet high on sand, with a hollow interior foundation below. Laumeier purchased the artwork from the artist for its Permanent Collection in 1988.

Beginning in the 1960s, Judd exhibited regularly and widely at galleries in New York and throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. He married dancer Julie Finch in 1964 (later divorced), with whom he had two children, son Flavin Starbuck Judd and daughter Rainer Yingling Judd. While still maintaining his building in New York at 101 Spring Street, Judd moved to Marfa, Texas, in 1972, where he lived and worked until his death in 1994.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

My evolving philosophy of Education

Philosophy of Education
My second attempt at writing this paper – prepared by Wesley A. Morgan
Upon reflection, it strikes me that my paper on MY philosophy of education should more closely reflect some understanding of key reference points discussed in class along with subsequent independent study for EDU 211. Education is new to me as a career path but not entirely foreign as I am currently a para-educator with the Special School District in St. Louis at the Neuwoehner School (a school that proudly boasts itself as a National School of Character).

Plowing through Dewey and his Pedagogic Creed[1] I was first struck by what I found to be a sort of pomposity with the frequent use of I believe but I warmed up to his philosophy as I began to understand Dewey’s enormous influence in moving education away from being a unique privilege to a system that needs to understand and address social conditions. Schools are indeed social institutions. Furthermore, I agree with the notion that a child learns best when the teacher understands the dichotomy of psychology and social natures. Our second reading of Dewey[2] finds him a bit more reflective (if not a tad defensive) in his philosophies of education – fair enough given that his leading influence lasted sixty years or more with a great influence on leading thinkers in education today. You can understand his concerns about being misunderstood. (A situation due, I believe, in equal parts to his huge influence and his proclivity to overly explain his positions. He would have benefited from a strong editor/publicist on his team.)

George Counts seems willing to stir the pot among progressives in his remarks[3] that shape arguments that draw on what are uniquely American ideals while generously inserting a Soviet style brand of socialism. He calls for a measure of disruption of the economic order of Capitalism. While Dewey struck me as pompous, Counts seemed positively radical and Communist. As a baby boomer born of the Greatest Generation I am impressed that Counts was able to generate meaningful dialogue about the role education plays in a democracy in spite of his political leanings. My guess is he would have found a less receptive audience in the 1950s-60s.

We further studied Paulo Freier and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed[4] and it isn’t hard to see the huge impact education can have in motivating the meek and persecuted under-classes in modern societies for social reform. I am impressed by this too (but it is not this kind of world view that inspires me to be in the field of education).

Marie Monetssori[5] begins to seem more pragmatic (if at times formulaic) as our study of educational philosophies continued. Her approaches to education provide sound advice to educators to prepare an environment, be prepared as teacher/facilitator, and offer freedom to learn (with appropriate responsibility). This strikes me as abundantly wise, particularly with younger students as they begin their studies.

Nel Noddings[6] is compelling and sensitive. Her ideas of organizing education around themes of care (for self, intimate others, strangers, animals/plants/earth, human-made world, ideas) might be criticized as being feminine, stereotypically assigning education to the wheelhouse of the feminine gender. Not a fair criticism in my view. Noddings is a successful product of the system and part of a huge family. She has a justifiable position if you believe in practicing what you preach. (No surprise she is a prolific author.)

We come to this idea of The Just Community Approach[7] and almost stumble on our teacher as one of the authors of our assigned reading. Doing a Google search on Dr. Shields might have been a distraction. but perhaps not as jarring as the profound sadness of discovering news of Kohlberg’s suicide. (Okay, I admit it this piece of information came from Wikapedia but with sufficient detail to remind us all how short and precious life is. He was only 59 years old.) Since my source is Wikapedia on this factoid I am not going show it in the footnotes). I am mindful, having participated on some athletic teams in my lifetime, of how a Just Community supports a group as all the members take ownership of governance and boundaries. It works.  

I will confess that I wrote an earlier paper on My Philosophy of Education. It is more personal. It draws on my experiences as admissions counselor for the University of Miami and as para-educator for the Special School District (SSD) and my audit of a Parkway School District School Board Meeting in August (for this class). Most of the philosophers we have discussed appear to have a much grander view of education than mine. Maybe that is because they earned a bigger audience among the education community. With the remaining space I will outline my general position on education even though I can see it as a philosophical position that will likely evolve further.
I.                   I have always been a fan of great books, fine art and timeless classics with a healthy interest in how art meets commerce. That makes me more a Perennialist I suppose.
II.                In see how Essentialists may feel it necessary to get ahead by preparing students for the world as we (in the U.S.) are arguably falling behind in STEM. (My least favorite subjects are Science and Math. I am baffled by Engineering. And I am not overly confident in my Math skills.) Maybe judging the advocates of Common Core and No Child Left Behind is unfair of me. But there has to be a better answer than creating a culture of Test Takers. 
III.             I tend to side with Progressivism, since I like the intention of making education available for all, not just the elite and privileged. I like the pragmatism of Montessori for early education. And I see the role of education in a democracy as real.
IV.             At the risk of sounding like one picking from a Chinese menu – I see the value of a culture of caring (Noddings) and pragmatic/systematic (Montessori) for early childhood education setting a stage for some practical learning of common core (without the burden of mandated testing) for High School culminating in a rewarding college pursuit of liberal arts with room for the exceptional STEM types to co-exist as it takes a lot of people to make the world go around.
V.                Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t emphatically support the great need we have as a society to support those human beings with special needs. We are only now beginning to realize the spectrum of Autism, the impact of ADHD, Downs, Mental Illness and a long list of medical obstacles that individuals live with every day. (And by extension, their families, and society as a whole.) The educational systems (public and private) needs to take responsibility as everyone in our society deserves a chance to live a happy, fulfilling and productive life. And each success achieved through our educational systems is a victory for humanity.  

  

A Philosophy of Education

My first attempt to write a paper on my educational philosophy
Provided as a point of reference. Read only if curious about my first pass at the assignment

The Syllabus for Foundations of Education calls for a paper reflecting my philosophy of education. Teaching is a new career path for me and I am hopeful that my perspective is acceptable. To be sure, it comes from a different place – and maybe that is a good thing. I am a paraprofessional educator with the Special School District in Saint Louis. 

Those Who Can, Teach is the text for the course. It offers what I take to be good touch-points for this paper. (1) It suggests four distinct purposes for schools and what they do. The book discusses Intellectual, Political/Civic, Economic and Social as purposes. I have strong opinions and bias, but I can relate to each of these as meaningful reasons for schools to exist.

My philosophical position may have been solidified in 1979-1980 as a graduate assistant for the University of Miami representing the school’s Admissions Office. I participated in a program designed by the director of admissions, George Giampetro (2). It was a graduate assistantship that came with a small stipend and tuition remission for those semesters in which I was not required to travel. The Fall semesters took me to twelve states in New England and the Midwestern regions of the U.S. I visited with over 300 high schools talking to guidance officers, prospective students and others. I also attended dozens of college fairs which are often well attended by parents of prospective college students.

Even then, I was a champion of a liberal arts education. I stayed close to that philosophy as an undergraduate with a double major of Art and English. (More specifically Graphic Design and Creative Writing). It was not until I was a graduate student when an evolving perspective on education in pursuit of a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) with an emphasis on Marketing did my mind open to my credentials and the economic realities of making a living.
Perhaps I was influenced by what I saw as a growing trend toward viewing education as an investment. As an admissions representative I was armed with some reassurance suggesting that those who are college educated will earn more than those who do not complete college. I was, I think, less informative in offering advice on the economics of studying law, medicine or accounting specifically.

My MBA was indeed helpful in separating me from others in the competitive field of advertising. I landed my first job as an account executive on the Heineken Beer business in New York City. I remember thinking that Advertising was a profession where art meets commerce. I never regretted a moment of the large portion of my education that was connected to the study of fine art and literature. Advertising, especially in account management, is a place where I continued to learn. I was a witness to decisions made and executed on behalf of well known brands from Pepsi Cola to Matchbox Toys. About 15 years and moves from New York, LA, Raleigh, Miami and finally St. Louis generated enough material to produce a later-day Mad Men series -- a portfolio of experiences.

So, in that respect I considered my work life to be something of a lifelong learning in the advertising business. It was 1998, when faced with the prospect of moving my family or staying put and settling in for a while in the home of the St. Louis Cardinals, I accepted a corporate marketing position which lead to the next twelve years of my working life as a marketing and communications executive. Later on, a start-up business with modest success led me to explore education. In researching the need for substitute teachers I discovered the Special School District (SSD). I am motivated by the possibility that my skill sets will apply in this strange new world. 

With a relatively short exposure to the unique and challenging business of helping students at the SSD achieve the mission in collaboration with partner districts, to provide technical education and a wide variety of individualized educational and support services designed for each student’s successful contribution to our community. (3) Adding SSD experience to my frame of reference has given me new insights. I have a new appreciation for the role schools play in socialization. Encouraging appropriate behavior becomes a critical part of education as I seek to prepare the student population at SSD’s Neuwoehner School for a transition to adult life. 

I suspect my philosophy is closer to that of English teacher John Keating as he inspires his students to a love of poetry and to seize the day in Dead Poets Society (4). But my philosophy is has also been influenced by guidance counselors, students and parents who are mindful of the economics of an investment in education. It has been further tempered by the reality of the good people who entrust the Special School District to prepare students for the next phase of their lives – as adults.

I am also somewhat persuaded if not fully influenced by my recent study of Special School District of St. Louis County and Parkway School District which, by almost any measure, are exemplary in what they do every day. 

It is essential to create an environment where students can achieve not only what they want but what they dream. It is the responsibility of the school administration to earn community trust and support so teachers can make those dreams seem attainable in spite of setbacks and sometimes falling short. We want both the Capable, Curious, Confident Learners that Parkway School District identified as well as a smooth transition to adult life that is included in the SSD Mission and Vision statements.  In all cases the status quo won’t cut it. We as educators are obliged to deliver lifelong learners who are the best prepared for an ever-changing world.(5.) (ibid 3.)    

1.      Those Who Can, Teach Thirteenth Edition, Kevin Ryan and James M. Cooper © 2013, 2014 Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. The Four Basic Purposes of School page 35
2.      George Giampetro LinkedIn website shows George Giampetro as Director of Admissions, University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL from January 1964 – June 1985 
3.      Special School District of St. Louis County website District Overview section.
4.      Dead Poets Society Warner Brothers ©1989 starring Robin Williams as Keating.
5.      Parkway School District strategic plan brochure (available on their website www.parkwayschools.com)

Prepared for Foundations of Education EDU 211 by Wesley A. Morgan -  morganwes@aol.com   



[1] Dewey, John My Pedagogic Creed School Journal vol 54 (January 1987)
[2] Dewey, John From Experiences and Education (1938)
[3] Counts, George S. Counts Progressive Education Vol IX April Number 4 Dare Progressive Education be Progressive? (1932)

[4] Freire, Paulo Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972)
[5] The Early Years – Lillard, Angeline and Else Quest, Nicole - Evaluating Montessori Education – Science vol 313 2006  and Taming Montessori by Jacobson, Linda Education Week vol 26 Issue 27  (2007)
[6] Noddings, Nel Teaching Themes of Care
[7] Power, F Clark; Power, Ann Marie R; Bredemeir, Brenda Light; Shields, David Light – Democratic Education and Children’s Rights

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Salute to Mary and James

With your theatrics and artful moves;
You shaped a family that could not lose;
You lived with flair, panache, and style as husband and wife;
Fur coats, cars, cameras, boats, tickets - the best things in life.  
You were passionate, opinionated, forceful and giving;
You modeled a life and a way of living;
But what mattered most was never the material things;
It was a simple cartoon, a quote and the joy that love brings;   
You encouraged us to follow our dreams;
Our Camelot came so gracefully it seems.
You said to savor the moment but seize the day;
By nature children are impatient and want to go their own way.
On the lake, football plays or plays for the stage;
Scripted in acts, written, and read carefully -- page by page;
Measure for measure - Edgewater days and autumn afternoons;
We marveled together as the first man stepped on the moon
Expressions, impressions, watercolor tides
Museums, parks, parades, and roller coaster rides
Tutor trim, lucky stones and fireplace flames;
We can never thank you enough Mary and James.
Time goes by and now it seems too fast;
Life is ephemeral and never meant to last. 

Rest in peace.

Digital Dan



My brother is a commercial photographer. But, more importantly, he is a guy who has adjusted to the recent developments in marketing both his business and the nature of his practice. He studied photography at the University of Dayton in Ohio. He sharpened his skills, working for our father’s design studio which offered services related to art, advertising and photography. Dan always had an interest and affinity for technology. So when he took his talents to New York City he became very proficient in offering photography ready for publication. Sotheby’s Auction House discovered Dan Morgan as a resource for quality, high volume production of everything from rare books, fine art to artifacts that would be offered for sale at auction. He worked in the Big Apple for nearly a decade (and still has clients in the Northeast), But he returned to his beloved Cleveland, Ohio because it was where he and his wife, Annette were comfortable calling home.  

Along the way Dan realized that managing a database of friends, customers and prospects was worth cultivating. So to engage this growing audience, he developed an ongoing program called JPEG of the WEEK. On a weekly basis, Dan shares a photograph. (AND has been doing so for more than a dozen years!)  He is also active in other social media channels such as facebook, twitter and via instagram. He has been a guest blogger. He actively supports emerging artists in and around Northeast Ohio.

Dan knows how to leverage networking and interacts in a way that builds relationships. If you know Dan, chances are he has found a way to engage you over time. It reinforces his brand and puts him top-of-mind with those who may have a need for a professional photographer. Dan interacts in a way that feels more personal to users than conventional methods of outbound marketing & advertising.   


Every week Dan Morgan sends out a recent image -- commercial, editorial or fine art. For more information visit: aboutdanmorgan.com or E-mail Dan to be added to his special JPEG of the WEEK distribution list (rex@straightshooter.com).