Learning to Interact with Art

As I have been trying to learn more about art in my role as Director of Berliner Freiraum, I am learning a lot about art.  That means reading books, researching, visiting museums, going on trips to visit other galleries, and doing my best to learn as much as possible as fast as possible.  As I have done that, I have found that my appreciation for different styles of art has broadened.  I have also found times when looking at certain works of art creates unexpected emotional responses.  Sometimes I react very strongly against certain art works. Why?  As I have been thinking about that, I thought about how I have at times also had a strong negative initial reaction to a person.  Have you ever met another person that you just did not like?  A person who just rubbed you the wrong way?  I remember a few times when that has happened to me.  I met someone, and it just seemed like relating to them was harder than it should be.  I have learned three different ways to approach that. Go with Your Gut There is the often heard approach, “Go with your gut.”  This response argues that you cannot like everyone, and everyone will not like you.  When you do not like someone, let it go and move forward.  I think that this can be a legitimate approach, but not without it’s dangers. My problem is that I often try to be too rational, and I do not always trust my initial emotional responses.  This is because in my experience with this kind of emotional, instinctive response shows... read more

The gift of an and

When we opened Berliner Freiraum in May 2014 we had a building – and had to develop a concept (agreeably not the normal way of starting something!) Our concept developed into having a place (1) where people could meet others; (2) where people could develop their skills, talents, and gifts; (3) where people could be creative and experience and enjoy the creativity of others; (4) where people could see and experience joy. Our art exhibits, small concerts, music/praise-and-worship evenings as well as hosting events that include kids programs, youth groups, Bible Studies, church meetings, College classes, business meetings, and birthday parties have fit right into what we are trying to do.  We want to be a “Greenhouse”  for people and groups that bring people together and help them grow – personally and in their areas of talent/expertise.  When creativity and joy are a part of what that group wants to do, that is a “Home Run” connection. Our concept brings diverse groups together, which has led to interesting conversations.  I shared a couple of weeks ago about the questions some people have about children and art. Another group of people that we bring together is Christians and Artists. Usually, this is not a problem – but sometimes people are confused by the connection. During one of our art exhibits, I was visiting with one of the guests on the first opening night.  His question?  What does God have to do with art?  He also was very curious to find out that “Christians” would have anything to do with art.  That whole theme is a topic for a different post.... read more

More than just beauty.

In May of 2014 we opened Berliner Freiraum, a gallery and meeting place in the center of one of Berlin’s most known gallery districts. My Bacherlor’s degree in Youth Ministry and a Master’s degree in Ministry Leadership have served me well, allowing me to work in pastoral jobs that I have loved, but I can’t say that my choice of studies was the right one for running an art gallery.  Of course, I never thought I would be leading an art gallery! That is not to say that I did not appreciate art.  A lot of my art appreciation centered around looking for beauty in art.  I loved (and still love!) seeing art that is “beautiful”.  Everyone has different views of what is beautiful.  I love some of the Impressionists like Monet.  His Water Lilies painting has long been one of my favorites.  The combinations of colors, the light and the life in this picture is something I never get enough of.  I know it is completely unfair, but Monet is the Rubrik I often use to judge other Impressionists. I also love the Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich.  Chalk Cliffs on Rugen is one of my favorites of his pictures.  A German painter from the early 1800’s, Friedrich often painted moody landscapes: crashing waves, mist and ruins, sometimes with isolated, lonely looking figures.  Chalk Cliffs on Rugen has some classic Friedrich elements – like the dominating landscape that makes the figures look small.  But I love the life and light in the picture.  The curiosity of the figures.  The woman holding onto a bush (some think it is Caspar’s wife), and the... read more

Kids and Art

Kids and Art This weekend we are having the official opening of an exhibit of art from a local Preschool called the Coloured World of Kids. I have had the privilege of walking around and looking at the art on the walls the last couple of days, and the descriptions the kids have written about their work, their choice of colours, and what they were thinking about when they were painting. The work is so amazingly creative! We have been open just over a year now as a gallery, and this is our first pure kids exhibit.  A core part of our concept when we opened was bringing kids in contact with art, including giving them the opportunity to exhibit.  We have made the offer to different groups before, and Coloured Worlds is the first group that has been able to take advantage of the opportunity. Sometimes as I explain our concept, people say “What does art have to do with kids?” That used to really bother me.  After all, (as I learned from the Coloured World exhibit!) Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”  Even without Picasso’s quote, though, it was obvious to see that kids have a basic appreciation for art and a desire to be creative. Now, after running a gallery for a year, I can understand the initial reaction a little more.  When the art hanging on the wall is worth thousands of dollars, kids can be kind of dangerous.  A child can crank out 10 original pictures in a sitting, but... read more

Abstract Art…

Yesterday we kicked off our second exhibition, a fantastic collection of water landscapes from Susanne Pohlmann.  I became familiar with Susanne Pohlmann’s art ( www.pohlmannsusanne.de) in Cafe Impuls in Pankow.  Her bold use of colors, shapes, and design really impressed me. I then got a chance to meet her at an event (also at Cafe Impuls), and I dialoged with her about the possibility of exhibiting her work at Berliner Freiraum.  She directed me to her website, where I really fell in love with her water themed pictures. Her art borders on abstract – and different pictures evoke different emotions related to being around seas, oceans, or rivers.  Some pictures have gulls.  Other pictures have stones and water.  Sometimes, the water is quiet and calm, but other times wild and crashing. Yesterday at the Vernissage one person commented to the artist, that he felt that abstract art indicated, to him, that the artist had not really mastered their craft. Susanne handled it well, others defended abstract art, I attempted to say something intelligible in German about how I felt her art and the abstractness evoked different emotions and feelings.  Really on the inside, I was having a Gary Coleman moment. Personally, I found the comment rude, but the more I think about it, the more I think it was primarily uninformed. The idea that there is one type of art that best displays mastery of talent is so narrow-minded.  It is as if saying that someone who regularly runs 10k’s had never mastered running marathons. Or as if saying that someone who films feature films had never mastered a... read more
Last Saturday we finished held our first Finissage/Exhibition Closing. The pictures are still on the wall, but this week we will be removing them as we get ready for our second exhibit. As exited as I am about the next exhibit with Susanne Pohlmann’s amazing paintings, I am going to miss the friendly faces that I have come to know from the BERLIN Hearts exhibit. When we decided to use our location as a way to help artists have a chance to exhibit their work and share their talents, I knew that every time we changed the exhibits we would also change the way our building looked.  We would go through an internal metamorphosis of sorts.  I thought that it would be cool!  Change is good, art is good, giving the people an opportunity to see changing art, also good.  All good! I guess I was not prepared for how much I might become attached to an exhibit and the story it has to tell.  Being surrounded by pictures of intercultural families telling how they met and why they live in Berlin has been very meaningful, and a good reminder of the fact that I live in an intercultural city that has many facets, many that I do not understand. Next I will be surrounded by paintings of water and water landscapes, and I am sure I will fall in love with coming to work each day and seeing Susannes work exhibited. It certainly has become more than just stuff on the walls to... read more

Looking for artists and musicians! (Wir suchen nach Künstler(innen) und Musiker(in)!)

Berliner Freiraum is a new cooperative project between ev. Kulturwerkstatt and the Christian and Missionary Alliance e.V.  We are trying to do a lot of interesting things to create a place where discussions can start and people from a wide variety of backgrounds can meet.  In the coming weeks and months you will be able to read more about those things here. One of the things we have a lot of interest in is offering artists and musicians who may be new/relatively unknown the opportunity to show their work.  Our gallery space is very family oriented, so art exhibited will have to fit into the theme of our space – but if you have art you would like to exhibit, please contact me at mike@berliner-freiraum.de Our first art exhibit will be Berlin Hearts, a project we are real excited about.  If you would like to come and see our gallery space to see if your art would be properly displayed here, feel free to come to the Vernissage on June 14th, at 7:00 PM. We are also looking for musicians that would be interested in performing Living Room concert style events.  Our space would be great for artists who wanted to either have a very personal connection with their... read more