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Meet Richard Modiano of Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center in Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Richard Modiano.

Richard, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Beyond Baroque is one of the United States’ leading independent Literary | Arts Centers and public spaces dedicated to expanding the public’s knowledge of poetry, literature and art through cultural events and community interaction. Founded in 1968, Beyond Baroque is based out of the original City Hall building in Venice, California. The Center offers a diverse variety of literary and arts programming including readings, workshops, new music and education. The building also houses a bookstore with the largest collection of new poetry books and CDs for sale and an archive that houses over 40,000 books, including small press and limited-edition publications, chronicling the history of poetry movements in Los Angeles and beyond. Through the years, Beyond Baroque has played muse to the Venice Beats, the burgeoning Punk movement and visiting scholars. Many of the city’s leading literary talents, including Dennis Cooper, Wanda Coleman, Tom Waits, Exene Cervenka and Amy Gerstler, are alumni of the Wednesday night poetry workshop. Many of the world’s most well-known independent artists, including Patti Smith, Michael McClure, Dana Gioia, and Viggo Mortensen have performed on its stage.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The 21st century has been a time of rapid change across nearly every dimension, from science and healthcare to technology and communication. Art, of course, is no exception. With massive changes in how we consume art to how we create it, from how artists make a living to how we even categorize art in the first place, we are left to contend with issues that at one time did not exist, or at least existed differently.

For instance, how do conservators preserve art that’s increasingly made from unconventional materials? How do we measure the value of art in an increasingly data-driven world, and how do teaching artists make a living within the old confines of academia? How do we keep access to art affordable? None of these challenges have black-and-white answers, and our main challenge is to keep our audiences engaged with new and cutting edge material.

Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Beyond Baroque’s mission is to advance the public awareness of and involvement in the literary arts; to provide a challenging program of events which promotes new work and diversity; to foster a place in the community for the exchange of challenging ideas and the nurturing of new work; to support writers through readings, workshops, books sales, publication, access to archived material and performance space; to encourage collaboration and cross-fertilization between writers and artists in multiple disciplines with the goal of producing mixed media art; to use the literary arts as a foundation for increasing education and literacy in our community.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of my tenure as Executive Director of Beyond Baroque has been co-producing Beyond Beat held at Beyond Baroque in 2018. Beyond Beat was a five day festival of events celebrating Beat culture and history with those that were there, and those that are here now with participants gathering from all corners of the U.S. and abroad. Beyond Beat examined the post WWII phenomenon that shaped an entire world as a literary, artistic and philosophical revolution that continues to influence and inspire minds and lives globally. In the words of legendary Beat poet Diane di Prima, “It’s not a generation, it’s a state of mind.”

Pricing:

  • General Admission is $10.00
  • Student and senior Admission is $6.00
  • Beyond Baroque members are free
  • Memberships start at $30.00 for students and seniors, $40.00 for everyone else, and $60.00 for two people. Membership admits you to 196 events for free throughout the year.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:

Beyond Baroque Foundation

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