Between activities celebrating the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States (January 2009), I had an opportunity to spend an afternoon with the artist, Milton Bowens (Milton510). It was during this very engaging and issue-filled conversation, on that afternoon, that I was given a verbal outline of what to expect with the upcoming Five Ten Experience project which would prove to be an ambitious undertaking.
According to Milton, "this project has been a long time coming, and the thoughts have floated in my mind for the past three years." It was obvious from that initial exchange in January 2009 that Milton had given the Five Ten Experience much thought, and the details had been edited in his head, if not yet put on paper. As he spoke, I could see the birth of the ...EXPERIENCE being masterfully created to its finest. The concept of the five simultaneously curated exhibitions were clearly defined; themes for each of those exhibitions were mentioned with the importance of each and how the separate parts would roll-out as a unified whole; which venues would be involved was sketchy at that moment, but ideas were thrown out. The need for funding was discussed and possible alternatives to approach that end were mentioned. The five exhibitions, an educational component, development of an artist statement for each exhibition, and documentation of the events were all elements of the plan. The finished product would require the artist to complete enough work to accommodate five distinct shows; in addition, to collaborating with a host of other individuals, businesses, and organizations to develop a series of artist talks and any other supporting programs; creating a marketing strategy; dealing with contractual obligations; and any other necessary details for the ultimate success of the exhibitions. Concepts, ideas, and strategies were clearly formulated.
The concept of this project to partner with 5 venues is deeply layered. As Milton explains, "May being the fifth calendar month of 2010 is synonymous with the personal brand Milton 510 that Eye, as an Artist, worked extremely hard to establish. Instead of doing the traditional retrospective, Eye chose to do a new very personal yet universal celebration. Truly the first artistic event of its kind, this ground breaking exhibition is not to be viewed as merely 5 separate shows. It was conceived and intended to be engaged as one multi-layered experience."