The main event of day 2 was a workshop for students and faculty from several universities, including the Georgia Institute of Public Affairs and the Free University, which we toured with the head of its Department of Visual Arts and Design, Irena Popiashvili. Irena returned to Georgia after 20 years in the US where she co-owned the Newman Popiashvili Gallery in New York to head the Georgia Academy of Arts. She was recruited in 2013 by the new Free University of Tbilisi to build its program in visual arts and design. Now in its second year, the program accepts 30 students annually into three tracks: visual arts, graphic design, and interior design. The entire university is on the campus of what was
built as the Soviet Agrarian University during the Soviet era. Some buildings are still empty and un-renovated following the end of the Soviet era and are now home to mountains of 1970s furniture and equipment.
The art studios, however, are lovely – light-filled and sparsely furnished. For an undergraduate to have access to such studio spaces 24/7 is a real gift.
My sense of the fluidity of time and planning discovered yesterday continued as we talked about maybe grabbing a snack, or maybe heading directly to the venue, which we ultimately did. Arriving slightly ahead of our set-up time of 3:00, the technical staff responsible for turning on the projector and such wasn’t around. Again, context is everything. In the US, I would have been incensed, calling people, trying to track down the missing technical assistant. But my presentation was prepared, the slides were on my computer, and I could see the cable and adaptor all ready to go, so I just sipped on some Nescafe and chilled. The lesson to be learned here, of course, is I don’t need to be incensed at home either – the presentation is ready, the adaptor is within view, and I can just sip on coffee (preferably drip or French press, not Nescafe) at home too. “Its all good.”
Given that most of the publicity, including an appearance by my hosts on Georgia’s equivalent of Good Morning America, happened in the last 48 hours, the workshop was surprisingly well attended by 30-35 students and 8-10 faculty members from four different Georgian universities and arts conservatories.
I talked about various definitions of arts entrepreneurship, introduced them to the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship, and shared some tools for teaching/learning arts entrepreneurship through a case study of SAM: Student Arts Market.
Being the food lover that I am, the highlight of the day was my Georgian dinner. My hosts ordered a selection of traditional Georgian foods, including salad with walnut sauce (walnuts show up in some form in almost every meal), mchadi (a kind of corn-flour bread with cheese bake into it), badrijani (rolls of egpplant filled with walnut paste), spinach pkhali (balls of chopped spinach, onion, walnuts (it’s a theme), and spices), several Georgian cheeses, and piles of khinkali, juicy Georgian dumplings filled with veal, pork, or for vegetarians like me, mushrooms. I learned that the Georgian style of wine is aged in clay vats that are buried underground giving the wine a strong tannic or must flavor (I opted for Georgian wine aged in the European style, not wanting to overpower the taste of the food – or so I explained).