Midweek News Podcast, Travels through the Rockies, news and events

In this week's Midweek News podcast, Roberta and Ryan cover topics ranging from AI to University of the Arts closing and how to pay for arts in the city. There are updates and events as well as International Politics.

Roberta: Hi, it’s Roberta. 

Ryan: And this is Ryan and this is the Midweek News. 

Roberta: On Artblog Radio. Welcome everybody, and Ryan. We’re going to find out where you are in the world in a minute. But first I want to go over a little bit of my news. So this week has been a really Roberta week for me because there were two articles that were published on Philadelphia Citizen.

One of them was an interview with me by the wonderful Logan Crier. It’s a lovely sort of backgrounder on how I got to be in Artblog with Libby and all that kind of stuff. Thank you Philadelphia citizens so much for that. And then they reached out to me and asked me to write a piece about University of the Arts, which is on everybody’s mind, even as we speak.

It’s still on the front page of the Inquirer. They are now interviewing students who are impacted, which is absolutely what they should be doing. So I wrote a piece and that also appeared in the Philadelphia Citizen. Thank you very much. Philadelphia Citizen. We hope it gets out to a wider audience. I put that piece on Artblog yesterday, so that piece is currently on Artblog.

It will go out in our newsletter this week. So yeah, let’s all think and put our thinking caps on about University the Arts. The one thing that I thought of, how about this? Let’s put a ticket surcharge or tax, I guess you could call it, (although that’s a demon word) on any professional sports tickets sold for the Philadelphia professional teams.

So the 76’ers, the Eagles, the Flyers, and the Phillies, all that could be dedicated to an arts budget that could provide new money for artists projects. So set up a stream that’s for artists and then give the rest of it to the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, which is set up to manage grants to arts organizations. It never has had enough money. It needs tenfold the amount of money. And I think just putting a small tax on the ticket sales in the sports, which get tons of money from the city. Time for you guys to give back–  all you sporting teams — to the arts. Okay, so that is my public service announcement here, and I would welcome anybody else’s thoughts about this.

Is it crazy? Can we do this? Why hasn’t it been thought of before?

News upcoming on Artblog. I am looking forward to sharing with you an interview I did with Marangeli Mejia Rabell, who is the director of PHLAFF, which is Philadelphia Latino Arts and Film Festival, which is going on right now through the month of June.

It’s very exciting. They’re a wonderful organization and I’m going to tell you all about it and about Marangeli’s journey, so that’s great, coming up. I also interviewed Derick Jones. If you know that name, it’s because maybe you see his Nosebleed comics on Artblog. We’re very happy to work with Derick Jones, an amazing artist.

I interviewed him on splitting his life between making his personal art, which is the comics like Nosebleed and others, and then he does commissions. He has had two commissioned pieces in the Philadelphia Inquirer this last year. Beautiful two page spreads, wonderful things and comics. And we commissioned him, Artblog, commissioned him to put together a poster for Covid awareness.

Hello, Covid. You’re still around us and we need you to, you know, go away. But until you do, we need people to be aware. So. Through our friends at WHYY and the NICE program that we are partners of, we were able to pay Derek a living wage for this commission and he gave us a wonderful design and we now have it printed by Fireball Printers, the wonderful local printer.

And we have them available. If you would like to see, we’ll put a picture of in the News Post and you can see what it looks like. Get in touch if you want one.( email We’ll put one aside for you. We’ll be distributing them out of our little co-working space at Culture Works. They’re a little big to mail. Sorry, we’re not going to mail them, but you can stop by and pick ’em up.

Anyway, otherwise, coming up on Artblog, we have a Venice Biennale review coming along from Virginia Maksymowicz and Blaise Tobia, who went to Italy, covered that and also wandered around Italy a little bit. And we have a review by Sharon Garbe on the National Liberty Museum Show that was curated by Philadelphia Sculptors.

So I’m very excited to share all of this with you, and that’ll be coming up in another week or so. Meanwhile, that’s about it for me. Ryan, I’m going to turn it over to you. And my first question is, where are you? 

Ryan: Today we are in Salt Lake City, Utah. 

Roberta: Oh, great. Yeah. Did you get out and see the Great Salt Lake?

Ryan: We haven’t spent much time at the Great Salt Lake, but we spent time at Utah Lake, which I’d never done before, which is just south. Yeah. It’s just south of the big one, is another beautiful lake that’s very frequented. Yeah. They have surprisingly a lot of water, obviously the snowfall. All that runoff mountain. So, but it’s just so dry here. Just keep moisturizing Oh wow. Like a spray bottle by my bed. Just keep, keep wetting myself down. 

Roberta: Huh. So it’s mountainous. I’m really embarrassed to say my geography is not good. And so there’s mountains in Utah. I guess that would make sense there.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. And then there’s kind of deserty stuff in Utah also. Right. And Salt Flats. Salt from Salt Flats. I mean, the Great Salt Lake is from a salt deposit, I would think. Yeah. And drying river lake beds and a lot of those things too. Yeah. The big salt flats are in Nevada, but this, this section is just very dry.

It’s really been an interesting terrain as well. Utah is a fantastically beautiful and diverse. And as far as what grows here, so we, last week I was phoning it in from Farmington, New Mexico. Yes. So we made, we made our way back up to Durango, Colorado, and then we went out towards Cortez and we went to Mesa Verde National Park.

If anybody’s going to that and all the other big parks in the west during the summer months, you do need to, to set up a timed ticket for that. So don’t forget to plan ahead. 

Roberta: Oh, you can do that online. I would assume. You can do all that 

Ryan: online, but there was a couple things that didn’t realize were going to be ticketed as well.

But for the vast majority it’s, it’s easy and straightforward. Just some of the smaller things were ticketed as well. So then we, we made our way up. North to Moab and Arches National Park and the, that section of the Colorado is just amazing. Moab is a tiny little town that fills up with like 2 million people during the year.

Arches again is a time place since Covid, they’ve almost doubled their attendance. Wow. At the park. So yeah, they have to be you. 

Roberta: Not They were closed during covid, I would assume. Yeah. Like all the national parks were pretty much closed, weren’t they? 

Ryan: I don’t, I don’t know. But these, I mean, you’re not going to see, I mean, there’s so much square footage.

I, I don’t honestly know. But I do know that pre-COVID numbers were about a million, and then post covid numbers are just shy of two. 

Roberta: Right. 

Ryan: So you’re doubling. 

Roberta: Wow. Tell me about Mesa Verde, because that sounds like an oxymoron. A mesa is this big rock formation. How can it be verde? Is there vegetation that grows on it?

Ryan: Yeah, because of the way the water flows. So what stands out specifically is the Cliff Palace? So the, the people who lived there originally built their dwellings inside the rock face. So their dwellings were in the side of cliffs, so they had to climb, literally rock climb to get out.

And so they would grow their gardens up above. And the slope of the land is such that there were some springs and then there was also the snow melt and snow run off that they used for irrigation that they irrigated in small, like collective pond for each field that they had. So they would grow their, their vegetable, primarily corn.

Different varieties of corn, squash, a lot of different varieties of that as well in that area. Amazing. 

Roberta: They 

Ryan: raised turkeys and 

Roberta: on the mesa, on the slopes of the mesa. 

Ryan: Wow. Yeah, it was quite something. We, I think when we entered the park, we were at something like 7,200 feet. Then getting into the park was like another 1500.

It just kept going off. Oh, wow. Yeah, it’s been quite a lot of climbing, a lot of elevation. That section again, it was just so dry as well. So plan ahead for that. 

Roberta: Mm-Hmm. It hasn’t 

Ryan: been crazy hot, which has been nice, but it’s been Moab got pretty hot. It was like 103, which is a lot. 

Roberta: Wow. 

Ryan: My mother lives in the Phoenix area, and she says, well, it’s a dry heat. I’m like, well, that’s what my oven is. 

Roberta: Right? Good point. 

Ryan: Then we went into Eastern Utah and Canyon lands. We’re not able to make it to, to Zion or Bryce or, but if you’re interested in those kind of things, Utah has so many amazing parks.

Colorado and Utah have just been breathtaking. We were in really high elevation again in Utah, and we saw just a, a fantastic oncoming thunderstorm, like we could watch it for an hour before it got even remotely close to hearing it. 

Roberta: Amazing. Because we were 

Ryan: so high. Yeah. It was really, it was really a lot of fun.

Roberta: Were you looking down on it in addition to being up high or was it still above you? 

Ryan: It was above us, but it felt like eye level for a, for a long while. Wow. Yeah, it was pretty spectacular. 

Roberta: I wanna see a map of this that all, all your travels this summer, I would like to see you just map it out. 

Ryan: Yeah, can you do that for us?

It would be 

Roberta: really fun. 

Ryan: I can, I’ll, I’ll put some tips and tricks and what I learned and what, what I went do again and what I missed out on this time and what I do for next time. 

Roberta: I would pay for that map. Let’s, let’s do that, Ryan. All right. Holy smokes. 

Ryan: Let’s do it. We’ll sell it. We’ll do a fundraiser. Yeah, so I have family that lives in Salt Lake.

So one of my big things is I always try to see family wherever I go. So wherever I’m traveling, it’s, Hey, I’m going to come stay with you this weekend. What are you doing? So this week we’re in Salt Lake and we are headed towards, we’re making our way. This is our furthest west. We’re going to be from here.

It’s north and east. So we are headed towards Devil’s Tower. We thought we would be there today, but the connection Salt Lake was pushed back a little bit, so I think Devil’s Tower will be tomorrow. We might be in, in your home state actually. We might be in Wisconsin. In 

Roberta: in Wisconsin. 

Ryan: Yeah. 

Roberta: You have to say hello.

Say hello to everybody for me. 

Ryan: Yeah, I’ll bring you some cheese, some squeaky cheese. Oh yeah. Cheese curds. My kids love that cheese curds. Yeah. I’m 

Roberta: not a big fan, but yes. Bring ’em for my cheese, my, my kids. They’d get a kick out of it. 

Ryan: Yeah. So we’re going to do that and then we’re going into the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Roberta: And that’s a place. 

Ryan: Yeah. And then I think we’ll be in northern Michigan in the cherry capital of the country, the tart cherry capital for, for the summer Equinox. 

Roberta: Tom Lake, everybody. Tom Lake. Yeah. Did you read that book? We all read that book. Cherries. Yeah. Very sweet book. I like it. 

Ryan: Yeah. So that’s my travel news. Let’s see what other news I have. AI is still in the news. Yeah, there’s new rollouts. Open AI has new rollouts. Oh boy. They’re offering their, for their latest version of their four engine and letting people try that for free. But what’s big news for the people that I know that care about is Meta is trying to stay relevant in, in the AI offerings.

And just like with everything, you can go to Google and find people that will let AI write your email for you. I’m like, oh my God, please don’t. Yeah. I know you’re a people pleaser, but just stay in your lane. And so they’re scraping Instagram. So Meta owns Facebook. It’s the entity that owns Instagram WhatsApp, and a few other pieces.

And Instagram is being scraped. So scraped is basically further data mining. So it’s not just that they know who you are. It’s not that they don’t, they don’t already have your metadata and your cookies and your trails and what you’ve looked at and. That last pair of shoes that you’re looking at that you now can’t run away from.

So they’re taking all of the posts that you’ve made, every image that you posted, everything everyone else has posted and training their AI on it. And in the EU they have opt out built in. So you have to participate in that program if you wanna participate in it. But in the United States, we do not have, we don’t have that kind of protection.

And it’s I was reading an article at Fast Company and you know, they’re talking about how it’s nearly impossible to opt out of the service if it’s a service. And what you have to do or realize is that this is for you can only opt out of future posts. And all, everything that you add, future tense.

So everything that you’ve already posted is seen by Meta as. Basically their property or, or something that they could do with as they please. 

Roberta: They own it. They own it. They own it. We signed over ownership when we signed onto these things a million years ago when we signed up. 

Ryan: Remember that 27 page in terms of service that you signed willingly and the phone number you gave them, and your friends, and all your contacts and all of those things that you could stay in touch with and let people know what you’re doing? 

Roberta: Oh my God. 

Ryan: Say, trying to stay relevant.  

Roberta: Are you saying that we will be able to opt out of future postings if we want? There’s some Byzantine hard to find, but there is a way. 

Ryan: There is, it’s been described by several different outlets as nearly impossible. There are quite a few hoops to jump through and it may not be available to all.

Oh no, but it’s, if that is something that you care about, go for it. I know there’s a lot of people have been talking about Cara and other offerings for Mm-Hmm. Artists specifically. 

Roberta: Mm-Hmm. 

Ryan: Artblog has a Cara account. Some other things like that. But it definitely gets difficult when you’re trying to reach as many users as Instagram has compared to Cara, and you are trying to get your work out there and let people know what’s happening.

And obviously, Facebook is a very different entity and the clientele who are on there and the, the demographics that are on there. And TikTok is, who knows? We’ll see what happens with TikTok. 

Roberta: Explain more about Cara and what is Artblog doing on Cara? I, this is news to me, so tell me about it. 

Ryan: So Cara is just a, another similar service that’s specifically focused on showing your art and showing the work that you’re offering to artists.

And it uses some software that helps to dissuade or make it more difficult to scrape meaning. So there are lots of different. Because all of the data’s being handed through the browser from one person, a server to you, whoever, whatever you’re asking for, that can just be taken and compiled in, into a new database.

And that’s basically scraping something’s handed to you. You take a copy of it. Here it is. So Cara is working with some software that helps to. Make that more difficult, that process, but it is still, it’s still going to happen. Meta is very good at what they do. They have excellent software designers.

They’re going to figure that out and AI is able to re redraw things on top of it, so it’ll be able to extrapolate on whatever it is that you’re trying to keep from it. So it’s very powerful. So it really is a conscious decision. You have to be conscious of what you’re choosing to make public, make available, and the why.

So yeah, AI remains to be formidable. Maybe not faux, but it’s certainly a tool that people are using for goods or evil or. Anything other or just really control. It really is about a sense of control, I think. 

Roberta: Well, it’s also about a sense of ownership. I mean, let’s talk about copyright here. 

Ryan: Sure. 

Roberta: If Meta is scraping my personal Instagram and I’ve got things up there that I have.

Created that are my art. They’re taking my, they’re owning what I don’t want them to own, so. Right. Is this going to be litigated in the future? That sounds really like it could be. 

Ryan: Well, I remember the late Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Scalia said, there is no right to privacy in the US Constitution, and 

Roberta: well. He never liked him anyway. I mean, come on. Don’t quote Scalia on Artblog, please. 

Ryan: I don’t mean to, I don’t mean to support him in any way. 

Roberta: No, I know that, 

Ryan: I mean, I probably would’ve gone to opera with him too if I was someone else. But there’s something to be said about what is Congress doing to protect people? And the answer is probably not a whole lot. 

Roberta: Nothing. Yeah, nothing much. So 

Ryan: Europe has an opt out option. Europe has an option, the EU has an option to be forgotten. You have the right to delete your data. Everything that’s being stored, you have the right to delete it all. So there are some, you know, some companies and profiles that you set up and you can delete.

But in the United States, they don’t actually have to delete it. They just need to make it no longer active. But that doesn’t mean the data goes away, it just is not forward facing, front accessible. But it’s still available on the back end, which is a little bit something else. 

Roberta: Saw move to Europe, everybody, come on.

Ryan: Or we could simply pass protection laws here. I mean, 

Roberta: not so hard, not so, not so simple, Ryan. 

Ryan: Oh, like adding some money to a, a sales ticket that’s going to work and Yeah. To pay the arts. So 

Roberta: I am aware. 

Ryan: Yeah. But I think, my goodness, there’s a will, there’s a way, I mean, a little bit of movement on these topics really can, it doesn’t take a lot.

And it really is, I think people in Congress don’t understand what the internet is. Every time Zuckerberg is interviewed, you know, brought before Congress, they seem not understand what he does for a living blank faces. Yeah. 

Roberta: Mm. 

Ryan: So but, so that’s my AI news. You know Artblog covered ai.

Roberta: Mm-Hmm.

Ryan: In, its not infancy, but as it was growing out, growing up and growing out and coming at us last year, there’s several good pieces that, that Artblog covered absolutely that continue to be popular. They still really get a lot of traction. It still remain relevant. And it’ll be a, a continuing topic for us.

Yeah. It’s not going anywhere, anywhere, anywhere, any day soon. 

Roberta: No. As an arts platform, we owe it to our readers, who are many of them, artists and producers, makers. We owe it to them to stay on top of this and to think about it. I mean, it’s one thing to report on it, but it’s another to think it through and propose things that are alternatives and to say the what if scenario and scare everybody.

You know, we, we have to do that. And so I, I think we will be doing that this year. I agree with you. Yeah, totally. 

Ryan: I think so. Yeah. I know lots of people who use AI just to spur some ideas and get it going or, 

Roberta: Hmm, 

Ryan: get yourself outta the weeds or. Translate something or other people will have work in a physical realm and then digitize it, and then let AI play with it and then bring it back to their physical and then play with it from there, which is in an interesting workflow.

Yeah, I know. It’s 

Roberta: a, it’s a tool. Artists love tools and for those that are digital, you know, like the, that are comfortable in the digital realm, it’s just another tool that you are going to play with. 

Ryan: So there are, there are things and we obviously talk about a lot more of those. 

Roberta: Mm-Hmm. 

Ryan: Okay. And then, let’s see, so I’ll get into what’s coming up this week.

So we’re getting in towards Juneteenth. So there’s events coming up for Juneteenth this weekend and the following weekend. ‘Cause Juneteenth obviously is going to fall on a Wednesday. So there’s a few different Juneteenth type shows happening. Obviously the, one of the largest is going to be African American Museum of Philadelphia is having their block party, which is free to attend.

That will be a lot of fun. I imagine a lot of people again this year. So heads up about that. Paradigm has, speaking of ai, has an AI show coming out on the 15th. And so that could be really interesting. I’d, I’d love to see, I think as we talk about this and use this we can hone it into something that we like.

And we can also hone it into something where we can find it and keep it into its own space. So I’m curious where people go with it. Obviously Father’s Day is coming up for those who celebrate those holidays that’s a fun time for some, get your ties and your socks ready. Or whatever elephant gift you were given this that you need to lose.

This is a good, good opportunity to do that. Speaking as a father. I can appreciate that, that sentiment. Hey dad, we wanna get this for you, but we got it last year from some other party. That’s fine too. 

Roberta: Yeah, it’s up upcycling. It’s a good thing. 

Ryan: Yeah. Follow with some delicious food in your It’s fine.

Whatever. No big deal. And obviously, UArts closing is still active. Obviously, that was last week, but it’s still going. People are still dealing with it. I think we’re up to three lawsuits. Politicians are stepping in, universities are stepping in. The students, student bodies the teachers are all stepping up.

So it’s an interesting time. Again, it’s like anything else. It is what we make of it. So hopefully there’s some positive that we can get outta this. Well 

Roberta: I, to put a spotlight on the arts, even though it’s really a tragic spotlight right now, is a good thing. It is opening people’s eyes to the value of the arts community to the city.

I’m talking about the intangibles, not just the money, which is appreciable. The arts bring in as we know, lots of money to the city of Philadelphia. Not only in tuition from students, but also ticket sales for all the performing arts and the music. I mean, it’s, when you’re talking arts, you’re talking music, visual performance, dance. There’s so much going on here that needs to be supported. And so shining a light on the fact that this is a vibrant arts community is always a good thing, like I said. 

Ryan: And we want broad street to stay avenue of the arts. We want it to stay vibrant and, Mm-Hmm. Exciting and lively.

And so in world news Mexico, Mexico has a new president, which is very exciting.

Roberta: Yeah. A woman for the first time. 

Ryan: Yeah. Claudia Scheinbaum is the president of Mexico. Mm-Hmm. That’s very exciting. That’s very cool. Yeah. So I’d be curious what that turns out to, to look. Yeah. She seems fascinating. 

Roberta: She’s an urbanist and I believe she’s a climate activist also. So those are two wonderful things to bring to politics because they really need to be dealt with by politicians and governments. So, yeah. Bravo. Fingers crossed for her. Yeah, 

Ryan: She’s a PhD scientist trained and also worked in the US at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratories. So yeah, very interesting energy policies.

Roberta: Very smart, powerful woman 

Ryan: Who can maybe make some powerful change south of us. And. Teach us how to do things 

Roberta: right? Yes. Yeah. Show us what’s possible. Yeah. Teach us. Yeah. And on the other side of the world, we have the European Union. Which, if you’ve read it all about it, it just took a big turn to the right. Yeah. And Macron in France called us Snap Election because he’s so freaked out about it and everybody is now freaked out in France. 

Ryan: ebbs and flows. 

Roberta: Mm-Hmm. 

Ryan: Yeah. So that’s a world politics on Artblog. 

Roberta: All right. You heard it here. Come back next week. We’ll have more of Ryan’s travels and some more geopolitics if we’re up for it. 

Ryan: Supreme Court anecdotes and well, I don’t know about that. 

Roberta: Yeah. Flag stories. Okay. That’s it, Ryan. I’ll see you next week. Bye. I am signing off.

Bye everyone. It’s Roberta. 

Ryan: And this is Ryan and this has been the Midweek News on Artblog Radio. Thanks for listening everyone. 

Roberta: Thanks everyone. 

Ryan: Bye-Bye.