Art + taxi = Artazi

first_img29 October 2004Two enterprising Soweto artists are taking art to their clients – in a taxi. They call themselves Artazi, combing “art” and “taxi”, and they’re linking artists and clients in unusual ways.Nthabiseng Makhene and Mthunzi Ndimande, both 30-somethings born in Soweto, where they still live, call themselves art consultants but do much more than that.They actively seek out artists and take their art to clients, at the same time advising artists on how to improve their work, while advising clients on interior design as well as hanging the artworks they purchase from Artazi.They have a network of some 200 artists nationwide, and are supplying the new black middle class with artworks they would probably not otherwise consider purchasing.Says Ndimande: “What we found is that the traditional art galleries run a monopoly where an elite few are promoted. It was difficult to penetrate, so we came up with an alternative aimed particularly at the new market, who did not study art but have money to spend.”Makhene and Ndimande realised too that the “progress of black artists is hampered by a lack of business development skills and insufficient marketing”. And that’s where they stepped in.The partners bubble with enthusiasm and savvy. Both have three-year fine arts diplomas from Pelmama Art Academy in Soweto, and more: Ndimande did a six-month Wits Business School arts and culture management course, and Makhene did a textile design course at Cape Technikon.It hasn’t stopped there: both are in their second year doing BComm degrees through Unisa. And when they have time, they’re both active artists.After studying, Ndimande did an arts administrator and curator apprenticeship with Standard Bank Gallery and the Wits Art Gallery, but after two years hit a “cul-de-sac” and looked around for other opportunities. By then Makhene had returned from Cape Town – they saw a gap, and formed Artazi.It all began in 1999Makhene and Ndimande started in 1999 by getting potential clients to art galleries, to interest them in art, then moved on to offering to bring the art to their homes, to help them visualise how the product would fit into their personal space.This involved re-arranging the clients’ furniture, and coordinating the furniture with the art and often with crafts that they also supplied.They asked clients to invite 10 friends to their home for the exhibition, and by then the ball was seriously rolling.“We had help from the National Arts Council – we received R20 000, which funded four house exhibitions”, says Ndimande.They haven’t looked back. “We get to know our clients, then find art that suits their personalities”, Makhene adds.This means approaching artists, some of whom might never have gone outside of Soweto, with briefs, and encouraging them not only to expand their horizons but to meet deadlines for the completion of artworks.This also means often providing a shoulder for artists to lean on when the pressure becomes too much, and being artists themselves, providing the right kind of artistic advice, taking artists from producing very realistic work to more impressionistic stuff.They also take the artists to galleries, broadening their horizons, and showing them where their final products may end up.“At times we sit with an artist for five hours to help him or her work through turmoil they may have. We offer them empathy, something that gallery owners don’t”, Makhene says.And for the client they provide the option to purchase either an existing artwork or to commission a new artwork, at the same time helping clients to “conceptualise their aesthetic needs and requirements” and realise the value of the investment they’re making.Makhene and Ndimande often source their artworks from Soweto artists, but also from elsewhere. “Our paintings and sculptures are sourced from both emerging and well-known black artists.” These include Charles Nkosi, Joseph Ndlovu, Bafana Mkhize and Eric Lubisi.They have a rating system when judging the value of a work: works rated one – from new, unknown artists – are valued at less than R1 000, while works rated five – from internationally renowned artists – are valued at between R3 000 to R50 000.They also supply murals, artefacts, crafts, prints, textiles, ceramics and photographs.Taking an innovative routeMakhene and Ndimande are finding that their existing model of obtaining art from artists, either on commission or simply taking what artists produce, is no longer entirely adequate.A new model is on the drawing board. It involves clients renting art from Artazi for a monthly fee, which has the added advantage of supplying regular income for artists.This option would allow clients to live with an artwork for a while before making a decision to buy it or exchange it for something else.“We are in negotiations with a company to form a joint venture on the rental model, in which they will do the back-end stuff like billing the client and paying the artist”, says Ndimande.Their BComm degrees have come in useful already. “We now understand the business language of clients, and it’s helped us understand how to work out the rental model.”That knowledge has been used by the City of Johannesburg: Ndimande and Makhene are consultants in one of the City’s latest art projects, an art bank, an effort to encourage local artists by buying their works, at the same time renting these artworks out to corporates and ploughing that money back to the artists.They have big ambitions over the next 10 years. Makhene would like to branch out into textile designing, with her own label; Ndimande would like to complete an MBA and become a full-time artist.For two talented artists, they make exceptional business people, and whenever they’ve hit obstacles they’ve “changed them to our own advantage”. One of their earlier obstacles was business knowledge, but that’s no longer a challenge – the BComm is sorting that out handsomely.And by the way, no more taxis – they now have their own vehicle.Source: City of Johannesburglast_img read more

My first cutting is just “cow hay” — now what?

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Jimmy Henning, Forage Extension Specialist, University of KentuckyLate cut hay is a fact of life in Kentucky. There are worse things. Drought, for example. It is no failure if some first cuttings of hay are late, or rain damaged for that matter. The list of things that have to get done in May never ends for the part-time, diversified farmers that form the bulk of the beef cattle producers.Farmers face a never-ending set of “what to do first” decisions. Something has to be second, or third. So late cuttings of hay happen. The real mistake is to let a less-than-perfect first cutting stop the conversation hay management because a farmer thinks we in Extension are disappointed. Next steps if you think your first cutting is just “cow hay”The first thing to do is to get a representative core sample and send it to a certified lab for analysis. It is best but not absolutely necessary if it goes through the sweat before taking the sample. Next, store the hay inside if possible, but at least get it off the ground (on rock, pallets and so on). If you are going to have more than one cutting or hay from other fields, store so this lot of hay can be accessed and fed as needed.Once the results are back, do some planning with the UK Beef Cow Supplementation Tool ( This very simple tool will let you determine what you need to feed with your ‘cow hay’ to meet nutritional needs. Knowing your needs early can let you work with your supplier to secure best pricing.This supplement tool calculates an intake figure from the total fiber in the hay, but you need to make sure actual consumption matches or exceeds the estimates from the tool. You may need to get some current weights for hay bales so you can back calculate intake from hay disappearance. Don’t forget to take into account the waste that happens, even if this is only a guess.The tool also cannot take into account changing energy needs with weather. As a guide, every 10-degree drop below the thermo-neutral temperature increases energy needs by 5%. And the thermo-neutral temperature is greatly affected by whether the hair on the cow is wet. The thermo-neutral temperature for cows with dry hair coats is 18 F, but 55 F when that hair is wet. So the energy needs for cows when it is 35 F and raining is 10% higher than that predicted by the tool (55 – 35 is 20 and each 10 degree change means 5% more energy). Thinking back, we had a lot of 35 F and rainy days last winter, and cows lost a lot of condition.Another thing to remember is that the summer is far from over, and other cuttings may be more timely. Hope springs eternal in a farmer. It has too.Another idea – Make some serious plans to stockpile tall fescue. A well-managed (not overgrazed) field of tall fescue that is rested from mid-summer into the fall and fertilized with 60 pounds of N in mid-August can provide better quality feed for cattle than any hay you will likely produce this summer. Grazing stockpiled fescue will lessen days where hay is necessary. Strip grazing the stockpiled fescue with make this high quality forage last longer (due to less waste) and quite possibly reduce mud caused from bale feeding later in the winter.Remember, just because you made “cow hay” does not mean the forage conversation is over. Not by a long shot.Happy foraging.last_img read more

Wikimedia CTO Departs for Open-Source Microblogging Startup

first_imgTags:#news#NYT#web Related Posts Brion Vibber, CTO of Wikimedia and lead developer for Wikipedia and MediaWiki, announced today that he’s leaving the company to work for StatusNet (formerly Laconica) as their chief architect.StatusNet is the open-source microblogging platform that powers sites such as, which impressed us from its inception as a “framework for a distributed network of federated microblogging services.” Read on for more details on what Vibber will be doing there.In a post today on the Wikimedia technical blog, Vibber wrote that he had been involved with StatusNet “as a user, bug reporter, and patch submitter since 2008,” and that his being hired coincided with StatusNet’s ramping up for “a 1.0 release, hosted services, and support offerings.”Vibber hard at work at the Wikimedia Foundation office.And according to this StatusNet announcement, Vibber’s job description will revolve around “architecture and development of the core StatusNet microblogging software, as well as ancillary services to support the platform.” And in addition to launching a first release and public signup over the next few months, it is hoped by StatusNet leadership that Vibber’s “natural skills as a mentor and leader will help build our Open Source developer and user community.”Although Vibber’s new duties will commence on October 12, he will continue to be involved in Wikimedia development and will remain in the Wikimedia office until the end of 2009 “to make sure all our tech staff has a chance to pick my brain as we smooth out the code review processes and make sure things are as well documented as I like to think they are,” he wrote.In an interesting study in open-source, free-as-in-freedom/free-as-in-beer cross-pollination, StatusNet founder Evan Prodromou is also known for his work in the wiki community, launching Wikitravel and helping with MediaWiki development. Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic…center_img jolie odell A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more