Bulletin Board Cafe

by Phillip March Jones, Michele Thursz, Louis Zoellar Bickett II

Director's Note:

The Bulletin Board Cafe at Institute 193 was intended to address the need for immediately-local visual exchange. For years, the city of Lexington hosted kiosks that were open and free for various groups and individuals to post announcements for concerts, art-openings, events, personal ads, and fliers for services. Those kiosks, for unexplained reasons, have been permanently dismantled and the exchange of information has been forced into out-of-the-way locations -typically next to bathrooms in various restaurants and bars littered around town. The result is an incoherent local dialogue and the relegation of "posting" to Facebook, Twitter, and other online entities that, by design, encompass much larger communities. The centralized "bulletin boards" have disappeared, leaving behind large swaths of the community that do not use digital social media.

The Bulletin Board Cafe's installation at Institute 193 was deliberately open to the entire community and was designed to create and encourage dialogue about any event, activity, interest, project, business, etc. It was not intended to serve any particular group, but its incarnation as a temporary installation within the confines of a contemporary arts space created a perhaps inevitable dynamic. The board primarily served as a physical space for visual artists to come and post things they were working on and to receive feedback (critique and praise) about their most recent efforts. It demonstrates a need for physical exhibition space in the Downtown Lexington area –and perhaps more significantly– a need for critical dialogue amongst local working artists. There is a tremendous need for critical debate, writing, and scholarship, and this temporary public space visually attested to that need. The other unintended consequence was a flowering of creative energy from some "unusual suspects." Lawyers, doctors, and restaurant owners contributed poems, journal entries, sketches, and other creative products in addition to the standard fare of business cards, flyers, and menus. This book is a snapshot of materials left at the bulletin board during its six-week run at the Institute. At the end of the exhibition, items were removed and scanned in no particular order and are printed here.

The Bulletin Board Cafe installation and this resulting publication constitute a working proposal to the City of Lexington. Perhaps the city could create and facilitate the operation of a business that is at once a space for community exchange and a self-sustaining cafe? The requirements are simple. Bulletin board, tables, chairs. The cafe would ideally be centrally located and accessible to the greatest number of people, both in location and price. Coffee, tea, and soda. Or the city could bring back the kiosks. Or both?