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The art of globalization
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In an attempt to get beyond the hype about G8 protests and explore the real issues of globalization, the Sentient Bean will host an art exhibition called “Free Speech Zone: Recent Art Concerning Global Matters,” from May 20 to June 25.

“So often it seems abstract, but this is a perfect time to do this, when it feels real and tangible and present,”says Kelli Pearson, co-owner of the Sentient Bean.

“Now we will have the gates of power on our doorstep. We’ll have essentially the eight most powerful people in the world meeting less than two hours away.”

The group exhibition, which will coincide with the G-8 summit taking place June 8-11 on nearby Sea Island, Ga., will address global themes and concerns in paintings sculpture, graphics, and digital art.

The artists contributing work are a veritable who’s who of the local independent arts scene. Artists include Alvaro Brizuela Absalon, Avantika Bawa, The Beehive Collective, Scott Boylston, Harry DeLorme, Rachel Green, Bertha Husband, Alessandro Imperato, Marcus Kenney, Robert Knoth, Milutin Pavlovic, Jelena Pavlovic, and Alan Schechner.

Local art aficionado Harry DeLorme was key in coordinating the exhibit.

“We had heard that Harry had been interested in doing something on globalization,”says Pearson. “I think that democracy, education, discussion, and creativity are all linked. Democracy is dependent on education and there are real issues at stake in terms of globalization that need to be addressed.”

Pearson says there are many real, everyday matters directly affected by the global economy. A key complaint of the G8 centers on its “structural adjustment policies,”whereby developing nations are forced to make fundamental changes in social policy as a precondition of accepting loans.

“For us a perfect example is the free trade versus fair trade market in coffee,”Pearson explains.

“We see the real effects of the free trade market on coffee farmers in the current crisis, where the market has been flooded with a glut of lower grade coffee from Peru and Vietnam, encouraged through the IMF and World Bank’s structural adjustment policies.”

Pearson travels often to Central America to buy coffee to sell at the Bean. She has seen firsthand the financial devastation -- and resulting drop in living standards -- that comes with globalization.

“Since in the commodities markets the low grade coffee is tied to the high quality coffee, the entire market collapses,”she says. “Now you have coffee farmers in Central America who were making a dollar a pound making less then fifty cents a pound. And these are not people that can afford that.”

“Free Speech Zone: Recent Art Concerning Global Matters” runs from May 20 to June 25 at the Sentient Bean Coffee House, 13 E. Park Ave. Opening reception is Thursday, May 20 from 6- 8 p.m. At 9 p.m. the same evening there will be a VJ performance by Alessandro Imperato and James Gladman.