UpZones #50: Milenko Matanovic

Upisode 48: Celebrated Slovenian/American avant-garde artist Milenko Matanovic, also known for his tireless and effective community organizing here in the U.S., came by the bookstore for a philosophical barnburner while the “Puzzle Break” was in full swing next door. He shares his passion for that most democratic of institutions, the public meeting, and breaks down how important it is to a functional relationship with the government (and how easy it is to abuse).

About Milenko Matanovic

Born in 1947, in Ljubljana, ex-Yugoslavia, Milenko Matanovic is a community builder and a visual artist with an international reputation and a professional career of over 40 years. He studied history of art at the University of Ljubljana. Matanovic was a founding member of the avant-garde OHO Group, writing concrete and visual poetry and excelling in the visual arts, initially creating paintings and sculpture from industrial materials, such as foam rubber or used egg cases. Later in his career, he produced “poor” objects and installations, made of hemp, wood, foam rubber, scrap iron and the like. During the OHO “Summer Projects” period he produced works dealing with balance, tension, etc.

After coming to Washington State in the late 1970s, Milenko founded Pomegranate Center in 1986 to create an arena in which art, public participation, and community betterment converge.  The non-profit center facilitates the conception and construction of open-air gathering places and integrates art into architecture, landscape, and communities.  Milenko’s work at Pomegranate Center has brought people and communities together to create and identify cultural, environmental, and social priorities in community development.

OHO Group days

This year Milenko is publishing his treatise, The Case for Everyday Democracy — Public Meetings as Engines for Collaboration. Its long-form essay format blends the political with the deeply personal in a work that represents the culmination of a career devoted to envisioning a better way and then empowering that vision in the hands of Milenko’s countrymen, neighbors, and the communities he serves.  Everyday Democracy is essential for balancing inclusiveness and decisiveness, the organizer’s two primary building blocks to success, and a challenge that only the likes of Matanovic can tackle.

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