Relevant Tones: Commercialism in Art

October 20, 2023

Earlier this year, the Esopus Foundation formed a programming partnership with the groundbreaking Chicago-based nonprofit Access Contemporary Music (ACM) consisting of live podcast events held at New York’s Symphony Space. The third installment of the series, “Commercialism in Art,” took place on Friday, October 20, at 7:30 pm. 


The evening focused on a topic that influenced the founding of Esopus, a publication whose very purpose was to create a commercial-free space in which creative people could share their work in an unmediated way. The evening included a lively discussion about the often dissonant relationship between creativity and business featuring ACM founder and composer Seth Boustead, composer Douglas J. Cuomo (whose work spans both critically lauded classical compositions and the “Sex and the City” theme); acclaimed filmmaker, performance artist, and actor Juliet Ellis; and Esopus founder Tod Lippy.


As always, the event incorporated live music. Cellist Iva Cassian-Lakos, violinist Johnna Wu, pianist Blair McMillan performed Cuomo’s piece A Far Playground for cello and piano, Commercial Etudes by Will Rowe, and Nivea Hair Care Styling Mousse by Jacob TV.


“Product Displacement,” the themed CD from Esopus 3 that featured songs in which musicians were asked to “embed” commercial jingles or ad slogans, served as house music for the event.