February 3, 2011

I listen to NPR now?

You can thank a pretty paper making lady :)

ANYWHO- Radiolab had a short podcast entitled Secrets of Success
where Malcolm Gladwell makes some interesting points that i <3.  He argues that, “What separates the genius from the rest of us is that the genius loves what he or she does more than we do.”   He continues to explain that love is the way in, and not the complete explanation.  A certain degree of talent, practice, and persistence is needed- but when you can’t get what you love out of your head, you’ve found your calling.    Absent of that love, you can’t be a genius.

Coincidentally, i was thinking about Charles Bukowski while working in the clay studio yesterday. An oldie but a goodie:

so you want to be a writer?
if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was. 
-charles bukowski
(You're welcome.)

January 29, 2011

Art is a luxury- just like this beer

How incredibly unfortunate is that art is a privilege in 'MERICA.  It makes art feel sleazy when it's catering to or for the people who can afford it.  The battle for grant money for the "underprivileged" and the amount of bullshit one has to go through to receive them is a pretty discouraging ratio for the overworked and underpaid people who are vying for them.  I'm not surprised as to where my interests have gotten me.  I am overly aware of what matters to me in life and why i love to do what i do.  However, i really dislike that i've already figured out how blatantly i have become part of the socioeconomic culture in which we live in that requires me to sing and dance and "prove" the improvement of a community in order to do so.  It's a forced way of actually educating people and offering them "opportunities that otherwise would not be available" that just gives you a forced outcome.  this sucks.  This sucks even more than dealing with educational paradigms that are obsolete.  Our culture doesn't allow for art to be part of ones daily life without a cost.  It isn't revered or readily accessible to everyone.  THIS SUCKS TOO. Aesthetic experiences go beyond improving your emotional well being, they are also a way to fully engage your mind, have direct applications for learning, and can create an amazing social platform for a community.  It's unfortunate that so many things take precedence over art.  I understand that people have certain basic needs to be fulfilled  such as food, water, shelter... HOWEVER, if art was a practice by which we fulfill these basic needs- WELL THAT WOULD BE NICE NOW EH?  ART AS A TOOL TO SHAPE SOCIETY(not to be confused with artists who are tools...) I WANT THAT.  America, you are so dumb.  You are really really dumb.  hide yer wife, hide yer kids-YES I WENT THERE. xoxo

January 15, 2011

It's Grant Writing Season

Which is both exciting and terrifying.  Deciding which ones are worth slaving hours over to apply to is a handful in itself- and then there's the hoop jumping and proving the unproveable... egh.  The NEA provides government grants that basically put you through hell to apply to them.... buuuut i was reading their website for what they're calling Creative Placemaking and it gave me a "well hm!" moment...

"In creative placemaking, partners from public, private, nonprofit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired."

So apparently when i grow up i want to be a creative placemaker? I think this only furthers the hokeyness of my claiming to be a restorative nurturer...  regardless, it's getting me closer to figuring out that bridge i live on that's between art and the artsworld.  

And in case you were wondering, yes- this is the most important bridge in the world...

January 12, 2011

my fav 4 letter word

Today a puppy stared at me mischievously (as if he knew how much i probably deserved it) and proceeded to poop on the studio floor... and then run in the corner and pee.  Hours later i decided to start talking to my new mouse friend (who i've yet to name) and someone finally realized the hot water heater wasn't working.  Due to cold water, being in the cold basement, being pretty outta shape, and having the joints of a 72 yr old...well, i hurt all over. And yes actually- it was a fantastic second day for my ceramics internship in upstate NY.

But what about the art center?  Don't worry, i just spent the last few weeks running around like a crazy person making sure everything was in order before i left so i could continue my job via satellite location for 2 months.  Yes- that is pretty amazing that i get to continue working (and get paid) while away in the frozen countryside making 450 pieces of pottery for the studio's fundraiser.  Brings a little tear to the eye thinkin about how supportive my art center really is. <3 <3 <3

The working environment at the art center is one that i am proud to be part of.  The art center has always been known as a place that cultivates artists and helps them advance in their artistic careers.  Given it's homelike nature, it's only natural for it to function on a personal level.  Though this may cause obvious issues (such as disorganized or emotional messes), i don't think i ever want to be part of a place that's run differently.  I feel like corporations try to fake their way into feeling like a family by using the word "camaraderie" too much and having company retreats. 

Being at this studio in upstate NY has been fantastic, and i already feel at home and genuinely cared for/about.  Granted, this place functions primarily as an artist residency program (then secondly as a community arts center) so things are bound to feel "homey" due to the nature of it's purpose.  There are many similarities between this place and my art center, and i could not be more grateful for the learning experiences i have had and will have with these 2 institutions.  Oh yeah- and the whole getting paid for making art AND my job back home is pretty sweet too.  Even with the poop.

Where i'm staying
Where i'm workin :)

December 8, 2010


This is an overview of the first project i participated in at the center in Spring of 2008.  I was part of a class that was held at the center and a few of us became interested in rehabbing the room on the 3rd floor (see right.)  In order to promote better use of this space, we wrote a proposal for the restoration of this room to later host the center's historical art archive.  We were able to meet and get advice from a preservation expert and other professionals who had recently forgone similar projects.  After months of research and planning (and feeling completely overwhelmed), our proposal was approved and we received funding.  So, to get started we emptied the room.  You can see the effects of the water damage (pictured ---->). 

We temporarily put everything in the adjacent room. (And this is only half of the stuff that was in there.)  Separating and stacking the artwork vertically was an improvement in itself.  Now, most of these artworks were either left from previous art shows, classes, or were excess sales gallery pieces.  However, yes- we did find a few important works of art that were nestled amongst the piles.  (And a trombone!)  We were sorting things as we could, but technically a better way of doing something like this is cataloging everything.  However, the director (and my current boss) was able to help us make decisions on the keep/toss/oh crap lets put this valuable piece of art somewhere safer.

 <--- In order to make sure the building retained it's landmark status we kept a continual photo documention. The trim and window treatments were of the New Bauhaus design, so i had to label and catalouge all these pieces of the wall.  (I even made a nice little diagram to go with it.) The idea is that as long as we kept the pieces and documented their placement, that someone could reinstall/recreate it later if necessary.

Demolition.  Yes, it's fun... for about the first 15 minutes.  We had to be careful enough to save the important pieces of trim, and forceful enough to take down loads of plaster and lath.  After a few hours of tearing down walls, scooping up bags of plaster, carrying it down two flights of stairs, bundleing up lath and carrying THAT down two flights of stairs... well, ya get tired.

NOT to mention the squirrel fiasco.  There were also cases of black boogers and crazy hair nests of disgusting proportions that occurred.  (Yes we were taking precautions by wearing the face masks and i'm mostly certain there was no asbestos... and that we don't have lead poisoning from old paint...)  

We had to build one of the walls out 1/4" and tetris pieces of insulation around several obstacles.  (Of course nothing is square and all the studs are oddly spaced- complications of an old building.)  We even installed a covering of plastic for moisture resistance.

 After months of preparation, hours of hard work, and working in scorching +85 degree weather with no A/C... the room was completed.  Drywall and all!  (Plus some handy trim work, and crazy gap caulking.)  This is a project nonchalantly gets mentioned as part of our tour of the building.  It opens the conversation about how the center is expanding it's collaborative efforts with other schools and organizations.  It marks the beginning of my involvement (which later lead to employment) with this place and helped solidify my interests in working with non-profits and the communities they serve.  (Re)store was an atypical way for me to be introduced to the center, and brought up a lot of questions about what "art" can be.  At the conclusion to the project, the only answer i had to anything was that "community" is not just a physical and local entity, but rather an expansive act of adoption and ownership.

November 20, 2010

Hello from BBC?

It often has slipped my mind how historically important the art center is.  Two years ago i answered the phone in our office to, "Hi, this is {fill in cute sounding British boy's name here} calling from the BBC in London."  Of course it caught me off guard and my immediate thoughts involved tricking BBC Boy into bring me back to London with him...but i was able to hold my composure.  They were interested in conducting an interview with one of our founding ladies, Margaret Burroughs.  Apparently BBC was making a documentary about art in the recession, and well- that's the economic situation our art center grew out of in the 1940's and is currently surviving another spat of.  (Makes sense eh?)

The art center emerged out of the WPA funds from the New Deal and is one of the last standing art centers out of 110 that were opened through this government funding.  Eleanor Roosevelt was there for it's opening in 1941, and yes- we'd love for this lady to stop by some day.  (Although, my boss and i would rather host her counterpart.  My boss wants the art center's mens room to be redone... and well, i'm into those ears.)

The art center also has a landmark status as per it's original 1940's New Bauhaus design.  The interior was made to be functional and cost effective, however these things are severely outweighed by it's charm.  The wood paneling spanning the first floor gallery and lobby has the markings left behind from hanging every piece of art, each hammering mistake, or splash of wine :)
April 1942

November 11, 2010

-i'm bad at introductions-

I've been sitting in my comfy blue chair with my computer on my lap for some time now... trying to figure out how to introduce the art center without being overwhelming and gabbling on and on about it like i always do.  I am all too aware that i can single handedly stress other people out by talking about it.  (NOT a good date topic.  Equals date FAIL.)

So, lets talk about inclusion vs. exclusivity.  Working for a culturally specific and historically significant art center can seem like a touchy or strange situation, especially if it's obvious that I don't belong to that group, but to me it's a non-issue.  What is most important is that people are introduced to the space with an awareness of and respect for it's history, mission, and place in the community.  Although the art center is one of the oldest African American art centers in the country, it is not an place designed to be exclusive.  "Welcome home."  That's what we say to every person who walks in those doors regardless of race, gender, economic background... you get the idea.  It is a home.  It is a sanctuary.  It is a living historical institution (... a museum, a gallery, a workshop, a meeting place, a hub for artistic thought and expression... i can wear you out on what it "is".)  IT IS NOT EXCLUSIVE.  (Praise the stars and the cosmos!)

The idea is to share the rich history and let people navigate the space with informed eyes, open minds, and eager hearts.  I think i just wrote a formula for love? 


eghads this is getting ridiculous.

Point being, this is an inclusive community not an exclusive one.  The art center is going to be overwhelming no matter how you're introduced to it- so for now i will leave you with a poem.  (OH YEAH- THIS JUST HAPPENED.)  This is by an artist who spent a lot of time at the art center, and is known to have enjoied sitting in the window of our gallery.  Her book of Selected Poems was my favorite bit of reading material that was given to me as part of my introduction to the art center.  Without further adieu...

kitchenette building

We are things of dry hours and the involuntary plan,
Grayed in, and gray. “Dream” makes a giddy sound, not strong
Like “rent,” “feeding a wife,” “satisfying a man.”

But could a dream send up through onion fumes   
Its white and violet, fight with fried potatoes   
And yesterday’s garbage ripening in the hall,   
Flutter, or sing an aria down these rooms

Even if we were willing to let it in,
Had time to warm it, keep it very clean,   
Anticipate a message, let it begin?

We wonder. But not well! not for a minute!   
Since Number Five is out of the bathroom now,   
We think of lukewarm water, hope to get in it.