Monday, February 18, 2013

College Art Travel Guide

I have always loved to travel. Maybe I take it for granted, but I think whether you are poor or have money, you can basically manage to get from point A to B. Of course, in more recent years my ability to buy a flight or perhaps apply for an academic grant has become more possible. I have wanted to teach for a long time, maybe subconsciously or something because I feel that I have had a compass just pointing me in the “right” direction for some time now. (For me its all about the lifestyle; it fits me.) I can’t even begin to recount how many times something has gone my way or some shit that was completely unplanned or crazy happened without any expectations… Even when you think that those things are impossible, they can happen. Perfect timing and being at the right place at the right time can go a long way. And by “perfect timing” I mean the most random chaotic forces of nature possible. One thing that helps most is to just get out there! The more you get out there the higher the percentage of chance you are going to have of stumbling into something cool or surprising. And I don’t mean just shmoosing and trying to be everywhere but I think if you’re genuine about it you can meet some great people along the way. Just don’t let the few assholes that are out there ruin it for you. The more people there are the more characters you will meet… both good and bad just take it all in if you can. It’s all about the experience… sometimes when I find something beautiful in front of me I try to conscientiously take a good long stare, just in case that the “life flashing before your eyes” during death is possible… I want to see that shit again on playback.
I spend more time waiting at airports and killing time than I do on the plane… not sure if this is the same for everyone but its good people watching time. (And finally I get to write a little bit.) This was my third College Art Association conference… truth is; it’s hard to find a job at these things but definitely not impossible. (I didn’t come here for that so I was stress free.) The colleges never show up on the first day unless they are really really looking for someone. You have a better chance of researching online and contacting these schools before you go to the conference; that way you can possibly setup an interview. It’s tough out there, the job market is terrible and honestly sometimes your future can simply depend so much on who you know, your references… and LUCK. (Straight out and simple LUCK!!!) Everyone should be talented to some degree in my opinion so that isn’t even on the table. Just know that everyone is the best and they are all your “competition.” If you come here just to find a job and don’t take the time to enjoy yourself a little with an event or two it can end up as a really kick in the ass and pointless trip. Don’t be too bummed about not finding something right away… If you’re at least good at what you do… “It’s really just them not you.” You can critique yourself by seeing how other people apply and present their portfolios… Professionalism goes a long way. Its good just to see how people are approaching these job opportunities, just be yourself. (There are many paths to getting somewhere and what works for one person will NOT work for another.) In the end, a lot of these positions are already given away to someone either inside the system (i.e. already employed by the institution) or to someone they have been eyeing. The simple truth is that listing a job position out there that is “already taken” is the reality and its just the universities doing things in the formal ways that they are legally accustomed to.
So anyways, forget all the stressful stuff and try to meet people and see things. Just say hi… Someone once told me “Compliments go a long way.” And I thought about it and realized how completely brilliant this simple idea was. If you give someone a compliment it’s unlikely that you will find yourself with a negative experience… Worse case scenario, they ignore you but usually they will say thank you, which can lead to good conversation and maybe even a new friend or travel buddy.  Even a smile is a good experience. (Remember Patch Adams??) Just don’t let all of the overly “fashionista” and trendy crap get to you… that’s another post.
And as far as traveling, it’s always great to be able to hang with some good people… people that you can trust and that you can have a sweet experience with. But yah, you can’t always fit everyone’s separate schedule so there will be times that you will just have to say fuck it and do what you want to do. Sometimes those experiences can be the best too. I was running around the GWB and West Side Highway in the middle of the night in NYC… By myself and it was a freaking blast.  It’s probably good that my friends weren’t with me, if they were to be hit by a car on the highway I would feel bad. But the views up there are amazing, there so much the city has to offer. I did more in the last few days than I did when I lived here.
Anyways, as far as traveling… Trains are the best in my opinion. Saving that for another post.

So… while I was at the CAA I checked out the Natural Museum of History. Hands down one of the best experiences of my life… Dorky I know, but I love history. As a kid I always desired to be an archeologist. (I say Desire because I was that obsessed with it.) I met with Susan Rostow and Christina over at the now “Speedball/Akua” booth. It was great to see them, the printmaking community is small enough that you can actually become familiar with people and make friends a long the way. It’s like a club with its own secret language that is there for anyone that is willing to passionately work at it. But yah… the Natural History museum is amazing. (I don’t know how any person can live without going to a place like this!) The dinosaur stuff seemed fake to me and was no comparison to an exhibit that I saw in Paris. But, everything else was over the top. You just have to go there and see for yourself. If you’re poor you can pay $1 (suggested donation). I don’t feel bad at all paying $1 because I have about 90K in student loans that I will be paying forever. Also, as an educator and artist I feel that I contribute to the world around me so I am perfectly fine with not paying $25 admission. In the end I end up paying that much anyways at so many places that it really adds up. I’m glad some places have “free or sponsored days.” $25 admission to get into the MOMA is fucking ridiculous for the average person that doesn’t go out of their way to visit museums. Sure, the one free day is nice, pat yourself on the back… It’s all corporate sponsoring anyways.
I like going to galleries with my brother because he represents the average person on the street. Yesterday we were at the Basquiat show and he was telling me all about what these slang terms meant in Puerto Rican culture and they really affected the way I saw the paintings. My brother probably “knew” more about these things than most people in the room. I’m not knocking museums and whatnot so don’t take offense if you’re reading this. As for my “qualifications” I’ve been to a lot of museums lol. When I was in H.S. I received a scholarship from a decent sized museum that allowed me to work in every department… marketing, security, education, curatorial. This is where I learned that a high percentage of art just sits in some vault never to be seen by anyone, and the politics of how things were chosen for showcase and how people dealt with contracts to submit work dependent on so and so conditions… I was very fortunate. Me and Kwame would run around the museum like it was our own personal playground. The museum basically adopted as for the summer and they were so good to us, we would literally just hang out and had access to everything. Rembrandt etchings and VanGoghs… like candy from those quarter machines. This is where I learned that the people that get to see the most art and have access to everything are the ones that handle the installations, lighting, and painting of the walls.
I was at the Printeresting event last night over at Columbia University. I had never been there before so it was all new to me, I was surprised that it was just down the street from Spanish Harlem. They didn’t show much personal work or anything like that but they talked a lot about the history and current trends of print. It was just really nice to see them finally as people and they seemed pretty laid back. Academic enough but you could tell that they were just printmakers like the rest of us. I saw some refreshing work as well… Jason posted a Makerbot self scan that reminded me of the 3D printmaking I’ve been doing for the last two years. It was just really refreshing seeing and talking to these people. I won’t get in depth on a conversation that I had with Paul the other day… but its great to see when people can project and connect all the dots in this innovative new generation media. You can be some “hot shot” ridiculously popular artist or whatever but these kids are the ones that are changing things and making moves. (Not to say that others can’t but the older generation and established artists can have a harder time relating to some things.) I don’t know… time for a break. Have a while before my flight comes in.

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