Well, it’s official – I am the new interim director of Generous Art! I’m super excited, nervous, and grateful to move into this role, and I have big plans for the organization. I’m working closely with Shea Little of Big Medium to create a very necessary tool for Austin artists and creatives. Our vision is to create a professional organization for artists and creatives (envision AIA hooking up with on old school trade organization). As the economy in Austin continues to ramp up, we as creatives need to step into our power and keep up, hopefully even get out ahead of everyone and have a hand at driving the ship even! And in order to do this, we need an easy, one-stop-shop where we can learn about whats happening, have access to the wide variety of resources, and feel the collective power of our sector of the economy. It’s all big ideas, and I’m excited at the prospect of even being able to play in this arena! A big thanks to Calder Kamin for being a total badass and giving me the inside scoop on Generous Art. It feels really good to move towards these goals, and I can’t wait to see what comes! New friends, new challenges, and less metal shavings in my clothes! Stay tuned for more!
Well, we finally finished up this round of Artist Inc with a Pecha Kucha style presentation. It was a challenging endeavor, and honestly, way more work than I thought. Of course any opportunity to clarify and express my path is well worth the effort, and thanks to the Capacity Building grant money, I was able to have my presentation professionally filmed. Im super excited to be done, a little sad, and mostly empowered to move on to the next chapter. It felt really good to be with my true peers and get to know all the different ways people are working, both artistically and business wise. I see that I really do have my shit together and that feels good. Im pumped to see what’s next for me and everyone in my group. Now, on to the Biennial!
So tonight is the final session of Artist Inc and I’ll be giving a Pecha Kucha style presentation. Im nervous and excited!
Howdy y’all! Well, summer is here and it feels great…to me. Im in the third week of a 2 month long, amazing program called Artist Inc. It’s put on by the economic development dept. of the city of Austin and is a business focused, strategic incubator for artists. What a god send!!! Seriously, it’s so great to finally meet my peers here in Austin that are at a similar career level. There are 25 of us and everyone is super on top of their game. It’s been great for me to see myself in the context of other artists for so many reasons, chief among them is that I actually have my game pretty well together! That feels good, and now I know Im not the only lone wolf out in the wilderness scrambling to make it work. I now see that most educational environments [where young people are trained in the arts] simply do not spend much time or energy on teaching students what to expect, how to handle themselves, and perhaps most importantly, what skills are necessary to make some sort of profitable practice out of their new, and very likely expensive, artistic skills.
As the program progresses, I see that my passion actually lies right now in helping young people find their way. Does that relate directly to the arts, no, but thats ok. As I dive deeper into myself and what makes me tick, I see that I have a big drive to help people, especially youth, and as I do this more and more, I gain more energy, more access to resources, and more juice to follow my path. Im still very much interested in the arts, but I must be honest with myself and acknowledge that life is calling me to build my educational program. And I trust more and more that following these clues will lead to true fulfillment.
That said, I am getting asked to work on more and more involved art and design projects, and deciding what projects get my attention is quite maddening! I know the key to balancing life, work, play, service, is time and energy management, which historically has not been my strong suit. Thats where Artist Inc and the masterful work of Tim Ferriss are really helping me. I am really uncomfortable delegating craft work to others, but Im going to push into that direction and see what happens.
I’m just recently back from NYC and VT! Sarah and I were visiting numerous art and design fairs, as well as any art gallery we could find along the way. Aside form being cold, wet, and plagues by Lyme disease (upstate NY and VT), it was a great trip. Our lovely host, guide, and art world insider Paula Longendyke made it very easy to drift in and out of places from her spacious loft located right in the heart of Chelsea. Not only did Paula get us VIP passes to the Frieze, 1:54 NY (Contemporary African Art Fair), Context New York, and the Collective Design Fair, we got to meet her close friends Frank Stella at his opening, as well as Kehinde Wiley. It was two weeks jam packed with art, design, furniture, and trudging excitedly through the rainy streets. We visited the amazing studios of Rob Kalin (Founder of Etsy) and Dustin Yellin. It was amazing to see so much high quality work and meet the people who live and work in that world.
I really appreciated our ‘casual’ run-in with Frank Stella at his opening at Marianne Boesky. It was amazing to meet a true hero and pioneer in American art, and although the event took place in a high profile Chelsea gallery, the vibe was decidedly chill and homey. Honestly, it was a trip to meet this little old man whose current work looked like it dropped out of a space ship armed with advanced machines and mathematicians. Here is a man who has been steadily producing quality art work for the past 60 years, standing right on the edge of contemporary art, design, and fabrication. Contrast this with the “I have no idea what this means or how it made it into this show” qualities of the majority of the Whitney Biennial, and you’ve got the modern art world. One piece stood out at the Biennial though, and Im not sure if it was even an art piece or simply an interactive info-graphic type installation made by the museum. The full wall piece displayed a graph that tracked both the [shockingly similar] prices of Manhattan real estate and international art sales since the economic crash of 2008. The intense graphics dominated the visual field, but the real thrust of the piece centered around the daily experience of artists living and working in America today, which not surprisingly are largely not the beneficiaries of the the international art market. There were also computer stations that viewers could interact with and take a short survey that asked about the logistics of artists’ practices and survival strategies. For me it was a moment of fresh air in an environment overrun with many quizzical and seemingly random objects.
2 hours north of the city, in the middle of the woods, lies the town of Catskill, NY and the studio of Rob Kalin. After leaving Etsy, Kalin moved out to Catskill, bought an old mill on the Hudson River and got to work, creating an ideal environment for artist and creatives of all breeds a bit of respite from the noisy city. Amidst the cavernous interior of the multi story building were numerous artist studios, builders, and tool rooms that would make an MIT student jealous. No joke! This guys wood shop in the basement was off the charts, and the hi-fi stereo systems he was currently producing…from scratch…like every part…were amazing.
Back in the city, we checked out an amazing expo by Anselm Kiefer at Gagosian and Roxy Paine and Paul Kasmin. The Paine show consisted of a hand full of really strange and marvelous dioramas, constructed meticulously, creating creepily convincing physical locations skewed at weird angles. They were made to feel like viewers were in a hidden room, behind a two way mirror observing some sort of scene. Very odd and wonderful!
And although we consumed a marvelous feast during this trip, the true highlight and takeaway for me was the work at Patrick Parrish in Tribeca. The playful ceramics of Cody Hoyt were luckily still on display, along with other curious objects, furniture, and occasional 2D painting. This is where I belong, amongst the object and furniture makers, material hounds – a [slightly] less pretentious crowd if I may say so. Maybe not, but in any case, these objects really get me going in a way that 2D work just never has. And although I seriously doubt anyone would put flowers in one of Hoyt’s vases, there is still something attractive about the utilitarian origin of objects like these, in a way that painting and most sculpture just doesn’t have. So, in all, I’m super grateful to have had this opportunity to see these things, meet the people, and wear my jacket just one more time before the 100˚ weeks set in.
This spring has burst on the scene in a big way! Im back working with St. Andrews School, this time redesigning and fabricating a custom suite of furniture for their biology dept. Another favorite client, Austin Corner Vet, has commissioned me to create a very fabulous reception desk for their new space in south Austin. And I’m finishing up a large world map cut from plate steel for another client’s reception area. Amidst all this action, I’ve applied for numerous grant and commission opportunities with the City of Austin’s Cultural Arts Division. Last week I was selected as a finalist in their first ever Artist In Residence Program. The interview went well and although I was not chosen for the position, it was great to both be a candidate and go through the process of thinking about how I could work with the city’s watershed dept. in mutually productive ways. I’m also applying for a grant on behalf of my educational non-profit, Skills Afield, to produce a series of conversational workshops focused on demystifying the hidden workings of numerous creative professions. Of course I’ll also be applying for the Texas Biennial, one of the most important shows in the region! And thanks to my good friend Melanie Harris de Maycotte, of Polyglot Gallery, I’ve been introduced to the lovely independent curator of the Biennial, Leslie Moody Castro. It’s an interesting time in Austin; with all the development, political grumblings, and copious amounts of cultural funding to go around.
With each application, I get to look at my practice, write about it, and see slightly more about where I want to point myself. It’s clear to me that continuing to work with youth, education, and public projects are where my passion thrives! It’s honestly quite hard to guard myself against the onslaught of stories and fears that arise when I think of continuing to move in this direction, but it’s not stopping me from taking the necessary steps to get there, wherever there is.
Next month I’ll be traveling to NYC to visit the Frieze Art Fair with my good friend Paula. She’s an old skool babe with a sharp wit, big smile, and more bracelets than a teenage girl working in the mall. She knows the NYC art scene like the back of her bracelet covered hand and has plans to whisk my wife and I all over town introducing us to awesome folks and dazzling sights! I’m super pumped to check out Sleep No More, you know, just a few blocks away from her 2500 sf loft in Chelsea…yeah, for real! Anyway, it’s going to rock and getting away from the buzz of Austin for a while sounds great, even if I’ll likely be buzzing on a higher frequency going forward 🙂