Oh Big Apple

December 5, 2011

Does anyone even call it that anymore? In any case, I have officially lived in the big city for 6 months, and what a big city it is! There is certainly a huge adjustment period–especially after living in the middle of nowhere in Northern Vermont–and I would say that adjustment period doesn’t even really start until you’ve been here for 4 or 5 months. The first 4 months you’re in pure survival mode–scraping by on as little as possible, building up a routine and a familiarity with your new environment, learning the absolute basics of how to get by. It’s not until you’re a little more settled, a little less panic stricken by the whole thing, that the reality of what you’ve just done begins to set in. By the 6 month mark, you’re either completely burned out by the rat race that is life in the city, or you’re settled and comfortable enough to let those thoughts of doubt seep in. In either case, its time for those age old questions about what you’re doing here, and why, and to what end? Is this really what you wanted? Is it what you thought it would be? How long will you actually last here?

At least, that’s been my experience, and I hear similar reports from others. And I’ve heard that this is the formative point in your New York City experience. If you react to the 6 month mark positively, you’ll probably stick around for a while and things will get better or maybe even really great. If you react apathetically, you’ll probably try it out a little longer, stick around for a year or two, enjoy bits and pieces, really not enjoy others, but you’ll eventually move on to other, greener pastures. And if you react negatively at the 6 month mark, you’re probably doomed to hate the city forever. Even if you stick it out for a while and try to make it work, you’ll eventually walk away happy to be rid of it and not interested in ever going back except as a visitor, and even that might be pushing it.

This is where I’m at. The 6 month mark, wondering what I’ve done, how I’ll survive here, and whether I’ll find a way to be happy or if I’m going to come away hating it. I’ll get back to you on this.

In any case, I’ve been thinking recently about this blog and where it should be headed, now that life is so different… Not having written since October 1 is evidence of this… So far, I’ve kept it based entirely on my own artwork and process, and that form of documentation is still important to me, but my daily art experience is so much more than that now. Living in Vermont, and even Boston, my own art-making was all there was to report on, but here in the city, I encounter horrible and incredible art every day through my job as a sculpture conservator and in the city itself in the parks and streets, at galleries and museums, through articles and blogs, and in the studios of friends and colleagues. My personal art world has exploded exponentially, and if this blog is true to my art and its making, it has to reflect this incredible expansion as well. How this will manifest itself, I’m not entirely sure of yet, but by 2012, I expect some changes will be happening on here. Whether that will mean adding all these new aspects of my art world to this blog, or expanding to a new blog focused on all the stuff I see in my day to day routine, and still keeping this one primarily focused on the studio, I’m not sure yet… I’ll get back to you on this.

In any case, stay tuned for post holiday changes, and I hope you all have a great holiday season! See you in 2012…

Calm Before the Storm

June 6, 2011

After much nervousness and many anxiety dreams, I have arrived in Brooklyn! My residency at VCCA ended yesterday, June 5th, and I drove straight from there to Bushwick to unload all of the new work into my new studio at Wayfarers Brooklyn. I haven’t unpacked anything yet… there isn’t much point until I have some functional surfaces to set the tanks up on so until then I am just kind of hanging out in here. I start my new job at Wilson Conservation tomorrow, then will spend the evening building sawhorses for my first piece of studio furniture, and hopefully will be able to set the tanks up no later than Wednesday evening. They definitely have to be up and running before I leave the city for the weekend so… if I have to bust some ass to make it happen, so be it! Since I didn’t have to go in to work today as planned, and the wood for my sawhorses doesn’t arrive until tomorrow, today has been an unexpected day off to wander the neighborhood, buy a few supplies, and generally rest up and chill out before the real hustling begins. It definitely feels like the calm before the storm… And since I don’t move into my apartment until the 15th, the couch surfing makes it feel like I am still a visitor, even though I have a studio. Guess the fact that I’ve just moved to the city won’t sink in for another couple of weeks…

my beautiful new studio, filled with all the crap I could fit in my tiny car

soon to be my first piece of furniture

Tangents

May 28, 2011

One nice thing about residencies is having the time and space to let yourself do anything–play if you will. Not that I normally ignore the urge to go off on tangents, but here you don’t have to feel as guilty about it when you do… So here’s some recent tangents:

built a funny little experimental diorama in a thrift store pitcher

though I'm not a big fan of clever art, I just thought this miniature 50 lb. bag of sugar was too funny--here it is submerged in crystal solution

this place is filled with giant bugs--constantly flying overhead and getting underfoot

every other day I come into the studio to find a new bug "trapped" in one of the pieces

these started out as technical experiments, but I realized I was thinking of them as my little pets

so now I think of them as bugs, influenced by early summer in Southwest Virginia

Time Lapsed

May 12, 2011

After a week and a half at VCCA, I have to report that I haven’t had much time to work in the studio! Since it is my first time back in Virginia for more than a few days in… oh… 8 years? I’ve spent my first couple weeks splitting my time between visiting with old friends I haven’t seen in years and preparing for the move to Brooklyn. After my Monday arrival, I had just enough time to unpack and set up my room and studio before leaving on Thursday to see Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria in Roanoke with my family. Friday a friend visited me here, Saturday I met another friend in Lynchburg for drinks and Sunday my parents visited me so we could spend some quality Mother’s Day time together. Monday was relatively uninterrupted, then Tuesday I headed to Richmond to visit VCU’s Material Studies & Sculpture departments, crashed with a friend in Church Hill, then spent Wednesday with another friend I hadn’t seen in 7 years. Now that I’m back at VCCA, I have a couple days to do some more NYC job hunting (I told myself I would do it once a week, but missed last week because I just couldn’t make myself do it the few hours I was actually in studio!) and then I head to NYC this weekend to confirm my studio at Wayfarer’s Brooklyn, my apartment sublet in Bushwick, and to meet with a couple of job possibilities. THEN, I will finally have some uninterrupted studio time.

In between everything, I have managed to fill my first 10 gal tank with new work and fresh solution. AND set up a time-lapse video of the crystals growing in this new tank, so that’s something at least. Here’s some pics:

knit hardened on top of fabric armatures

knit without armature, almost ready to go in the tank

the first new piece, in the tank after 3 days of growth--the halo around all the strands are the first tiny crystals

a close-up of the crystals after 3 days in the tank

the camera setup for what will be a time lapse video

Late Spring at VCCA

May 7, 2011

Some photos of the ridiculously beautiful VCCA campus:

the entrance gate

the residence hall--my balcony is the one on the second floor to the right of the sculpture in this photo

the main lawn directly behind the residence hall

cute romantic gazebo

outdoor pool--I think they're going to fill it in a couple weeks

the office

the studio barn, where all writer, visual artist and composer studios are located

gate out to the cow field

Goodbye Vermont!

April 18, 2011

Hello Virginia! Just arrived in Roanoke, Virginia yesterday evening in an aptly named Ford Escape full of studio tools and materials for my upcoming residency at VCCA. I packed the rental car in Vermont with snow still on the ground and reports of flurries to come that evening, and unpacked barefoot in Virginia surrounded by green and late spring flowers. The last couple weeks of packing, cleaning and departure partying have been pretty ridiculous–I’m happy to have survived it! It hasn’t hit me yet that I don’t live in Vermont anymore, but I’m sure over the next week or two it will slowly sink in as I am free of the office drama, meals in the dining hall, and the general fishbowl that is life at the Studio Center. I left a TON of stuff behind–I didn’t realize until it was time to pack the car and nothing fit, that my studio/artwork was one car load and my personal/apartment stuff a second car load. I tried to get rid of as much stuff as I could–studio, artwork, and personal–but I obviously did not do a very good job! In the panic of trying to get out of town at a reasonable hour, I ended up packing all my studio and leaving behind all my personal belongings. I have 1 suitcase worth of clothes, otherwise everything else will have to be picked up in June or July when I can make another trip up there to grab the rest of my stuff. Until then, I’ll be doing a lot of residency prep work for the next two weeks and then be able to dive right in when I arrive on May 2nd. Can’t wait to get started!

purging artwork

This show was the first time I wrote my own press release and sent it out to every local contact I could think of/find. And who knew that sometimes people actually pay attention to them! I did it mostly as a formality, and maybe as practice, but didn’t expect it to actually lead to anything. For the most part, I don’t think people have actually gotten up to go see the show themselves, but they’ve at least posted the information in their papers and on their websites, or called me for a quick little write-up. And at the very least, it got Anahi Costa, of ArtseenVT to come check it out and write up a review. Not to mention it was great to finally meet her after working with her on Studio Center advertising… Science is Fiction is up for 2 1/2 more weeks so there’s still time, but I wanted to go ahead and share some of the fun publicity I’ve received so far.

Vermont Art Zine, online VT arts magazine–published back when I first sent out the press release

Seven Days, Vermont’s free newspaper–just published yesterday

ArtseenVT, online arts magazine–published this morning

I also got a great write-up in the RISD Alum magazine (pg. 13 and pg. 26 & 27) that happened to coincide with the launch of their new website, so the article ended up on the front page of the alumni section of the new site in addition to in print in the magazine! Had nothing to do with the press releases–just lucky timing.

And I’ve been trying to find some time to write a “Things Learned” entry after the Brooklyn Art Fair fiasco (before I forget everything!), but just to give you a sense of it, I found this article today, which is pretty accurate to my experience. Let’s just say I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought it was a catastrophe.

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