Last year was crazy, unpredictable, and exciting! All that without a full plan. Well, that’s not entirely true. I work pretty hard at what I do, whatever that is, put myself out there , and accept most opportunities that I’m lucky enough to have come my way. A new year to me means new opportunities and adventures. I do not return to the same boring desk job after Christmas. I get to plan my year out however I would like. I am very lucky.
With that in mind, how do I begin to plan for the new year? Some things are already on my calendar, such as Seven Minutes in Heaven (SMIH) 2013, which will be March 2, 2013, my first CAM studio tour on March 24, 2013, and the show I am curating at Alex Rubio’s gallery, R Gallery, of my five artists July 13, 2013. That’s a lot to be excited about already, but doesn’t take up nearly enough of my calendar. That means work to do and new opportunities to find.
Beginning January 1, Megabus put up travel through April, so travel is my next stage of planning. My husband and I are heading to New Orleans in a week with friend, although we will be driving there. Then I head to Dallas before the month is over for a music show with a friend. Both trips include meetings with artists in SMIH and visits to the Museums of Art. Technically “pleasure” trips, work and art are, as usual, always included. I know I will be in Austin for a music show in March, a few days after SMIH. I know the West Austin Studio Tours are in April this year, and last year was so much fun, I won’t be missing that! In May I will be heading back to Dallas for the Cindy Sherman exhibit. That will be such an exciting trip! I spent several hours in the exhibit at MOMA last March and look forward to doing that again.
I will also be in Detroit visiting someone very dear to me, I think in the beginning of June, but I will be flying there. However, it would be really easy to hop on the Megabus to Chicago. I have visited both cities before, although not in quite a while. I was lucky enough to see Throbbing Gristle perform in Chicago a few years ago. That was a pretty legendary show I was lucky enough to attend. Detroit has some great art to visit such as the DIA, Detroit Museum of Contemporary Art, and cool galleries like CPOP. In Chicago, there is the Art Institute, Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to visit my friend, artist, Grayson Bagwell, currently attending Grad School at Columbia. He is in SMIH this year. I keep dragging him back to San Antonio to exhibit. And I keep visiting him. He used to live in Brooklyn, so of course I would pop up there. When he attended Pratt he was fantastic enough to take me on a tour and to the Grad office. It is the school with my dream program, a dual masters program in Art History and Information Sciences (Library Sciences). They offer a summer program to study in Venice and do internships with the Met. Their main campus is in Brooklyn, but their Art History campus is on Manhattan. It would be perfect since my husband is also interested in attending Grad School in New York, at the New School. He is an experimental writer looking for an untraditional program. Although with his high GPA and great references, I’m pretty sure he could get in anywhere. It’s me I’m a little worried about. My GPA is slightly lower due to not dropping a one class in time. Really. That killed my GPA for a few semesters. I am now just thrown in the average pool. Which is why I am hustling everyday, trying to build my resume and get my name out there so I stand out when I do apply. I need scholarship money to live in New York. Oh yes, please let me learn all about curating in New York!
And what about “work?” I mean, I am always working, always glued to my phone or laptop, always attending art exhibits and meeting people. What I really mean is paying work. Regularly. Money is a funny thing. I swear I don’t live by it, but it sure does make my plans come together much more smoothly. As of now, I don’t have anything scheduled until February. January is always the slowest month for me work wise. Everyone has already taken their vacations during December and won’t take time again until the summer. It’s a little tough financially, but I always have a lot to do. Last year I learned I better focus on SMIH or it definitely catches up with me all at once. Not to mention I need to organize my life again. Spring cleaning is serious business to me, after the whirlwind of my first open studio, the holidays, art events, and parties, I am completely disorganized. My house and studio are normally a wreck. So is my brain. I will set up my calendar and travel, begin to work on my house so it no longer looks like a war zone, clean my studio, go back to yoga to relax my mind, oh, and breathe. I have to be able to clear through some of these things before I can focus on my art again.
Being self employed is not for everyone. You have to be a go-with-the-flow kind of person, which I am only sometimes, and have lots of confidence, which I do most of the time. Inviting people you’ve never met before to work with you at a place/event they have never heard of (mainly out of town artists), you have to sound like you know what you’re doing, or they’re not interested. Sometimes they’re not interested even when they do know you and what your doing. Marketing to strangers. Yes, I have definitely built up this skill in the last year. Also fundraising. I could not possibly afford everything I want to do, so I do need help. I’m very fortunate to have people believe in me. I have produced a few events now, worked with quite a few artists, and have had a good track record by showing up and supporting many artists and art events. Believing I will make enough money by the end of the month to pay for my studio rent, my art supplies, and any art events/parties I am throwing. That is the most go-with-the-flow-part. Sometimes that gives me a huge headache, but again, I am learning to breathe and take it one day at a time.
I am excited to work on my art again. I have several big projects that I am working on and now have the space to begin to put them together. I have to be ready with my work for the studio tour in March. Both displaying my older work and really putting in some time on my newer projects. The studio tour is in about eleven weeks and I want to have something to show. I have been fortunate to receive so many opportunities when I have shown I am serious about curating. Who knows what will come up when I show I am interested in showing my art again. The last few shows I have been in were invitational group shows, but I will be ready this year to exhibit some of the major projects I have been working on.
So I begin to prepare for the new year. Whatever that means.
I compared all the huge names showing, now I want to talk about the less famous artists I saw exhibiting in Chelsea. I laugh at this thought, less famous. Of course showing in Chelsea means you are known, someone has already recognized you. You cannot be a nobody and get a show in Chelsea, that’s not the way it works anymore. As I wander through the different galleries, I notice Yale is plastered all over the CVs I care to look over. I think of my friend, Linda, who completed her MFA at Yale also, but is much more low key, not making it a habit to submit work to galleries or throw Yale around. So I represent her and do that for her.
I do have some favorite spots in Chelsea I like to visit, and this pays off as I discover one of my new favorite artists, Frank Yamrus at Clampart Gallery. I seem to always like the work exhibited here and today is no exception. Yarmus is exhibiting some very unique self portraits that I absolutely adore in his show titled I Feel Lucky. I have never seen self portraits as revealing as these. More than capturing his image, each photo exposes a very intimate side of this man. It’s amazing to see how imagery can say so much. Yamrus muses topics such as life, death, sexuality, and perversion as he talks about himself. I found myself drawn deeper into this intimate conversation, wanting to continue. While not all of his imagery is sexually related, I look around, wishing he would be in Seven Minutes. Though a far-fetched dream, as I look at his prices, they are in line with other artists I currently work with. Maybe I am heading in the right direction, towards the path of curating and expanding the list of artists I work with.
Stricoff Fine Art has quite a few great artists put together, but my favorite is discovering the work of Rimi Yang. Painting images of prim and proper women of different cultures, she does anything but present a perfect appearance. These women seem to exist in some chaotic world. Depicting them in fine, traditional clothing, the blurred environment they occupy recontexualizes their lives, forcing me to confront the women themselves. As they emerge from these expressive environments, the women are lacking expression. Not a hint of a smile, not the revelation of anger, these women seem ambivalent to their situations, of their lives, at least for this one fleeting, captured moment. Yang discusses in her artist statement how beauty exists as a comparison to the ugliness. She refers to a William Blake poem where all the people are rich and happy, and heaven sunk.
Paul Graham’s photography also caught my interest at the Pace Gallery, with his show, The Present. His main concept was to photograph different circumstances of people in the same location, finding parallels with a basic premise that we are all not so different after all and that we share the places we live our lives. I am reminded of the work of JR, a photographer that enlarges and posters his images all over the world, often of Israelis and Palestinians, proving that if you place them next to each other, you can not tell what they believe in.
Graham chose to display his large photos in sets of two at various heights on the wall, including some pieces a few inches off the floor, an interesting choice. While the photos where shot at mostly eye level, this particular displays forced the viewer to look down as they consider the art. I always want to see new ideas to display art. Although, I am still deciding how I feel about the contribution this particular display adds to this body of work.
Piet van den Boog at Mike Weiss Gallery has done amazing, huge, haunting portraits. Staring at you dead on, you are confronted by the subject, feeling an uneasy gaze. Bruised and Battered, van den Booge depicts them with bright blue and green shades of patina, interspersed with rusted tones, hinting at a much deeper age, discussing their emotional history. Looking worn and weathered, these confrontational portraits are capturing a much more raw side of his subjects, exposing a vulnerability normally not seen. He pushes these ideas literally, as he chemically etched into the lead surfaces he has chosen to work on.
Exhibiting at Luhring Augustine is Michelangelo Pistoletto. He is a contemporary painter I remember reading about and looking up further. It was probably a review of one of his previous shows. Pistoletto’s interactive paintings are referred to as mirror paintings, however, they are actually photo silk screened images on steel. This instantly places the viewer in the painting plane. The imagery primarily shifts between people working, talking with their back to you, and objects of construction. When he could place the viewer anywhere, in any exotic locale, he chooses construction sites, wood pallets, and behind orange plastic fencing for this particular series. Unusual choices to converse with. I enjoy that he involves the viewer in such a simplistic way. That is a concept for me to consider. These pieces force the viewer to contemplate themselves and reality. These works combine both conceptual and figurative concepts. I think of my friend, Kelly Reid Walls, ‘ is perfect for these works. She finds a way to interact with most art pieces, most do not involve viewer participation. I would love to see what she would come up with for these pieces.
Chelsea, as usual, was amazing and did not disappoint. While the area has changed considerably from its inception, thankfully, the mission of art is still strong. Experimentation and inspiration was rampant. While these were some of my personal favorites, I had a hard time just discussing five. I literally spend two days in and out of these warehouses full of galleries. I left with a ton of photos, lots of notes, plenty to contemplate, and so much inspiration.