Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Baked Goods Press Release

We are getting closer to the Baked Goods show, less than a month away now.  Above is the press release, here is a link to the University City Arts League website.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rugs Patterns

I've been on the hunt for a new rug for a while.  Another thing I have champagne taste on a beer budget or whatever for.  I really yearned for a rug from my favorite store Woven Treasures on South Street.  The owner goes to Turkey every year and picks out the most amazing rugs to ship back.  But I was surprised with a gorgeous runner for xmas from there about 2 x 5 (Nug has my same taste) and that's all I can really hope for in life.  

After a few months of browsing around, I stumbled across Lulu and Georgia.  It has some really beautiful rugs and they range in price for a 5 x 8 from about $150-$500 so there is definitely room to sneak in on the cheap side.  I just missed the one above before it sold out, it's so good!  I think its going to be a good resource for patterns, some of which might make there way in my paintings at some point.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Excerpts from Philip Guston: Collected Writings, Lectures and Conversations

This past spring I read straight through the book Philip Guston: Collected Writings, Lectures and Conversations in about a month.  It was a library book so I had to get it back in time, but it was good timing.  April/May always seems to be the time when having taught for 8 months I have nearly lost my sense of my own painting thoughts and inner dialogue.  So it was kind of like his words and thoughts took that space.  Anyway, because it wasn't mine to keep, I snapped photos of pages of the book that I thought were too good to forget.  I recently saw that folder of images and thought I'd share.

So much of what I seemed to like is how he talks about the way he challenges his own approach to the studio.  He asks himself to paint a brick wall he's never seen before, or imagine what it would be like to be the first man to draw on a cave wall or to draw something he's only felt in the dark.  These kinds of stimulus are what kept his work reinventing all the time, the struggle palpable on the canvas still.   I  think they would be the best prompts for teaching, students would lose their minds.

"Don't decorate rectangles."

Monday, August 22, 2016

Yayoi Kusama

Yayoi Kusama is 87 years old and she is the most fabulous thing.  And her work is as fabulous as she is and it is going to be in a traveling retrospective around the US this year.  Here are some details...

Monday, August 8, 2016

Book Rec: White Teeth

I read five books on vacation, White Teeth was by far the best.  (Don't waste your time with Beautiful Ruins and don't ever touch Girl on a Train.  After it was in the third B&B bookshelf I gave in to curiosity and it was a terrible mistake)  Anyway, I can't believe Zadie Smith was 21 when she wrote the majority of this book.  It's like seeing David Hockney's self-portrait at 16.  A sliver of me feels motivated to know there is such genius out there but the larger chunk feels incredibly depressed.  Luckily I have no problem with a prodigy writer, I just marvel as she twirls the words around the page like she made each one new.  It has everything I love in a good novel; strong plot, developed characters, descriptive places, witty dialogue.  Here is an excerpt I dog-eared: 

“If someone asked her just then what memory was, what the purest definition of memory was, she would say this: the street you were on when you first jumped in a pile of dead leaves. She was walking it right now. With every fresh crunch came the memory of previous crunches. She was permeated by familiar smells: wet woodchip and gravel around the base of the tree, newly laid turd underneath the cover of soggy leaves. She was moved by these sensations.” 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Higher Ed Thoughts

I hesitantly sampled Malcolm Gladwell's new podcast Revisionist History last week.  I am a voracious podcast listener but not a Gladwell fanatic.  I have heard him give good interviews but his books never gripped me.  Perhaps because the current three part series is about something directly relevant to my life, higher ed, but largely because its really good reporting, I highly recommend episodes "My Little Hundred Million" above and "Food Fight" ("Carlos Remembers is good too, but somehow something I think we know more inherently -- there are many genius kids in shitty situations that need a leg up early in life.)

"My Little Hundred Million" discusses the university I teach for: Rowan University.  Renamed for Henry Rowan, who donated $100 million to Glassboro College, a state school in NJ, in an effort to make the most difference in the most needed part of higher ed.  To raise up the most students possible at a typical, state school.  Gladwell goes on to make the case that other multimillionaires followed by making big donations but to the completely wrong places -- the schools already at the absolute top of the heap, Harvard, Columbia etc with gobs of money already at their disposal.

It made me proud to be state school educated.  I didn't know a ton as an 18 year old but I knew I didn't want to pay $40,000 a year and I didn't want to be somewhere that had the elitism I grew up around at my nationally ranked public high school. It also made me proud to be teaching at Rowan.
Although on a bad day I can get frustrated by the one or two students that slack off or don't seem open to learning, for those few I have met hundreds who are earnest, hard-working, curious individuals.  And really, college is a place where those few should be able to realize what topics don't interest them at a cost that they aren't paying off for the next 25 years.

My students are not only bright and caring and interested but they face a multitude of obstacles each semester.  Many commute, many work, many support families, many have health problems.  I have had a student whose 18 year old brother was murdered during the semester and she missed one class, asking about how to stay on track.  I had a student who loved my assignment to make night drawings because she worked the 9pm-9am shift at a nursing home and could do this work there.  I had two students who just got back from military duty, one redeploying to Afghanistan.  I had a student who had two kids at home, surgery during the semester, english as a second language who stayed after class to help me clean up and brought a cake for the class on the last day.  These were some of my best students, in terms of the quality of work and their effort.  And none of them were art majors (some of their work shown here)

The other idea Gladwell brings up in the episode "Food Fight" is where schools choose to spend their money.  He drew comparisons between the liberal arts colleges Bowdoin and Vassar.  While Bowdoin students boast of organic exquisite meals and Vassar students complain of run of the mill, packaged dining, Vassar is putting all its excess capital into bringing low income students to campus.  And as he argues, and I agree, as a tax exempt institution isn't there a duty to serve the greater public?  Every dollar put into school's fancy dorms and lobster bisque are dollars taken from hard working students' scholarships.  It makes it harder for schools like Vassar to compete for wealthy students and feeds the loop of higher ed only being available for the rich.

The one thing I would like to add is that money also must go to adjunct professors.  These are the people teaching the content.  One of the most valuable experiences I've had was teaching Art 101 at Burlington County Community College.  So many students came from high schools with no art program, let alone art history.  They blew me away with their curiosity and critical thinking.  However, I made $1,800 for 16 weeks of teaching two days a week, 55 students.  Grading papers, creating power points, answering emails, making tests.  I probably spent 15 hours a week on the class and commuted nearly an hour each way.  This is not sustainable!  As a result I had to leave.  I still hear from some of those students four years later.

We must make higher ed more affordable.  We must give professors fair pay.  This balance of power where students don't feel like consumers but an investment by our country and teachers don't feel like volunteers but valued educators is essential in a respectful and productive relationship between the two things a university needs to be a university: teachers and students.  I implore, pray and beg all who can to vote for HRC in November so we can try to make inroads on this most important issue, its what my students deserve.