Counting Up

ether

Time’s speeding by now; somewhere during the thesis madness, I passed my two-years-o’-bloggin’, one-year-on-Wordpress anniversary.  I never set out to do anything more with the Blahg than to keep in touch with friends, so getting a nice readership and meeting new folks was an enormous surprise.  Since September, when I entered into this locked-down retrograde existence, Blahg’s readership has tapered off (which should bring great comfort to some folks).

It’s just three weeks, which will also speed past, till my life becomes my own again, with residencies and some adventure in the offing; I hope when that happens, once again Blahg will become whatever-kind-of-reading it was.  I thank those who have stuck with me through this long fallow season.

New Pros, Old Pros, No Quid Pro Quo.

ajheart

(installation detail, by Amy Jacobs)

The first all-at-once, all-department thesis exhibition opened yesterday at the-college-which-must-not-be-named.  It…is…EXCELLENT.

Congratulations, Grads!!!

I was supposedly the show’s coordinator, but truthfully, I was its co-coordinator, and I profoundly thank my media-colleague-who-also-must-not-be-named for pitching in and sharing the stupendous workload equally. I could not have done it without her, nor without several absolutely generous staff folks. I have been told that blogging about my job is ‘unprofessional’; but my blog is about my life, and I can assure you this exhibition was my life for the past two weeks. I so wish I could publicly thank you all.

I have my own firm ideas about what professionalism entails, and I will tell you freely that my definition emphatically includes the dedication it takes to pull off an unprecedented event, particularly when doing so resembles building a multifaceted glass skyscraper on a foundation of quicksand.  This took a village of professionals, including the grad artists themselves, their advisors, and the folks I mentioned by not mentioning, above.  You are all pros.

Now, after shepherding a number of exhausted, sleep-deprived people through inevitable pitfalls and setbacks, instead of resting, I must push myself to meet my own dual, same-day show deadlines. I need a me!

While I’m doing that, if you are in Chicago, here is an excellent exhibition I have recently seen during my leisure time: I recommend it MOST highly! 

zekeyak

(Zeke, one of the Hairy Yaks, by Erin Cramer)

moving

Watching the world move by in the quiet moments before the opening; three more weeks, and I’m on that road.

…and for what?

hellihole

I am SO tired.  I am beyond exhausted.  The week was unbelievably full of jump-in-the-shower-and-barrel-down-the-freeway crises. I’ve had no weekend at all this weekend; yesterday, instead of finally taking care of piled-up monumental deadlined paperwork (for work), and (for my own life) trying to get details nailed down in time for a catalog publication deadline,  finishing a piece for one show, and packing up another show which each have the same due date, I ended up painting frickin’ walls.  A lot of them.

This is no way to live.

flying

For those of you who’d like a more hopeful view of the world (and I sincerely hope you do) than I am going to be able to provide during these final four weeks, this is my current, favorite, I-wish-I-had-done-that project (brought to you via Facebook).  You’d need a better worldview than I have at the moment to think of it, though.

Ms. Interpreted Anticipates

spring09detail

From my journal, thirty-one years ago almost to the day, after a long, grueling, awful winter:

“Finally, it SMELLS like spring.  I can smell the green things pushing up from the earth.  It’s still cold and windy, but the wind had that smell and a hint of the warmth that’s coming, delicious and fresh. I went for a walk on the ‘front porch’, across the Lorain – Carnegie bridge.” (This is a very high, long bridge extending over ‘the Flats’, the Cuyahoga River valley that cuts through Cleveland, Ohio, my hometown.) “I got halfway across and it smelled and felt so good that I just stood there, looking out over the flats, surveying my new domain and breathing in the wind, breathing in the spring, breathing in the future the wind is bringing to me. I had my coat open and I stuck my fingers through the crochet of my long, long scarf and I held my arms out and let it stream out behind me in the wind and I felt soooo good, so full of possibility.

Suddenly three cop cars came screeching to a stop, two from the west side and one from the east and six cops got out and I turned to look at them and one of them said, ‘Having trouble with your boyfriend?’

Whaaaaat?!?!?!

It was SO utterly different from what I was feeling and thinking that it took me fully five minutes of increasingly ludicrous-to-me questions to realize they thought I was going to jump!  When I understood I started to laugh uncontrollably and I think that worried them even more and I said, ‘No, no, NO, I’m not depressed, I’m anything but depressed!’ and one of them said, ‘Then what are you doing?’ and I said, ‘I’m looking and breathing and thinking!’ and he said, ‘What the hell are you talking about?’ and I said, ‘Look, I’m an artist and-‘ and he said, ‘Oh.  Well, move on, then.’ And they got in their cars and went away as soon as I started walking, though one of them drove slowly for awhile, while they watched in the rearview mirror.”

Thirty-one years ago, I had just extricated myself from a bad situation by quitting school,  giving back my hard-won scholarship to an art school whose administration I could not come to any agreement with (the school itself folded not too long afterwards). I had just moved into my first big studio with no idea how I would pay for my share of it, and though I didn’t know it, I had entered into one of the most expansive (if occasionally explosive) periods in my life.  The ‘bridge incident’ was the demarcation point.

Walking back across that bridge afterwards, I only knew that I would never forget the story. I think of it now because during this past week I came to a realization about how thoroughly I am currently being misinterpreted, in an equally ludicrous-to-me manner, so much so as to include some exceedingly misdirected (and this time, offensive) policing. 

Above all, though, all this week, during the quiet walks that are part of my commute, I’ve noticed that the air finally has that same spring smell, and I feel the same now as I did then: it’s carrying my future towards me. I’m excited. 

maysky

rolling boil, covered

kzI’m a dull blahg-er. I’m all work and no play whatsoever; at home I’m racing against time to finish a new piece and hammer out a show that needs to be shipped out at the same time as the new piece; also to finish taxes enough to file yet another extension, and to slip out a few apps right before their deadlines.  During the bulk of my week, when I’m at work and/ or working at home for work, forget it;  insanity. .

 Right now, too, I’m not able to  write about the near future as well as not acknowledging 90% of the present; I’m needing to keep too many lids on too much stuff.  However, I did get a lovely third residency, (woohoo!  It’s one I’ve been waiting for, and if the tentative schedule works out, its timing will be ideal), and the semester is over in six weeks.

Flogged

erinc1

Work in progress by Erin Cramer (image used with permission of the artist)

The grueling crit week is over, and, well, it was much worse than I expected.  I didn’t make it to my final session (6-10pm last night) due to the onset of the second severe, searing, blinding, pounding headache of the final two crit days (Wednesday night’s didn’t set in until near the end of the evening session). The drive home was excruciating.  I gave it my best for three 14 hour days and one 7 ½ hour one, but couldn’t make it through. 

Since the school has just recently provided me with a laptop, I watched and listened (as well as I could) to the student presentations, and then while the often horrendously noisy discussions took place underneath harsh, glaring overhead fluorescent lights, I typed out my responses to each body of work and immediately e-mailed them off to each student.

 Just for the hell of it, I did a word count: I averaged 3200 words per day. I looked up the National Novel-Writing Month goal; it’s 50,000 words.  If I could do what I did for students for my own writing in a 30-day period, I’d have 96,000 words to go back and edit.  But my hands would surely drop off at the wrists, or my arms at the shoulders: I’m freakin’ sore.  I can notice that now that the headache is down to a dull roar today.  So that’s the end of this Blahg (and any writer-like aspirations).