Tuesday, July 27, 2010

the year of change

2010 has been deemed "The Year of Change". At least that's what I've been calling it since there's all sorts of change happening for me this year. Landing the new academic job at Lander has caused all sorts of change to be afoot around my house. There's a house to sell, there's a house to find and buy, there's all manner of things to be moved from one location to another...and then perhaps moved again to another location. There are decisions to be made about where we want to raise our kids, what schools are good, do we really want to live near other humans and how far will we have to drive to work each day.

Though I've been teaching part time for 7 or 8 years, moving into full time teaching still constitutes a major career change for me. Not only will my job description for teaching change completely, but there will be all sorts of new expectations and opportunities coming along with the change. And there's the simple fact that it IS a different career for me. Many folks who know me as a teacher or as an artist forget that my "real job" for the last 16 years has been that of a full time Graphic Designer. Which, of course means that one of those major changes involves walking away from that job later this week.

For 16 years now I've made my awesome coffee and sat down at my desk and have tried my darndest to appease the aesthetic whims of 9 year old Girl Scouts, 50 year old Boy Scout Leaders, perfectionist military designers, and the ever unpredictable local business owner. I've advanced from hand drawing every single item that moved through our corporation to digitally inputting all the drawing information while staring at a LCD screen all day. I know exactly where I'll find the guard dog sleeping every morning and I know which florescent light tubes do not need replacing because the ballasts are out. I've even grown to appreciate the sales staff, and if you deal with sales and artists in the same environment you know that can be a very difficult relationship. They want the impossible. You want the legible. They want the customer to be happy. You want the design to be excellent. They want it in 10 minutes. You want the design to be excellent. Even with these pitfalls, I've learned to anticipate what they meant to say when they said something different and with the help of my trusty Magic 8 ball, I can pretty much provide them with a suitable design with very minimal communication.

Americans develop these tricky love-hate relationships with their jobs. I'm not sure if it's the influence of "Office Space" or "Dilbert" or "Married With Children" but many of our entertainment sources indicate that we should hate our jobs, dread Mondays, and put up with the pain only because there's a paycheck involved. There are things about the Graphic Design job I do not like...things I'll be more than happy to leave behind. But there are some things I'll miss. And as I've slowly packed away the artwork covering the walls and the years of knickknacks I've stashed in my office because my wife labeled them too tacky to stay at home (hello pink flamingos with Mardi Gras beads, inflatable Gumby, and dashboard dancing Hula girl) I've started to think about the intangible things I should take with me as well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


"Dear God,
Thank you for throwing away my sock that had the hole in it. Amen."
-Blue, 7-24-10

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

the girl

When I told people I was going to have a daughter everyone warned me that I was "in for it".
I assumed they meant that I would spend the rest of my days worrying over this impossibly adorable little girl and her life decisions. I figured they were referring to the mental turmoil I would undergo when she finally turns 40 and I allow her to date. I thought they were talking about how this little girl would wrap me around her finger and have me jumping to assist her with a flick of her eyelash.

I expected those types of things.

I did not expect that they meant acrobatic dives off of the backs of furniture. I did not expect she would be diving face first into wood chips just for the fun of it. I did not expect showers of shattered glass all over the living room floor.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

reference for later

Thanks to DailyServing.com for the heads up....

The final point in Rebecca Taylor's article "All I Really Need to Know I Learned From Baldessari" in the Huffington Post:

10. The best way to teach art is to live art

Baldessari's roster of former students reads like a who's who of important artists from the past 40 years: Barbara Bloom, Liz Craft, Meg Cranston, Jack Goldstein, Karl Haendel, Skylar Haskard, Elliott Hundley, Mike Kelley, Tony Oursler, Liz Larner, Matt Mullican, Analia Saban, David Salle, and James Welling, to name a few. Stories of Baldessari's post-studio classes, a term he first heard from Carl Andre and employed thereafter, are the stuff of legends in Los Angeles. The most often repeated description of John's teaching style was that he treated them with respects, always thinking of them as artists, not students, and allowing them to find their own voice. Baldessari himself has said, "You can't teach art but it might help to have really good artists around."

Friday, July 16, 2010

here's the goofy idea i had

Dear Mr. Gander,

I’ve enjoyed seeing you and your family over the last couple of months. You have a lovely family and a beautiful home and it has been my pleasure to make your acquaintance.

I’m writing to ask a small favor of you, kind sir. Tomorrow as I pass you and your family by the road would it be possible for you to not hiss at me?

I understand that you have reason to distrust strangers encroaching on your personal space. Parents must be cautious and protective of their children and we do live in a treacherous land where life is not always treated as valuable. I know too that you have endured a terrible loss to your family unit. I saw the feathers scattered by the water’s edge. I get that. I offer you my most sincere sympathies.

Still, I feel that at this point in our neighborly relationship we should be able to get beyond the distrust. If trust is not something you are willing to consider for personal reasons, perhaps you could consider the fact that your home is roughly 2 miles into my trip and by the time I reach you I’m drenched in sweat and gasping for breath. At this point I wouldn’t be able to chase you or your offspring even if I tried.

I assure you I am no threat to you or your kin. In fact, if you find yourself flying over my house in the fall, please accept my invitation to stop in for a rest and a light snack. My wife and children would be delighted to meet you.

All the best,

P.S. Keep your eye on the white haired guy with the large dog.






Tuesday, July 13, 2010

all star break

There's this family I see each night as I run. When I started running later in the day to avoid the sauna that is the South in summer, I began seeing them near the pond. They're always there, milling around and hanging out. The mother and father acknowledge me every time while the kids mostly just go about their business. When I'm running there's honestly not a whole lot going on in my head. Well, there's the constant chorus of "oh my goodness I'm going to die, why am I doing this to myself?" but other than that, it's a quiet and peaceful time for my brain to relax.

For some reason I couldn't get this family out of my head. I kept observing, if only for the few seconds it takes me to pass their spot, seeing new things and wondering what their story might be. Something had happened to this family. They'd seen things. They had experiences - I could tell. And I kept wondering if there was enough information in those seconds of observation to inspire a drawing or two.

One of my favorite Far Side cartoons shows two mosquitoes on a human limb. One is speaking while the other one is quickly inflating with her blood meal. The speaker says something to the effect of "Quick, pull out, pull out! You've hit an artery!".

Two weeks and five drawings later, I apparently hit some sort of idea artery with this family. My wife is irritated by the constant scratching of the markers on the wood and she has made it known she'll be glad when this series is finished. Let's not tell her I just finished constructing two very large panels for my next drawing adventure which means about 50 times more scratching.