Where’s my Mask and Cape?

The greatest thing about running a pseudononymous blog is that when you run into studpidity, you can release a little of your burden by writing about it.

My dumb Me Teech Art butt, on the other hand, has a link right above the blue bar with the Twinkie that answers the question “Who is this guy anyway?”

I used to want to grow up to be just like Sonic Youth.  Not a particular member of Sonic Youth, just an embodiment of a certain approach toward life and art.  Most of us can only imagine what it must feel like to cram drumsticks into your guitar and make noise that actually makes sense…  I’ve been, keenly (I’ll say),  remembering over the past couple of days that a person can not accomplish such a thing, can not really achieve success as an artist, if he/she spends very much time listening to people.  People are sticky.  People play out Intro to Behavioral Psychology scenarios.

Paying the rent, however, more than anything has to do with developing skills for listening to people, then continuing to listen to those people.

So, here’s a lesson from Intro to Critiquing Art, a thing I find need to explain to Studio Art Foundations students:  When a person says something concrete, specific, about making changes to an art work, i.e. “it could use more blue”, “it needs a greater tonal range”, “you really need to incorporate a broader range of sources”, etc., what they are really doing is offering a solution to something that confuses them, an indecisive or undecided middle ground.  In those cases, the exact opposite of their suggestion will almost always work just as well.  I.e., “use less blue”, “limit the tonal range more extremely”, “focus your range of sources”…  The choice is yours and has to do with intention.  The important thing is to understand that the middle ground is bad.  Spare us the pop-Buddhism.  Please have conviction.  Realize that you have confused your audience.  However, their solution only belongs to them.

I had the rare fortune of spending my formative years around a lot of people who weren’t worth listening to.  I learned how to not listen.  I did well in art school.  The most dangerous thing is people who may possibly be moving in good directions.  But, then, maybe it would have been better to have grown up next door to Cornel West.

(BTW, you can thank George Liebert (also here) for the insight into art criticism.  He revealed said insight to me, probably more articulately, when I was his student in a Foundations class, way back when.  He was/is a person worth listening to.)


“Teaching Artist” — Blog Name Crises Averted

You know, I’ve been wondering about the future of this blog called “Teaching Artist” since I began the transition from art faculty to art administrator.  I’m involved with opening an art center — a community-building, art showcasing, government supported endeavor.  It’s a clean slate with stuff written all over it, or behind it maybe. Whatever the metaphor, I’ve got to figure that all out then find a way to move it forward.  I don’t really know where my thoughts will turn over the coming months or even exactly what I’ll be doing.

I thought about changing the name to “Administrating Artist”, although I had hoped I’d come up with something a little catchier.

Seems that won’t be a problem.  Because,

As of yesterday, more or less, I’m teaching a Portfolio Development class at Prince George’s Community College.

They called the day before to invite me to interview to teach a different class, that would have begun next week.  Things were things and the art faculty there seem like some good people.   Moreover, as I interviewed, there was a class going on  (Friday night, I know…) that still needed an instructor.  So, there I was with a presentation of my art work all ready and everything.  Next thing I know I’m presenting my work to a group of students as an artist, as an example of how to present art work, and as faculty on the first day of class working to win over the effort-commitment of his students.

Ahhh, I knew teaching wouldn’t let me leave.

The class is small — run with low numbers in an effort to build it up, and because it’s required for the AA and AAA degrees.  The students seemed sincerely interested.  My guess/hope is that if they signed up for a Friday night class, they’re probably dedicated. (Yeah, I know …)

So, I taking my new found secondary income out today to buy a laptop.  I perceive myself as a person that everyone assumes already has a laptop.   I don’t know, maybe people see through me better than that — being that the truth is I’ve never owned one.  I want to be  a laptop dude though, they look so, late twentieth century forward-thinking…  Besides, I’m going to need it to smooth the balancing act of holding two attention-consuming positions.

Taking Time to Adjust, ’cause, well, It Seems to Make Sense

During the course of the past two weeks I’ve wondered more than once how people with real jobs maintain blogs.  Do you all do any work?

I didn’ t used to…

Work, I mean…

I do now — even though I know it doesn’t count for Republicans-come-Libertarianish-ists because it’s for a government.  But, rest assured, I do work now and I try to convince myself that some day even those people will be interested in benefiting from cultural activity à la art centers.

Then there is of course that I’ve changed fields within the visual arts.

It’s hard; changing fields…

Which things need forms signed by whom and which don’t?  When no one’s putting anything on your desk, how do you project forward and know what to initiate?

So, after I come home and cook dinner, now I’m resting away from the internet.  I dearly wish the TV wasn’t so god damned stupid all the time.  But, it is.  So, now I do mindless art prep work and play with the cats.  Then, I go to bed because I’m going to wake up at the god forsaken hour of 6:00 the next morning.

When I have some energy, I’m grooving in my own special can’t-really-groove way to Ill Ease.  In a bit of curiosity about nostalgia, I tried to track down on the internet some songs by New Radiant Storm King.  The album I was thinking about wasn’t relevant/good enough to my cuts-his-hair-short-enough-that-you-usually-don’t-notice-all-the-gray-(even-though-that’s-not-why-I-cut-it-that-way) self, to buy it.  So, thinking that Elizabeth Sharp was the only good thing that ever happened to that band — the drummer and the singer on the only songs I wanted to hear again, I tracked her down.  She’s Ill Ease now and an even smarter version of exactly what I was looking for.

Oh, and about the awkward use of semicolons and all the damned ellipses…  it’s worse when I speak.

You may not be aware of this but…

All that stuff we teach college students how to do…

There’s a whole world out there where people actually go do those things.

Yeah, I never imagined it either.

It’s totally cool out there though.  Monday, I started a job out there and there’s people out there and none of them have two heads and I met a bunch of them and they actually seem to like it out there and…

On my very second day I got to touch real live art that wasn’t even made by students.


This is kind of how I feel:

You see, in one interpretation, the cheetah represents community college students and the gazelle is art — I get to be the guy. Or, maybe the guy is real live art made by real live artists and I’m the gazelle — art majors who hate making art are the cheetah.  Then again, it could be that the cheetah is a  metaphor for the economic panic/collapse seen through the lens of someone with an MFA, and…  Well, you know, art coefficient, etc.

That and I’m waking up at 6:00 every morning.

I always imagined I might enjoy being a morning person, if I were one.  But I’m not.  If freshly risen sun were that damn good, we’d do it later in the day.  It doesn’t matter how much coffee you drink, sitting still in your car on The Beltway, trying to get a glimpse of what’s happening in between your sun visor and the dashboard without blinding yourself in some damn hippie “sun-rise”, you’re absolutely sure you’d rather just wake up later.

We’re Quite Self Reflexive About Our Orwellian Demise

I just came across this:


The Playmobile Security Checkpoint.

Your kids can live out a pretend world where people strip off their shoes and belts to have their Snapple taken away from them while undercover TSA agents routinely smuggle in weapons during test exercises.

Honestly, I’d think it was something on Slop Art, if it weren’t listed at Amazon.

But why not embrace the ineffective implementation of police tactics?

(or is that strategy?)

I imagine children growing up with a very different, more ideally adapted set of values.

“OMG 2day = soooo awesome  I got surveilled like 30* b4 lunch”  Fer real.

Advice for Young Artists from a Young Artist

This morning, while searching for something to patch up a newly opened hole in my memory, I came across something I wrote eight, almost nine years ago.

“Some Words for Artists — What Phil Said” In the archives of kleinart.com.

I hadn’t forgotten that I wrote it.  But, I didn’t know it was still out there.

It may be the earliest writing of mine that still exists.

It is a younger, pre grad school me (the editorial intro was updated later) giving advice for freshly emerging artists.  I had curated a few shows by then, exhibited pretty actively between undergrad and grad school, and must have seemed promising, I guess.

Reading my own, old writing gives me exactly the same discomfort as hearing my recordings of my own voice.   (I’ve just barely gotten past the uneasiness of using microphones, even though I like public speaking.)  Rereading this essay wasn’t so bad though.

Interestingly enough, it shows proto-forms of some of the same messed up grammer I cherish so much today.  Plus, there’s only ONE  word written in an improper form — a kind of mental typo I seem to be quite good at.

An Allegorical History of Higher Education

The Washington Post has a great little article up about the history of all the problems in American post-secondary education, called Dropping the Ball.


No. Wait.

It’s actually about the Inaugural Ball(s).

But, it’s sort of funny if you read it as an allegorical tale about working in higher education.  At least, when I read it, I couldn’t help but draw the comparison.

Allow me to quote:

A sample PIC [Presidential Inauguration Committee] agenda from 1881: “Appointment of Persons to Have Charge of the Hat Boxes.”

Followed by:

At one 19th-century meeting, members proposed such ideas as charging female guests double because of their large dresses.

At another, the chair of the civic organizations committee received special thanks for dealing with the “women suffragists” who “have greatly added to the troubles of the inaugural committee.

It occurred to me that government isn’t really an institution or a collection of offices.  It is a methodology.

Higher ed is essentially the same, save the collection of loopy humanities professors (ahem, who “teech”es art?).

Anyway.  As fun as it is to laugh at the troubles you’ve left behind, let me remind myself here that I did, indeed, just leave higher ed to work for a government agency.