Art & Development

Why I do art technician work

On occasion, I work as an art technician. The job involves handling, installing, and sometimes fabricating artwork, and all the physical aspects of transitioning galleries between exhibitions.

The work is not for the faint-hearted (think: carrying lumber and sheet goods up stairs) or status-minded (the art world can be very classist), but I find it rewarding and educational. Technician work requires multiple abilities: skills of facture, art materials knowledge, problem-solving, and communicating with artists. Art schools don’t teach how to build crates, pack artwork, make pedestals, light galleries and so on. You also need to be able to switch gears: to throw it into high gear when it’s time to jam, and slow down for details and delicate work. It is wonderful work when you can manage this as well as maintain a good attitude and a sense of camaraderie with your team.

I’ve been helping out with exhibitions at Art in General, a non-profit alternative art space dedicated to producing and presenting new work. Their mission reflects the ethos of the art world I’d like to participate in.

I’m proud of the work I’ve done there—this week involved framing things on odd angles, sheetrock, 15 pedestals, 72 linear feet of guttered shelves. Ticking off what seemed to be an impossible checklist is very satisfying. As are the moments when a tool becomes an extension of your consciousness. While I love doing graphic design work, it can mean sitting at a screen all day, increasing my appreciation of the physicality and immediacy of technician work (which, in turn, can increase my appreciation for design work).

Best of all is doing this work alongside good-natured, problem-solving co-workers. I need enthusiasm no less than skills; the “let’s do it” attitude whether the job is re-doing a detail that’s 1/8″ off, or rip-cutting a lot of plywood first thing in the morning.

There are pitfalls to the work—for artists, disillusionment; and in an oft-male-dominated field, confidence becoming arrogance. But I’ve been very lucky to get my on-the-job training from experienced individuals who share knowledge generously and patiently, and who are communicative and team-oriented. And in inviting new members of a team now, I know that I owe my comfort with tools and confidence in my skills to those mentors. In gratitude, I look forward to sharing my modest abilities, and hopefully, my enthusiasm, with those who are hungry to learn.

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Community, Sights

Three reasons to be excited about art

Please excuse my previous griping post and have a look at this:

1. Brendan Fernandes and Ohad Meromi at Art in General

I helped to install these two artists’ shows, and I’m very excited about the quality and experimentation in both of them. I feel very fortunate to work with wonderful staff and interns at Art in General in the production of shows by really kind, thoughtful artists.

Brendan Fernandes’ exhibition, From Hiz Hands, opens in the ground-floor Project Space tomorrow, Friday, December 10 at 6pm. In addition to a massive wall text and audio piece, there are three super neon signs you can see from the street.

Ohad Meromi contribues Rehearsal Sculpture, a likably obscure set of sculptures, props and setting for participatory action. Ohad’s prior work (see Harris Lieberman Gallery, of the sweetly ligature’d logo, for pics) are really fun combinations of formal and vernacular design with social overtones, so I’m really interested in this more explicitly performative and experiential work.

2. Mark Bradford, artist, MacArthur Genius, and artist-philanthropist-role model.

Bradford, who exuded articulateness, integrity and rigor in his talk at SFAI, is a role model. His most recent feat of fearlessness is committing to donate $100k to support other artists in the pursuit of their own projects that might not be otherwise funded. How awesome is that?

3. Via HWT, this image by Frances Twombly, found on ArtNet:

Frances Twombly, Balloons, 2004

Frances Twombly, Balloons, 2004

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Community

Fanzines & Reading Rooms

Fanzines, Teal Trigg

Zine View: A Pop-Up Reading Room
The Well Gallery
London College of Communication, Elephant & Castle,
London
Tonight, Monday 20 September,
 6 – 8.30pm

ZineView: A Pop Up Reading Room will showcase a huge collection of zines provided by the zine makers and fanatics of today, along with examples of zines from the past held in the LCC Zine Archive, Zineswap’s extensive library of zines, and the author’s own collection.

Among the zines included will be Color & Color, a lovely journal of artworks organized by friends Amanda Curreri & Erik Scollon. I contributed to the first issue, #0, and nominated three artists to participate in the next issue, #2, due out soon.

Image Source: Art Licks

General Public Library, Mylinh Nguyen

General Public Library, Mylinh Nguyen

General Public Library
Curated by Mylinh Nguyen
Art in General, 79 Walker Street, New York, NY
September 16-November 13, 2010
Tuesday-Saturday 12 to 6 pm

The General Public Library is a library/reading room project organized by Art in General Designer in Residence Mylinh Nguyen, in conjunction with the upcoming launch of six 2009-2010 New Commissions publications designed by Nguyen during her residency.

From September 16-November 13, 2010 the Storefront Project Space gallery will be made into a reading room, which will be accessible as an online resource as well. To start the library, Nguyen invited designers, publishers, curators, artists, galleries, and musicians to contribute publications to the project that reflect the donor’s practice, methodology, inspiration and interest. Visitors are encouraged to donate a favorite book to the library during the exhibition.

Nguyen approaches the idea of a library with a unique focus on participation and the formation of community. In contrast to a traditional reading room–which can only be accessed for the duration of the show—the online catalogue of the General Public Library allows each visitor to browse and curate their own library within an existing and continually growing catalogue, beyond the physical installation. Each donation, as it is made, will be logged into the library cataloging system. As libraries begin to form and overlap, each book becomes a link between the book donor and other participants in the library. Inversely, when viewing one book, it is possible to see the interests of other participants.

Throughout the course of the exhibition, as visitors create their own selection of favorite books, the library will filter all donations into a catalog of the top 200 most popular books. These books will be added to the General Public Library permanent collection after the duration of the project.

Contributing participants include Art Metropole, aaaarg.org, Ooga Booga, Fillip, Printed Matter, Nieves, 2nd Cannons Publications, Capricious, Hassla, Golden Age, Medium Rare, Oslo Editions, Gottlund Verlag, Eastside Projects, Bedford Press, Stripe SF, New Jerseyy, Matt Keegan, North Drive Press, Project Projects, split/fountain, STUPENDOUS, The Holster, Bart de Baets, Andreas Banderas, Christian Brandt, Task Newsletter, Robin Cameron, Dante Carlos, ETCAMA, For Further Information, Espen Friberg and Aslak Gurholt Rønsen, GRAPHIC, David Horvitz, Marie Jager, Kingsboro Press, Zak Kyes, Lucky Dragons, Manystuff, Jennilee Marigomen, Miniature Garden, Radim Pesko, Laurel Ptak, Rollo Press, Peter Sutherland, Swill Children, Vance Wellenstein, Jessica Williams and YOU.

The General Public Library website, www.generalpubliclibrary.info, is based on Yours Mine Ours, a shared library designed and developed by Brian Watterson, Hank Huang and Zak Klauck.

Image Source: Art in General

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