Art art art

Closer to home, there are lots of art shows worth checking out… On my list:

This film screening in conjunction with We have as much time as it takes sounds interesting. If you haven’t had a chance to see the show (to which I contributed Unlimited Promise), the gallery’s open late…
Tuesday, May 18, 7–10 pm
Wattis presents Another Time
A one-night-only screening of James Benning’s 2005 film One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later in Timken Lecture Hall. The film portrays an industrial, blue-collar town, in the filmmaker’s hometown of Milwaukee. The first 60 shots of the film–depicting factories, lonely railroad tracks, and desolate construction sites–were captured in 1977. Twenty-seven years later Benning returned to restage the film shot-by-shot, revealing the transformation of the landscape over time. One Way Boogie Woogie / 27 Years Later is exemplary of Benning’s distinctive cinematographic language, including extended shots that prolong anticipation.
CCA Wattis, 1111 Eighth Street @ Irwin, San Francisco

Leah’s delightful and intriguingly odd stripey, colorful paintings…
May 13–June 30, 2010
Time Will Tell
Solo Show by Leah Rosenberg
18 Reasons, 593 Guerrero St., San Francisco, CA 94110

Immersive light and video artists’ projects.
May 14-July 3, 2010
Jars Filmed Inside (Elaine Buckholtz Solo Show)
Perception Projection Delay (Hunter Longe Installation)
Triple Base, 3041 24th Street, San Francisco, CA
Gallery Hours: Thu-Sun 12-5pm

The inaugural show at Intersection’s new downtown space! A little bird told me it’d be good!
May 19 – July 3, 2010
Let’s Talk of a System
A group exhibition featuring work by April Banks, Sergio De La Torre & Vicky Funari, Suzanne Husky, Laura Parker, Favianna Rodriguez, James Reed and Banker White.
Intersection 5M, 901 Mission Street @ 5th, San Francisco, CA 94103
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 12 to 6pm / First Thursdays: 12 to 8 pm
Opening reception: Wednesday May 19, 2010, 6-8pm

Art & Development

the unreasonable optimist

“Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.”

–Conan O’Brien (by way of M)

Sergio De La Torre
Sergio De La Torre, “(Don Bergfors) Waiting for Gabriel Orozco, San Diego Airport,” from the series “10 Artists, 10 Drivers, 10 Cities,” 2005-07, work in progress, C-Print photograph, 2005-07 (Image source: Emergency Biennial)

Is having a life in the arts like marriage? Psychologist John Gottman has found that a key indicator of successful marriages is not how well you and your partner get along, but how well you make up after a fight. Maybe a more telling indicator for a successful life in the arts is how well you stay engaged when opportunities are lean and rejections rife. Clearly talent and capacity are necessary, but so are resilience and the ability to recover efficiently from disappointments.

I’ve been doing my part in “collecting no’s” — sending out lots of applications to competitions and residencies, and getting an equal amount of rejections. This week, I received the equivalent of a light petting followed by a heavy slap. It was a rejection/commendation combination: I was informed that my application to a residency program was among the top 50 out of 570 applications. That means my application was among the top 8%. Unfortunately, the committee could award only 4 residencies, which comprises less than 1% of all applications. Put another way, only 1 out of 142 applicants were successful.

Those are harsh odds. And yet I have to recover, stay optimistic, and keep trying. I don’t believe that I’m entitled to anything because I’m an artist and artists are special. I don’t believe that art patrons are obligated to make my life easier. I think crybaby artists — who elevate the value of their work over others’ — play into horrible myths that further alienate the public from enjoying and participating in art.

Still, I’d love to see more deserving art recognized. This means there need to be more art opportunities for more artists, rather than the current state of hyper-stratification, which is sort of like the concentration of wealth in this country: there’s the top 6% of biennial-circuit Hirsts, Cattelans, Tirivanijas and the other 94% of us. Like Sergio De La Torre’s brilliant series of performance photographs, “10 Artists, 10 Drivers, 10 Cities” (2005-07, work in progress), there’s a futility and misdirection in waiting for art stars (who never arrive). Life, and art, go on without them.

I don’t want to be rich and famous. I want to be respected, and for the quality of my work to be acknowledged. I want to be just, and to love and be loved. I want to have a lifelong practice. I’ll admit, a detached studio in a French chateau would be sweet, but ultimately I’d be happy with being happy: having a satisfying art practice, the esteem of my work and ideas by rigorous colleagues and institutions equipped to share and archive them, and the time and flexibility to enjoy my family and environs.