Tuesday, September 20, 2011

First Impressions

Fully in the swing of things, I am taking a minute from reading to write an update. I think it is worth mentioning that, for the most part, I am omitting names; however, I will name drop on a few. How about Will Cotton? Saw him at an opening. The paintings of Alyssa Monks, Vincent Desiderio, and Aaron Johnson--saw them. And tomorrow I will venture uptown to see Jenny Saville's new show! So excited, I CAN'T BREATHe.

The Desiderio show was enlightening. Familiar with his work, I had imagined his surfaces to have more paint, but the surface is very economical frequently leaving a thin layer or underpainting showing in several areas. Several pieces appeared to be pulled off a stretcher and framed under glass with two linen strips present on each side. I did not see this adding to the piece at all and it seemed rather distracting to several of the compositions. I also noticed the frequent movement of his compositions, several canvases were restretched to accomodate a corner or edge that just needed a little more room. You can see images online at the Malborough Gallery in Chelsea.

The Aaron Johnson show featured grotesque portraits and complex compositions of monstrous figures interacting in an orgy of pop culture. What I found most engaging was the plastic mesh upon which he painted. He collaged several areas in what appeared to be paper cutouts. The paintings were highly decorative and rewarded you for getting close up. Check out the STUX website.

So far, school is okay. I haven't been "wow"ed yet, like I imagined I would be by now. I am taking the more open form painting instructors as well as the more laid back drawing professors, so homework has been steady but manageable. For painting, I am to complete twelve still lives using grisailles, dead palette, limited palette, and finally a full palette. It is highly encouraged that I experiment with mixing mediums to suit my needs, which has been very helpful. The professor is candid about his painting experiences and has extensive knowledge of historical palettes and applications, though he prefers each painter to find his or her own uses for such knowledge, if any. He frequently refers to Robert Henri's, The Art Spirit, and is very thrifty in his own painting practice--which is helping me out a lot. Winton is apparently not the devil of paints! He also prefers using Rembrandt white as it is easier to keep clean when mixing due to the amount of oil. Forty percent of your painting uses white!

For a structural anatomy course, I have to construct two ecorches--challenging given the fact my last successful venture into 3D dates back to pre-school (but it was an *amazing* bunny)--one in a full frontal pose and the other in contrapposto.

For figure drawing intensive, there are six hours a week of drawing from the model. I have to complete master copies: I chose to do a Pontormo first and now the whole class has to copy a Prudhon drawing--I'm choosing a more loosely constructed example.

And for a design and composition class I have to take one of the paintings from the Desiderio or the Johnson show and create my own painting, any size/subject, based on the compositional elements of the chosen piece. This has potential!

The school is full of friendly and engaging individuals who are nerdy about painting--the sweet, sweet joy of painting--and have met an apprentice of Odd Nerdum as well as Yigal Ozeri. Of course I proceeded to debate about the nature of Kitsch and the morality behind Ozeri's use of projecting his image AND then having a bunch of students paint a large portion of his works. Of course.

The potential for enlightening conversation is promising.

Also worth note, the master classes are opening up soon. And although I doubt I will get a place due to sign up regulations (aka 2nd years priority, 15 spots per class), I am excited about the prospects: Alyssa Monks, Laurie Hogin, Arthur Gonzalez, and Julie Heffernan. I'm sure you've heard of a few!

Finally, I thought it important to stress how amazing my undergraduate education was at the Kansas City Art Institute. Being amongst a new and diverse group of students, I have been reaffirmed of the quality of what I learned and practiced at KCAI.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Spiral of the Universe and the Case of the Missing Boxes

FAB title, amirite? Alrighty, well--the newest adventure spans two days:

Day 1: Disco Inferno
Several issues presented themselves today that made me fling into crisis mode. For one the train down and most trains running North/South on the island are express, which is bad for my purposes. So, taking a new line is no big deal. Taking a new line to somewhere you have never been, no big deal. Taking a new line to somewhere you have never been to not figure out where you are supposed to exit, ...somewhat a big deal. Walking around trying to find Jane Street for fifteen minutes and walking up and down the same streets with onlookers clearly marking you as an idiot, priceless.

Two, mid trip I realized that my landlord had tried to process a check that bounced--a check from my old account which I had THOUGHT was already processed. Having changed banks, I had to quickly address the issue so I wouldn't be kicked out of the apartment. That was a super morning!

However, I did finally meet up with my friend, Rebecca, via Grounded on Jane Street--good teas...Alex would be proud. So while Rebecca worked on her laptop, I savored a White Melon Tea with so much ice I could cry and listening to a whole album of David Bowie. Why, yes, I *do* know all the words. V. good NYC.

Yet, my buzz died instantly upon discovering that I had apparently (despite filling out the MPN twice) not filled out my paperwork correctly and was notified that I would NOT be getting my money for school the first month. Luckily, this has happened enough and I was assured that I would be covered and to just fill it out yet again. Crisis adverted!

Rebecca and I walked around and met up with a few people and ended up walking at Chelsea Pier and seeing the World Trade Center memorial progress. Round out the trip in the Village and it was a good night. The highlight, a woman in Dunkin Donuts.

She believed that because of my hair, I had the potential to have otherworldy connection from African descent. She believed in underground cities, where the Dalai Lamas (yeah, plural) and Adam and Eve were hanging out currently. She called it the Spiral Universe. Sounds strangely reminiscent of Yeat's Cyclical Time. This sounds like an art project.

Day 2: Lord of the Rings, UPS Edition

Lesson learned. Do not ship things to NYC that need to be there on a very specific day unless you overnight via air. Ground is completely unreliable in regards to UPS and general mail. I have fourteen boxes currently resting in Jersey that were meant for today. Not to be. It will be Wed at the earliest when I will see the rest of my stuff. Pure joy.

Also, am awaiting a desk and office chair that according to Office Depot was "delivered" yesterday. I'm hoping my home office area isn't the current side street special.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recent Trip


With my sister in tow, I went to NYC to acquire a new apartment and to explore more of the city. Two things immediately became clear on this trip: 1. Sister was much more game to explore and 2. Much more walking would be involved.

Now, nothing against the good ol' Midwest, but let's face it--we don't walk for more than a block for anything! So, to fill everyone in--since this seems to surprise so many people---if you travel, you will walk. CRAZY. and true. You will get hot, you will sweat, and you will walk.

So here is my handy dandy list for NYC travel:

1. know at least one subway line like the back of your hand: If you get lost or are traveling at night, it helps to just ride until you hit this one line and then you can get home without looking at your map.

2. know what stores/restaurants have public restrooms: McDonalds is always a sure bet, Starbucks at 90% reliable, bookstores are also a safe bet. Usually if you buy a meal at a diner or restaurant, you can use the bathroom. Sadly, Topshop does not :(

3. when on the subway do NOT look at someone for more than three seconds OR YOU WILL INVITE CRAZY

4. when on the subway do NOT talk to anyone you don't know...even if they are asking you questions OR YOU WILL INVITE CRAZY

5. when on the subway do NOT announce where you are going or what stop you are going to get off OR...once again...YOU WILL INVITE CRAZY.

6. if you have to walk at night, walk with a purpose and look like you know exactly where you are going and you only have so much time to do it, or well...you know the drill!

Okay.  Now that is out of the way...on to the trip:

We looked at apartments and did some fun things on the side when there was time including checking out Central Park, going to the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, visiting Chinatown and Soho, walking through Little Italy, and of course visiting Times Square both at night (the best!) and during the day. Which brings us to the more exciting section of the trip.

Although I had thoroughly gone over some safety tips with my traveling companion, we did encounter a problem in the subway. My sister, friendly/misguided creature that she is, decided to have a conversation with some stranger on the subway who insisted on asking her where she was from, where she was going, how long she was staying, etc.

Having had an eye-opening experience in Pere Lachaise Cemetary in Paris with a gypsy (?) who proceeded to maul my face, aka french kiss my FACE, on Victor Noir's grave/fertility symbol marker...well, let's just say I don't talk to any native that willingly talks to you...because it is most likely a scam or...in my case, an undesirable encounter.

So while I was glaring down this dude (I'd say anywhere from 18-24), she proceeded to laugh and smile nervously. Well, we got off in the Times Square area and walked quickly away, both of us looking over our shoulder. Seeing as I was wearing a BRIGHT ASS YELLOW SWEATER, we were pretty easy to spot in a crowd. I paid attention to what I was passing as I walked for we had two major problems--no cards, only $11 cash. Lo and behold, I found the jackpot---darkly lit bar, bouncer in the front, $4 margarita special, and a fire station right across the street *with the firefighters hanging out in front of the station*. So as I look for my sister, I realize she has sprinted ahead of me. She's freaking out seeing that the subway creeper has followed us four blocks and pushes ahead and I follow her telling her to calm down.

Creeper catches up, and leans over her shoulder and it is about this time I go into mother bear from HELL mode. I put my hand between their faces and yell, "NO, NO, EXCUSE ME, NOT INTERESTED, WE'RE DONE HERE, EXCUSE ME"--grab my sister and we proceed to cross the street away from him. We cut up a block or two up, pass through a Marriot Hotel and proceed to the mecca of where you go when someone is stalking you in NYC.

Welcome to McDonalds.
Conveniently outfitted with restrooms while you wait for your stalker to go away. :D
And yes, I would like fries with that.

A sweet tea (yuck!) and hamburger later, we made it our first Broadway show, The Addams Family. Brooke Shields is no Angelica Huston, but it was worth it. 

Having taken a self defense class, I really only learned one thing worthwhile and that is, when confronted, match the intensity. Become bat-shit crazy and scare off would be attackers. Though it seems counter-intuitive, be loud and create a scene.

I think I gave my sister an ulcer. Eh, I think I could live here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Finding an apartment in NYC is an epic quest not unlike Frodo's journey through Middle Earth. I am not kidding. Navigating New York City involves knowing some important facts and guidelines that will help ease one's transition into city living. For one thing...usually a lease is not involved in the deal. You may also have the distinct pleasure of paying exorborant amounts of money for an apartment that will not have air conditioning. Did I mention that most bedrooms are around 10 x 10? Put a price tag of anywhere from $700-1200 as your personal cut of a 1-2 bedroom apartment for that small bedroom and you will get an idea of the real estate in NYC. Living alone in a studio? $1400+/mo. Eat that, Frodo.

After viewing many places and meeting many...interesting...people, I have found my apartment in Queens (Greek food aplenty!) and am very excited to move in with a very stellar and laid back Scotsman. I will officially move in the end of this month and officially start grad school the first week of September.

In order for me to better reflect on my time in New York City, I have created this blog to share all the frustrating--and often humorous--moments.