Art and the Recession

In case you didn’t already know that the recession is affecting artists, the Times has reported on the findings of LINC (Levereging Investments in Creativity).

“The artists surveyed tended to earn either very little of their overall income from their artwork or almost all of it. Slightly more than 40 percent said that in 2008 they earned 20 percent or less of their total income from their art.”

Phooey.

How do we change this?

Clowns Finding a Home in Harlem

This is a profile on Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, two wonderful TA colleagues at the New Victory Theater and clown partners in the group The Acrobuffos.

The story is amazing for two reasons.

It talks about the incredible work that they do in war torn countries to bring their art and joy to young people.  To help people to dream, to express, to heal.

They also found a way to buy their own home and make it a place where they can work and live, which for me, as a Teaching Artist, seems sometimes like a faraway dream.  Now I know it’s possible, so that makes me hopeful.

The Highline

It’s open. I’m speechless.  Maybe these photos can speak for me.  In this very crowded city, it was a wonder to get a little breathing space to think.  Maybe even dream.  And see other people not pushing past each other, but strolling alone or with people they like.  Not in a hurry.  Just…wandering.  Except some crazy guy who decided to jog through there.  But nevermind him.

And the best part is getting to see to see the neighborhood from views I’d never seen it from before.

Summertime as a Teaching Artist/All the Time as an Artist

I think I might’ve written the last post because living with less is on my mind because now begins the desert times for Teaching Artists.  Unless you’re extraordinarily lucky and gotten one of the few city TA gigs or are flying off to Alaska or New Hampshire or Vermont to work at a camp, you are here, trying to figure out how to piece together a living in the summer.

I feel lucky to have gotten a job working at the Public Theater for part of the summer.  Working with young people around Shakespeare with the wonderful Michael Wiggins.  Awesome.

But, until then and after that, it’s playing the survival game.  Temping, where I’ve often turned for summer work in years past is slower than usual due to the economic downturn.  And I will figure something out.  I always do.  But it occurs to me that these are the things we often don’t talk about as artists.  How do we make it all work.  So, I’m taking a poll in order to share resources.  I’m currently reading Microtrends by Mark Penn to research a new play and he says that gleaning information from polls can help determine the trends of tomorrow (and of course establish where we are).

So help me out and answer the poll.  And we’ll try and find some answers together.

The Joy of Less

My friend Dustin posted this article by Pico Iyer on what it is to live with less.

Having spent a bit of time in Kyoto, there is a part of me that is envious of the life he has chosen, or rather, where he has chosen to have this austere life.

As artists and teaching artists here in NYC, auterity isn’t so much a choice, especially these days.  But, the way that we embrace it, frame it and enjoy what we do have is within our control.

cluttered desks

have you seen these pictures of einstein’s desk?

it might make me feel a little better about the junkheap that is the left arm of my sofa which doubles as a desk.

have you seen these pictures of einstein’s desk?

it might make me feel a little better about the junkheap that is the left arm of my sofa which doubles as a desk.

assorted clutter:

some blank notebooks (gotten as gifts)
redacting tape (with the cartoon character pukka on it)
checkbooks
yearly planners from 2006, 2007 and 2008 (before i went digital)
a memory stick with the cap missing
an eyeliner pencil (rust)
the remote control to my mac
bills
more bills
old plane ticket stubs (united)
an old g-shock watch that needs a new band
various computer cords
post-its (yellow lined and purple, unlined)
a checklist
green sunglasses in a green case
gloves
a brown paper notebook from 2004
an unopened bottle of purple nail polish

the only thing missing is a half-eaten sandwich.

what’s on your desk?

Holidays Alone

Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?

My TV is out tonight. Okay. So, I thought I might unwind and rest my head by listening to a podcast. Some radio.

You might have also listened to the November 17th version of “This American Life.” There is a story of a 79-year old woman named Maryann who walked into a hospital alone and died there. It follows the story of a young woman named Emily whose job it is to claim her things at the hospital, go through her house and figure out who to inform, how to find family or loved ones. This particular woman left nearly no personal items, but had a house full of things. She cocooned herself in this place.

They talk to her neighbors. They barely know her. The only clue is a 30 year-old Christmas card written from a man who claims he doesn’t know her until he realizes that she is in fact his great-aunt.

On her answering machine was the message, “This is a message from No Name, No Number, No Message, No Answer.”

I wonder if she was happy. I wonder if this was all exactly as she wanted it.

Then, there was a young man named Clevins who lived alone at 15. He spoke of the joy of being able to make up his own room after a nomadic childhood. After his mother got sick, he decided to not tell anyone about it so that he could avoid being put into the foster care system.

And I wondered, is this one of the last things that we can have any control over? Our home and when and under what conditions people enter our space. When we walk out into the world. And what the course of our path is. Is their chosen aloneness an incredibly decisive act of self-determination?