Monday, September 23, 2013

How technology is hurting us as artists……

Hoard Couture Dress 26

Yet again, a situation has arisen where our dependence upon digital communication has done a disservice to both a gallery and to me.  Previously I was willing to accept half the blame, but this time, no way am I responsible and hanging up on me is definitely not a way to gain points in the professionalism department. I would love to name the venue, but I will not ruin the opportunity to exhibit there by others. Yes, it is a “local” place, but not in our county so breathe a sigh of relief those of you who were perhaps starting to get a bit miffed.

Once upon a time, about oh….early 2012, I applied for a call for artists. They book a year or so in advance (do the math, which puts us at late 2013 at the latest). The application asks for those months when one would be available for the next calendar year (as of  early 2012 mind you….).  I apply.  I get a call, on the phone by a human being, about a month later saying they got my materials and will be looking them over, excited about the work. A year goes by and I hear nothing.

Early 2013 sometime, can’t be sure when, I see the same venue asking for applications for exhibitions so I figure mine has been tossed aside.

Yesterday, late afternoon, a rather curt woman calls and asks for me. (It is now mid to late 2013 remember). She says that she wants me to confirm the dates I was given for my show since I have not responded to the email (months ago or a year ago, she can’t recall) saying I was to be given a show, and also not responded to the email with the final dates allocated to me. I reply with an apology that I never received any such notification.

I was informed that “oh yes you did” and she read me my email address. Um…no…..perhaps it went to the junk folder although I do check those daily with care just in case. Oh forget this, Let’s just do the conversation shall we?

Caller - “Oh yes you did get an email and it was to the following address.” (which she reads correctly)
Jk - “That is my email but perhaps it went to junk or spam but I do check those and did not see any from the ____ gallery.”
Caller - “Well you never responded so these are your dates (listed here) and you must confirm.”
Jk - “I am sorry but those dates will not work, as the Hoard Couture show is between venues at that time and I have a contract with another venue to not show the work anywhere near here for a period of time on either side of that show. It would be unethical to violate that.”
Caller – (getting irritated) “We told you we were giving you a show, you just never replied.”
Jk – “ I am sorry for the confusion but I applied in early 2012 and ….
Caller – “We book a year in advance. You were notified and did not reply.”
Jk – (Trying not to be snarky that the show being offered is in 2014 and that is more than a year after  mid 2012 as far as my math is concerned) “I am sorry but I did not get any notification that you had accepted my work, only a phone call in mid 2012 that my application had been received.”
Caller –(Obviously pissed off)  “So you are not doing the show? Well good luck then!” and she hangs up on me.
Jk – (talking to the dial tone) “I would be happy to work with you to schedule a fall time slot……” Considering your attitude however, I would prefer to not work with you. This one was not my fault.

Okay, what is wrong with this whole thing?  If you are in charge of booking a venue and do not hear from someone whom you contacted by email within a reasonable amount of time, (and you have a phone number which was used once before….) do you not think it would behoove you to pick up the thing again and call? Emails change, computers break, spam filters block etc…. so I would be darn sure if it was my job that I would be following up on my communication. Next problem is the part where they ask for available slots because as time goes by, I try to book shows or life events happen, and time becomes unavailable, so a reasonable person would think to ask for updated availability….right? The next issue being if you really wanted my work, then why not offer to work with me since “obviously what we have here is a failure to communicate.” Hanging up in irritation is not a good choice.

I am not one for the phone all that much, but it does serve a useful purpose at times, like making sure some got the message. Remember answering machines and voice mail (I have both), plus contact via a website page, Facebook, text and a mail box out at the end of the driveway. All those methods of contact were on that original application and available to this venue.  Will I name them? No, not here, but maybe if you call me I would make sure you get the message loud and clear! We are doing ourselves no favors in this business to not try and work together when “mistakes” happen, although I never made one as far as I can tell. I am nothing if not ethical when it comes to this business. If I have a contract, verbal or signed, I will honor it. A gentleman’s agreement made face to face on a handshake is far more binding to me than someone getting snippy because I sent in an application of interest.

A recent mishap with a prescription medication between a doctor’s office and a pharmacy (one sent, one did not receive) due to two different computer systems being unable to communicate with each others, just goes to show that human beings are still far more intelligent than a machine. As Ronny said…”Trust, but verify.”

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

All Grown Up...or are we?

Pioneer parents passing through Kansas City

Oh man, I just have to expound about this…whatever happened to grown-ups?  Or should I say realizing that we are grown up and don’t need to be treated like we are still in elementary school. 

Reading a national news paper today (2 words because it is paper that really reports only news, nothing about celebrities and other types who think they are), which had two articles that made me just want to smack somebody. Not sure who exactly, probably just my own head in frustration but come on people….are we really so nanny-fied up the wazoo that we can’t think for ourselves anymore?

Article number one was about distractions in the work place. After some statistics about who bothers whom and how social media dominates work time and all (shame on those of you reading this at work!) ….a picture was in the lower corner. A grown woman is standing at a counter of some kind, obviously doing a job. She is wearing a narrow yellow sash like thing, almost like an overgrown dog collar in style, cross ways on her body. It is a sign to her other coworkers that she is “busy” and not to be disturbed. A whole bunch of them hang on hooks behind her on the wall for others to take when needed so  they be identified as “busy” too and nobody is to bother them with videos about their dog or instagram photos of their breakfast. (I am guessing the dog collar style is so it can be adjusted in girth for universal one size fits all coding.) Did the boss put this lady in time out so she actually gets some work done for his dollar? Why do we need a sash to say back off? Why not just say to the interrupting instagrammer….”back off, I gotta get some work done?” Are we afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings because we don’t’ have time to listen to a story about their daughter’s lame boyfriend? Can’t we just hold up a palm and say “later?”   I about upchucked my cheerios at this story.  Of course I can’t let it go with just that one observation. Maybe they have blue sashes for those on the way to the potty, or even a brown one so everybody knows your business without asking, (you know what I mean) because bothering a sash wearer is an office no-no!  Maybe a scarlet red one is for those who got caught looking at fashion blogs or playing poker during office hours. Shame on you Allie Officeworker! Go get your sash and sit in your cubicle for time out…and get some work done while you are at it.  Okay, enough, I could go with this one for days.

Article two was about the new “take your parents to work days” cropping up in major companies across America because so many young adults don’t have a landing pad at home for mommy and daddy so now the boss has to include them too. Company picnic coming up?, bring the parents!  Show them your desk and your homework papers and then we can all sit at the table and talk about your work performance…oh wait, that was elementary school right? Wrong, parental participation is happening in office building across the country. It is even encouraged by upper managment to include the parents frequently at many of those “younger” generation type companies where a tie is something that happens only in a game (probably watched by a non sasher ).  I would have been horrified to take my parents to my place of business during regular hours. After work or weekends during a visit is okay, but as active observers during the day? Are we that insecure? At what point does the employee decide that mommy and daddy are too old to come to work?  Why aren’t the mommy and daddy saying “are you nuts?  I let go of those little hands long ago because I get much better leverage to kick’m in the rear that way. Not that I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a speeding train or fling out the ever present “safety arm” across the passenger seat, but I am in no way tagging along to the office asking to see their locker. I would not want my child working for a company that is so unsure of the abilities of its employees that they feel it is okay for the kids to check with mommy and daddy to be sure all is okay. Can’t you just see some old daddy saying “Hey Buddyboy, what does this button do? “ And off goes the whole company internet. Oopsies, sorry everybody, my dad was playing with my computer again.  Maybe if he put on a yellow sash and sat in the corner all would be okay.

Yes, perhaps I am just a believer in our own ability to function in the real world once we drop the diapers, banish the binkie , fall down, get up, try again, cry it out and tell other people the important stuff to their face, like sorry, I am a bit busy doing some brain surgery or something so save the funny cat picture for happy hour. 

I must say however, my newest favorite app for background noise is a police scanner for a local city. The things I learn are far more enlightening than my old talk radio. For instance, if you plan to shoplift, don’t do it in a tie-dyed shirt and funky hat. The cops will find you really fast.  And, when shoplifting, if one is going to do it in drag, be careful of your attire, heels do not make for good running shoes.  Now get back to work.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

New shows are must sees!!

Hoard Couture #26

WOW!!  Okay, I’m done. That should suffice to be a blog about a couple of shows I viewed last night. 

Before I elaborate on them however, I want to say how much I have missed so many of you. Being out of the loop for so long made me realize just how much my “art” friends mean to me, even if we are not the buddy up to the bar type of buddies. Now that life may have settled down…………………..

Sorry, I was off finding a big piece of wood to knock on… perhaps I can find the time to see what you all have been up to. Judging by the offerings at First Friday, evidently you all have been very busy.

First up is the First Stop at the CMA. Judi Longacre did it again by putting together a group of local favorites that offered push pin pieces at hard to beat prices.  I hope people were thinking ahead to Christmas (after all is past Labor Day and the wrapping paper is starting to appear in the stores!).

Not to be missed is the packaged traveling show “Environmental Impact” in the main galleries of the CMA. A limited engagement through Oct 31st is worth the time to view the art and read the statements or stories that go along with them. Think the underbelly of National Geographic. Sad to realize that such beauty can be found in such tragic situations. Often we read or hear about the affects of pollution, overpopulation, and urban sprawl, but to “see” the impact through an artist’s eye offers a perspective that goes beyond mental. The shame of what we are doing to our planet becomes visceral. Using the trash itself to make art as in the polar bear sculptures right inside the door, is pure artistic irony. Hey world, you give us garbage and we will make something positive from it whether you like it or not.  My overall thought was that I am tired of this, which I meant in the sense that rubber tires seem to be everywhere in this show. Our very own rhino in the arts district should be added to this exhibition and sent packing for awhile so others can see what can be done with such castoffs.

We stopped by Saxton Gallery and Journey Art Gallery.  The JAG team was meet’n and greet’n a constant flow of people once one gets past the arterial clog of 4th and Cleveland N.  Their location on the bright and open corner of 4th and Cleveland S is ideal for showcasing the variety of pieces offered. Less local and more regionally oriented, it will be a good resource for those who do not venture out of the area to collect.

Do not miss the current show at Translations, Ludlow Prep 1929, a collaboration between Craig Joseph and Clair Murray Adams. The Ticket did a good job explaining the premise so I will not elaborate on the how this installation was created or the why it was done. WHAT was done is far more worth my limited space. I would not be surprised to find that the gallery is haunted during the month of September. All those mementoes hidden inside the desks must surely contain a spirit or two. Claire did a spectacular job making visual what Craig illustrated through words.  One must be willing to take the time to read and become a voyeur of sorts to the lives behind some long forgotten faces in a discarded old school photo.  In a way, the premise is a bit creepy because we like to think of ourselves as being respectful of the “dead”. Poor Craig had to keep telling people it was okay to sit in the desk chairs and become one with the soul whose name was on the back. It is when one pulls out the seat and realizes a sepia toned photo of the real person is still sitting there, that an uncomfortable feeling takes hold. Granted, the names and places have been changed (or in this case made up) to create a narrative of lives lived, entwined and immortalized.  A copy of the text for each desk is available should one not want to try and read the ones on the desks themselves, which for those who forgot their readers, may be necessary. I asked for a copy to be emailed to me so I can take my time later and enjoy the stories.

Inside each desk are the bits and pieces of someone’s life who once sat in that chair as envisoned by Claire. Such a display makes one think about what we are leaving behind, which dovetailed right back to the show at the CMA and to thoughts of my own Hoard Couture project. Looking at baby shoes, faded photos and costume jewelry is moving in a way that one does not want to really confront.  I applaud Claire’s attention to detail and her method of weaving together a personality inside a box. Finding melted candles lets one know that she did not just plop the stuff inside the desk, she had to assemble it with intent, which is her signature style.  Our own habitual behaviors happen on top of the desks. Every person held on to the glass sculpture on top of one of the desks before lifting the lid. Yes, it was glued to the surface, but we instinctively take hold so it won’t fall off. Do we automatically make assumptions about people the same way?

The teacher’s desk is a delight to explore unto itself because of the subtle humor found in its contents. Any former or current teacher will relate.  How simple times were back then, or so we thought. Cute little girls with chopped off hair in their frilly white dresses or bored looking boys in britches and bow ties…the game of life was never so much fun.

Approach this show as if Stephen King, Alfred Hitchcock and Louise Nevelson decided to have a threesome.  If you happen to hear the theme of the Twilight Zone playing somewhere in the background of your brain, all the better, but don’t be one bit surprised to find that a chair or two may just scoot out on its own accord as the occupant unseen decides to cut class.