Monday, August 1, 2016

It's been so long!

In the last 3 years I've....
I've applied for LOTS of jobs. As in 100's, as in more than 300. And I've even gotten a few of them, but they've all been temp-y.  So, at a friend who's helped edit so many cover letters request, I'm posting a smattering of them.  Here's what someone who has successfully written a thesis paper spends her time on now! (All have been edited to remove the glaringly obvious potential employers, still, some of you may recognize yourself).

To Whom It May Concern:

I attended Oregon College of Art & Craft for my undergraduate studies, where the joke is that you can always tell an alumnus when you see them in a gallery because they will be more interested in how the art is attached to the wall than the art itself.  I specialize in marrying one object to another in interesting and idiosyncratic ways, enough so to get me through graduate school with an MFA from the Art Institute of Boston.

I also used to run my own gallery on the Oregon Coast, and I have been recently engaged with installs and art hauling for the Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw gallery in Ogden, Utah. I can’t think of a recent time that I’ve been happier than when balancing an enormous dog head made out of recycled couches and drywall screws, on top of a 20 foot lift, wearing a respirator in the sun, except maybe when I’ve finished swiftly and compactly loading a 26 foot Penske and have my convenience store coffee in hand, about to shuttle forth on a new hauling adventure across the American West.

As a sculptor and assistant to other sculptors I have found it imperative to be an organized, efficacious communicator, as well as a meticulous studio tech. I know how help to keep an antique print-shop running, find my way around a table saw, and ask questions when I feel uncomfortable. 

I appreciate a well-made crate, though part of way I'm interested in this position is that I have not had enough opportunity to create my own.  I'm familiar with opening crates, but couldn't tell you the difference between a stat crate and a shadow box. I'm interested in expanding my skill set, and have always been a quick study. 

I’m quite comfortable standing, kneeling, bending, bowing, lifting cumbersome objects, alighting on points and sliding down handrails. I'm always at the ready for the next physical adventure. I lean into ladders with aplomb. I pay attention to detail to a fault. I'm willing to work for peanuts (or around $15-$20 an hour).

I hope you’ve enjoyed considering me for this position, and I hope to hear from you soon.  Happy Holidays!

To Whom It May Concern:

Though I have only been an amateur gardener on my personal 1.25 acre xeriscaped ancestral plot in Eastern Washington, I feel like I would be a qualified candidate for the gardener position at the Natural History Museum.  I prune fruit trees as part of my artistic endeavors, including 30-year-old apple and plum trees.  Though I don’t have formal training in the horticulture of Southern California, I find that I’m friendly with many of the plants here as their close relatives are present on the dry side of the Pacific Northwest.  Also, I have been an urban park ranger, so I’m familiar with the joys of working outside in all kinds of weather, including incredibly hot, windy, and freshly reconstituted terribly dry.

I’m currently a volunteer over at the Natural History Museum, so I’m comfortable engaging with guests on the property, as well as interacting with other volunteers.   Generally, I’m enthusiastic about getting to spend as much time at the museum as possible, helping out however I can.  It would be a pleasure to be around more generally, especially outdoors, especially being productive.

I look forward to hearing from you,

To Whom It May Concern:

I believe I would be an excellent candidate as an Assistant Conservator, even though I have no formal conservation training.  I have a degree in craft with a background in cleaning, and have been handling objects from antique taxidermy mounts to ephemeral artist books in a professional capacity for nearly 20 years. I have prepared my own insect and arthropod specimens as a hobby since enjoying an entomology class in college. I also enjoy box building, crating, packaging and un-packaging immensely. I have worked at and created my own art gallery in the past. I have organized databases and even created my own digital projects around the art of sorting bottle-caps ( I’m highly attentive to detail, a comfortable writer and documenter, and a big fan of OSHA.  I enjoy physical work; in fact it has been the most rewarding part of any job I’ve had.  I’m always looking for the opportunity to learn about more tools or to move more heavy, cumbersome objects.  I thrive in the company of friendly co-workers, and am great at taking instruction as well as enabling others. I’m probably too good at finding problems that I’m enthusiastic to fix.

I am an active volunteer at the museum, and as such take personal pride in the viewer’s experience and the museum’s collection.  Anyway I can further help out in this capacity would be an exciting opportunity.

Thank you for your time,

To Whom It May Concern,

I was pleasantly surprised to come across your call for a part-time studio assistant on the Arts For Los Angeles job list on my Sunday afternoon perusal. How comfortable you all look zipping around on boom lifts and clambering in epic stairwells!  I thought “Ah, I have found my people.”

I have a BFA in Craft from the Oregon College of Art & Craft with an emphasis in Fibers, so I have an extensive weaving background, and found the gamps and warps of the work impressive.  I’ve done a smattering of off-loom weavings over the years, but I especially connected on the use of alternative media. I also harvest material in the garden of the cast-off, mundane or over-looked.  Sourcing has become my favorite social outlet since I moved to Los Angeles in 2013- just last week I finally found the jute store of my dreams over off Fairfax (his father supplied the bamboo for Disneyland’s Tiki Room). I take almost as much pleasure in exploring Los Angeles searching for an obscure tool as I do in using the tool itself. My two-toned put-put-pick-up truck, valid driver’s license and insurance are legendary.

I live for the challenge long hours creating intricate large-scale installations- drill in hand on a scissor-lift with 75lbs of precariously balanced stuffed pinata in Boston summer heat or organizing sequins or bottle caps into the wee hours searching for the perfect color combination.  I understand the boom and bust of an artist’s schedule, and thrive on joining an organized crew in creating site-specific installations, whether that be for a photo-shoot, a farmer’s market, a social event, a theater bar, or work more like your own. I relish the minutia in keeping things clean, available to hand, and easy to remove.  I leave every site cleaner and more organized than I found it.

I’m comfortable in front of a computer keyboard, but do come from a generation that has learned programs on an as-needed basis.  My first memories of a Mac was green letters on a black screen, and I have the same basic skills now as I did then. I know my way around a dSLR camera because I have as much experience using a manual advancing SLR camera (and lots more loading film onto reels in light-proof closets than anyone will ever need again). I maneuver my way around an Excel Spread Sheet and a Vandercook Printing Press with about the same amount of grace, using the same problem solving skills (and fewer wrenches with the spread sheet). Instagram has been my social media of choice (@duckandpisaster). Though I exist on Facebook I have purposely kept my exposure limited. LinkedIn has served me well in years past (molly-painter-2205925), and I have been told my profile is worth reading if you want a good chuckle. I have moonlighted as a receptionist, built non-profit databases, and edited grant proposals, but those feats were more than 5 years ago. I admire people who know CAD, and have every confidence that if they spoke to me softly I could probably muddle my way through it.

I often make my living taking care of people’s homes and pets, so I’m a paragon of personal discretion, and an excellent cat-aunt. I’m also a great first call when an injured bird or rat is found, or it’s discovered that the studio has ants. I also make pretty good coffee and can create nourishing meals regardless of dietary constrictions. I do pretty well with small hominids, too.

I hope to hear from you soon, though I realize this is the 11th hour for this application.  Should you have already filled the position maybe I could swing by baring pastries and get a studio tour sometime?  I’ll keep my eye out for the work in LAX- I seem to be there often enough these days. Let’s be in touch,

To Whom it May Concern

I have been admiring the Gallery Interpreters even before I became an active volunteer.   I love their welcoming attitude and the fully engaged role that they play in encouraging people to actively participate with the museum.

In my past I have enjoyed being an Urban Park Ranger, which suited my outgoing nature by allowing me to interact with park goers in spontaneous settings, as well as during our planned interpretations.  My favorite moments were when I would get to introduce people to our docile native snakes, or encourage them to observe our colossal praying mantis’, or help them to identify the many hawks that enjoyed the many squirrels always in the middle of some sort annual symphonic concert or on top of one of the polished classic cars.   I acted as support staff to triathlons that began as early as 5:30 in the morning, and also for street dances that lasted as late as 2:00 am. I coordinated with boy scouts building projects, bikers show-shining Harley’s and beautiful ladies dressed as serving wenches setting up fire-spits for renaissance fair.  I see a direct correlation between the many jobs I had in the public park setting, and the various projects the museum encourages for members and attendants.

I have a tendency towards passionate autodidacticism that I have felt encouraged by the museum.  Though I have very little formal background, I have an appetite for learning more and tend to be a devoted quick study.  I also love story telling, and relating to an audience through visual means, which the museum lends itself to in spades.

Thank you for your consideration, and have a fantastic day!

Molly Painter.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Post Graduation MishMash!

Since I have now graduated (whee) I feel no need to actually do things.  This blog has mostly been to document that graduate school experience that was, and as I now intend to remove most of the posts, I thought I would leave a memory of this last experience: the commencement speech to such a bitter-sweet experience:

The great David Rakoff, in a speech I did not give at commencement. As far as I know there is no video of me making the commencement speech, but here is a written copy should anyone want to imagine me in a stunning cocktail dress with my drive chain draped lovingly around my neck reading it from hastily hand written cue cards:

Oh thank goodness!  It feels so good to finally be up here admiring all of you instead of hanging out by that back door trying not to drink all of my wine before the toast. With that in mind I will keep this brief.

I, and I suspect possibly others, have just passed through one of the most self-centered times of my life. I sometimes felt like I was eating through my family, my friends, and my advisor like devouring a heart shaped box of chocolates after a break up; asking them to read extra drafts of my paper, help me cut out stray fish, feeding me tapioca pudding at odd hours.

And what has surprised me is how sympathetic everyone has been. The generosity especially of fellow students and alumni has been overwhelming, not only for me but for Sarah, in the case of Jeff Brown helping her learn the ins and outs of final cut, Jessica being helped with the finer points of photoshop by Flannon Jackson, Rita being talked back from the ledge by Rita Kohler. Rob Sullivan encouraged us on facebook, Nina sent us timely birthday wishes, and the local folks have been fantastic about helping with laundry emergencies and acting as hosts and hostesses.

As a group we have learned to rely on one another, in grief, in financial disaster, in technical difficulty.  We have worked together pleasantly to help hang these shows, from carpooling to Cambridge to schlepping ladders from floor to floor. We’ve brought Aaron flatware to stock the trouseau for the apocalypse, then had Aaron up on a ladder rigging poles and lights and pulleys and generally being, well, manly, in exchange. 

Thank you, friends, for all being enormously generous with spirit, time, warmth, dishes, detergent, etc. And now we would like to extend to you, future classes of LOOOO CAD.  Please, call us, email us, ask for our help. We can be of use to you, honest.  We’ve gone down this rabbit hole before, and we know the way to get out through the looking glass. It’s the least we can do for you after all that has been done for us.

Our graduation is an accomplishment of this whole community, and we are all thankful to Louise, Samantha, and lovely, wonderful, indispensible Joel, the security guards and the faculty, the financial aid advisors and the front desk staff.  Thank you all. If we did this with grace it is because you have not stood in the way of our bumbling progress, instead helping tuck in those loose threads and make us aware of the food still attached to the side of our mouths. Thank you, again, for your generous support.

Now let’s drink beer and smash sharks!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Slide Talk with Notes.

So, we have to turn in a version of our grad school slide talk to our advisors.  I figured out on Monday, when I was trying to compose my slide talk for the kiddos, that things I dragged and dropped onto the blog were better formatted than trying to drag the originals into Power Point, so really I'm using this as a formatting device as much as anything...

Anyway, without much further ado, here's a slide talk with notes!



The Theoretical Probability of Life in the Heart of Something Inanimate.

Starting out with a dark blue screen:

As a pre-cursor to this talk I thought we'd take a little break and listen to some punch lines/// sound montage:///

“Have you ever noticed that their stuff is SHIT and your shit is Stuff?” George Carlin

“Mawidge.  Mawidge is wat bwings us toogeddow today.” Peter Cook, Princess Bride.

“Noah…” “WHAT?” Bill Cosby

“Why you crazy? The fall’ll probably kill ya.” Paul Newman, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

“ If you hadn’t nailed it to the post it would be pushing up the daisies!  This, sir, is an Ex-parrot!” John Cleese, Parrot sketch.

“But it’s not against any religion to want to dispose of a pigeon” Tom Leher (singing)

“Bell Telephone doesn’t want your dime, sir.  Bell Telephone doesn’t need your dime.” Elaine May

“It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark, and we’re wearing sunglasses.”  “Hit It!” Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi, Blues Brothers

“You can learn a lot from Lydia!” Groucho Marx (singing), At the Circus. 

The best jokes, to me, are the ones that after you've experienced the set up once the punchline sticks in your head forever. They are these verbal triggers, forever the answer in your head to the question posed by a situation you'll find yourself in again and again. Punchlines become a device, a tool, with which to answer the tragicomic world around us.  In the face of frustration, the best comedy provide delight.

Are we all comfy? Though I would love to give a talk about the profound influence of Tim Burton, Paul Reubens, and Gary Panter on my work, this slide of Pee Wee's Big Adventure is up here because do you guys remember what they are supposed to be sitting in?
These are the Cabazon Dinosaurs, Dinny (Diney) and Mr. Rex created by Claude Bell, a retired Knott's Berry Farm sculptor, who are located just west of Palm Springs at the Cabazon exit of Interstate 10.  

As you can tell this work still delights people when they come across it. "It'll scare the dickens out of a lot of people driving up over the pass." Bell was quoted in 1970 as saying of the 45-foot (14 m) high, 150-foot (46 m) long Dinny, who was "the first dinosaur in history, so far as I know, to be used as a building." according to Bell.
Dinny was built out of debris left over from the construction of Interstate 10, with a friend teaching Bell ironworking skills as he went.  He traded another friend a case of Dr. Pepper to paint the exterior of the sculptures.  Originally created to attract people to "Wheel Inn Cafe," the Dinosaurs are now a front to a non-denominational church and museum dedicated to Young Earth Creationism. 

And that's what I love- I love the iconoclastic generosity and general non-sequitor nature of a good roadside attraction. I never know exactly what I’m going to find when I go in search of rumored attractions, but be they glorious or pathetically deteriorated, I’ve never been faced with a hopeless cliché. I can't always predict when or where I will find these works, or what I will find they are being used for.

Take, for example, The Beer Can House in Houston, Texas. This is John Milkosvitch standing in front of his creation made from over 39,000 cans of beer drunk mostly by John, his lovely wife Mary, and the couple next door. 
“He didn’t think anybody would ever be interested in it. He just loved drinking his beer and just loved being outside and cutting up the beer cans.” Said Mary.  There is not a yard, though there are trees enclosed in planters.  The dangling can tops make music in the wind, as light dances over the supplemental bottles and bottle caps. 
Yes, you can get married there! The Beer Can house is now a landmark, created so that John could get away with never having to mow his lawn or paint his house, and now beloved and protected by it's community.  Proceeds from the $2 admission go to supplementing art programs throughout Houston. 

Part of why I think Beer Can House succeeds, is that the subject matter is culturally approachable, as are the materials used in the creation of such an obviously time and resource consuming project.  We can all imagine what it takes to cover a house in cans.  Or, at least we can all imagine how long it must have taken to drink the beer. 
Though I love this work by Damien Hirst, I know nothing about diamonds. I would hazard a guess that Hirst also knows very little about gem stones except how much they cost.  And yet when this piece is displayed in a gallery, like the Tate Modern in a major retrospective of Hirsts work 2 years ago, viewers read the placard and are duly impressed with the costly sparkliness of it all. The piece is remarkably well crafted, though not by Hirst, and craft is not generally part of the discussion of the work.  Hopefully sarcastically, though his titles do tend towards the grandiose, Hirst titled this piece "For the Love of God."
This one of the skulls I made before entering graduate school, along with my collaborator Matthew Causey, which parody's Hirst's work.  We call ours "For the Love of Beer," and genuinely this is how our works are appreciated.  Maybe 1/100 people who have seen this series understands the parody.  What viewers get excited about is that they have experience with the materials, and what brands the materials represent.  We get people excited to talk about their experience of this original disposable technology, and it's amazing what associations they have to tell us about bottle caps, and collecting, and skulls, and beer. The questions we most often get are "Did you drink all that beer?" "How much does that thing weigh?" and "How long did that take you?" Never, not once, have I been asked "How much did that cost you to make?"

One of the things I love about working with simple materials and culturally recognizable forms is that my work can be inspiring in its attention to detail.  

This is one of a flock of work that I created as my undergraduate thesis utilizing duck decoys and sequins, and was a punchy retort to the pressure I felt at the time to get out of college and into a lasting relationship. I used the symbol of a duck because there is this common misconception that ducks mate for life, when really they mate under duress and threat of drowning, and mostly for convenience.  I know this because, much like Aesop, I look to observing animals for metaphorical inspiration.  When I need to further my introspective understanding I examine creatures where ever I can find them. 

I wasn't raised to think there was a hierarchy between developing an understanding of this...
 which is Da Naid by Auguste Rodin, of which there happens to be a version at my nearly local museum, the Maryhill Museum of Art, and an understanding of this...
This is a grizzly bear at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, ripping into a demonstration campsite with gusto.  

I love zoos and Natural History Museums. I love them because they, like roadside attractions, are just waiting to surprise me with what I can observe with them.  Instead of dictating "this is what you have to notice. This is how you have to appreciate.  This is what you have to see," I generally find I'm seeing far more than is meant to be there, and I feel encouraged, in zoos and natural history museums, to apply this ambiguous guidance to myself and create new ideas.  

This is Large Mammal Hall at the Natural History Museum in Kennsington.  In this picture it's somehow splendidly lit- every time I've been it's been overcast and dark, and there are these enormous sea creatures suspended all around you as you traverse this narrow gallery.  The sheer size of the daunting sculptures is ominous, but what is more disturbing is they sway, ever so gently, and seem like they could turn any moment and whomp you.  
 This image is of Richard Ellis working on the blue whale model that hung in the Smithsonian until 2002.  You can see by the scale how unexpectedly overwhelming this piece must have been, especially before the work was surrounded by anything else, like murals or exhibits. 

Hanging Dioramas, for example the blue whale pictured here, have always reminded me of something much more commonly seen at birthday parties. 
Pinatas are fantastic to make.  They're made mostly of cardboard, wheat paste paper mache and are covered in cheap paper. They are a fast and dirty medium, and...
They are sneaky, unexpected and funny.  Pinatas are semi-sacrificial objects, built with love and attention to be smashed open to reveal presents and tokens of appreciation.  You never know what is in a pinata, and its purpose is to be bashed to bits so that you can find out.

Pinata's shouldn't be confused with effigies, but often are.
This is an effigy of Lance Armstrong, meant to be lit on fire to punish the cheater in abstentia. Effigies are a very effective catharsis tool used all over the world to provide community release
But here's Elmo!  Elmo wants to be smashed open just for you! Elmo wants to shower you with gifts! If you love Elmo hang him from the ceiling and hit him with a baseball bat as hard as you possibly can!

I enjoy adding purpose and function to my creations.  I came up in a craft school, where always tucked neatly into our conceptual art practices there was also a clever use of hinges and hardware. 

I've always had a hang up in bonding with highly conceptual art.  The concepts never seem to be functional- they aren't often expanding my understanding of something, they are just continuing to repeat the set up to the joke without coming back with a zinger of a response.  And yet, completed as they are they don't allow for me to expand much upon their given, television static like chatter.

 Case in Point

Here's Mr. Hirst again!

"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of the Living" sounds like a very deep work of art, and maybe it is. It certainly was a very expensive piece for other people to make after Hirst had conceptualized it.  But as a piece it bothers me on a couple of levels. I don't like the 3 part division, and of course it offends me on an animal conservation level. 
But most of all I hate the open mouth of the shark.  Tiger sharks don't swim with their mouth open.  I know the shark is supposed to look like it's charging, but instead it looks like it's in dental pain for all eternity.  The work is rotting within the tank, looking decrepit and pathetic.  As a scientific specimen it would have been retired years ago. 

Luckily, there are plenty of excellent parodies of this work
So when I came to commenting on conceptual art I didn't feel the obligation to be direct in my allusion. There are plenty of other people who have already taken care of that for me. 

Parody, Puns, Wit-  these are what I feel are civilized ways to deal with societal frustration.  Take an oppositional idea, tinker with it until it gives way from being frustrating to being consumable and palatable.  That's what comedy is for, and in my opinion this is what art is for. 

And, heavens, have I found graduate school frustrating. Getting together in small groups to look at practice works hung on carpet walls, not with the attitude of building a better, more functional alternative, but instead with judgement calls on the worthiness of theoretical meaning, and the authenticity of personal expression seems like a waste of time.  Basically, I have never had a critique which encouraged me as much as someone handing me a better screw or a baggie full of bottle caps.  Critique encourages insecurity, especially when we then break into critical theory groups to rip on our betters for their personal foibles. 
And when we often do so it's with immature name calling and pigeon holing.  For example, Here's an Alcoholic Jism-flinger.
A racially clueless red pants obsessed 2nd rate painter. 
 Here is a kiddie rapist.
These generalizations say nothing about the artistic gifts that have been given to us by these challenged but seemingly inadvertently benevolent dead white men. We spend our time ripping on them, beating up on each other, and depreciating ourselves in a practice that I find to be extremely frustrating. 
Art could be more about having fun! About getting to the punchline, and having the tension of expectations be released into the air with flying specs of sparkling debris. About spending time with strange, out of place objects, swirling around in space, making you question reality and anticipate generosity.  
So, I present to you art meant to be bashed, intended to be destroyed.  I present to you
Or "the Theoretical Probability of Life in the Heart of Something Inanimate"
The installation in Room 310 is there for your, you, you art students and faculty you, this week only for your contemplative enjoyment, much like the dioramas in a natural history museum. The shark pinatas shall swirl around your head (as little blue memories of sardines circle the walls).  I encourage you to spend quiet time with them, to watch as they orient themselves slowly on their hardware, like paper compasses adjusting to some artisitc magnetic field. 
And then I encourage you, even more strongly, to come watch them be anihlated for your benefit, and in celebration of finally getting away from an academic paradigm that is too critical of itself, takes it's creations far too seriously, and passes judgement too often on the artists and the artists self-indulgent self-analysis rather than on the beauty and generosity of offered works.. 
I present to you paper tiger leopard sharks of love! A reminder of the unpredictability of delight which will hopefully stick in your craw as a sucker-punchline memory of how awesome pinatas are and how welcoming art can be. 

And now I would like to thank my Cat Shark"
(On screen will be a long list of people I'm actually thanking, next to this image of my cat.)

I just read the whole thing aloud and it clocked in at just under 13 minutes without breaks for chuckles. 

And there it is, mostly!  Feel free to leave comments!