Back in the Saddle

…which is actually a really silly saying, since I wasn’t in a saddle to begin with and I really don’t like horses. I’ve been on a horse before — a fourth grade field trip, a girl scout trip, and one strange spring break in college where we spent five days on a farm in Missouri — but I think they are big and scary.

I keep reading about how blogs are dead and artists use things like Tumblr (which I don’t quite get how it works, although I have one) and Instagram (which I like very much). So it’s odd to resurrect a dead blog, but somehow it just seems like the right choice. I’m looking for more structure for posting my work, and I need a site to have on online profiles. And business cards, as old-fashioned as they are.  Originally, I set this site up in a fully anonymous way, so that I could use OL8D as a graffiti tag without getting caught immediately. I live in a small town. But the reality is that I have never once gone out and tagged a wall, so why waste such a good name.  I also set this site up more anonymously because it combines artwork and writing, and I am self-conscious about writing.  I’m seeing more and more artists do this — post both their artwork and their poetry/fiction/non-fiction — so it’s not weird and I should get over the adolescent self-consciousness.

I just finished Nell Painter’s memoir of art school Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over.  There are plenty of good reviews of the book, and discussions of the issues that the author covers, and you can Google them.  I was worried that reading this book would make me seriously look at dropping everything and going to art school. Reader, it did not. Her experiences — or, at least, her description of her experiences — made it clear that art school with a capitol A would not serve any purpose for me.  It did for Nell Painter — her goal was to embrace what it would take to considered a “serious” artist in the 21st century.  She wants to be a serious artist — one that not only sells work, but finds her way into national dialogue and, at the very least, a footnote in the art history of the future.  Nell Irvin Painter, Princeton Emerita, is a serious historian, accomplished by all measures both disciplinary and in the popular eye. She wanted that for herself as an artist, and the only way to get there is through an MFA from a “good” art school or program.   I get that, and good for her.  But not not not my cup of tea.  I want the focus and the community that art school would bring.  I want the art school library and the communal studios thriving with energy.  I do not want the critical theory BS and the hyper competitive drama.  MFA students are competing with each other and with their teachers — many of whom teach for the money and do not want to be there and do not want their students to outshine them.  The politics — art tastes, race, gender, and age (art school and the art world caters to young white males) — and the expression of the dark side of those politics would make it a horrible experience for me.   So I learned a lot from that book, and enjoyed it very much.  And I know that my own travels as an older artist will take a very different path.