Monday, August 2, 2010

some thoughts on work

I've been gone a long time. In summation, most of what's happened since May:

I started a new job at the Mattress Factory, a museum of contemporary installation art where I'd worked in the past as an intern and installer. Now I'm the Visitor Services Assistant/Volunteer Coordinator.

I participated in the Three Rivers Arts Festival in downtown Pittsburgh as a first-time vendor; happily, I was also honored with the Best in Show award for the first week of the festival. Happily-er, the second week's Best in Show honoree is a fellow artist and friend of mine named Deanna Mance, and we're collaborating on an upcoming show! Check out her beautiful art here.

In late June I had my trial-by-fire at my new job when I organized 50-some volunteers for our annual Garden Party, a huge party and fundraiser, celebrated in a way that only the Mattress Factory can.

I also joined the executive committee of Group A, a local guild and one of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts guilds.

My husband and I finally bought the house we've been living in since 2006. Yay homebuyer tax credit!

My new job, and all the administrative work in the arts I've been focusing on since June, is great. But as August unfolds before me, I've noticed that I haven't really focused much on my own art this summer. Even the work for TRAF was prepping what I already had finished; I haven't had the chance to create new work since my "kapliczek" pieces for the Responding show this past spring. Also, one of the most important (and sad) decisions I had to make this year was to not return to Chautauqua, because I've committed to a job here. Without the facilities and time made available to me by being there, I've spent pitifully little time working on my own art since the spring.

Part of my dip in creativity is surely due to working - for the first time since college, I have what is essentially a full-time job that is not working on my art. Although my schedule is far more regular than it was at my previous job, I'm still learning how to manage my time. Buying the house, learning the ropes at a new job, and feeling somewhat creatively lost without the presence of Chautauqua's print studio all contributed to a pretty low artistic output for the summer. Additionally, sometimes when you get home and your list of things to do is so large and complicated, the easiest thing is to do nothing at all.

There are good things about being home for my first Pittsburgh summer since 2007, despite the dreadful heat; the biggest of which is finally being around my husband during his somewhat relaxed summer schedule. There's also barbecues, neighbors, the garden, the joys/pains of home improvement, and BikeFest, which is still to come.

The summer's not over yet! And even beyond that, art is over the horizon.


  1. sounds like things are going well and CHQ is not always worth the studio me. I look forward to being home.

    good to hear about the MF gig!

  2. I don't know if this will work with your work schedule, but what I've found from trying to juggle a job and interests is that I make a lot more progress doing them before work rather than after. For me it's mostly reading textbooks though, so maybe the rhythm of it is different. I've just found that I wake up with a hunger for information, and if I don't satisfy it productively I waste that time on the internet.

    I tried for a long time to be productive after work, but really at that point I just want to veg out. The most productive thing I can do is turn on the radio and clean.

  3. haha, Ryan, Dave said you'd say something like that! As addicted as 20-somethings and artists are to the stay up late/rise late sleep cycle, I think that advice is pretty sound ... I don't leave for work until 9 in the morning, so the morning is probably my best bet for getting stuff done, even if it means I can't really hold my own for all those late-night parties.
    And I totally share your sentiment that when I get home, pretty much the only thing I'm motivated to do is cook dinner and then veg out - or do light household chores. Perhaps art-making really is best left to the morning.

    Often the rhythm of working, for me at least, is somewhat similar to reading, in that it does require a lot of sustained concentration and sometimes research that involves reading/absorbing data or pictures. It can be tough to keep my attention span in the evening when I am also thinking about dinner/tomorrow/chores/should I practice?/weekend/etc.