This is not a blog. Its where I share memories and musings usually about change - whether stumbled upon or sought after. If I get a wave of inspiration and feel like writing something it shows up here. If you want to contribute a story about change or transformation in your life + work, please send it to me.
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Play is important. Play is how you prepare to work.
— Lena Dunham from her documentary about Hilary Knight, artist
+ illustrator of the iconic children's book character, Eloise.
I remember (finally!) realizing what it was I was mean't to do. So, I proposed a double major in art and business at the university I attended. They promptly turned me down. The message was loud and clear: What connection between art and business? Disappointed and lost at sea...it was my first grown-up, "Now what?"
You couldn't major in being a catalyst for creative people when I went to school. I ended up studying communication science and social psychology which (with some blind, but in retrospect occasionally deft steering over the years) helped pave the way to a career in, yep, art and business.
It turns out that in every work role I’ve drifted into, the line linking them together has been collaboration with creative people and organizations to help them achieve their goals. I wish someone had told me I was following the right course. Now, I help others ride the tide towards what they are here to do.
My fist job was as the resident (along with a few country mice) publicist at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival where I also moonlighted for the Sunday afternoon jazz festival. I ended up at an innovative dance presenting company, the now-defunct Dance Umbrella, as the marketing and public relations director promoting everything from Nicole Mousseau to Eiko & Komo to The American Indian Dance Festival, Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Festival and Mark Morris’ Dido & Aeneas. I later consulted with the citywide arts festival, First Night, and various non profits and independent performing artists like Anna Myer & Dancers and others presenting everything from Bharata Natyam to Prokofiev to puppetry.
There were days when I was at the computer banging out "World Premiere!" press releases and others when I was driving about asking nearby farmers if they would lend us a corner of a field to land a helicopter with WBZ-TV's arts and entertainment reporter so she could interview the Flying Karamazov Brothers by the 6pm news deadline, helping to source hundreds of eggplants (aka stones) for a local choreographer’s clever set or fielding calls from Baryshnikov's press agent. (Oh, did I mention him already?) I remember sitting a few feet away from the black-clad Martha Graham as she spoke and gestured with dancing, magenta-gloved hands and taking a ballet class taught by Mark Morris. (Ok. It’s a far cry from my dream of dancing with his company...but at least I was in the same room with him that once getting to dance, too. Insert smell of clove cigarettes here.)
One of my favorite projects was being managing editor of the program guide for First Night in Boston. After an odd false start of a “concept” from a major ad agency: Let’s use a drawing of Superman flying over Boston to symbolize the power of the First Night button! (Um. No, we can’t. He’s owned by Marvel Comics and he flies over New York.) We salvaged the gist of the idea by transforming the program into a guide and comic book featuring an original superhero character...named Art, of course.
I got to fly in a tiny toy plane to a bleak, Fargo-esque tundra complete with tumbleweeds somewhere up in Canada for a press check. That part was fun except that I was sure we would either crash when we landed or die from the cold while there. Fortunately, we had to stop in Montreal. I made the best of it while there pretending to speak French when all I could really do was ask for une cafe s’il vous plait with a perfect accent (which to my amusement mortified my designer companion to no end) and save the company $10k on printing costs which was a lot of money then. Most importantly, though, we figured out that if we wanted to satisfy all the stakeholders—from funders, to artists, to children—we needed to be imaginative and playful.
After a colorful ten-year-long stint in arts administration, I struck out on my own to represent several visual artists, including the talented Giuseppina Altera and several commercial photographers. We had small budgets so I had to model a few times (not that we were desperate or anything!) In one assignment I sat in a Lotus-like pose and became part of a layered collage depicting the peace found in meditation. In another there is a sleeping image of me awash behind harsh images of tanks and guns to illustrate EMDR for PTSD for an article in New Age Magazine. I try to live in the space somewhere in between.
I had a great time producing shoots involving everything from sourcing big six-year-olds and small eight-year-olds because all the seven-year-old models were missing front teeth or figuring out how to get an oversized model of an electrical outlet built in a couple days. (Thank you, Jeff Smith). I was invited by one agency to step in as interim art buyer which I took as quite the compliment since they were my client. For one shoot with groceries toppling out of a bag we had to create labels to avoid infringing any copyright issues. I believe there is a can of Edana's Crushed Tomatoes still out there somewhere...maybe looking just a little bit too much like Del Monte’s.
Tell me how you've played around and made life work in the changing world of creative work.