Page 1

UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES Documents from a 10-week professional practice course taken by MFA students in the Art and Social Practice program at Portland State University. Facilitated remotely by Lee Walton.

INTRODUCTION This course was about the future. This course brought together 11 artists, each working in different ways and approaching their art practice from different perspectives. As a group, we asked the very simple question: How do we develop and sustain an art practice? Through collective brainstorming, experience-based projects, guests, and conversation, we attempted to tackle this question. This document serves as a record of these questions, meandering musings, and ideas that transpired during our talks. This document is a starting point and resource that builds off our original questions to ask more questions. We have a hunch, that through doing art the way we want to do it, we are making new models that will become real. Eventually, values will shift to reflect what we value. Feel free to share this document. Participants: Katherine Ball, Nolan Calisch, Dillon de Give, Grace Hwang, Adam Moser, Carmen Papalia, Molly Sherman, Jason Sturgill, Lexa Walsh, Lee Walton. Guests included: Steve Lambert (Artist), Sheryl Oring (Artist), Anne Dennington (Flux Projects), George Scheer (Elsewhere Collaborative)

Questions, Projects and Musings (In no particular order) THE ORANGE Each student was asked to select an orange. They then had one week to “get rid of the orange� in any way imaginable and share this action with the class. This was an experiment to explore the role of medium and messaging in relation to an art activity that does not result in the making of actual things. When things are not produced to tell the stories of our actions, then how do we do it? These are the instructions for the orange experiment:

1. Get an orange 2. Get rid of it in one week 3. Document it Some post project thoughts that came up: The orange exercise was really about the situation. The structure. The formalization. The context. The unpredictability. The intention. The failure. The experience. The people. It's was never really about the orange. It could have been a blueberry. Or a shoe. The second part of this was sharing the story. This is where things get really interesting. Its actually really hard. Media. Medium. In the middle. Between you, your orange, and the public. As Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase " the medium is the message".... that the medium itself, not the content it carries, influences how the message is received. How does this play into Professional Practices? We all have really good ideas and propositions - things that can influence culture. However, we have to figure out ways to wrap them up into scrumptious media donuts and get them out for there for people to eat. Its about good ideas.

And good ideas need to spread. Currently, most of the ideas being spread by our media - are pretty bad ideas. Think about advertising. We as artists have a great ideas and we can't let them get stuck in google documents and art conferences. How do we get them out there? How do we connect with other people (many of them outside the art world) that also have great ideas and intentions? So, how do we get the ideas out there? How does media relate to a sustainable art practice? How do we engage the public? People are already interested. They are there... just waiting. From this discussion, we also learned about Stephen Duncombe’s book “Dream: Re-imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy“. Here is a short description: “Dream makes the case for a political strategy that embraces a new set of tools. Although fantasy and spectacle have become the lingua franca of our time, Duncombe points out that liberals continue to depend upon sober reason to guide them. Instead, they need to learn how to communicate in today's spectacular vernacularÐnot merely as a tactic but as a new way of thinking about and acting out politics. Learning from Las Vegas, however, does not mean adopting its values, as Duncombe demonstrates in outlining plans for what he calls "ethical spectacle." This seems to apply to socially engaged art practices and tactics. Also, Grace Hwang met Ducombe the following week and told him about our conversation in class. Stephen shared with each of us a free on-line copy of his book.

FADE AWAY JUMPER: KOBE BRYANT ON CREATING SPACE This is a video we watched the 2nd week of class. Kobe Bryant’s signature fade away jump shot has been a useful tool for him his entire NBA career. It’s about creating space to take a shot when there isn’t any. How can we apply the fade away to our art practice?

Here are some questions, comments, and ideas we came up with after watching the video: ● Embodied knowledge. refer to with words, but can’t do it conceptually simple but deep. technique. Where does technique fit into Social Practice equation? ● Inherited technique from playing with MJ, but has own style. Handed down. We inherit art practice from “older players”. ● Kobe studied MJ. MJ was ‘the best’, doing things no one else was doing. ● Players on court, spectators pay and watch, some people are new to the game, others are long time fans, some people get it, some don’t, (like Social Practice), Do we want our work to be as popular as B-ball? Or are we playing for ourselves and die hard fans? Do we want Populism? ● 20k peeps at game, 20k games being played, depending on experience of audience. Like seeing museum work differently at each visit. Esoteric? ● Crowd.... how does a crowd

● ● ● ● ● ● ●

● ● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Learning from those before you- impossible to make work in a vacuum. No output without input. Technique and practice. Sport is not solitary- with others... link to Social Practice. Magic and mystic. of the fade-away. What does big money do to big ideas? NBA is a product. Big Art Market is a product. Skepticism.. We value these people, we never ask why. No one ever questions something that “dumb”. Why do we value... Starbucks, new Tshirt, materialistic things that have no regard for material. Magic and Mystique...not just skill and talent, but “magic trick” he can unleash at the right moment and fool anyone.. Should we all have a trick? the fadeaway is actually Attack and defense at the same time... Our values are tweaked but is spectator experience The trick is always the diversion He’s really creating space.. I use it when I don’t have space. He also needs to rely on other physical ability When he finds that space he makes it work. Teamwork is so, so important but the stardom is pushed and is problematic to me Finding a way to continually come to people’s mind...

BIOGRAPHIES Artist bios are awkward to write, especially for yourself. We realize that often time we humble ourselves a bit when writing about ourselves. We also tend to overlook aspects of our practice that may really interesting or obvious. (Maybe because some of these things seem so obvious to us?) To flex our bio muscles a bit, we collaboratively edited each other’s bios. This helped us clarify and validate our positions, as well as see ourselves from others’ viewpoints.

We recognize the importance in providing a concise statement about our backgrounds to new audiences. We also acknowledge that our work crosses over many disciplines and in categorizing our work - sometimes we borrowed terms and sometimes made them up. We hoped to provide different entry points for others to approach our individual practices. Eventually we settled on some basic standards: ● ● ● ●

Write from the 3rd person Keep it short and direct Use active and accessible language. Fluff your feathers a bit. Its ok.

These bios will most likely change and grow as we do, but it provides a place to start. Go ahead, read on and get to know us!

Jason Sturgill

http://jasonsturgill.com Jason is a wealth of knowledge. Influenced greatly by his early work in advertising, he seeks to bring connectivity and exposure to hidden and underrepresented [dudes and dudettes.] He helps to solidify relationships between artists and local businesses as a way of improving

creative entrepreneurship in neighborhoods. Jason’s work prioritizes the presence of creativity in everyday life. He is currently participating in the MFA program in Art and Social Practice as well as teaching graphic design at Portland State University.

Dillon de Give has been called the “Thoreau of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.” As an artist, he brings the attention of a naturalist to urban and institutional environments. He makes work that interjects the analog into an increasingly digitized world and emphasizes the importance of relationships between the natural and the built environment.

Adam Moser

Adam Moser's work celebrates the moments and relationships that often pass us by without notice. His definition of art emerges through various expansive and inclusive actions. His care for his family, his friends, and the people he has yet to meet are the heart of his projects, with conversation a constant presence. Adam’s projects will energize our experiences of personal history, humor, negotiation, teamwork and the mundane. Feel free to give Adam a ring if you ever want to talk. 828-310-2341 Carmen Papalia

Carmen Papalia is a radical social worker and educator. His participatory projects create the opportunity for productive conversation on topics such as the accessibility of urban design and perceptions surrounding impairment and disability. Papalia gives non-visual museum tours and orchestrates experience-based public projects from coast to coast that articulate alternatives to current social and political practices. Katherine Ball Katherine Ball’s artistic practice is founded on a physically immersive, experiential and solutions-oriented approach to ecological activism, social engagement, and pluriversal counterhegemony. She works within, rather than about, movements. In 2011, she lived on a floating island and conducted experiments with oyster mushrooms to clean E. coli out of the lake surrounding her dwelling. In 2010, she filmed a documentary (to be released this winter) about small-scale, yet effective, solutions to climate change as she bicycled with a small group from Oregon to Washington, D.C., where they met with legislators and shared their findings. Afterward, Katherine traveled intermodally to Cancun, Mexico, to participate in the United Nations Climate Change Conference. From 2009–10 Katherine codirected SEA Change Gallery in Portland, Oregon, which developed exhibitions and activities to encourage social and environmental justice. She is currently enrolled in Portland State University’s Art + Social Practice MFA program and recently participated in an exchange at the School of Walls and Space in Copenhagen. Currently, Katherine is experimenting with using art to catalyze social change via creative direct action, including February 29th’s day of action: Shut Down the Corporations - the largest coordinated day of action this year (over 70 cities nationally). She dreams of moving to the BRAMBLE utopia in France or riding her bike around the world.

Molly Sherman Molly Sherman is an artist, designer, and educator. She is the co-founder of Farm School, an organization that brings together the practices of farming, interdisciplinary art, and site-specific education. She has worked as a designer at Project Projects in New York, with clients that include the Museum of Modern Art and Art in General, and as an educator in public schools and non-profit organizations such as the Center for Urban Pedagogy. Molly received her BFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and will soon hold an MFA from Portland State University’s Art and Social Practice program. She is continually energized by teaching and working collaboratively. Nolan Calisch Nolan is a farmer, a photographer, and an artist. He lives on his organic farm in Portland, Oregon where he grows food for thirty families through a community supported agriculture program (CSA). He is co-founder of Farm School, an organization that brings together the practices of farming, interdisciplinary art, and site-specific education. His work has garnered attention for its ability to unite discourse and strengthen tangible connections across disciplines. Nolan will soon hold an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University.

Lexa Walsh Lexa Walsh is an artist and musician based between Portland, OR and Oakland, CA. Her work engages the public in Hospitable Democracy, through conversation, cheer, song, dance and food. Walsh has lived, worked, exhibited and toured internationally. Walsh was a recipient of the CEC Artslink Award, Meet the Composer Award, and the Gunk Grant, and has done several international artist residencies and projects in Europe and Asia. Her work is informed by her upbringing, extensive travels, community work and experimental music and performance projects. She was an independent cultural worker in the Bay Area and worked for many years as a curator and arts administrator at CESTA, an international art center in Czech republic, whose mission is to foster cross-cultural tolerance and understanding through the arts. She co-founded and conceived of the all women, all toy instrument ensemble Toychestra and is a member of the Czech-American a cappella group Kačkala. These projects have been realized at venues such as Cité de la Musique, The Exploratorium, The Lab, Mills College Art Museum, SFMoMA and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She is a recent graduate of PSU’s Art & Social

Practice MFA program and is currently Artist in Residence at Portland Art Museum. Grace Hwang is an artist, educator and co-founder of Pop-Up Art Studio, an entrepreneurial experiment that translates artistic inquiry into creative practice through mobile art workshops. From museum galleries to neighborhood sidewalks she improvises encounters with artwork that invite playful, critical and unexpected dialogue for publics of all ages.

HYPOTHETICAL SHOW OPPORTUNITY IN QUEENS NEW YORK In a warehouse that was a hot dog factory but now is drafty and empty and waiting for artists to design a group show. We each took 5 minutes and came up with an idea. These are our notes . Good people. good work. really good work. Working simliarly to our interests, we are purely interested in what these people will do. something to think about - this class is not just about how you as an individual can sustain a practice, but how you as group can do it. DILLON ● San Keller - recs from people to look at his work.... ● Katarina Seda ● Oliver Herring - worked with. ADAM AND MOLLY ● Pablo Helguera - met him worked with him. heard talk. nice guy. he could facilitate and listen. conversation. ● Pablo picks students ● Students pick an artist ● KATHERINE ● Lab of Insurrectionary Imagination - amazing people. participated in the work. ● Center for Tactical Magic - connected in way. ● Mom - lover her... know her..

LEXA ● Nina Katchadourian - know - flexible work . really like her. ● Matt Bua - know - place making. id=463 ● Dan Walsh - know - minimalist conceptual flexible. NOLAN ● Reed Anderson - talked recently. thinking about him. headlands ● Gretchen Gnaedinger - Reed’s wife - friends ● Horace Anderson - Reed’s son- friends

JASON ● David Greenberger - duplex planet... discovered him somehow. connected to Harrell zines prjcts. ● Christine Hill - volksboutique - studied them. met her at open engagement. http:// ● Deborah Stratman - awesome. - talk. really good work. her use of unused space. with temporary services. Commonalities: Its as simple as this people we know/like we are inspired by work people from our own personal research shows we want to see/be a part of proven good work experimental? daring? chemistry it’s who you know (this is something to question.... but worth exploring)

BRUCE LEE: BE WATER Bruce Lee was a Chinese American martial artist and actor who is widely regarded as the most influential martial artist of the 20th century. Here Bruce talks about the importance of being like water.

Here are some questions, comments, and ideas we came up with after watching the video: ● Path of least resistance? ● What about grand canyon? ● Water and time. ● Water is stubborn as well. Bruce Lee takes force and energy of a punch and uses it against opponent. ● How can your art practice fill spaces? ● Be powerful and ephemeral? ● Organize lots of people to create crashing effect. ● How can our practices use that model? Check out YouTube interviews and his books on martial arts. Think about in art terms.

STEVE LAMBERT’S CV These are all the sections of Steve Lambert’s CV. We spent a couple classes thinking about each of these things individually and as a whole. What do they convey to other people who look at them? How do we use them to represent ourselves? How can we incorporate all of these things into our own practice? EDUCATION GRANTS AWARDS


WEBSITES WE FREQUENT This is a list of websites that we came up with to start thinking about how we are using our own personal websites. We focused on sites that we like for their functionality, content, and/or social networking capabilities as well as our websites are a place for people learn about your work and you. We ended the class on the question of “how can your site be a public space?”



APPLYING FOR GRANTS Here is a list of approaches that we think are important to keep in mind when applying for grants. ● ● ● ● ● ● ●

Keep it simple. Begin with a brief statement about what you are going to do, then dive into theoretical stuff. People want to know what you are going to do. Value accessibility. Find a key connection, something specific. Propose something BIG. Make a committee laugh out loud and discuss the reality of what you are proposing. Get them to imagine. Be direct. Simple. Imagine. Find an angle....

RESIDENCIES What Do We Want From Them? After compiling a list of qualities we want from residencies and how they function, we wondered why we needed to attend or be invited to an “official” residency if we could just make our own? We experimented with that idea through actually creating our own residencies - which left us with the question of “how” the “official” residency has value in other ways... and is it possible to shift that value somehow.

openness transformation professional gain

time and space meet new people different points of view - broaden my world view create relationships learn new skills rich aesthetic experiences not having expectations being open to fail (which would mean you succeeded) unfamiliar - removes known factors. new space new people - (micro)community - - - anykind. depends. new constraints? (factors you have no control over) wild animals, no electricity. language. access to resources (i.e. print studio, nearby university, etc) new audience representation? money? - little beautiful drawings on paper. can limit engagements - can open possibilities. resource. damien is hirst camps? boot camp? no freedom. all star camps! medical residencies professional development access to art people. curators, maybe a show, exhibition? if your invited that is high profile. if you pay for it, its different..... how do they help sustain a practice? should we be flexbile and fit into art system....? add “Vacations� to CV A VERY BRIEF LIST OF RESIDENCIES Headlands center for the arts - did not expect anything. how does that change things? freedom...? setting. rolling hills. environment. Kohler Islands fold Indianapolis island MacDowell Colony PLAND Signal fire - awesome. wild places. wilderness. new spaces. unfamiliar places. food seems important. no expectations. show if you want it? Privydiggs. super G Elsewhere residency - CLUI - Windover Taipei Artist Village CESTA SAIR (RIP) Millay RESOURCES HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR A RESIDENCY? Words of wisdom by Lee Walton: Some post-thoughts on aesthetics regarding experience. Maybe aesthetics - the question of what is beautiful, is really about recognizing and accepting something as beauty. If there is any alteration involved, its not the changing of thing to make them more beautiful, perhaps its the changing of your mind to make the things more beautiful. In this sense, we often consider beauty based on taste. As Sol Lewitt said so well - “taste is based on past experience, I am not interested in taste (what I like and don’t like), I am interesting in new experiences. For me, a good residency is based on new experiences. STANFORD TALK LEISURE leisure - !!!

MIDPOINT RESIDENCIES In continuing our conversations about residencies, we created a ficticious but very real residency for ourselves at the midpoint between two locations we desired to work. At this inbetween location that was neither here nor there, we each spent an hour where we fulfilled our assignment. If you’re curious to know where we spent our time and what we did, contact JASON midpoint between Bullseye Glass and Sylvia’s Ceramics, Portland ADAM midpoint between Blitz Ping Pong room and Dots Cafe Basement, Portland MOLLY midpoint between Sunnyside Environmental School and Oregon Historical Society, Portland NOLAN Sauvie Island and Oregon Historical Society, Portland GRACE midpoint between Kiwiana restaurant and Dan Safer’s Playwrights class at NYU DILLON midpoint between the US Post Office and the Marine Park Nature Center, New York

KATHERINE midpoint between Forest Park, ropes course or obstacle course, day laborers center LEXA midpoint between the Tea Room at Chinese Garden and Community Thrift, Portland

ANNE DENNINGTON’S IDEAS ABOUT PROPOSALS These insights come from Anne Dennington, director of Flux Projects. Flux Projects has reviewed over 500 proposals and worked with over 300 artists in the last three years. We asked Anne a series of questions and she responded. We took notes the best we could. Below are not direct and accurate quotes, but what we could organize from the conversation. Question: How do you find artists for Flux Projects? Anneswer: Some of the artists are local artists doing work in galleries that aren’t sellable, and need more space. Some of the artists work outside of Atlanta. In the beginning, we found artists through open calls, now we reach out to individual artists.

What makes a strong proposal? Strong proposals address the culture of a place. Each neighborhoods or city has its own personality. How will citizens (the audience) respond? How do they live? How can a project be a welcome addition not an interference? For example, Atlanta is a car culture and not very patient. Flux Projects is specifically interested in projects that effect the right here right now and involve the community. How can projects be a part people’s of daily lives? How can they impact how people interact with public space? How art can engage that space? Flux Projects prefers to have direct artist involvement, Charlie Brouwer’s ladder project is a good example, rather than the citizens being the amateur artists. Doing social practice well takes a lot of thoughtful consideration. What mistakes should artists try to avoid? Often, artists aren’t clear about what the project is. Don’t take for granted reviewers know what you are talking about. To remedy this, put in a basic description: a 50-100 word introductory paragraph that just says what the project is. Artists often focus too much on what the project will do and the theory behind the work. Reviewers are looking for answers to these main questions: What’s your idea? Can you do it/get it done? What are some things to consider when formulating a proposal? ● Do you have the time to do that project? ● Does it bring something significant you? You need to develop your career, not just be responding to call. ● Everything costs you $ and time. When writing your budge, don’t start with max amount and work backwards. Instead work forward. Include artists fee and in-kind volunteers. A rough standard: Artist fee 20% and 10% contingency (costs could go up or you may need more materials). You can also provide a budget range. ● Give examples to explain things like social practice. ● Consider who the reviewers may be. For example with city grants = community members may be deciding. Try to tailor your explanations speak within the discourse of audience before expanding on it.

Mock ups are really helpful, especially for installations.

What kind of artists does Flux Projects like to fund? Flux Projects funds artists who typically weren’t getting funding. We try to support artists on projects that have never been done anywhere else. We also fund research and development. In the future we would like to fund projects that travel.

STEVE LAMBERT’S RESPONSES TO SUSTAINING AN ART PRACTICE Steve Lambert joined us a class one day. This was a real treat for us because we had been looking at his website all term as a sort of case study for how a “real” artist presents themself “professionally”. Steve fielded our easy and tough questions with genuineness. Here was his advice to us: ● Don’t quit. ● Just make art for 10 years. ● Don’t try to make masterpieces. Make a lot of stuff because you are going to make a lot of crap and you can’t just make good stuff. Don’t worry about showing stuff that isn’t perfect. You have to make all the stuff. Don’t give up if you think it is stupid. ● Be genuine. Make stuff about things you care about with the perspective you have. ● Think of yourself as an amateur---in the best way. Make stuff because you like to do it, not because you have to (make it to make a living.) ● Get a job. One with the most amount of pay and least time without being a prostitute.

When writing proposals: ● Take out clutter in proposals and artist statements. Explain: You are gonna see this. You are gonna think this ● Ask the proposal issuer: Can I do whatever I want? What are the parameters? ● Ask yourself: Why am I making this? ● Think about your idea. What do you want to be the end result? Work backwards from there. ● Act like a playwright. Take on the character of the participant. Will your idea accomplish what you want them to feel, do, be? Be honest with yourself. Books: ● Steve Lambert’s Book List ● On Writing Well ● Creating a Life Worth Living ● Hope in the Dark by Rebecca Solnit

What is your advice for sifting and winnowing ideas and opportunities? ●

Consider these factors when making decisions: if it pays, how long it takes, try to simplify it.

Websites? ● Your website enables you to control how you are represented. It allows you to communicate your artwork to other people. You’ll do a much better job at it than other people (like a galleriest) because you care. Miscellaneous insights? ● Advertising companies love anti-advertising art. ● Art represents who I am and how I think. I don’t separate it. ● Duchamp said he was interested in artists not art ● inbox zero We had a group discussion about Trojan horse effect of comedy. Here are the links that were shared ● ● ● ● Lee: I thought this was interesting to see how someone like Ferlinghetti could have possibly had and influence on George Carlin. This idea that comedy and poetry are both art forms? timing, delivery, content, form, etc...who knows? ● ● Miscellaneous links from our conversation: ● How to apply: ● Daylight Savings - ● Interview with Steve: ● Post Carbon Institute:

NOTES FROM CLASS ON MARCH 3 WITH SHERYL ORING Here are our notes from a class discussion with visiting artist Sheryl Oring. STUDENT WORK ● ● ●

Document everything (writing, jpgs, html) Document progression of students from 1st project to final project Teaching statement, portfolio of student work

APPLYING FOR TEACHING JOBS ● Don’t be afraid to apply in many fields ● Main thing is your artwork - via website ● Don’t take rejection personally, don’t get disillusioned ● Don’t apply for teaching positions right out of grad school ● How does teaching apply to your art practices

Both teaching and art making should both be risks

ROUTES TO APPLYING FOR JOBS ● Climbing your way up (community college) ● Focusing on work for 10 years then apply for teaching bc you become an artist they want to hire WRITING ● Helps get funding, supporters, getting to do what you do ● How do you write about your work? ● How do you speak about your work? (performance, sell your work) DOCUMENTATION ● Make friends with photographers ● Book arts and video can be another form of documentary BERLIN ● Affordability, Accessibility, Openness to other forms of art ● No one has any expectations of you ● Bejing is the new Berlin (try to get there on fellowships or scholarships) VALUE ● Money value ● Associative value (working at the Guggenheim) ● Skill value (Having an architecture job) SITES TO LOOK AT ● ●

The Unofficial Guide To Professional Practices  

Documents from a 10-week professional practice course taken by MFA students in the Art and Social Practice program at Portland State Univers...