Thursday, May 07, 2009

Quick thought.

As you've read before ad nauseum, I'm frequently caught up in the pointless and cyclical debates on Art vs. Craft vs. Design. I love to play all sides of that argument, because they're all bullshit, in the end. It's a circle, dummy, there are no sides.

Here's today's over-generalization:

Art = a beautiful idea, executed poorly.
Craft = a poor idea, executed beautifully.
Design = Art and Craft, publicly executed in the town square.

There. That ought to piss some people off.

Monday, May 04, 2009


It's strange the way this site fits or doesn't fit into my life. I think about it often. I think about quick posts, long posts, about how I don't want it to be a typical blog about a person's life, because I think that's boring and indulgent, and I don't want to just update you on every stupid thing I do or every romance or emotion or what color socks I wore today. I run around doing all the things I do (or don't do) on a daily basis, thinking that I'll find a full morning or afternoon or an evening to write a long post about something that's happening in my life with which I can make a statement of some kind.

And we all know how well that works out for me, huh?

Anyway, I'm sitting here tonight, trying to make a list of things to do, and playing the game of trying to separate them into categories of obligation. It's a valuable game, it turns out, and it will help me to sort things out into proper perspective and really see where priorities should be.

So as I'm doing that, someone who reads this site sends me a very flattering note, telling me that my bullshit actually helps him. Which, of course, makes me feel like a fraud, but it helps me to remember something very very important:

I'm supposed to be an artist.

I'm of the belief that such a thing means using your life and your views and your lessons and your questions to create things that try to touch other people. I think I'd forgotten that somewhat, in all the commotion of the last several months. It's time to revisit it, and to stop worrying about making it a grand statement - let's just bullshit together for a minute.

There's been one basic and overriding goal since we spoke last, one hugely important thing I want to accomplish as I continue to live with the idea that I'm not quite as sane as I once thought. It can be summed up in one word, and it's a word that's become a mantra to me:


My life has become entirely too complicated over the years, and not only am I unable to actually handle all the things I've brought into my world, I don't even enjoy them. Maybe I did once, all that jumping back and forth and swinging from tree to tree like a damned monkey, but I don't anymore, and I'm actively working towards cutting out everything that isn't exactly what I want in my life.

Simplification, it turns out, is a complicated process. I know - doesn't that suck? But I have an ace up my sleeve. In fact, I kind of knew about it when I put up that last post, it just hadn't happened for sure yet. I have an ace, and it's a way for me to get from here to there, it's a means to allow me to simplify my life in every way I want to, and while it has been and will continue to be a metric fuckton of work to get there, it's such a good secret weapon that it's almost guaranteed to work.

I got a job.

I know, I know, I've hinted at that kind of thing before, and in the darkest moments I've flirted with (hell, even slept with!) some pretty unlikely jobs. Sales, agent, managerial - I actually went looking for a position as a night janitor at a local church whose architecture I really love. But this is different. This is actually the kind of thing - no, it is the VERY thing - that I've been looking for for a long time.

It started part time, and it's been a lot of work and a lot of adjustment, but as of July 1st, I become a full time faculty member in the Sculpture Department at the Yale University School of Art.

Yeah, that Yale. Maybe you've heard of it.

I'd been beating my no-MFA-having head against multiple walls for a long time, even to the extent that the New York School of Interior Design (where I've been critiquing their BFA and MFA student's projects for years), offered me a teaching position last year, only to rescind it when they discovered that my credentials are a Bachelor's in Music and a dozen years of actual experience in the field they wanted me to teach. Many of my own peers in the Furniture and Design academic worlds have told me outright that without an MFA, I'm not qualified to teach in their departments.

This is a longer conversation, maybe we'll talk more about it another time. For now, the point is, Yale didn't give a damn about my degree - they saw that I had the skills and the experience they needed, and they asked me to come and build a shop and work with their students, and we all got along so well that they asked me to join the faculty. And now I have a job, and a paycheck, and benefits, and most importantly a solution to the two biggest obstacles I've had in front of me.

One, a way to finally find the luxury (curse?) of NOT having to make the bulk of my living with my work - something I have never had, not ever. And two, a way to do that which would enrich my life and make me a happier man. It accomplishes both, more than I could have even imagined. I love this job - I love working with the students, I love having the responsibility of being a member of this faculty, I could go on and on and I'm sure I will. All I'm saying now is that I love this job, it's EXACTLY what I needed, at a time when all was almost lost.

So all that is the good news. The bad news is that I can't just stroll away from the life I'd built, I have to dismantle it carefully, and that is a complex process. Much more complex than it should be, as I learn to rebuild my mind - this climbing back from that little exploration I took isn't easy, and it's going to continue to take time.

I'm okay with that. I'm working on it. I'm not nearly the reliable guy I used to be, and that sucks, I aim to fix that. It's not acceptable to me. I'm basically learning to be crazy and at the same time insisting that this bullshit doesn't run my life. I don't always win that little battle, but it gets better as we go. As each little complication I'd created in my life irons out, as each obligation comes to a close, I get a little bit closer to Simple.

Simple. It's a goal worth having, for a guy about to turn 44. I just want to do the work I love, and share some of the things I've learned over all those years with others who want to learn them. And when I go home at night, I don't want to be afraid that the lights will have been shut off, or that some commission I really didn't want to take in the first place is taking too long, or that an organization I'm supposed to be leading requires hours of attention, or that the tenants in my shop are upset because the knives are getting dull or the table saw is out of square.

Simple will remove those things, one by one. I'm a simple man, in the end. And I want a simple life.

And I'm watching it happen, a little at a time.