Saturday, March 15, 2014

"art resides in the quality of doing, process is not magic" --charles eames

I’ve been working like a motherfucker lately. Or perhaps like a no-one-fucker because when you work a lot, there’s less time for fucking. When things were slow and same-old-same-old sometimes at P&W, I occasionally envied people with “real” jobs—I had a kind of Mad Men image of striding into an office, rolling up my shirtsleeves and clacking away at a keyboard as part of some larger mission. Work is so American and noble.

Let's get to work here at this beautifully designed modern coffee table.
Work is such a human-sized, fortunate, un-existential problem to have. It’s not an exclusively first-world problem, but at its best it can be kind of adorable.

And now that work is so very much in front of me, the problem of too much work feels bourgeois and un-artistic and banal and a silly thing to stress about because I have my health (at least I think, knockonwood), and I’m mildly embarrassed and ashamed that I’m letting work stress get to me. But how could anything you do ten hours a day not get to you? I don’t know why I should be ashamed of the fact that life doesn’t just pass over me like lukewarm water. It’s good to be engaged and affected.

But after a day in which I declared to Lauren, “I’m trying not to overuse the phrase, ‘crazy day’ because I think it might apply to every day,” I left the office anxious that I might never write again, or never even think a thought that was not about a grant deadline.

I drove to Art Center’s Hillside campus, tucked away in the part of Pasadena where there are deer and mountain lions, to attend a talk about Ray Eames with AK. We were celebrating our eighth anniversary at her place of work, which tells you a lot about the eighth year of our relationship—wonderful and deep and fortunate and hardworking and multitasking and breathless. The talk didn’t actually have that much to do with Ray Eames, so we ducked out early.

Someone must be working on Charles and Ray: The Musical, right?
But after seeing a couple of contemporary artists talk about their work, I said to AK, “I just felt like, ‘Oh, art. I miss you. Will I ever write again?’”

She said, gently, “It’s always personal, isn’t it?”

Later I said, “I’m going to ask an ironic question, which is: Am I that person who always makes it about them?”

I already knew the answer. This whole blog is devoted to Making Art About Me. I mean, I make art that is about me, and I also make other people’s art about me and reflect on it here. In this space, at least, that is the point.

We ducked into the Ray Eames: In the Spotlight exhibit, which was better than the talk. I finally got out of the me space—although it did make me long to live in a perfectly curated/designed house and wear beautiful clothing, rather than in a house where there are just so many haphazard piles of things—and into the Eames space, where I learned that they are more than just chairs for tasteful people.

The hang-it-all. But imagine it hung with random key chains and baseball caps instead of perfect vintage sweaters.
What surprised me: the breadth of their work (who knew they did that Powers of Ten movie we were always watching in school?) and the sweetness/playfulness of their work. Yes, there were the elegant chairs. But Ray also drew little hearts on everything and looked and dressed a little like Judy Garland. They made a variety of things for children and there was something very kid’s-eye-view about their approach.

I heart Ray.
They were putting a bird on it before anyone.
We rounded out the night sharing cocktails and a pretzel at Haven, a very low-key gastropub in Pasadena. The cocktails were good and the pretzel was amazing. The company was someone I want to spend my life—hopefully a very long life—with, as in-love as Charles and Ray, even if our collaborations only extend to bickery grocery-store runs and too-quiet adoption websites.

The past couple of weekends, I crashed hard on Saturday mornings. So the fact that I’m up and reading my friend Wendy’s fantastic, envy-inducing novella and journaling/blogging—if not “seriously” writing—bodes well, I think, for a future that might have space for both hard work and creativity. Maybe even a returned phone call or two (sorry, everyone; I’ve been kind of a sucky friend).

I will close on my favorite quote from Wendy, which I think sums up the whole life-and-carbohydrates thing perfectly:

There is no fair. Except for the kind with blue ribbons and fried food.

No comments: