Sunday, September 8, 2013

Dear Anonymous,

This comment in response to my How to Lose a Show post found its way to my blog last night at 10:53pm.

Anonymous said...
So you had the idea, you wrote it up, and... then you left the Workhouse before the show began. What are you whining about?
September 7, 2013 at 10:53 PM

I am quite the opinionated individual so, in the spirit of fairness and open communication, I promised myself when I started this blog, some five or so years ago, that I would always publish comments, even if negative or in disagreement with something I write...unless they turn out to be spam or at some point become abusive. To date I have only ever deleted spam posts.
Normally I reply directly in the comment section, however I feel this one deserves its own post, in order to clarify any confusion anyone out there might have over the Sueños Americanos exhibit or my no longer being at the Workhouse Arts Center.

Dear Anonymous,
First I'd like to clarify that I was not whining. I might bitch often, but I seldom whine. There is a difference. When something legitimately bothers me, I tend to confront it, allow myself a moment or two to bitch about it and move on. As stated in my post and video, I was allowing myself a moment of therapeutic bitchiness. I assure you that once I clicked the "publish" button on that post, I released my issue with the situation.
Please forgive me if I misunderstand, but your comment  "...then you left the Workhouse before the show began." reads to me as an implication that I abandoned the Workhouse and the show.
It is important to me that everyone know that I was very passionate and excited about this show. And even if I had, as you put it, left the Workhouse, I would have gladly returned to see its execution through. Unfortunately, I was already shut out of the show before the move to my new studio space ever came into play. My emails and inquiries as to what exactly my role would be went unanswered on more than one occasion while I was still on campus.
In addition, while it is true that my studio partner and I had considered moving once our leases were up, mostly due to a need for accessibility, I never just up and left the Workhouse. I was, in actuality,  displaced, when the building that housed my studio was leased out to a dance academy and I was told to move out without so much as the (to my understanding) legally required 30 day written notice. Due to our working style and process, my studio partner and I were told by staff that we were not a good fit for other buildings (and I do not disagree) and we negotiated to move our studio into the vacant storefront on campus, where we would offer special Art Monkey workshops and events that would help bring visitors to the already-struggling arts center, much like the events we held in the building we were told to vacate did. Surely, this should all be in a file somewhere, as we were required by the Workhouse to submit detailed proposals in writing to be presented and discussed with the CEO.
Imagine our disappointment and surprise when, practically overnight, this offer was taken off the table so that the storefront could become an office for the new tenants of our building. At this turn of events, we were informed that we needed to vacate promptly so that the new school could begin their renovations. Being released from our leases to accommodate this, we scheduled to move that very weekend. But, wait..."You can't" we were told, "because this weekend we're holding Spring Fest." So while we were told to pack our bags and move on, we now were once again in limbo because we had no free inventory to sell at Spring Fest, but couldn't use our time productively to move into our new work space either. Hmm...what to do? I did, ever so sarcastically, offer that we could greet Spring Fest guests into our building and they could admire the art-less walls and halls cluttered with moving boxes. They didn't seem to like this idea because us making our case only led to the Workhouse facilitating our move, including our moving truck, which they allowed us to bring on campus on the very verge of Spring Fest. Things always have a way of working out. Go figure! We actually completed our move a day before their event, because it never was our intention to disturb any happenings; just to move on.

I mostly want to be clear that I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a Workhouse artist. It isn't just a fantastic workspace, I learned and was inspired by being a part of an art community. I made lasting friendships and a few doors, I believe, opened as a result of being an artist there. I have never wished anything other than it should thrive and become a true art destination. Most importantly, I loved my building (W-4). I had a choice of studios when I first arrived, but the building, silly as it may sound, just "spoke" to me. The work by other artists there spoke to me and its energy spoke to me. And I believe I made the absolute right choice, and wouldn't change a single thing.

Even though Sueños Americanos is no longer my show to be proud of, I wish it the best. This is why I included links to its information in my post. People should go see it. It is something that the Workhouse has never offered and it celebrates diversity. I also should be allowed my personal feelings as to why I might not. That doesn't seem like whining, does it?

I would also like to add that I respect everyones choice to comment anonymously. It is one of the greatest gifts afforded to humanity by the Internet Gods. Anonymous, you could be a member of the Workhouse staff, ex-colleage studio artist or a perfect stranger. Not knowing makes you mysterious and exciting, not cowardly. I do wish you the best, whomever you may be.

I hope you get a giggle and a bit of satisfaction in knowing that because of my undiagnosed OCD I felt it necessary to reply to your comment immediately and it is now nearly 4am. I'm due at the studio earlier than usual tomorrow. I'm shaking my fists up at you right now. Curses!

This Often-bitchy, but Always Well-meaning & Opinionated Artist


Jody Lee said...

Although we are happy that you three are happy in your new kick-ass space, we still miss you there.

This is a timely post, as they are now collecting proposals for the studio gallery space in W-16.. I wonder if the proposors will be able to keep their ideas, or have them expropriated like yours with Suenos Americanos.

Denise Philipbar said...

Hey John,

Denise here (one of your former W-4 mates and former Workhouse studio artist, having just escaped myself). One thing anonymous doesn't get, is that the Workhouse actually stole a piece of intellectual property. Those proposals, submitted by artists, are not property of the Workhouse to use without permission of the artist. And they should know better.

Yes, Picasso said "good artists copy, great artists steal." But the Workhouse is supposed to be there to support artists and it doesn't. As in this example, it does quite the opposite. I do see some reforms happening as their financial situation continues to crumble, but it is far too little too late. And this is just one example of their lack of respect for artists and their process.

At the very least, after having forced you out, they should have invited you back to participate in this show. But that would require John Mason being less of the d-bag he is. And that would require a leopard to change his spots.

Propose your show to some of the other large venues in the area...ones that can actually pull in the crowds.

Love ya, Kiddo.