Sunday, October 7, 2007

Home Ec

I didn’t know when I applied, that to be accepted into the art department at UCLA as a transfer student was not an easy thing to achieve. I remember pulling the letter out of our mailbox at our crumbling stucco apartment in Westwood and how the spring morning light was slanting through the banana tree when I read the first word, “Congratulations!” I was so relieved. I had been in limbo, had moved to Los Angeles without a concrete plan, and now I had a direction.

That fall morning when I attended my first day at my second college, it was like any first day of school. I had new binders and pencils and I was very excited to be starting a photography class. I could not wait to get into the darkroom and learn the secrets of alchemy and light.

The visiting professor was an actual living, breathing, exhibiting New York artist. The real deal and when he finally entered the classroom looking like a miniature Lou Reed, I held my breath. He was uniformed in black jeans, black t-shirt, cigarette and comical bed head. He looked us over, took a last drag on his cigarette and crushed it on the floor and then said, “I see Art has become the new Home ec.”

What a dick. More than half the class was female, and a few did look like they had stumbled in off sorority row. As is often the case, the grad student TA did the lion’s share of the teaching and I learned a lot.

A few years later I was working in a gallery in New York that was heading down hill no breaks. I had begun interviewing at other galleries, and during one test drive the owner, who was female, had me work on the computer to see if I really did know this new computer program ArtStacks for gallery inventory, I answered phones, and uncrated a painting.

While I was in the back gallery I noticed that the photographs for the upcoming show were by none other than the visiting professor. His ‘Home Ec’ comment still irked me and I realized I had the access and the power to really fuck with him. I could delete his inventory file, alter prices, or cancel the print order on his invitations. It was very tempting.

I opted to sidestep that karmic dead end. I told the gallery owner I was familiar with his work. This piqued her interest in me for a moment. Then I told her the visiting professor story. She was horrified. I’ll never know what this information did for his relationship with her gallery, but I felt like I had flicked over the first domino.


ken said...

Still, you slashed his proverbial tires. Better than a photograph, but the same karmic dead-end nonetheless.

Sorry to be a stickler, and I give you permission to do the same to me sometime, but it's 'piqued.' And 'sidestepped' is one word.

millvallison said...

right you are ken. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting story, as I am now working with ArtStacks at one of the Union Square fine art galleries that is currently "...heading down hill no breaks". I love that expression - is it originally yours? ;)
Had to read the entire page!
"karmic dead end" is also good one...