First Friday #18

Our First Friday of the new year went off without a hitch, and though it was lightly attended I had some good conversations and got around the building for once. The night began with a nice little happy hour attended by  Erin Anderson Michelle Neifert Deb Slahta and myself – our monthly beer and bourbon session. For this month we shared what happened during our Christmas and New Years holidays. We seemed to mostly catch up on sleep and suffered our in-laws like most of us in the country during the holiday break.

Right around when the open house began in earnest I found myself in Angie Snyder’s studio with Stephanie Smith. This was my first time in Angie’s new space, she moved into her new digs back in November and I only had a few peaks in since. Angie, Stephanie and I talked about the sacrifices artists make in order to have studio spaces and careers. It’s very heartening to have these conversations because partners, family and the public at large are almost hostile when confronted with an artists lifestyle. Stephanie particularly related the conversations she’s had with her husband about earning money to support her studio practice and they seemed to be as intense as those I have with my boyfriend. It’s incredibly nerve wracking to monthly be faced with the financial crunch of a room that rarely pays for itself with art sales, but it’s for me almost impossible to see myself as a successful artist without that space.

This First Friday was the day of hallway chatting it seems. I found myself chatting at several times with Darrell George and Marlow Rodale. I also chatted with a couple ArtsQuest board members about my new teaching job at Muhlenberg College and starting a new Pilot set painting. These hallway chats led to a little tour around the building with Michelle where we ran into the fabulous printmaker Kay Frederick and the Director of Exhibition at the Baum School of Art in Allentown, Kristen Kotsch.

Back in my studio I had some pretty amazing visitors. I had one repeat visitor who recently traveled to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. Another visitor from Chicago who at 91 years old seemed more spry and youthful than me at 40. And then there’s Deb Slahta’s boyfriend Aaron who is determined to get me to run for office one day. We always get into intense political discussions during First Fridays.  In addition to these visitors I was also visited by photographer Mike Hoffman, who was one of the founders of the group Iraq Veterans Against the War. Mike talked to me about his groups opposition to the war in Iraq, his relationship with his bisexual girlfriend, and his push with Adrian Shankar of the Bradbury-Sullivan Center to bring more risky and sexual photography to the center. Mike also seems to know A former classmate of mine Paul Reikoff who began a competing and more centrist anti-establishment group the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Mike told me the two of them had some heated conversations back when the war was a hit button national issue. Mike like Adrian seemed to gravitate to the “Matthew Likes Darkies Best” piece, maybe in the new year I can get around to making more pieces in that style.

The night ended in Marlow Rodale’s studio where we talked framing and briefly with David Sommers before I had to leave. Here are some images of what my studio looked like during this months open house:


I woke up one morning this week with jazz on my mind and so for today’s music selection I’ve chosen Oscar Peterson and his piece “Blues for Big Scotia”

That’s it for this post. Next week starts my first class at Muhlenberg College so I think I might blog what I will be teaching. I’m hoping to get into the studio also over the next week to continue my drawing for Pilot 6 which I also plan to blog on. So until then do be well.

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