July 27, 2009

Bureau of Bureaucracy

A highlight of our DC visit was the Renwick Gallery where we played a game we invented called, "pick the piece you would buy from the collection if money were no object."

Rene picked a table and set of chairs by one of his favorite woodworking artist Sam Maloof. I chose the Bureau of Bureaucracy by Kim Schmahmann. Both are exceptional pieces of craftsmanship.

During our visit to the Renwick we watched videos on woodworkers Stoney Lamar and Sam Maloof. Watching these artisans reminded me of my summer at Horizons camp in Kents Hill, Maine. That summer I worked in clay, wood, glass and photography with practitioners who nurtured my creativity. I was submerged in the tactile experience of art-making. Reflecting on my current profession of the intellectual pursuit of non-profit arts business theory and practice I felt the recognized the extreme distance I have created between me and the making of art. This chasm has been highlighted as I travel with Rene in his pursuit of woodworking machines to create his art.

This weekend I was chatting with Matthew and Rachel's housemate Christina who recently graduated with her MFA and is considering her career next steps. She has prioritized her need to make art and is looking for an administrative or arts education job that can support her art-making. I advised her to "nurture her inner artist" as so many arts managers do not take time to do. She and Matthew put that statement back to me and said, "are you nurturing your inner artist?" You know what, I'm not.

I have crafted my own Bureau of Arts Management Bureaucracy. Like the Schmahmann piece I have hundreds of hidden drawers in which my creative urges have been isolated and hidden away. Seeing the work of these artisans rekindled the desire to work with my hands using my creative eye. Currently, so much of my energy fuels my intellect but starves my heart. Perhaps I could take the business expertise I contribute to my client arts organizations and actually use it to build my own arts business?