My friend Bonnie and I went to see Art School Confidential this weekend over at the Edwards theatre by UCI. The film was a hoot… partly because I soooo remember my first (and last—ha!) year of art school, with the wacky teachers and the equally wacky assortment of students. One of the teachers, who taught my color class, was sweet but so messed up… she’d shared with many of us the fact that she’d tried to commit suicide after her husband left her, and she’d frequently be stepping out with us for a toke. And looking back on it now, she had what appeared to be symptoms of a manic-depressive. My sculpture teacher was hot… and famous. He was also an egotistical asshole. An older and well-established member of the faculty was rumored to seek ‘extracurricular’ activities with her newly assigned male students. Not sure whether that improved or impeded their grades, perhaps both, depending. And I fondly recall the ‘vernissages’ (opening receptions) that I attended, scarfing the free food and drinking the wine. The more prestigious the artist and venue, the better the fare. Few of my teachers left a particularly lasting, positive, impression on me. Only one, my printmaking teacher, Freda Guttman-Bain. She dished no BS… told us we needed to read “Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” and taught us the systematic process of printmaking. I suppose it’s less abstract than color theory, or sculpture, but nevertheless, she was much better at articulating the process than the others were. The others made it out to be some sort of arcane skill.
The nude live model scene in the movie was just classic! We started with a male model too, and I remember the anticipated chatter beforehand when we were informed that we would get live models posing for us. When the female model showed up and dropped the bathrobe, many of the boys were similarly discomforted… some blushing bright pink. It was great. Meanwhile, I was the 17 year old virgin (much like the main protagonist in the movie), awaiting the right opportunity to (cough) ‘remedy’ the situation, however impatiently. While I didn’t end up in jail for murders I didn’t commit, all hell certainly did break loose shortly after my first semester was done, but that’s fodder for a whole nother-other post.
I was teetering on the brink, at the cusp of childhood and adulthood. I experienced a great deal of disillusionment… I grappled with the predicament of possibly ending up the ‘starving artist’… was I good enough to make it as an artist or would I have to pan-handle my way to the next meal? How much of art creation (in the “aht” world) is just a crock of bullshit… large egos pumped full of even more hot air by critics and art ‘connaisseurs’? I wanted to be authentic, but I didn’t know who I was and couldn’t pull it off. I know more now, but still struggle with some of the same issues. And yet… art keeps me sane; it helps me purge… and whether I’m telling my story, or what I think someone else’s story is, I hope it retains meaning and authenticity. But I promise I won’t be smearing body fluids on my canvases… not much, anyway. 😉