Looking at a Horace Pippin Painting at the Met

“Mastry” and Potential Mistakes

This week is my second Mentor Week, and I’m going a bit deeper than I did, before, for better or worse.

Penn Station # 1 Line
Penn Station # 1 Line

Tuesday, October 1, 2016

I’ve done a lot of soul-baring and truth telling, already, and I wonder if that’s a good thing, but what the fuck? I take risks and maybe they pay off, maybe not.

Halloween Night, NYC, 2016
Halloween Night, NYC, 2016

How should I start? With yesterday.  First of all, I think that the term, “Mentor Week” is a misnomer. I’d say it’s only “field trip week,” which bugged me to no end, because how am I supposed to learn anything if I don’t ask questions?

So this “mentor ” is actually my favorite artist, these days. I’ve seen a number of his pieces and love his aesthetic. I saw a show of his in Boston in 2012 and that was the show that cinched my interest in his work. So when I saw that he would be a mentor, he was my first choice by a long margin.

Checking Out A Mentor's Studio
Checking Out A Mentor’s Studio

Yesterday we met at his new studio, which he claims to have spent a lot of money. I believe that. We took a tour of the studio and then did slide presentations. That went over time regarding lunch, and then he noted that we had an opportunity to go to a book publisher the owners of which are his friends. The book imprint, I was happy to discover, is the publisher of Douglas Crimp’s Before Pictures. We enjoyed that visit and then we were off to home.

Slides at Mentor's Studio
Slides at Mentor’s Studio

Tuesday started with a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to look at a painting by Horace Pippin, an African-American artist from the early twentieth century. I enjoyed looking at the one painting, even though I would like to see more. Our mentor is a fan of the artist and he noted that we will be meeting the foremost Pippin scholar, this week.

Looking at a Horace Pippin Painting at the Met
Looking at a Horace Pippin Painting at the Met

The day was a Met-related day, as the group went to lunch and then visited “Mastry,” the Kerry James Marshall retrospective at the Met Breuer, which is the old Whitney Museum. Marshall displayed his impressive career, and I was proud to see the show. It helps me, in some way. In one room, Marshall corralled artworks from the Met and displayed them as a “choice” show. A self-portrait of Horace Pippin was one of the pieces he selected for the exhibition.

All of this is making me note that I’m having a couple of heavy dilemmas. I feel like I got to this position by doing things my way and rolling the dice, at the same time. There are a lot of administrative obligations that come with the school like lectures and even the Mentor Week that, if I’m not careful, ai will waste my time and energy. I need to be both visible and invisible with people because i have to take care of myself, sometimes.

Ceiling of the Lobby at the Met
Ceiling of the Lobby at the Met

The lecture series is a good example of what I’m ambivalent about. I sit and listen to a speaker who most likely I won’t be able to contact or really reach. I’m there, pretty much itching in my seat for the whole thing to be over and then it is over and I haven’t really learned anything. Instead, I could be resting or learning about other important things or — even better — making my work. I’m very confused about that part. Isn’t making work the whole point? Why does every activity at the school conspire to keep me out of the studio?

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