Why don't we think being an artist is a 'real job'?
"We can see how the collapse of the economy is affecting everyone. Something must be done. Let's talk. No, it can't wait. Things are bad. We have to work things out. We can only do it together. What do we know? What have others tried? What is possible? How do we talk about it? What are the wildest possibilities? What are the pragmatic steps? What can you do? What can we do?"
– Temporary Services, "This Is Our Real Job"
You may recall Temporary Services invading Austin back in late 2008 to explore the points at which Austin punk and Barbara Jordan met (in ideas and spirit, at least) ("testsite 08.5 ~ Temporary Services," Nov. 14, 2008). Well, in recent months, as the country has staggered through the Great Recession, the Chicago-based art collective has been sounding the call for "a national conversation about art, labor, and economics." Through a newspaper/website, Art Work (www.artandwork.us), it's giving artists, writers, critics, activists, and others an ongoing forum for sharing their thoughts, ideas, and personal experiences about the state of the economy, its impact on the creation of art, and what artists can do and are doing to improve their lot. (Just last month, Austin punkmeister/artist Tim Kerr contributed a brief essay in the "Personal Economy" series.) In addition, Temporary Services has been reaching out to communities in which they've shown work to incite some in-the-flesh dialogue. They contacted Glasstire and Chronicle contributor Kate Watson, who was the curator at testsite when they did their project there, and she is assembling local visual arts leaders to tackle the topics of art, labor, and the economy in a two-hour event this Friday, Jan. 22, at 8pm, at Domy Books, 913 E. Cesar Chavez. Part of the evening will include verbal and visual documentation of Austin artists at their day jobs, revealing what they do to support their true work. Short presentations on artists' business models will be followed by a discussion moderated by Watson and ... might be good editor Claire Ruud, with Katie Geha of SOFA Gallery, Russell Etchen of Domy Books, Sean Gaulager of Co-Lab, and others.
The following day, Brett Bloom of Temporary Services will be leading an event in Houston, and a caravan of Austin artists will drive down that morning not just to take part but also to take advantage of an opportunity to meet up with some of their counterparts in Houston and start sharing information with them about what they do and solutions to problems affecting Texas artists. To join the vanpool to the Saturday Free School for the Arts session with Brett Bloom on Saturday, Jan. 23, 3pm, at Skydive, 3400 Montrose Blvd. #907, Houston, contact Kate Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org.