Trey Jones New Collection

My friend Trey, pictured below, designs very cool furniture.Trey

Trey just launched his new collection of planters and plant-affiliated furniture. They are lovely. I encourage you to check out his site, treyjonesstudio.com or one of his custom interiors, up in Roosevelt.

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Four Ugly Words I’ve Learned While Teaching

For several years, I’ve worked as an adjunct college instructor. This job is much like being a real college instructor: I teach students, plan courses, grade student work, attend meetings, and in the colder months, I wear tweed. (I generally love this work and have talked about it elsewhere.) Where my job differs from the traditional college educator is that I am in the “adjunct” tier of faculty. We are also known as “contingent,” or “part-time” depending on the institution. Generally speaking, adjuncts are paid drastically less per course than our full-time colleagues, offered fewer (if any) benefits, and have very little job security. We are currently the majority of educators on American college campuses, in spite of adverse conditions.

While working in this capacity at several schools over several years, I’ve learned some disturbing terms related to labor and economics:

1. Adjunct: a thing added to something else as a supplementary rather than an essential part. 

It would follow that 75% of undergrad classes are currently taught by faculty that are non-essential add-ons to the educational process. However, these courses are neither elective nor offered at a discount. I touch the lives of my students in a “supplementary but non-essential” way.

2. Gender Pollution: a theory that when women enter a profession, the prestige and pay of that profession goes down relative to more exclusively male professions. 

I heard this phrase nonchalantly mentioned at a conference talk. I gasped. The disparity in pay and respect between men and women has been quantified, modeled, and named by economists. It turns out that engineering faculties are paid more than arts and humanities faculties not because of private sector competition for our skills, but rather, because the arts and humanities faculties have more women in them, and are thus less valued. Teaching, as a whole, suffers from this same cultural/economic bias.

 3. Casualization: the altering of working practices so that regular workers are re-employed on a casual or short-term basis.

This practice has been increasingly popular in the corporate world, and Universities have adopted it by massively increasing adjunct labor. Employees become “part-time associates”, or “independent contractors.” One full-time job with a contract, living salary, and benefits can be split into three or more part-time jobs at much lower hourly pay. This means employers can have fewer and fewer responsibilities to their employees.

4. Precariat: a social class formed by people suffering from existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare [and must also] sell their labor to live. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, intermittent employment, or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.

This new class description covers a wide array of groups. But in the case of adjuncts, their advanced educations and specialized skills actually hurt their economic prospects. 

Bonus: Once, a department chair praised me for being “fungible.”  Fortunately, I’m pretty sure they meant “versatile.” I am versatile.

Colleges are more dependent on adjunct labor than ever. This dependence has not ameliorated rising tuition costs, growing administrative costs, and record student debt. If our colleges and universities have a real mission to fulfill, then most of our classroom instructors have been deemed “non-essential” to that mission. Do we expect our transient, part-time teachers to put their full dedication into these schools? Into these students? It seems doubtful that this is in the long term interest of students, scholars, or American education in general.

This Wednesday, adjunct faculty across the country will be demonstrating for greater awareness of this issue. If you are paying for a college education, planning to, or believe in education as a public good, I urge you to learn what you can about this issue.

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Rensing Group Show at the SC Governor’s Scool

For any of you who are in the Greenville, SC area, this week is your last chance to check out a beautiful group show from recent Rensing Center resident artists.

Christmas Ferns, 12"x8", oil on paper

Christmas Ferns, 12″x8″, oil on paper

The show is hosted by the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities and features work from a number of Rensing Center alumni, including Jennifer Rabin, Jude Harzer, Shelby Davis, and many others. Two of my Understory paintings are up in the show- temporarily returned to the Appalachians.

Ellen Kochansky discusses the show with SCGSA students.

Ellen Kochansky discusses the show with SCGSA students.

Installation view at the Lipscomb Gallery

Installation view at the Lipscomb Gallery

 

 

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Ruining Thanksgiving with Illustration

While looking at some illustrations by J.C.  Leyendecker, I was struck by this 1919 Saturday Evening Post cover. SEPCJCL

First, I was impressed by the range of tones he produced with an extremely limited palette. Then I was troubled by Leyendecker’s strangely shaped turkey. The small breasts, long legs, and peaking breastbone look weird. Is that some kind of pheasant? The kid looks excited, and it’s a Thanksgiving cover, so we may assume that was a turkey- even an attractive turkey by 1919 standards. (Or, maybe he was just excited not to have shell-shock or Spanish Influenza. Count your blessings.) Let’s look at a more familiar turkey:Norman-Rockwell-Freedom-from-WantNorman Rockwell’s 1943 turkey looks much more familiar. A large bird with smaller legs and wings, and plump body. Also, it’s apparently twice the size of the Leyendecker bird. Freedom From Want, indeed! That bird might destroy Fascism! Now let’s fast forward to a more contemporary Turkey:butterball-turkey1This is a publicity image from Butterball, showing a nearly spherical bird with a carcass weight of up to 32 lbs. Scroll back up to Leyendecker’s bird for some perspective here. This is a totally different class of bird. (Also, note the color and garnish similarities between this photo and Rockwell’s iconic Freedom From Want image.)

What happened? Breeding, and industrial agriculture have reshaped turkeys and also reshaped our expectations of them. It turns out Leyendecker’s bird was normal. In 1919, Thanksgiving birds were what we now call “heritage breeds.” These turkeys were closer to their wild ancestors- smaller, hardier, and allegedly tastier than modern turkeys. They have longer, thicker leg bones and much smaller breasts. They lived outside and were also capable of a range of bird-like behaviors like flying, foraging, roosting, and reproducing.

Rockwell’s bird was likely the Broad Breasted-Bronze, a large-breed turkey that was selected for size in 1930s and 40s. By the mid 20th Century, turkey was a huge business, and these large birds were more profitable to produce than their smaller predecessors. After WWII, as poultry moved to a fully industrialized model, (indoor pens, commercial feed, routine medication, artificial insemination) the giant Broad-breasted White breed was developed. This breed was selected almost exclusively for fast production of white breast meat. This is the ovoid behemoth that you and I know as turkey.

Turkey farmer, Peter Davies writes, “This Twentieth Century transformation of the turkey has not been without its costs, however. Early in its transformation, the new turkey lost its ability to roost, eventually it could no longer mate, and today it can no longer fly or run.  Indeed, as it approaches market day, the turkey often suffers from leg and heart problems.  One Large White in our improvisational experiment, which could, at most, waddle as market day approached, dropped dead suddenly one afternoon, presumably from a heart attack.”

As I count my Thanksgiving blessings, I am very thankful that I do not have to artificially inseminate poultry. (Also that I’ve been spared from combat trauma and fatal pandemics.) With this in mind, Leyendecker’s rangy 1919 bird looks like an image of health and prosperity.

 

 

 

 

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CoCA Marathon and Auction

"Marys Wollstonecraft," 6x31", oil on hinged panels with matches

“Marys Wollstonecraft,” 6×31″, oil on hinged panels with matches

CoCA, (Center on Contemporary Art) invited me to participate in their annual 24-Hour Art Marathon this week. I produced 4 new paintings that will be on auction this Saturday at their fundraiser gala.

in-progress view of "Foundation Studies," 16"x20", oil on panel

in-progress view of “Foundation Studies,” 16″x20″, oil on panel

Other works from this delirious art blitz from me and the 19 other artists are up on CoCA’s Event Page. Works include: Puget Sound Timeline, De-Colonized Beer, Foundation Studies, and Marys Wollstonecraft.

"De-Colonized Beer," 12"x12," oil on canvas

“De-Colonized Beer,” 12″x12,” oil on canvas

As of press-time, there are still a couple tickets left for the dinner and live auction. (Come meet the artists, support CoCA, and leave with some rad, new art!) Huge thanks to CoCA, for inviting me; the other 19 artists, who were spectacular; and everyone who came out during the Marathon to offer encouragement or to gawk. And special thanks to Derek, who drove me home afterward.

 

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Goodbye, Dear Studio!

It’s with great sadness that I move out of Alley 1016. The downtown building is being razed to make office spaces intended for “creative businesses.”

Luckily, Evan di Leo shot this lovely footage of the space:

Updates from the new space (at Inscape) coming soon!

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Now is the best time to see MANIFEST

As I’ve discussed elsewhere, this show is lots of fun and deals with a variety of issues and ideas that are dear to me. I’ve really enjoyed meeting visitors and watching them engage with the works on a number of levels.

photo 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you haven’t made it out yet, you are emphatically invited to come see it in the flesh. You cannot see this show on the internet, I’ll not be mounting it again later, and some of the works are moving on to private collections. Come enjoy it before it’s gone!

A few of the paintings

A few of the many and varied paintings

This show includes:

Georgia Pacific
 Suggested Reading: Faulkner, Steinbeck, Gandhi
Fifteen Dead White Men and Pam Grier
Theorie und Praxis
Transatlantic Modernism
Country Mouse, City Mouse, Wilderness Mouse
Northwest Masters
On Painting the Miraculous
The Artist as The Western Artist
Equestrian Monument

 

This show also features an abundance of wall text– some of which is helpful, most of which is funny.

The Artist with David Kassan and "Northwest Masters"

The Artist with David Kassan and “Northwest Masters”

details, "Georgia Pacific"

details, “Georgia Pacific”

The show will be up and open throughout August. Gallery hours are Wed.-Sat., 12-6pm. Contact me for appointments in off-hours.

More images on Instagram, but seriously- go see it for yourself.

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Power Weekend, pt. II

Thanks to everybody who made it to the TK Street Fair. This weekend starts early:

THURSDAY, August 7th: First Thursday reception for MANIFEST

There is no way to experience this show on the internet. Come on out!

There is no way to experience this show on the internet. Come on out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am very proud of this show. It deals with illusionism, history, land-use, the miraculous, and the literary. Some of the work is heady, some of it earnest, and some causes visitors to laugh out loud. (It’s like hanging out with me, but you get to talk more.) Also, it features a beard-tool photo booth, an 8’3″ cardboard giantess, and paintings of Jane Jacobs and Jesus. Come and see.

 

SATURDAY, August 9th: LxWxH Pop Up Art ShopScreen Shot 2014-07-31 at 6.15.04 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just for fun, and only open for Georgetown Art Attack and Saturdays in August!
LxWxH will present all the work in its inventory from past and present LxWxH artists. Buy a piece and take it home that day!

A few of my Memory Paintings will be on offer at very modest prices. Also, I will be on hand enjoying the summer weather, the air traffic, and the cheap beer. Say hi!

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