Another year passing quick. Feels like so much has happened yet nothing at all.
That's a lie, there's been a slew of things that's happened this year that it feels like it's been longer than it has been, if that makes sense.
Our 2 year anniversary passed a few months ago and it's been nearly 5 years since we got together. It's been a nice time and we've been getting through some gnarly shit thrown our way. She's been important for helping me set up shows for live events I do along with some extra muscle since some of these places are getting dangerous. There's been a rise for the last few months of people stealing from artists tables. The anime cons are getting sniped really hard but our areas have been hit a bit with theft. I had my brother at one show get his shit stolen and a friend got their shit busted and stolen but that event coordinator immediately went to the cameras. None of my stuff has been stolen yet but I've had people think about it and get butthurt i watch. It's always the ones who have very nice things on and/or spent a bunch of money on craft beer that's up there since 80% of these events have taken place at a brewery. You really can't do these things alone anymore. I used to be able to show up in my car no problem, but the last 2 years have gotten dangerous.
My job that I was at for 6 years I ended up leaving the first week of August. I remember not enjoying it after the first three years since there was a very clear division of contract workers and the salaried workers. Even though it was a non profit there was that "if they wanted to they could" with the administration. Hell when I got promoted to lead teacher I was still contractd until i got fucked over by taxes and considered leaving right there until I was made an hourly worker. There was a raise promised I never got, the commute was nearly 2 hours back and forth each day with traffic getting worse with each passing month. There was alot more that could take a week to write up such as watching higher ups use state given money for personal purchases, blatant lying in paperwork for state grants, and 50+ year old omen bullying and abusing younger people. I wanted to report but they want phone numbers and more proof but alot of the admins have local political ties and the place is slowly dying so it is what it is.
what kept me there all those years was the kids and parents I've gotten close with. hell i have a photo album of the artwork they've given me. i had a lot of freedom with how i taught and did lessons where kids saw improvement in 2 months. When I left I gave a vague reason where I'd be next because i've caught my boss lying about things to the point where i didn't want her knowing my business. the murder at a location and the handling of moving multiple places in less than a year was the final nail but there was one thing that really set it off. I won't name anyone, it's not important. I just wanted to talk about that whole experience and the weirdness surrounding it.
My job has this thing called the butterfly project they've been doing for longer than I worked there. it was designed to raise money for students and the program. the metal butterfly was like 7 feet and students would design it unless a place wanted a specific design. last year around September the holocaust museum near me wanted a butterfly and 9/10 the butterfly meeting and process were always a nightmare (like my former coworker was too nice and did 9 butterflies for free because they pushed her to work for free so that's like 10k owed to her). those who know me know about my family history and going with my mom to reconnect with her biological dad a way going to synagogues and unresolved trauma on my end that's resurfaced and I offered to work on that butterfly and the design as long as it was paid (going rate for a public installation for 10 years is 1,300-1,500). I've done alot of commissions over the years so it's always been easy to just give them what they want and go about the day. I had some sketches that ended up being strikingly similar to one of the sketches done by someone on the committee i dealt with for 4 months. The goal was to have the butterfly in a section of the museum outside where they hold alot of jewish events that ties into a butterfly project they had children do in the 90s, and a butterfly poem that was found in one of the concentration camps. What I wanted to do was include some of the imagery that referenced the stories of WW2 survivors during my time in Germany, my own trauma, and I wanted 8 of my students who I've trained to paint specifically to work on it because I wanted to gift them with having their names on a public installation. It was really important to me since one of them was graduating soon. Parents were excited.
There was some debate what the back would look like and one of the sketches I did out of the blue ended up in one of the final revisions. I have the first 3 versions somewhere in my desk, but it was drawing the front and back of the butterfly template in full color during the committee meetings. the people on there were amazing and one of the guys who worked at the museum too knew kabbalah stuff more than me so I was able to go full force with this with numerology and some imagery used. the prayer shawl was used in the museum logo and it was their idea to include that. It was funny too since one of them specifically asked for "anime eyes" for one of the butterfly children. Overall the meetings of the committee were really great with a clear and concise plan of what they wanted. The founder of my job that my boss usually hated to work with was a delight since i met deadlines early. The only thing I didn't like was a huge reluctance to have a fucking contract. one thing that's important is I knew this would be a shitshow, in my old school they used to have artists have installations in that museum and it was a catfight where people threatened by artists who they perceived as better would start shit. I had some rumors fly about me which still linger but to those who know me know they're not true since 75% of my time in grad school was locking myself in the studio.
I'm a giant asshole who will make shit difficult if i'm shamwow'd out of money I'm owed. I sent a stipulation of what I expected, the supplies we'd need to buy and what we had, the time, the names of students that would be helping, and a date when we could have this done (i was going to aim for yom kippur). Still no contract but I kept a paper trail the best i can since i follow the "hope for the best but prep for the worst". Last meeting and the 4th revision was approved around december 17/18th last year when i was on christmas break. I personally didn't care for the changes, but I was cooking to order and if they were happy, then that's all that matters. Meeting ended on a positive note.
Final design that was settled. It was different to do and I personally wasn't 100% but they were happy and that's the most important part.
Alot of my students were always free to discuss whatever they wanted and I was happy to share parts of my heritage as one artist who we did studies on fell on some heavy symbolism similar to mine. I was able to share some kabbalah with the kids and some history as that was lacking in their regular school curriculum. i made it a point to never push anything on the kids and if they wanted to learn anything we'd talk about it. the kids saw the design and were super excited. the whole point of the final design was to show the souls of the children victims of the holocaust flying away from death in peace while bridging people i spoke with in germany, my kids, my own bullshit into one thing that could serve as a positive thing. course i made sure to thank everyone in the committee including the gentleman who sketched everything. i enjoyed the time there! after that there was radio silence until late February where my MIL died of breast cancer on top of some personal things happening. I was in a meeting with my boss asking about the contract to protect all of us and wondering why talking with the building managers was taking so long (everyone on board with the project was supposed to be in that meeting to avoid bullshit and the manager dragged the process which would've been avoided with the contract lol). I brought up the fact that if this all didn't work out i'd be comped for my time as I had notes and trails saying my time on the project was separate from my job. My boss smirked and said I was supposed to do this during work hours. I emailed the exec director and my boss (exec director and my boss hate each other and they both clean out with generous salaries. Exec stayed in her area but my boss would micromanage and take things personal). I documented what was said to me, how that's not fair to use up my time and refuse a contract and what have you. I had a friend who said i had a case and was ready to escalate it if I was played it. at that time me and my wife were making arrangements for her to go home for her mother's funeral and my boss had a huge bitchfit because the exec was pissed at her and boss kept thinking I was personally attacking her. Had an impromptu meeting where i made it clear it's not an attack, I have a backbone and will not be taken advantage when I kept demanding a written contract. after that I made a plan to stick around until december 2023 due to the mishandling of this as i caught my boss in more lies and weird snide remarks (i don't trust anyone that believes in speaking in tongues and she believes in curses too while thinking i was promoting witchcraft) and making shit difficult but I stuck around out of spite.
around march i got this email, i only capped the important part as I sent it to friends and parents because it was ridiculous.
the time line was already wrecked because of this and they never attended the meetings nor made the effort to reach out directly. It's important that the person who started this project had sketches ready to go with what they wanted and we just fine tuned and added other elements that were approved.
I don't always like using black and planned for light reactive pearlescent colors that I use for certain works. One of my friends was egging me on to post all of this on my socials because it's downright ridiculous and when you think about it really offensive. My students were so baffled and pissed that the opportunity i wanted to give them was taken away from them. The thing is I'm content with my corner in local art shows and the underground scenes here and online. I'm happy in my corner, my job was to have these children have a better time in art than i did growing up and have them fly harder and higher by gifting them that foot in the door. calling a work too jewish the kids said was like going to a taco place with no tacos. it's a weird phenomenon seeing people working at these nonprofit deals and make it all about them, not the kids like they have to be the star. they ended up making a new design from a person that we don't know anything about and it was very bland and boring. They didn't even use the right template and my boss scrambled some excuse as to why there was no contract.
As I left that job it became clearer she's the instigator as she took credit for alot of things along with catching her with some lies. The more surreal part was her being more openly racist/homophobic/classist/transphobe with my coworker who's full white thinking she'd agree with her. We were all pissed and me and two of my coworkers up and left the first 2 weeks of august. I don't regret it and health problems vanished and gas has been easier to conserve. I'm still in between jobs and scraping. y with art sales but i don't regret a damn thing.
Why write this? i wanted to talk about it, but i don't want people feeling sorry for me. i knew this was going to be a shitshow but I went along with the ride knowing i'd be fighting for my rightful pay. I ended up getting paid for the design that was never used and my former coworker they reached out to paint the shittier design for 1k and bought golden acrylic paint for 3x the cost on amazon when i talked directly with the company and they donated 500 bucks worth of paint to my class that would've been enough for the butterfly. I nearly forgot about it until they made a post about the empty looking ceremony they had. originally they wanted me to paint the crappy design they threw together (if i manage to get it i'll attach it here) but i taught in the summer and i had an influx of special needs students and young children that are my top priority and bitching ensured.
my other good buddy and wife have really been pushing me to talk to this experience because of the insidious shit that went on during that time. I still don't regret it and the students I private tutor are still bitter about loosing an opportunity. I told them it is what it is, happens alot. I've gotten quite a bit of my personal projects done.
it's been a weird transitional period too the last half of this year. My Siberian husky I've had since i was 17 passed in May at 13.5 years old. She was an old bat from a puppy mill but she was a best friend who adored my wife when we moved in together. It's not been the same but I've been very grateful for one of my students whose mother gifted me with a husky pup in late june we named Freyja. She's special needs (cognition issues and object permanence. aka a forever pup) but the sweetest, most sensitive husky. Ended up with a husky/shepard mix wife named Artyom. With the extra time we've been training them well with the male mix already a fantastic guard dog.
oh yea and for those who know me well, there was a stray cat that used to walk around at my job who would come and visit the kids and became the unofficial class pet. His name is Toby and used to sit with distressed/special needs kids. He looks an awful like my childhood cat Caffy. The kids cried when we moved, but I ended up taking him in and he's a very good cat. My former coworkers joked he was my severance pay.
This sounds like such a pain in the ass blogpost, and didn't intend for it to be this long so I'll end it here, really wanted to kind of have a recap of things going on in my neck of the woods. I'm trying to take on more commissions since we need new tires and a new oven so I've been updating my store and going to update a commission sheet...traditional commissions are a pain to price because they vary wildly with all the people i've taken.
if you want to support my work I ask you all to check out my store or just talk to me directly! This page kind of serves as an archive to alot of my work.
To all people new and old following my shit since 2010, and those even earlier in 2006 I thank you for staying with me all this time. Can't believe how much time has passed. I can't thank you all enough for checking out my stuff. Hope you all have a great rest of the year.