Monday, November 19, 2018

On The Road for Art

Several weeks ago I got an e-mail from my former student Mary Lane, telling me about an amazing night she just had.  She had attended an artist talk by a Gwenn Seemel, at a place called Lyceum Hall, in Burlington.  Not only did she enjoy the talk, but she was very impressed with the building.  One of the co-directors told her that they had inherited some print related equipment and would love to find a printmaker who could teach a class or two.   So naturally Mary started praising her wonderful woodcut teacher, gave her my contact information, and then made sure I got hers, thinking maybe I would be good to teach classes there. When I had a free minute I sent her an e-mail, just a few lines about what I do and could do for them.  The contact, Barbara Fisher, said she was interested to talk more, and her normal days there were Thursdays and Fridays, which made things complicated.  All day on Friday I am in class, and I often spend the other day running around and getting ready for class.  Tried calling a few times, but she was never at the phone.  Then last Thursday we had the worst November winter storm in more than 80 years (so said the news) and I was happy to spend the day indoors.  Tried the phone again and this time she was there, and so we set up a plan to meet the following Monday afternoon.

My apartment has a number of issues right now, but outside, today was about as good a day as we will have this week.  Not exactly warm, but sunny and relatively mild weather.  I looked up the address on my computer map program and saw it wouldn't be too hard to find.  Wrote myself some directions (don't have any county maps for that part of the state), gassed up the car, and took off a little before noon.  From going to many trainings in Hamilton last year I know that there can be some significant traffic around that part of the state around rush hour, but I wouldn't be there for any of that.

I was inside a few minutes before our scheduled appointment, so I guess I had calculated the timing correctly.  I don't know much about Burlington, except that it is right by the Delaware River.  The neighborhood looked like a well maintained urbanish location, like the artsy parts of Red Bank, or Rahway, or Asbury, etc.  I was told that the building is quite old, and had been built as a lyceum, which is why it has that name now, back in the early-mid 19th century.  It had been vacant for a while before this latest arts group moved in, much like our studio building in Ocean Grove, and the Boatworks in Belmar, and so many other places that artists have settled in.  I knew from some web research that there is gallery space, but we never got to there.  Besides the directors' office, the first floor was mostly other art organization offices, and she showed me the classroom space.  Right now a lot of costumes and theater stuff in there, plus a disassembled roller press.  I have no idea how to put such a thing together, so it's a good thing my class doesn't need any presses. Mostly we talked in the office, about arts organizations, art, plans for this place, the kinds of classes I teach, etc.  She seemed very excited by the possibilities.  Turns out she has some familiarity with some of the towns I have lived in in the past, so we had some discussion of those places past and present.

Her hope is to set something up for spring, which should be possible for me.  The next step is she wants me to send her some artist statement and teaching background stuff, so she can present the idea to the board.  We haven't discussed money yet, though I did mention it would have to be sufficient to get me to travel all that way.  As the mapping program predicted, the trip took about an hour, not a short trip, but I drive that far each way on a weekly basis for the college, and have driven further than that for other arts lecturing, as long as the pay was right.  The situation seems worth exploring.
Eventually found my way back to the Turnpike, then home from there.


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