Back in the summer of 2011, I blogged about a compelling media project that the non-profit contemporary art organization Art 21 was launching called "New York Close Up"-- a web series following the lives of ten artists in the first decade of their professional career following grad school. As graduation ceremonies are just around the corner for many BFA and MFA students, I decided to revisit the series this week and feature it as part of my contribution to Throwback Thursday. At this time of year, the process of reflecting on the path one takes beyond university and art school is especially heightened and so I see this project in the vein of Sharon Louden's recent book Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, a book I recently added to my book wish list and a text that has struck a chord with many friends and colleagues about the realities of committing to a life in the arts. The original series can be found at Art 21's YouTube page and can be viewed in order (scroll to the bottom for the list to watch the oldest episodes first).
I have posted below two of my favourite films from the original series. The first is an episode featuring artist Shana Moulton, an aspiring performance artist and chronicles a day in her life as she prepares for an upcoming opening. As the Art 21 summary describes, "Moulton considers her aesthetic ambitions, audience expectations, and the pragmatics of being an artist in New York." The second episode features artist Tommy Hartung and his recollections of how he decided to become an artist and how he and his fellow artist friends survive and thrive as a community in the city. "Making New York his home since the mid-2000s" the Art 21 film synopsis reveals, "Hartung shares how he's developed a calculus for surviving and succeeding as an artist in the city."
One of the unexpected benefits of revisiting the series was the discovery that the project has continued to live on well beyond the 2011 launch. I am looking forward to catching up on the newly featured artists, and I am including here one of the more recent additions to the series featuring artist and art instructor Josephine Halvorson leading undergraduate students through a painting class group critique. This short film is sure to be of interest to many who have either lived through this process as a student/instructor, or wonder about what takes place during the mysterious critique process. The comments and feedback are quite raw and authentic, and I think that the reflection on how the critique works (or fails) is especially honest.