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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Three Years in the Art World…and Counting.

How does an Illustrator come to work with Darryll Schiff, the fine art photographer? During my career at Columbia College Chicago, I didn't know what direction my art career was heading. I thought that I'd get a low paying (ahem, unpaid) internship at some design firm until I gathered enough experience to deem me fit for some low rung position until I worked my way up the ladder. Not really the idea I had in my head of a free-sprited artist, living on her own terms. Thankfully, I constantly reminded myself that the art world can be blissfully serendipitous…you just have to keep your eyes open. Never did I think that I'd meet my future employer whilst working at a coffee shop. This was the kind of cafe where people were in and out, without even looking up. However, "artist types"…we tend to find each other. Darryll was a regular customer at the cafe who actually paid attention. He knew immediately that I was an artist because of my visible tattoos and called me out on it. We chatted about his work and mine, and eventually he then shared with me a book, called Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton. I look at that book now as sort of a symbol of our working relationship, as I would soon be thrown into the art world, trying to figure out how to thrive.


Darryll mentioned that he could use some more help around his studio and although I was apparently content to be a barista for the rest of my life, I decided to leave that job and hop into the unknown, just because I made a promise to myself to take every opportunity that came my way. So, Darryll took me on as an employee. He needed help with various tasks around the studio and understandably so since his pieces are larger than life.  As he entrusted me with more responsibility, I gained confidence and we began to vibe off each other's creativity. I learned from this that it's important for artists to find each other and stick together. Although Darryll has about 30 more years of experience than I do and our artistic disciplines are very different, we often find common ground because we are both navigating this hectic and, quite honestly, counter-intuitive, art world. I've found that it's important not to work in a vacuum. Sometimes you need someone to bounce ideas off of in order to remain confident in your work. Darryll is, and always will be creating, but I like to think that we inspire each other to keep at it. I never thought that I would have the opportunity to drive to the West Loop several times a week and work in an artist's studio and, most of all, be even just a small part of his success. As I watch Darryll's art business grow, I feel more and more fulfilled and glad that I listened to my inner voice, that constantly urges me to surround myself with good people and do what I love.





Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Brief Report On My Trip to NY and the AIPAD Show

On April 5th I flew to New York to see the AIPAD show, which is a yearly event featuring many of the top photography galleries nationwide, including a few from other countries. I wanted to get to this recap of the event sooner, but upon returning to Chicago I had a confirmation and check waiting for me for two 5’x9’ prints.  Suffice it to say, I needed to do the finishing touches and get them printed as soon as possible.

Anyhow, back to AIPAD: I started attending the event last year, mostly to see who was there, both gallery- and artist-wise. It is always good to get out and see art, and it never hurts to gauge how the work that I am doing functions alongside that of other artists. 

By the time I got into NYC on Friday and up to my room at the London Hotel, I decided I would give myself a break, meet my son for dinner, and give myself plenty of time to explore the show come Saturday.

I arrived at AIPAD just a few minutes after the doors opened, which turned out to be quite a good thing; within an hour or so the show was completely packed.  My sister Lesley, an impressive artist herself, met me there.  Overall, I have to say that the show itself was quite good.  One was immersed within an epic range of photographs dating from the 1800’s up to to very modern, innovative, contemporary work.   As expected, there were galleries that specialized in classical photographs, others in modern photos, and some who contributed a mix of everything.  

As a part of my background, I thoroughly studied the history of photography, and also taught seminars about fine art photography that incorporated pictures from the early 1800’s and onward.  Perhaps because I feel that current day photo artists bring something new and exciting to the table, they have tended to spark my curiosity a bit more than the traditional artists.  And at AIPAD, there was a lot of them to be seen, some with work that was just ok, but some of it quite fantastic.  

Two of my favorite galleries showed some excellent work.  Catherine Edelman, the best photo gallery in Chicago, displayed, among other pieces, some of John Cyr’s pictures of renowned photographers’ developer trays.  These could be very mundane pieces if handled by any other artist, but the way John works so directly with the pieces allows them to become much more than that.  Cathy sold me one of his prints of the tray that Aaron Siskind, one of my former teachers, used. I feel honored to own a little piece of artistic history.

Next was Kim Bourus’ Higher Pictures from New York.  I met Kim last year, and within minutes knew she and her gallery were important entities in the photo art world.  Higher Pictures was showing just one artist’s work, K8 Hardy, which is a series of wonderful self-portraits.

I always wonder when I go to galleries if I’m going to see work like mine.  I find that I am more of an artist than a photographer in my recent years; I use the camera like a paint brush, and just about never take a ‘straight’ picture anymore.  An artist, I feel, should have a unique vision which is apparent in my work. I have yet to encounter someone who is doing what I do, the way I do it. 

I won’t get in to more specifics than this; there is just much too much to talk about!  But I will say this, if you love photography and you love art, go to AIPAD – you won’t regret it.