Category Archives: New York

Seeking a Little Guidance

At 10:30 Friday morning, I attended my Career Development mentoring session. Unlike previous mentoring appointments I’ve had at past conferences, I arrived at this one a bit more apprehensive. It was not going to be a simple check in with a colleague, to verify that I was moving along on the right and steady path. No, I was about to discuss a major left turn in my career trajectory, and needed serious advice.

As I’ve previously mentioned in posts here, I’m currently unemployed. Two years ago, I was laid off from a prominent managerial position at a leading art school. After 7 months, I cobbled together two adjunct teaching gigs, and survived the ensuing year prepping and teaching 11 classes between 2 institutions (one on semester; one on quarter), before being pink-slipped from both just 2 months apart. So here I am, another 7 months later. Yet, my decision to change things up goes a little deeper than just lack of jobs.

To make a long story short (and not too personal): I was in lower Manhattan on 9/11/01. The dust settled in my right ear, became an infection, killed my labyrinth. The 24/7 vertigo sent me to the NYU Medical Center/Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine for almost 2 years. I still have 24/7 vertigo, and now I’m almost deaf, but at least I can walk and read. Pretty important for the everyday, and for the academic.

Fast-forward 7 years: My priorities shifted for awhile, especially for the Ph.D. Now I’m 39, only have an MA in art history—not the terminal degree, and have a stalled out career. I am back in the studio for the first in many years. One of the interesting things I have learned, both in research and in experience, is that many survivors of 9/11 are suffering PTSD years later. So here I am, with panic attacks, flashbacks, and nightmares—almost 10 years later.

For the most part, I have put away the paint, and acquired an eight-harness loom. The side-to-side motion of weaving not only soothes me, but it mimics VOR—the vestibular-ocular reflex, the important eye movement connected to body positioning in space. In other words, weaving reduces vertigo for me—a happy accidental discovery. I am currently conducting additional research on its applications. Textiles are now my primary media.

I have also entered a study at Stanford University, looking at promising treatments for PTSD, which includes fMRI imaging, and a therapy modality called Prolonged Exposure Therapy. It’s connected with the Veterans Administration in Palo Alto. I’m very interested in the VA, because soldiers are coming back with blown out ears, and permanent vertigo.

So, you guessed it—the MFA.

I had been quite familiar with the art history route, and familiarity breeds comfort. Now, I am looking at a completely new route, never traveled before. Scary? Yes. Exciting? Yes. And, of course, when your assigned mentor tells you point blank that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, and on the precisely right path, it is entirely worth it to go through with the session, no matter how nerve-wracking. Personal details and all. It’s part of my story, to make my own. Soon, my completed portfolio will speak for me.

Posted in Career Services, New York | 2 Comments

Leslie K. Brown

Leslie K. Brown is an independent curator, scholar, and educator pursuing her PhD in Art History at Boston University.  A former curator at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston, she holds an MA from the University of Texas at Austin and specializes in the history of photography.  In addition to contributing an essay for Sandi Haber Fifield’s forthcoming book, Between Planting and Picking (Charta, March 2011), Brown’s recent curatorial projects include Traces: Daniel Ranalli, Cape Work 1987-2007 (Provincetown Art Association and Museum) and Out of the Box: Photography Portfolios from the Permanent Collection (deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum).  She has taught at the Art Institute of Boston and the Rhode Island School of Design and served as an invited guest juror and reviewer for exhibitions, grants, publications, and portfolio review events.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA? Anything in particular?

Leslie K. Brown: I am a second year PhD student in art history at Boston University, specializing in the history of photography.  I attend CAA to stay current in my field and be inspired by new ideas and research.  As a practicing independent curator, I also enjoy attending both history-based and contemporary panels as well as artist interviews and talks.

DB: Do you think there are enough sessions in your field at CAA?

LKB: I would enjoy hearing more papers that engage the history of photography, but they would not necessarily have to be grouped into separate media-specific sessions.  In addition, it would be wonderful to have panels that brought together photohistorians with working photographers.

DB: Can you talk about your current research projects? How did you get interested in the subject?

LKB: Since returning to graduate school, I have been inspired by the related fields of American studies and visual culture.   For my current research, I am interested in issues of views and viewing as well as dictated viewing experiences, often in a touristic mode or mediated by some sort of device or image (real or imagined).  My recent papers include a study of the Tower coin-operated binocular viewer and viewsheds associated with artists’ historic homes and studios. This semester, I hope to work on Kodak Picture Spots and artist collectives that engage the land.  I have always been fascinated by landscape experiences and depictions as well as the history of tourism and vernacular imagery.  Perhaps this has something to do with being the product of a Kodak family!

DB: What are your plans once you finish with the Dissertation? Are there any particular things you would like to do?

LKB: I enjoy curating as well as teaching and hope to continue to do both, before and after the dissertation.  My ideal position would combine these two aspects of my background and training. In addition, I have also found that I enjoy teaching art students art history and being a part of their creative process.

DB: What is your favorite: Artist? Book? Color? Smell? And Food?

LKB: It is hard and difficult to choose! Artist: Jem Southam; Book: Ceremonial Time by John Hanson Mitchell; Color: red; Smell: the woods and rain; Food: vegetarian of all stripes.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Interviews, New York, Photos | Comments Off

Bruce Myren

170 Market Hill Road, 2009 Courtesy of the Artist and Gallery Kayafas

Bruce Myren is a artist and photographer whose landscape-based work considers ideas of place and space. He holds a BFA in photography from Massachusetts College of Art and Design and earned his MFA in studio art from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 2009. Shown nationally, Myren has been included in group exhibitions at the Houston Center of Photography, TX; The Gallery Project, MI; and the William Benton Museum of Art, CT, among others. His latest solo exhibitions include showings at the Workspace Gallery, NE; Danforth Museum of Art, MA; and Gallery Kayafas, MA, where he is represented. The current Northeast Regional Chair of the Society of Photographic Education, Myren has taught at the University of Connecticut, New England Institute of Art, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Dwayne Butcher: What brings you to CAA? Any particular panels, sessions, or interviews?

Bruce Myren: As an artist, I come to CAA to hear about current thinking in art, art history, and theory. I am interested in work and ideas beyond photography and find inspiration in a broad range of topics. I am currently the Chair of the Northeast region of the affiliated Society of Photographic Education (SPE) and attending CAA helps me stay connected and allows opportunities to see and meet colleagues from across the country. In addition, this year, I am also on the job market and exploring opportunities.

DB: Are the sessions CAA has for photography adequate?

BM: In general, I do think there are enough photography-related presentations. Almost all current issues in art touch photography, thus many panels concerned with contemporary issues discuss photography or light-sensitive media in some way.

DB: Can you talk a little bit about your work? Are you currently working on a particular series?

BM: My work investigates issues of place and space and boundaries and borders through the exploration and employment of various locative systems. I am most interested in how macro systems relate to micro experiences of land and landscape.  My recent series include an investigation of the Fortieth Parallel of latitude via large format photography and GPS technology; a study of the poet Robert Francis’s one-person house in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts; and a piece that documents the view from every place I have lived to where I live now.  Work can be seen on my website:

DB: Do you have any exhibitions, workshops or the like upcoming?

BM: I have an upcoming solo exhibition at Workspace Gallery in Lincoln, Nebraska (March 3 – April 30, 2011),  In addition, on April 12th, I will be giving a visiting artist lecture at Kansas State University.  While on both trips, I hope to photograph six new confluences for my project “The Fortieth Parallel.”

DB: What is your favorite artist? book? color? smell? food?

BM: This is hard…! Artist: Hamish Fulton; Book: Immortality by Milan Kundera; Color: almost all colors; Smell: Ocean, fresh cut grass, and pine; Food: I like all food.

Posted in Bloggers, CAA, Interviews, New York, Photos, Sessions | Comments Off

CAA MFA Exhibition Opening Reception, February 11, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery

scene from CAA MFA Reception, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, 2011. Photo courtesy: Patricia Flores

scene from CAA MFA Reception, Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, 2011. Photo courtesy: Patricia Flores

The bodies were packed into the galleries, and the atmosphere was electric last night at the opening reception of the CAA MFA Exhibition, held of the Hunter College, Times Square Gallery, representing 20 MFA programs of the greater New York area. Each school was granted its own gallery space, and was curated to showcase the talents of the students in each program. It was refreshing to see that all the schools, and their current crop of graduate students, are equally fluent and knowledgeable in the language and trends prevalent in the NYC gallery world.

I’m not so sure if that’s good or bad, because it’s difficult to differentiate the work between each school; each of the presentations by each represented school looked almost the same. This could be the condition of the instructors today in NYC academia—the widespread sharing of faculty (adjuncts and visiting artists) between several institutions—create one big NYC aesthetic. That being said, it’s good in a universal sense, because it gives an identity. Or, as Jerry Saltz would say, a regional identity. However, one wishes each program would distinguish themselves from the others.

While they all stand together as really hip, up-to-date, and as each parts of a larger tribe, one wishes each program would stand out and apart, and create a unique statement highlighting its particular strengths. They each have the opportunity to distinguish themselves by their exciting areas of development, whether they are social practice, radical craft, transmedia, research-based practices/new knowledge, and other forms of new products and processes in practice.

Something to ponder for next year….

Posted in CAA, Exhibitions, New York | 7 Comments

Temple of Gloom

Drawing of the Temple of Dendur in its original location by Henry Salt (1780–1827). The drawing was made by Salt during an expedition to southern Egypt and northern Sudan in 1819. The digital version of the drawing is taken from the web site, created and maintained by Simon Hayter, and is copyright free.

Image Via

Last night, shortly after the disappointment of Mubarak’s speech and many hours before today’s extraordinary news, Egypt’s pro-democracy protesters steeled themselves yet again in preparation for uncharted waters. I managed to tear myself away from my Eyptophile twitter stream and hop on the 6 train to the Upper East Side in order to attend CAA’s centennial gala party. Egypt was all that was in my mind. I was not in a party mood.

Inadvertently, the CAA gala, held at the Met’s ubiquitous party venue, The Temple of Dendur, added its own incongruous layer of dowdiness, grandeur and gloom. I guess the main problem was that aside from the full bar and a few bowls of nuts, there was absolutely no food. Not a shred. So for $35, exhausted and hungry scholars were permitted to stand around a crowded ruin and drink, until they were summarily dismissed at 9pm.

We New Yorkers know that the Upper East Side is not a particularly hospitable part of town in which to find oneself exhausted and hungry — not to mention tipsy — especially in the late evening. As we shoved off into the freezing night, pal and fellow blogger Charlotte Frost mentioned she hadn’t eaten since noon. Happily, I know the UES well enough, so I steered us to a favorite joint for nosh on Lexington where we supped on matzo ball soup cheek by jowl with local cab drivers:

Pastrami Queen:

Before leaving I did manage to take a few pictures. I was particularly intrigued by CAA members’ widely varying tastes in footwear:

Get the flash player here:

Posted in CAA, Centennial, Food, Gossip, New York | Tagged , | Comments Off