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Personal Economy #16

I’m an artist and a curator. I work at a small museum in the desert of Southern California. I like my job and I get to put together cool art exhibits and events, but I also yearn to operate my own art space. I’m young, I have to work, I have debt from college, and I don’t have money to move wherever I want or to purchase or rent a storefront. I attempted to get property owners to donate the use of their unused space, but couldn’t get anywhere, and I often have trouble convincing people from San Diego or Los Angeles to come to my art events. So this year, in an attempt to gain mobility (I’m a SoCal bicyclist who never owned a vehicle) and to open my own flexible alternative space, I purchased a 25-year-old Volkswagen Vanagon and have been hosting art events out of it. I call it the Vanagallery.

During a residency at University of Pennsylvania’s 40th St. Studios a few years ago, I created a giant quilt-map of all the food trucks in my neighborhood and I led walking and eating tours of the trucks and published zines about them. I love to eat. And I love the social aspect of eating in public. When I was in high school and college (and after college too) and I was dreaming of starting my own museum or art gallery, I was working at various “Pizza Parlors” to pay the bills, making sandwiches and salads and tossing or delivering pizza. (I even tried working in a food truck for a little while!). While I enjoy eating, I’m only a “so-so” cook. The exception is pizza. I am a pizza expert. I put on squash, tuna, spinach, beans, sriracha sauce, anchovies, soy “meat,” sauce and olive oil over a whole wheat crust. My family and friends tell me I should open a pizza place but I don’t want to open a restaurant. I couldn’t afford it and I don’t want to work all the time in a hot kitchen! A pizza place/art space? Heaven! But no need to wait for the perfect conditions: I have started up the Painting and Pizza Delivery from the comfort of my car. I commission artist friends to paint, collage or otherwise design a pizza box of artwork. On the night of delivery, people call up and order artwork and they get a custom pizza too. Selling art is hard, but everyone’s used to shelling out dough for some pizza. I pay my expenses and have a little pocket change left over.

I really like flea markets and garage sales. I’m a packrat. But I don’t use any of the stuff. And it’s gotten bad enough that I can’t move around my art studio for want of floors, counters, tables covered in stuff. I recently hosted a “Recession Special” flea market to get rid of keyboards, tape players, stereos, cd’s, books, tools, etc that I pick up at garage sales and look good but I’ll never quite get around to using them. I’ve been burned from Craigslist and ebay enough that I preferred to just give stuff away and make it a fun event. I’m hyperglycemic and every art event I’ve attended has wine or other alcohol so I served unsweetened iced tea and fruit from the farmer’s market and asked my friends to DJ some dubstep. I think it cost me $8 to hold this event.

I guess it’s obvious that I like to combine food with art. And music. I’d love to be paid to put together art events and exhibits at different museums, galleries, schools, libraries around the world. I think I can do it. But I want to start now, so I’ve got my Vanagallery. I’m working on building a zine library, hosting film screenings, curated exhibits, and ice cream and art vending from the side of the van. And if I lose my job to the recession, it’s got a bed in it and a table, and I’m ready to hit the road.

One Comment on “Personal Economy #16”

  1. 1 Mario G Alberico said at 6:48 pm on November 20th, 2012:

    I’m reading a lot about the plight of the worker, many of them theoretic and some ideological to the point of naive neo-Marxism. And here we have an article by someone in “the grip of their occupation” (a nod to Hito Steyerl’s position) who loves what they do, and understands the reality of their place in time and finds a way to do what they love differently and do so without the “rise up against the capitalist Man” language. Ad wow, what a great attitude, pragmatic viewpoint with positive outlook for change, and great humor! Who ever you are, you are someone that we should all look up to and emulate I’d we are ever in a situation like your’s. Thanks for making it cool and real to be in the artworld!


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