I don’t own an iPhone or an iPad, so my appreciation of Harry Sandler’s iPhone photography is pretty much that of an uninitiated admirer. Sandler isn’t just an iPhone photography expert, however, but also a retired music industry veteran with an impressive track record. He’s managed tours for Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Nicks, Billy Joel, Barbara Streisand and Jewel.
“I’ve spent 45 years as a tour manager, but I’ve always photographed since I was 8 years old,” the New York based Sandler told me when I first met him at the Renaissance Art & Design Gallery in Carmel on Friday night, May 20th.
Sandler’s taken advantage of his unparalleled access to rock stars to take photos of them throughout his long career, and recently he’s begun to digitize these images and edit them with software applications available on the iPad and iPad 2. (He began taking photographs with the iPhone around two or three years ago.)
The New York based Sandler describes himself as a “sort of a distant Hoosier,” having commuted back and forth to Indiana for twenty-five years. What brought him here was the job of working for John Mellencamp as tour manager.
Although Sandler had previously given iPhone photography demonstrations at the Renaissance Gallery (and he will again come in September), he was just hanging out for the John Paul Caponigro photography opening, which includes some of his own photography (see my review next week of this show).
But on Saturday morning, May 21, this retired 67-year-old music industry veteran was up bright and early to give an iPhone demonstration — iPhone-antics he called it — at the Apple Store, in the Fashion Mall at Keystone at the Crossing. At 8:00 a.m., before the mall had even opened, a queue of people had formed for the iPad 2, which the Apple Store apparently has had a hard time keeping in stock.
But there were about a dozen people on hand for Sandler’s demonstration as well.
The store was already busy as Sandler got started. At 8:15 a.m., there seemed to be as many blue-shirted staff on hand as there were customers, of which there were quite a few. Sandler was seated on a stool adjacent to a large flat screen on which he manipulated the imagery by means of an iPad 2 in front of his seated audience. He started off his demonstration with a little background.
In 1964, Sandler was released from the Army in San Francisco. There he discovered music “and a few other things we can’t really talk about.” Soon after, in New York City, he got a job in a photography-processing lab. He began moonlighting as a freelance photographer for magazines like Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone. Before long he was not just taking photos of famous rock stars, but managing their tours.
His job as a tour manager gave him unparalleled access to stars on stage with his camera. He’s accumulated many of his photographs in shoeboxes over the years. So he began digitizing his images and putting them on his iPad and using various applications to improve the ones where colors have faded or flattened over time.
He used as an example a photograph that he took in 1975; it shows all four original members of The Who standing shoulder to shoulder onstage. The colors in this original photo were not particularly bright and sparkling. So Sandler demonstrated how he added color into the original image with the help of iPad apps.
A number of photos that Sandler showed off, however, don’t really need any improvement at all. Take, for example, his black and white photo of Roger McGuinn (of Byrds fame) posing proudly with a brand new piece of technology, or at least it was back in the early 1970s. He was holding a cell phone nearly as big as his head to his ear.
Aside from his immersion in rock music, Sandler travels extensively and he’s used his iPhone to take photos of locations all over the world that are on his “bucket list.”
He demonstrated how he took certain digital pictures using a tripod of the exact same landscape at Death Valley at various times of the day and combining those images into one, using apps available on the iPad to get deeper, richer textures and shading.
All of these applications that he mentioned during his talk—AutoStitch, Pro HDR, True HDR and Filterstorm — sounded quite esoteric to me, as I was hearing these terms for the very first time.
But, in observing his dexterity manipulating his own images with these user-friendly programs, it occurred to me, and not for the first time, that digital technology has both diminished the learning curve and democratized photography. With digital cameras available on the market for a reasonable cost, it’s really now possible for anyone to take a decent photograph without a whole lot of knowledge of the medium.
But Sandler, as he was showing off a self-portrait of himself knee-deep in a murky Everglades swamp, suggested that taking a really great photograph still requires something extra. By stepping out into the water, he said, “you get to make images you can’t make if you don’t get off the boat.”
Don’t miss Harry Sandler’s next workshop in early September at the Renaissance Gallery. For more details, go to or call 317.506.8477. For more info on Harry Sandler.
Walter Knabe is one of the Indy areas most accomplished artists, and last year he was the official artist for the Indy 500. This year, on Friday, he’ll open up the doors of his new-ish studio at the Indiana Design Center for a display of his work. Knabe was recently honored with a 2011 Design Legend award and in full disclosure, he’s a friend of mine and legend in my heart, regardless of any accolades. So you can check his sweet self, amazing art and cool studio on Friday (5-8 p.m.) and on Saturday (10 a.m.-4 p.m.), and it won’t cost you a dime.
So, Knabe is sort of related to the 500, and so is the Phoenix’s final weekend run of The Zippers of Zoomerville, a play that both celebrates and gently spoofs the city’s passion for all things racing. It’s hilarious and relevant and our reviewer Katelyn Coyne said, “The script brims with lines that actors love to say, causing each to create gut-busting energy throughout.”
Bull Battle at the Bricks features one of the largest flatland BMX contests in the world! Amateurs will ride alongside professionals under the shadows of the Pagoda. Riders from ages 15-29 are welcome to compete in varied showcases from precision, timing and balance. The event will culminate with a professional final from 5-8 p.m. in which pros (including Terry Adams and Matthias Dandois) will duke it out for a $4,000 prize purse.
Also on Saturday, A.J. Foyt Day will provide you the chance to meet four time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt. He’ll be present for a Q and A on the Coca Cola stage by at least 11:30 a.m. and ready to sign autographs by 11:55. This appearance is particularly special as it falls upon the 50th anniversary of Foyt’s first win in 1961. In addition to Foyt, there will be book signings by Motor Speedway authors as well as an exhibition of 67 Indy 500 winning cars.
IPL 500 Festival Parade in Downtown Indy will feature nationally-known celebrities, costumed characters, marching bands, patriotic units, specialty units, spectacular floats, and giant helium balloons. Sounds like a party! Over 300,000 spectators will flock to the circle city for this year’s parade. The 33 starting drivers will make an appearance as well, with the pole position starter bringing up the rear.
The Yelp 500 at Big Car’s brand new Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community will explore aspects of the world’s greatest spectacle in all that is not racing. This party has booze (from Sun King Brewery and New Day Meadery), food, live music, trike races, roller derby girls, a dunk tank with a local celebrity, and camels (yes — real, live camels). This party also marks the grand opening of the Service Center for Contemporary Arts & Culture which is an amazing new addition to the Big Car family.
Regions 500 Festival Snakepit Ball at Indiana Roof Ballroom is a race-eve tradition — and the place to see the stars. Presented by Cindy and Paul Skjodt, this black-tie party includes red carpet arrivals by celebrities in town for race weekend as well as special VIP guests. Dinner and dancing will round out the celebration as well as live music by the much-celebrated REO Speedwagon.
Drum roll… it’s Sunday and the gentlemen and ladies are starting their engines for the 100 hundred year anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 and when better than now to enjoy this historic event, to get a start on the next 100 years, or until the Apocalypse comes.
Speaking of the Apocalypse, on Monday, after all the air pollution generated by the Indy 500, you can decide to do something about it by attending the third annual Environmental Health Summit put on by Improving Kids’ Environment and IUPUI. The event will cover impacts of air pollution, new EPA clean air standards and Indianapolis’ air quality (or lack thereof). Health professional Daniel Greenbaum, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe and others will speak.
The Indiana Fever play their first home game in their preseason match-up with the Minnesota Lynx. Both teams bring in the season with exciting rookies: Jeanette Pohlen for the Fever and Maya Moore for the Lynx. Pohlen, a guard from Stanford, will be making her debut in front of the home crowd. The Fever made the playoffs last year with a record of 21-13, but lost to the New York Liberty in a hard-fought series.
Finally, if you are crazy for the Fringe like I am, you’ll want to get a start on this year’s August IndyFringe by visiting the Cincinnati Fringe Festival starting Tuesday. Expect the usual shenanigans of button and envelope pushing fare, including one show familiar to Indy Fringe fans, Jessica Ferris, whose one-woman show received 4 stars from our reviewer. Cincy has a FringeNext — plays by younger folks — along with visual art, film and general debaucherous fun.
See you out there!
(Slideshow) Artsblog 5-27
First off, whatever else you do this weekend, I hope you Biked to Work today (Friday)!
I want to begin this weekend’s go&do cavalcade with a nod to a production that is ending its run tonight, Thom Pain (based on nothing). I caught the show last weekend and was greatly impressed by its sole actor, Joshua Carroll, under the direction of Mike Hosp, as the monologue, in turn, managed to mess with the mind while breaking the heart.
As I said, it’s ending its run, but many many arts offerings are opening this Friday:
Though he won’t officially take over the proverbial reins until fall, new ISO musical director Krzysztof Urbański conducts this weekend for the first time since his initial guest appearance in April, 2010. Urbański i, if you haven’t heard is, at 28 years old, the youngest musical director of a major orchestra in the United States. Way to go, ISO! Urbański will lead the ISO in Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony. Bravo, ISO! Check out Tom Aldridge’s interview with Urbański .
Dance Kaleidoscope features an evening of electronic music entitled The Body Electric, featuring David Hochoy’s In the Moog — i.e. choreography set to Bach played on Moog synthesizer, and Skinwalkers with a score composed by T.H. Gillespie and L.E. McCullough, and played live by jazz violinist Cathy Morris. Most exciting is Hochoy’s world premiere of Electric Counterpoint, set to a jazz score by Steve Reich. Riches galore! And what a way to celebrate DK’s cusp-of-40th anniversary, along with artistic director Hochoy’s 20th. Check out Rita Kohn’s story about Hochoy.
The work of rock n’ roll photographer Harry Sandler is taking the iPhone to new heights. Sandler’s work with the iPhone involves manipulating images taken on said phone on his travels to places like Iceland, Spain, Scotland, Canada and around the United States. The exhibit runs now through June 24, and features over two dozen artists.
If you’re headed to Bloomington because you’d rather spend the Rapture there (see below), you’ll want to check out the Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show at IU’s SoFA. Addressing such topics as reproduction, sexual politics, romance and the human figure, the Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show will open on Friday (6-8 p.m.) at IU’s SoFA Gallery. In conjunction with the show, the Kinsey Institute will have an open house on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The art show is free and will run until Saturday, July 30.
One of my favorite spots in town is Earth House, and tonight (Friday) they are throwing themselves a benefit called [Re]sonance, featuring visual arts and a silent auction. Music will be provided by Good News/Bad Wolf, Dead Birds Adore Us, and DJs from Twin Peaks and DJ Ryan Lee. Proceeds from the evening will go toward upgrading the sound facilities and general operating costs for the Earth House Collective. The party begins at 7 p.m. and a donation of your discretion is needed prior to entry.
Right up the block is yet another must-see show: Very Big Laughs at IndyFringe. This is your first opportunity to see Phil the Void on stage, since his recent move from LA to Indianapolis. You read that right. One of the world’s funniest comics decided to move here, because he thinks Indianapolis is a great town. Welcome, Phil, we completely agree. Tonight and Saturday, and next weekend, Phil will host an improv and sketch comedy show featuring the comic stylings of VINCSANITY, The Belmont Transfer, Douchejax, JAKE, Matt, 4 Days Late and more. With names like that, how could it possibly not be funny?
On Saturday (and running on Sunday as well) is the venerable Broad Ripple Arts Festival, wherein you can see a couple hundred artists, a bunch of great bands, eat food, drink beer and see so many people it will boggle your mind. In its 41st year now, BRAF is a family-friendly event as well. Don’t miss it!
Okay, so the great folks at the Center for Inquiry decided that if the Rapture does happen, they’d like to all be together, listing to the hilarious satirist Roy Zimmerman. Confused? According to some Christians, the Apocalypse will begin by the time this party starts. The “true Christians” will be “raptured” while the rest of us are at the Center for Inquiry listening to comedian and singer-songwriter Roy Zimmerman! Presumably, the “looting party” can start after his show.
At the IMS, the fun continues with Pole Day/Tom Carnegie Day. Races on this day determine the first 24 grid spots, with the fastest driver gaining pole position on race day. Gates open at 6 a.m., practice starts at 8 a.m. and the qualifying races last from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The nine drivers who proved their racing mettle by leading the pack will return to best their earlier times at 4:30 p.m. This of course, further prepares you for the big day, next weekend, the Indy 500 race itself — the 100th anniversary in fact! See our cover next week for everything you need to know.
See you out there!
Last Friday’s Bigger Picture Show, presented by Indy Film Fest, showcased re-imagined movie poster art by local artists. The event also showcased the venue itself, the brand new Big Car Service Center, a satellite companion to the Fountain Square-based Big Car Gallery.
The Big Car Service Center occupies a former car service garage, in the shadow of the Lafayette Square Mall, and a stone’s throw from Don’s Guns.
Indy Film Fest is of course looking forward to their annual film festival.
Let’s start off with what we picked as our Do or Die selection this week. Big Car Gallery's newly launched center, in Lafayette Square, is the location for Indy Film Fest’s second annual Bigger Picture Show. Local artists have taken your favorite classic and cult movie posters and re-imagined them. Expect to see such favorites as Alice in Wonderland, Almost Famous, The Goonies, Cool Hand Luke and Lost in Translation adorning the walls. Even better, you can purchase them at a relatively cheap price. Take home a framed poster at the event for $75 or order an unframed print there for $60. There will be a grand opening of Big Car Service Center later this month (May 28) so stay tuned…
On Friday and Saturday, the ISO is showcasing a big hit, Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, ye olde gold standard of what everyone else tries to accomplish, with its lush accompaniments and lovely violin solos. The ubiquitous Zach De Pue will lead the orchestra and play the solo violin part. As an addition to the night, he'll join with ISO principal viola Michael Isaac Strauss for Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante.
Who’s ready for some opera? On Friday and Sunday, Indianapolis Opera will present La Traviata. Maureen O’Flynn, who sang the role of Mimi in last season’s La Boheme, will star as Violetta, alongside Richard Paul Fink, who sang Alberich in the opera’s 2009 production of Das Rheingold, cast in the role of Germont. We had some confusion over the ticket price, so note that tix start at an affordable $30.
Opening Friday is a photography exhibit by Thomas Mueller, Private Thoughts in Public Spaces, which captures human drama in its simplest form. Even the most ordinary of subjects are turned into thought-provoking works of art. The opening reception will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. in conjunction with the Broad Ripple Spring Gallery Tour.
Another visual arts delight comes in the form of the immensely-talented Rob Day, whose work has been featured in Time, GQ, Rolling Stone and Esquire — and he's from right here in our hometown. Day's oil paintings will be featured in his new exhibit, New Landscapes, at the Eye on Art Gallery as part of the Carmel Arts and Design District Second Saturday Gallery Walk. Expect images that emphasize atmosphere and shadow, creating landscapes you feel you can walk into.
If it’s May, it’s you-know-what time, and we’re thinking you’ll want to attend Indy Star Opening Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This year’s opening day event starts at 9 a.m. with the Celebration of Automobiles, followed by driving practice at 12 p.m. The Celebration of Automobiles Dinner takes place at 6 p.m. Be sure to swing by the Pace Car Club Lab at 11 a.m. and catch Mayor Ballard’s interview.
Our main feature this week profiled Kevin Kling and Simone Perrin who will perform at the Indiana History Center on Saturday. After a successful run in the 2009 IndyFringe Festival, storyteller Kevin Kling and musician Simone Perrin return to perform as part of Storytelling Arts of Indiana’s season. Kling is an author, playwright and performer, best known for his commentaries on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Perrin is an accordionist, theater artist and chanteuse who has appeared on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Expect an evening of song and story dedicated to all-things-midwest. Check out Katelyn Coyne’s story.
Finally, if you’re looking for something to do NEXT weekend, then the International Symposium on Chicago Theater is the place to be. Ever wonder what happened to John Green, former head of the Butler University Theatre Department? Well, I don’t wonder, because I know that Green was lured away from Butler in 2009, where he’d established one of the finest, most innovative theater programs in the Midwest, by Columbia College in Chicago, where he has taken his work up a notch. Or two. Or three. You can catch up with Green next weekend, May 18-21, at the symposium he’s helped put together. Speakers, workshops and panels cover a wide range of material, from the plays of Sara Ruhl (4:48 Psychosis) and Tracy Letts (Bug) and David Mamet to stage combat demos, discussions about race in theater and performances by internationally-renowned theater people. Really, it’s freakin’ boggling, go to www.colum.edu; you’ll see what I mean.
The second annual celebration of bicycles took place on Saturday, May 7, at City Market.
IndyCog and Sun King Brewery partnered on the annual 2 Wheels 1 City, an event that grows in proportion to the number of bicycles on the street these days. In other words, the attendance exceeded last year's inaugural 2 Wheels 1 City, as evidenced by the overflow parking of bikes in the Pedal and Park space.
The crowd was treated to music by the Leisure Kings and Sarah Grain, and numerous competitions were held, from tiny tricycles to bicycle jumps to tire-changing contests.
Fat Sammies mobile food truck provided nourishment, and Sun King brews kept the crowd buzzed and smiling.
Don't forget: Bike to Work Day is next Friday, May 20, on Monument Circle, from 7 a.m. on... See nuvo.net next week for an update.
It’s First Friday, so I know where you’ll be on Friday, i.e. all over downtown Indy, of course, but there’s plenty else going on this weekend, from things heating up at the track, to the first in a long series of bicycle events. Let’s start off, though, with the First Friday shindigs.
I’ll note this one, since it’s pretty dang cool. And I’ll say up front it’s my own daughter — step-daughter — who’s cooked up this event, so I can speak (objectively, of course!) that it is going to be amazing: Celebration of Caribbean Music and Dance. Earth House is the site for a celebration of Caribbean culture, including photography (William Rasdell and Clare Wildhack-Nolan, my daughter), music (Kwanzaa Pops and reggae music) and dance (Into Salsa, Kathy Allender and Sancocho, featuring Iris Rosa). The photography exhibit focuses on the music and dance of Cuba, including traditional dances of the Islands. It’s at Earth House, too, only adding to its allure; Clare traveled on a Lilly Endowment teacher fellowship, so this show is a result of that trip last summer.
Here’s some other First Friday events, not to be missed!
A pattern emerges: Beth Guipe Hall ALSO received one of those Lilly teacher fellowships, and she’ll be showing off her work inspired by her journey to Oaxaca in her exhibit: Valley of the Zapoteca. We thought this was new work was so cool, we turned Dan Grossman loose on writing a story. Also featured throughout the Harrison: paintings by Susan Hodgin, work by collage and mixed media artist Hector del Campo, dance lessons and performances by IntoSalsa, work from St. Richard's students, and Harrison artists' open studios. Visit www.harrisoncenter.org for more information.
Doug Arnholter’s Perspectives: This month, the works of Doug Arnholter are tucked behind the turquoise walls of Wug Laku’s Studio & Garage. The exhibit, entitled Perspectives, is meant to challenge our differences. The featured work, which includes contemporary frescos and sculptures, explains that varying viewpoints — intelligence, sexuality, religion, race and the like, are perspectives rather than barriers.
Notes at Artbox - Stuz II: Who doesn’t love a good note? From notes passed in class to notes between lovers, they are a well-used yet under-valued form of communication. At Artbox’s exhibition, the modest scraps of paper are finally getting their time to shine. The pieces on display vary greatly in subject matter, technique and materials, with the use of paper as the canvas tying the work together. The work of William Denton Ray, Patricia Schnall Gutierrez, Bruce Riley and others will be featured. The gallery will be open from 5 to 11 p.m.
Lukas Schooler: I Found This City: It’s a bold statement, but Lukas Schooler is making it. His Big Car Gallery exhibition, I Found This City, explores the transformation a city undertakes as it goes from plains and wetlands to a bustling urban environment. Schooler says the art is meant to “beckon the audience to remember a collective past.” The show will be complimented by The Extreme Madness music show, which begins at 9 p.m. The gallery is open 6 to 11 p.m. The event is free, but a $5 donation is suggested.
Use Me Use You Use: Ready for a deep look at fashion and how it affects our lives? Artist Autumn Keller’s installation, Use Me Use You Use, examines cultural definitions of identity, especially in the aspects of clothing and body modification, through painting and performance. Attendees of the Indie Indy exhibit will also be able to roam the south gallery, where the work of Kyle Ragsdale, Justin Cooper, William Ray Denton and Matt Eickhoff are still on display in their exhibit The Flower Show. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m.
Dorothy Stites Alig: Nocturnal Moon: It’s true, some cities never sleep. Dorothy Stites Alig’s exhibit at Gallery 924, Nocturnal Moon, is a new series of mixed-media work that focuses on high-energy nightlife from cities like New Orleans and Las Vegas. The pieces combine traditional painting techniques with digital photography printed on Japanese washi paper. The effect? A soothing blending of colors and shapes that reveal the pulsing heartbeat of the cities. The gallery will be open from 6 to 9 p.m.
After all that First Friday stuff, you’ll still be ready to party the rest of the weekend, and no better place to start than 2 Wheels 1 City, an event that ignited our cover story last week: IndyCog and Sun King Brewery are combining their talents again in this annual celebration Indy’s growing bicycle community. There will be beer. There will be food. There will be bikes. There will be Freewheelin’ on site, accepting your gently-used bicycles for their repair-and-sale initiative that benefits at-risk youth. A variety of competitions include the Sun King trike race, a clown bike race and something organizers are calling “a slow race.” Is that, perhaps, a tai chi race?
Into barefoot running? Want face the truth that those $200 pair of running shoes are a waste of money? Because barefoot running has become the latest rage, for good reason. Author Thomas Hollowell, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Barefoot Running will have an exhibit at the Indy 500 Expo this weekend to teach audiences the basic fundamentals and how to feel, flex and respond to the ground in a natural way.
Opening this weekend is No Exit’s newest show, THOM PAIN (based on nothing): Playwright Will Eno was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize with this one-man show that seems to be the musings of a jeering misanthrope who is extraordinarily bitter about his misfortunes in life. Sound like anyone you know? The Dramatist Play Service says that Pain is "just like you, except worse." Expect dark humor as the show forces you to find the funny underpinnings in life's calamities. The show runs at Wheeler until May 20, all shows are at 8 p.m.
Emerging Tech Day at the IMS will bring the best and the brightest young minds together to display their innovative renewable technologies for the automotive industry this week. It's one of the three events scheduled as a prelude to Opening Day for the Indy 500 on May 14. The event is described as a "great addition" to the already impressive lineup of exciting events for fans. The event will feature exhibition competition by alternative power vehicles in the Formula Hybrid, American Solar Challenge series and the Purdue GrandPrix. Admission is free, day runs from 12 to 9 p.m.
Jabberwocky: Birthing Stories: If you're a mother, a mother-to-be or a midwife, you won't want to miss this month's Storytelling Arts of Indiana's Jabberwocky session about birthing. Jabberwocky is a gathering of "jabbers" who want to share their life stories with others, and each month has a new theme. Expect stories from mothers, midwives, doctors and maybe even a proud poppa or two. The audience is encouraged to share their own birthing stories after in an open-mike section. The event takes place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and is free. Appetizers and a cash bar are included in the night.
http://www.nuvo.net/indianapolis/the-indiana-recycling-coalition-conference/Event?oid=2179909: Want to go green? Can't quite figure out what exactly that means? The Indiana Recycling Coalition has gathered over 200 government officials, environmentalists, business owners and others to attend its annual conference. Those who have contributed significantly to the "go green" cause will be highlighted and info about waste reduction, recycling, etc. will be provided. The IRC promises nothing but fun for all. Register on their website. Ticket prices vary at this Hilton North event.
Finally: Pacifica Quartet at the Indiana History Center is shaping up to be the mid-week choice of all choices. Named Musical America’s 2009 Ensemble of the Year, winner of the 1998 Naumburg Prize and recently appointed quartet-in-residence at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the quartet will be in town for one night only to regale the ears of Indy’s music enthusiasts. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and is part of the Ensemble Music Society of Indianapolis’ season.
See you out there!
(Slideshow) Your Go & Do weekend, May 6-8
First Friday alert! Clear your schedule for this month's First Friday line-up, and if those gas prices are thwarting you, then bicycle, car pool, walk or take a bus to events this Friday.
Just a few days ago, I was reading about the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) survey from the IU Center for Postsecondary Research while surfing the Internet at the Carmel Clay Public Library. The press release for this study stated that “contrary to popular belief most arts graduates are employed and holding jobs consistent with their educational goals.”
Out of 13,581 alumni surveyed from 154 arts high schools, arts colleges, college arts departments, seventy-four percent of those who wished to work as arts professionals had done so since graduating, according to the SNAAP survey. There are many other statistical breakdowns in this survey, but the gist of it is this: many former art students — more than you might think — are currently happy (very satisfied, in the language of the survey) with their opportunities to be creative at work, happy with their opportunities to find meaningful work, and happy with how their arts education prepared them for this work.
I wondered whether there was a happily employed arts professional on hand at the Carmel Clay Public Library (CCPL) with whom I could talk to put a human face on the statistics in this survey. So I went to the librarian at the nearest information desk and soon enough I was talking with Lynn Watson, CCPL’s Graphic Design Specialist.
Watson, who has an associate’s degree in visual communications and will soon graduate from IUPUI with a bachelor’s degree in new media, designs the printed brochures and booklets printed by the library.
“Layout design’s mainly what I learned for my visual communications degree,” she told me. “Now I’m learning the technical part. My new degree will be web-based interactive web design.”
I asked her if she was surprised in any way by the results of the survey when I summed them up for her.
“No. I would say it’s not a surprise because I’m very happy with what I do,” she said. “I feel that I get enough challenges every day to keep things interesting.”
When I probed further I found that Watson’s position at the library is a fulltime one with benefits. That is, Watson is not only happily employed but gainfully employed.
The SNAAP Survey, at least at first glance, didn’t seem to really touch upon the gainfully part of all these art majors’ careers — a part I can’t help but be curious about having worked retail on and off for the past 15 years.
I contacted Steven Jay Tepper, the SNAAP Survey Senior Scholar, and I asked him point blank about the gainfully-employed aspect.
“These are our hot-off-the-press initial findings,” Tepper said in a phone interview. “We didn’t dig very deeply into income or exactly how people’s work was being apportioned between different jobs or part-time/fulltime.”
Tepper said the question of whether art school graduates were gainfully employed would be addressed in forthcoming studies.
“We’re going to be doing analysis on this data set for years,” he added. “And there will be a huge national report done in about two years that digs very deeply. So these are preliminary findings suggest sort of counterintuitive results. Most people who graduated were very satisfied with their education. It’s not like there’s all these embittered graduates who don’t know why they went to arts school. Most of them say they’d do it again if given the choice. They’d go to the same institution. Even those who aren’t working in the arts say they would go back to arts school if given the choice. And the levels of job satisfaction are pretty high.
“The only major disadvantage that arts graduates have is that artists take generally about a ten to fifteen percent cut in salary compared to other professionals,” Tepper continued. “We know this from other surveys. But my sense is that they probably make up for this in career satisfaction.”
After we talked, Tepper e-mailed the entirety of the SNAAP survey and I did find one intriguing statistic that did have something to do with the issue of gainful employment. Only a small percentage of arts professionals (the average across various categories of arts specializations) were satisfied with their current level of income, a statistic that seemed in keeping with what Tepper said about arts professionals’ incomes compared to other professionals, while a much larger percent of these same professionals felt that they were able to do work that reflected their interests and values.
But arts graduates might find it necessary to have some additional quality in addition to pure artistic abilities to find both meaningful and gainful employment if the example of Lynn Watson, the Carmel Clay Public library graphic designer, means anything.
Remember that Watson is currently enrolled at IUPUI finishing up her bachelor’s in New Media, even as she works a full-time job.
“I really needed the computer skills to go forward,” said Watson, who earned her associate’s degree in visual communications over a number of years while raising children.
What Watson seemed to possess, in addition to her skill as a graphic designer, is a certain stick-with-it-ness.
“It’s what you do with your skill and how you adapt,” she said.
[A+E] Classical Music
[A+E] Film + TV
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[A+E] Film + TV
[A+E] Theater + Dance, Comedy