This past weekend was the LA Art Show. I try to go every other year, and this was an “on” year. I was curious to see some of the new galleries, all of the Chinese galleries and the work in general. My friend Maite Agahnia went with me, it’s always more fun to be astounded with a friend.
First stop was Chase Langford‘s studio. I’m curating a show in New York, more on that later but I wanted to see his work. Amazing work, check it out, and you’ll be hearing and seeing more as the show gets closer. It was a highlight of the day to be sure.
We arrived at the Convention Center, grabbed a bite, and headed into the show. The crowds were large. It was hard to see some of the art, I felt herded through some of the aisles, taking on the pace of the crowd because everyone was so packed in. The crowd was mixed, some collectors, general public curious, the occasional art student and the artists dressed so as to be sure to be spotted as the creatives in the crowd.
Maite and I made one round, chatted with Sue Greenwood and Maria O’Malley with Sue Greenwood Fine Art and then decided it was time to have a drink and a seat. We grabbed a beer and found a small spot in the lounge to hang out and chat. We sat down next to a young woman who was having her ear chatted off by a man in a UCLA track suit, talking about college and tuition and such. I over heard her mention that she wanted to go to UCLA art school, that she had just sent in her application and was waiting to hear. He proceeded to pontificate on all of the perils of the art world, apparently he was a biochemist at UCLA and knew all about how hard it was to make it in the art world. Call me a skeptic but I didn’t think he knew his ass from his elbow when it came to being an artist. I asked Maite, “Do you think I should interrupt?” “Good luck, it doesn’t look like he’s going to quit anytime soon,” she said.
I made a break for it, tapped her on the knee and told her that I overheard where she wanted to go to school and that I went to school there. You’d think I told her I was Santa in the off season. Instantly the old man glared at me, how dare I break his trance over the young impressionable! She had numerous questions for me, and so I answered them honestly. She wanted to know was I glad that I went there? Was it worth it? What am I doing now?
All of a sudden felt like I was seeing myself as a 17 year old girl, curious and scared and unsure but charging forward anyway. It was like I went back to give myself advice I so wished I’d had then. Check out the faculty, know what you want to learn and see if they are going to teach it to you, be true to who you are and find the school that fits you. I assured her that she could make it, not to listen to people who tell you all the reasons why it’s not practical to be an artist, why they should just do it on the side and be responsible and get a proper degree. Gratefully, this is when the man got up and left.
I probably should have given her my card, but I was so in the moment that I didn’t think about it. I suppose it’ll be one of those instances we’ll both look back on later, a coincidental passing, a momentary connection. And I wonder if she’s telling the story today, about how a woman who went to UCLA sat down next to her and answered a bunch of her questions about art school. What are the odds? Indeed, what are the odds.