between us we have two master’s degrees, two bachelor’s degrees, four businesses, a coaching and consulting practice, various certifications, multiple states of teaching credentials, fifteen albums, four singles, hundreds of paintings, multiple play-scripts, countless productions and concerts and performances and gallery showings, a radio show, four cartoons, books, blogs that contain a few thousand posts, numerous and diverse leadership positions in theatres and churches and educational institutions, too many non-profits to count, long resumes and a combined total of over eighty years of work experience.
we are artists. and, as you know, that is not the easy path. it’s gig economy in a corporate environment. it means piecing things together, working a plethora of jobs at once, purchasing your own healthcare, investing in your own so-called retirement, advocating for your own value, balancing, balancing, balancing. the tightrope is thin, but anyone doing the tightrope dance (funambulism) is well-acquainted with the balancing pole and standing tall in the center of mass on the rope, necessities in an artist’s life.
in a workplace conversation once, i was asked how i would even speculate about having a second job. an incredulous moment, as a person who has always had simultaneous multiple jobs, it was ludicrous to me that the person asking this, who apparently has always lived in absolute bullet-pointed stability, could not fathom having more than one job at a time. were artists to be so lucky. were any gig workers, in their area of professionalism, to be so lucky. that is another world entirely.
so we are always on the lookout for additional gigs, so to speak. education, experience and skills from the wide spectrum of the first paragraph speak well to helping with growth and change processes and insight and honoring students and employees, not to mention the separate and interwoven threads of music, painting, theatre. these experiences that span decades speak to the arts, that which the world turns to in times of chaos, unrest, dis-ease, periods marked by adjectives like distraught, devastated, frenzied, unprecedented, uncertain, arduous, splintered, divided, distrustful, untrue, exhausted. the arts – that which feeds society. yet, “creativity takes courage,” understated henri matisse (painter, 1869-1954).
as many of you, we receive solicited and unsolicited lists of jobs in our email. we peruse through the obvious ill-fitting options like neurosurgeon or stem cell biological researcher; we look for opportunities to plug our work as artists into the world. we are also emailed positions that line up with our professional abilities and tenure in the arts.
and this is what we’ve been sent: sandwich ARTIST and GALLERY advisor. it’s hard to know whether to laugh or be insulted. sandwich artist? if this is really what subway calls their employees, i would say most of us have related experience since the first time, at like age 3, we spread peanut butter and jelly on our wonder bread. and gallery advisor? tesla, really? car dealer concierge maybe?
it’s a dim future if you cannot see relevance for the arts in a society, if they are secondary to anything and everything else, if they present in sandwiches and on dealership floors. where are the organizations, the institutions, the employers who recognize the multi-faceted diamonds in an artist’s perspective, an artist’s drive, an artist’s commitment, an artist’s vision, an artist’s project-driven dedication and multi-layered stamina, an artist’s sensitivity, an artist’s heart?
as two artist-funambulists, we’d like something better for the gifted artists giving breath to joy and hope and tomorrow. from the tightrope of this gig economy, it makes our toes curl to think any differently.