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Monday, May 17, 2010

Preparing for an Artist's Talk

Troy MARK Artists' Talks
Throughout Spring 2010, 60 artists from five different regions of NYstate participated in MARK, a program of New York Foundation for the Arts. The Arts Center of the Capital Region, in its second year as a partnering organization with the MARK program invites you to attend artist talks by the 12 participating MARK artists in the Troy region.
Wednesday May 26, 2010 6p-8:15p
The Arts Center of the Capital Region (
265 River Street
Troy, NY 12180

I am one of the 12 artists in the Troy region preparing to give my first public talk. This is a rite of passage for most artists and yet public speaking- apart from subject consideration- is an art form all on it's own. I cringe recalling inexperienced public speakers and my harsh assessment of their skill. I marvel at speakers whom seem to hold the audience at rapt attention. What will happen when it's my turn; will I speak or will I fumble?

At the library I found a copy of Atul Gawande's "The Checklist Manifesto." I thought, "Ah, just what the doctor ordered!" Here was a little book with the subtitle: How to Get Things Right. Thinking that public speaking fit neatly in the category of "Things" I checked the book out. The book is terrific and while I have not exactly started a checklist, I do have a sense of preparing for the job at hand by breaking tasks down and methodically working on each.

Some tasks are more easily accomplished than others. For example, creating a work sample folder of images was easy if not a little boring. I found myself signing and reaching for the potato chips. Jotting down notes was also easy. Imagining myself in front of a room full of nice arty folk attempting to talk about my series, "Paintings for a Waiting Room," I feel clammy and like I'd rather take a ride on a rush hour train. Then I tell myself, "You can do anything for five minutes," this being an inspiring but somewhat daft phrase picked up at the gym during a difficult set of squats. While talking art and exercising may not be philosophically aligned, what the hell, this is my own private pep talk and I am telling myself, "You can do anything for five minutes.

My paintings evolve from a well of thought with questions like: What are we waiting for? How long should we wait? Why do we have to wait at all? Is waiting an opportunity for introspection or a waste of time? In Troy my goal is to connect these musings to my paintings and to make sense for the kind listeners.

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