Man Bartlett

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Joanna Newsom, Family Matters, #TheSocialGraph, and I

Last night I had the privilege of enjoying one of my favorite musicians, Joanna Newsom, perform at Carnegie Hall. In box seats, no less. The friend I went with had purchased a ticket for me in exchange for one of my prints. Win!

Relatively early on in the set, Newsom played the song “Cosmia.” In it she sings:

    And all those lonely nights down by the river
    Brought me bread and water, kith and kin
    But in the quiet hour when i am sleepin’
    I couldn’t keep the night from comin’ in

I had forgotten that set of lyrics when conceiving and titling my contribution to #TheSocialGraph, a show I’m currently in. The piece is called “Kith and Kin” and consists of two mannequins. One, in a gallery setting, encourages visitors to leave their thumbprint on the form. The second will be used in a performance starting this Friday at 7pm. For the performance component (entitled #24hKith) I will be asking people to complete a single, simple phrase. I will then use these sentences to place various colored feathers onto the form. One reference for this choice might be a paper mache Icarus that I made with my dad when I was 6 years old.

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Yesterday was an exceptionally long day. I won’t go into details except to say that it involves my family, and that I spent most of the day on the phone. During these hours of crisis I was reminded of the geographical distance between us all. Of a certain helplessness. That I live on an island. So to be seeing Joanna Newsom last night was a much needed respite. That woman truly draws inspiration out of me. Her unique voice and vision. Her presence. There is certainly some cult of personality going on. For example at one point, during a Q/A with the audience someone asked her what it felt like to be a goddess. After endearingly stammering a bit, she responded that if we all wrote letters to Dolly Parton we might get an answer to that question.

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Last week I was on a panel at the EFA Project Space (in conjunction with the CUE Art Foundation). It was about the Artist as Worker. How artists survive in New York and what our “day jobs” are. I happened to be the anomaly without one. At one point a question was posed to the panel about our personal lives. Specifically, how we manage the demands of our artistic practice and day jobs with relationships (all varieties, but the sense I got was particularly romantic ones). I stammered.

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Next week I’ll be in Miami for #rank at the SEVEN fair. I’ll be The Absurd Tailor for a piece called “Measure.” More details will be coming soon, but you can read the short description here.

I have been swamped in a sea of commitments. This is not a complaint, rather there’s not a lot I want to say no to at the moment. I’m grateful for the life I’m choosing, but the pressures of surviving can sometimes feel…heavy. And while I usually have a deft ability to convert desperation into opportunity, I’d rather not always pressure myself to hoodwink you. That ain’t right. And part of what I’m doing is making this blog, my career, and my life accessible. The value of this access is of course debatable. All I know is, thank goodness I’m a post-boom artist. And that I don’t have any debt to an Art School…

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I bought a Himalayan Salt Crystal Lamp.

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Also yesterday I had a great chat with some of the folks behind Times Square to Art Square. I’m becoming more interested in their project every day. Good people, indeed. They stopped by the Hyperallergic offices where I’ve been in residency during #TheSocialGraph and I gave them a sneak peak into #24hKith as well as my drawing practice. Quite enriching conversations all around.

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I need an editor.