The phrase "working artist" makes complex assumptions about a seemingly simple idea. A working artist is active, productive, organized, and able to sell her work to pay the bills. The term connotes status, distinguishing the artist from the dilettante, or any those shiftless creative types crowding the bars and cafes instead of putting in their hours at the studio.
Stephanie Saint Sanchez wants to re-define what it means to be a "working artist," admitting up front that art rarely pays the bills: Most artists hold down 9 to 5 jobs and then have to use their own time to produce art. Saint Sanchez, for a show she is curating at Gallery 1724, challenged artists to strike back at this state of affairs by producing artwork in their own workplaces. Contributors wrangled with prior claims on their time and attention, two-timing their employers by creating art while on the clock.
Gallery 1724 is itself a workplace: Owner Tim Deason runs a hair salon in the back. Visitors to the gallery/salon may consider this as one more in a series of inspired duplicities.
As contributor Matthew Glover (a docent at the Blaffer Art Museum) put it, "It's like multi-tasking for art's sake, using your time in the best way possible." Lucky Matthew doesn't catch much flak for knitting at work. He even gets advice from Blaffer curators and directors on practical matters like how to go about hanging and exhibiting his unusual formats. Glover creates large-scale knitted tapestries of photographs as well as smaller knitted sculptures, each of which will be on exhibit at "9 to 5."
Other contributors are keeping their infidelities undercover. Though the workplaces are identified in the show, at least one artist didn't want Art Attack to publish this detail about her. "It would be like a poke at the boss, just going too far."
Julie Wallace, another contributor, says, "A lot of artists feel they have to hide the best parts of themselves at work. I know performance artists, especially if their work is about sexuality, who have to create whole separate online identities. Some of them are teachers." Wallace's work is called "Hidden Pussy at Work" consisting of picture postcards of her own pussy, which you can purchase for $3 and then deposit in the hiding places at your own workplace, just as she documented herself doing in hers.
"For the Man: The 9 to 5 Show" opens this Saturday, May 14, 8-10 p.m. at Gallery 1724, 1724 Bissonnet Street, and runs until June 25. For information, visit http://gallery1724.blogspot.com/ or call 713-582-1198.
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