ISSUE #20 DESERT GRADIENTS WITH RIGOR

I was supposed to visit my friends Nick and Dheerja months ago at Big Bear Lake in California. But then the pandemic wielded its nasty head, the trip got delayed a couple times due to work installations, Nick and Dheerja moved like the tech nomads they are to a new Airbnb in Palm Desert and my partner in crime Rakia found a way to join.

Serendipitously enough, I landed in Palm Desert months later, but the same week that one of the glass and LED sculptures I’ve been managing for Phillip K. Smith arrived at his studio, which is also in Palm Desert. 

I was lucky enough to double down on feedback this week when I visited Phil (aka. PKS3). We toured their studio, behind the scenes workshop and front of house gallery space while also uncrating the two new artworks our UAP workshop had just completed. 

Catch photos of the studio visit here!


WHAT WE’RE MAKING: (Business Edition)

After the serendipitous visit with Phil, picking the brains of my tech industry friends here in the desert, spending a couple nights with a good friend in private investment, getting responses to last week’s newsletter from two financial management friends and another in HR, I’ve gathered some new conclusions; to say the least. 

What I’ve realized this week is three fold:

  • There is an untapped opening to support both emerging and established artists with large scale projects through a network of resources.
  • There may be opportunities within my current company to partner and increase their market
  • I’m the only thing standing between me and my own studio practice

The projects I’m talking about are at a scale between most artists’ in-studio capabilities and those that require a major fabrication company. To put it simply, projects too big to fit in a car but smaller than would require large insurance requirements or intensive permitting. These may fall anywhere between $25k to $150k.

Initial Questions:

  1. Can we create a loose yet professional artist collaborative that is beneficial to everyone across the board? What does that look like?
  2. How can we submit material and fabrication orders by multiple artists together to save on costs and gain resources? Or do we engage fabricators simply on an as needed project by project basis? Or is this something UAP would be interested to bring in new work consistently?
  3. How can we build relationships with one or multiple fabricators to build a network of makers to refer one or more artists when they’re building their projects? What does this collaboration provide for both sides and what scale will it be profitable?
  4. Are contracts at this scale anyways directly with individual artists or could we partner with galleries who represent multiple artists?
  5. How can we support young aspiring architects in the same way?
  6. Technical know-how is highly sought after, especially when projects get to a larger scale. How can this knowledge be shared collectively or collaboratively?

I’m wholly excited by the clarity I’m beginning to find here. Even if the big questions are just beginning to be asked. I feel like it’s an opportunity for artists, a large fabricator like UAP and my own studio practice alike.


What do you think of this model?
Do you have ideas for or about it?
What do you think are the challenges?
What can be the most opportunistic path to initiate this?
Could you imagine yourself as a potential client, if so why and if not, why not?


HOW WE’RE FEELING

It’s humorous to write the following in the same newsletter as what I wrote above. But these seemingly disparate shares are invariably tied together whether it appears to be true or not. There is lots to be gained by practicing some radical openness paired with mindful/ public caution.

I started seeing a therapist last month. They’re a great match for me in many ways and I’m super grateful I found them! Our first sessions have focused on orienting me back into my physical body and this week was especially valuable. We concluded yesterday’s session by reflecting on rigor (aka. self-discipline) vs. support (aka. self-care).

If you’re curious about what our sessions look like, they’re 45min sessions where we do active meditations followed by exploring our thoughts and feels. It’s a kind of call and response that goes back and forth. It sounds like what it is, a whole lot of froo froo bullshit, and I can imagine many eye rolls from loved ones across state lines right now. But I find it wildly effective. At the same time I can’t help also being openly critical of it with my therapist while I argue here for the benefits. It’s fair to say my therapist is aggressively patient with me…

I’m beginning to realize how my aggressive rigor is limiting. Not that I want to abandon my type-A ambitious personality, but I’m seeing the benefits of marrying it with supportive acts of care to others and especially myself. Cause that supportive behaviour is as productive and effective at achieving ambition as disciplined action along the way.

I overwhelmingly use my analyzing mind without checking in with how I’m feeling. I’m rigorous as hell about so many things from work to my diet to relationships. As I begin to learn a habit of how to actively check in with myself, I’m optimistic that it will be the window I need to successfully pursue the professional goals above and simultaneously allow me to soften and feel strong.

My body has physically been calling for it loudly, I’m learning how to listen. Thank you to everyone who responds to these newsletters and posts. It means a great deal to me.

With Love,
SBK

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