Monday, November 27, 2006

Citizen Artist

Just finished cataloguing all of my artwork. My dad has been helping, sending in work I did when I attended the Art Student's League of San Juan, Puerto Rico back in the late seventies. I've also had to sit down and think of all of the people who've either bought or received art from me in the past 25 years. To answer your question, I didn't do this before because art wasn't a career back then, it was a pastime in which I indulged whenever I had some time off.

I swore off art as a career the day I visited the San Francisco Art Institute to clear up a misunderstanding with their financial aid department. I had been admitted, but also been told the SFAI graduate program did not grant financial aid to non-citizens (I still have the letter). So I waited until arrival in San Francisco to clear up the matter. Apparently they had not heard that Puerto Ricans had been made American citizens prior to the Korean War.

But something happened once I got to the SFAI campus. I could not find the financial aid office, so I walked all over, through their exhibits, classrooms, and administrative offices. Tuition was in the vicinity of $15,000 a year in 1985, and I was asking myself the question "Ok, what do I get for $15,000.?" I sat on a bench in one of their open spaces on the second floor. The view was beautiful, and, as I appreciated the surroundings, I decided right there that I didn't want to pay $35,000. to become a conceptual artist. After this bold insight, I got up and was able to locate the elderly officer of their financial aid office. Just as I thought, she assumed I had applied from Costa Rica. In my awkward English, I told her not to bother.

Was that a good decision? What it terrible to reject the credibility that comes with a SF Art Institute degree? I have often asked myself the same question over the years. Let me know what you think.

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