Friday, March 20, 2009

CAA 2009: A Report From The Front Lines

Recently I attended the College Art Association Conference in Los Angeles, and I have been meaning to report on it here, but haven't had the chance. So here is just a couple short notes about the conference.

First off, L.A. is a city I've only been too twice, and both times were for short periods. I went out to California when I was 17 and only went to L.A. for a night, trekked the Walk of Fame, went to Groman's Chinese Theatre, etc. This time I really wanted to spend some time there, go to the Viper Room, etc. - especially after my Uncle Jim told me a bunch of stories about being out on Sunset Strip in the early 80's with Nikki Sixx and Arnold Schwartzenegger. No, really.

Anyway, it seemed that all we did was go back and forth from the conference to the hotel, the hotel to the conference, ad nauseum. Really didn't have time for much else. Drove up to Charlotte, NC, flew to Memphis, TN, then on to L.A. which really whiped me out - even a few hours of jetlag really knock you out. I really am interested in L.A. - it's a city that I haven't really explored, and really would like to get to the heart of. The return trip was just as chaotic; we were picked up at the hotel at 3:30 in the morning, then a flight to
Minneapolis, then to Charlotte, then drive back down to Greenville where I had to be at a design awards ceremony. Crazy…OK, back to the conference.

Upon entering the large interview hall, I was shocked to find that there were perhaps 1/3 of the typical tables present. There are just so few jobs out there right now in academia, that I feel bad for people who are working hard to get a position. However, there were significantly less job seekers too. Maybe ½ of what is normal. Perhaps it was because it was on the West Coast, as the trip West would be prohibitively high in cost for most artists. Any way you look at it, it seems that the economy is now hitting the arts community really hard. This is such a disheartening trend, as I think now more than ever we need the beauty and resilience that having an artistic voice gives us as a culture.

This is just a plea to all readers: support the arts, buy local art from local artists!

BTW - the image above was shot out my hotel window at 5 am.