At The New York Academy of Art You Are Always Being Watched

by

10/12/2002

111 Franklin Street, ny ny

Neighborhood: Tribeca

Pictures by Josh Gilbert

I dropped by the New York Academy of Art with my spiffy digital camera, feeling like an artist and ready to snap a few pics while I waited for my friend, Beag.

Needless to say, it didn’t take long for me to feel like a fraud. For one thing, my friend was taking an exam. An exam in art school isn’t as formal as it is in Law School or Medical School, but there she was, all the same, taking an exam and no one was talking and these big statues were all around the room and I started feeling like an imposter. Then I realized no one noticed, or cared, so I couldn’t help snapping a few pics of my pal Beag through the easel. Here she is, mise en scene, focusing on answering various questions about composition, framing objects on a two dimensional plane, and the like.

Which is to say, fully involved in learning to be a real artist, as opposed to a pseudo digi techno image renderer, Charlie, which is what I am.

Which brings me to my next encounter, with this here monkey:

I framed him in the foreground to add a monkey-feeling to the room.

Meanwhile, those of you out there who are thinking, “Fuck this finance shit, I’m going to Pearl Paints for some charcoal pencils and a sparkle ball. Art school is for lovers. It’s time to express my will through the stylistic imperatives of a Greco-Roman tradition,” please remember, it’s not just about picking up chicks after clay class. It’s about the hard work and quotidien confrontations with the blank page…and spending considerable amounts of time alone in your shades-drawn apartment thinking, “Where the fuck did I stash my weed!?!”

My friend Beag didn’t realize I’d walked into her classroom and she approached me without realizing I’d photographed her (or the monkey for that matter). After she recognized me, and saw the camera, she said, irked, “What are you, a sidewalk in New York city? I fuck’n can’t go anywhere up in this motherfucking building without getting my zeros and ones streamed video to the Man. Damn, dog, why you puttin me on front street? What’s the dealio!?”

To which I replied, tartly, “Actually, since you put it like that: yes.”

(Here, assume a digipic of a large, orange ball)

There was some post-exam socializing. Here Beag is talking to a guy who doesn’t own a digital camera.

Notice the intense focus she brings to this conversation. Meanwhile, he1s probably thinking in his perfectly practiced, vague way: “Chalk up another one for Schwantzie!”

Hereafter, we went up to her specific yet somehow general “time to focus” pod area and met a girl who shares the floor with Beag. It didn’t take long for me to begin obsessing over her pierced tongue. I would have snapped a pic of her (imagine, if you will, a spiky smart blonde with a pierced tongue) but she was holding a tube of oil based paint, which made me feel small and quiet.

Looking at that teardrop of metal on the front central quadrant of her tongue, fuck me if I didn’t think to myself, “I’ll bet she likes James Brown in the house, two margueritas into a surf splashy Mexican sunset. I wish I brought my boxers off the railing. Does she even know my name?” I thought I’d lost her completely when she gave me this complicated look with one raised eyebrow and said, (it was very coincidental that I actually turned at that moment and saw the following pic on her wall that mirrored her and my — was it only projected? — atmosphere):

“Whatever.”

On the way outside, heading for our coffee and some chitchat about the inevitability of art, I came across this masterpiece:

I spent some time noodling around with my digital camera, eager not to miss this classic New York photo op. Beag got impatient and I said to her (I may have been over-reacting): “For crack’n ice, Beag! This rat is dead. I have an obligation to snap a pic. If I don’t remember him, who will?” To which she replied, “I’m sure it1s already a series of zeros and ones in that wall-mounted ditty over there.”

We both looked up. There is was: an industrial video camera mounted on a brick wall, aimed at the dead rat, and us.

With pic captured, we went on the Bubby’s. Weird that the hippist spot for a burger in Tribeca is named after my Polish grandmother. I would have snapped a pic of the spot, but my LCD read out indicated my evening of picture snapping was over.

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