Tuesday, January 22, 2008

News in the life and times of Jenny Walton...

Hi all!

I needed to write this after the insistence of my best friend Kimiko. You can blame her for the novel to follow....

Just have to say what a topsy turvy life!

In the last year (2007) I have finished graduate school. Which is no small feat, I must say. I changed my art work entirely a week before the thesis show and also developed it much further at a residency program in upstate New York. I thought that those two things were the difficult parts. Oh, was I wrong.

It was when I was leaving my residency that life got more interesting. I suddenly realized I didn't really have an address, other than where my parents collected my mail for me in Washington State. I wanted to go back to the DC area, but was unsure of how that was going to happen with no money and no job. The week of August 18th held a lot of highs for me. I got my old job back, thanks to one of the best bosses that I've ever had. He called me and asked for me to come back (still part time) after my replacement up and quit, and I sold several of my paintings. Between these two financial boons, I was able to head my car tentatively in the direction of DC. I was able to find a pet sitting gig for a couple weeks and headed straight there from New York. I started pounding the streets for a full time job in hopes of being able to find more permanent housing. From the pet sitting gig I found a great, if not just a little too decrepit sub lease in the Dupont Circle area of DC for a month.

Then it was on to more searching for jobs and houses. I found another pet sitting gig, but it was really more being an actual pet nanny. All I'm going to say if you have to have a pet nanny, you have too many pets. But, it was a decent neighborhood, I got to walk dogs everyday, and the rent was decently cheap for the interim period of a part time budget. I won't say that the demands of sometimes at least 14 animals, most with special needs and better food that I could feed myself, didn't bother me, even though I had animals as a kid.

In desperation I started searching not just the art related jobs but also the secretarial job sections and managed to come up with an arts administration position working as an office manager in a literary non profit. It was great to have benefits and a full time job, but being a non-profit, I still had to keep the part time job as well to keep up. Once things started looking better financially I found a house in the Maryland suburbs of DC with some pretty great roommates. Its about a 20 minute (5 mile) drive to work in the mornings.

I even had a studio practically land in my lap. I've been working with a collective artists through a contact at my residency, and happened upon one of the fellow artists minutes after they gave up their lease on their studio. For those that don't know, finding an affordable studio space is like winning the lottery here in DC. I get to move in to my first professional studio on the 1st of February. I'm truly excited about it.

So...then things got even more interesting in the last week. From my plastering of resumes in August, I got a call from another non-profit that wanted to interview me. I decided that I would at least keep my interview skills honed, as some things at my full time job were becoming increasingly frustrating. So after finally getting a hold of the contact there I had one day to prepare for the interview. I desperately tried to find a place to get my hair cut at 7 pm that wouldn't sweep a Franklin out with my hair, but couldn't do it. It was then plan B to go buy a straightener and some humidity balm so I at least didn't look like I had a crows nest on my head. Well that didn't work so well. We had a big snow storm the day of the interview, so I actually walked in the office after thinking I would be late because traffic was literally going 4 mph, with a miniature snowman on my head! By the time I looked at myself in the mirror several hours later, I thought if I got a call back, it certainly wasn't due to my appearance. It was frightening! That was Thursday.

Friday I went into work and thought, "CRAP!" Especially after having a golden carrot dangled in front of me the previous day. I got a call at lunch time to clarify some questions from the Executive Assistant and by 6:30 on Friday, I had my first offer. By 7:30 I had my second offer as I was sitting down eating some of the best fish and chips around with my roommates. I thought I was going to be able to make the switch until I woke up at 4 am with night sweats that it just wasn't right and started crunching the numbers. I would have had to give up my new studio that was a dream come true and take a pretty big cut in my current earnings. Who knew how much a part time job could bring in?!

So.. I turned it down after having breakfast with a good friend who was there to support me saying no. It hurt. A LOT. Though they understood and said I couldn't give up my studio, it still hurt to say no. Saturday was spent in a big funk and even bigger when I had to go to to work and realize I was staying. While at work, I got another call. This time with something better that the full time job, but less than the two jobs I have put together. I was really excited. This guy really believes in me, not to mention he doesn't really take no for an answer. I kinda like that. After interviewing with him, he's got big plans and the drive to get there.

So Sunday after making a freezing cold, standing in line at #15 for an hour, sprinting to the last three rooms, and standing staring at Edward Hopper's Sun in an Empty room for 20 minutes before the THOUSANDS of people got there and made it impossible to see anything, I called my new boss, and said yes. Going to the Edward Hopper exhibit and literally seeing thousands of people standing in line wrapping every which way and out the doors to see art work helps me understand the power of art and why its important not just as an artist, but also to the public.

So after I turned down the dream job, they fortunately believe in me enough that they came back with an offer that I could accept financially. Thank goodness! So, I'll be handing in my resignation tomorrow. Its going to be incredibly hard and I hope wonderful new job that I can actually say is a career as well and not just a day job. I will be working with a visual arts non profit that promotes visual art and cross cultural understanding through art all over the world, AND they also promote and help local artists as well. Awesome! So for the next couple weeks I'm going to be working three separate jobs, the two I'll be leaving and the one I'll be training for.

You can check out my new adventure as Executive Assistant to the President at http://www.artsandartists.org/

Hope this finds you all well and happy in the new year!

And if you read all of this...you've got the patience of saint, and I thank you.