In February of 2012, I began creating art in earnest again, after a 23 year hiatus.
In February of 2013, I started blogging. I titled my blog “a.r.t.regard” – a play on my convenient initials; Andrew Ramiro Tirado, (thanks, mom and dad!), as well as what I thought the blog would primarily be about; all things art… that happened to tickle my fancy.
Initially, and really, I’d have to say, to this day, there was no agenda – no prime directive – for the blog. I just wanted to see where it might go. What I might have to say about art, having just returned to it. The process, both at the quotidian level and big picture, was not unlike what often occurs in studio, with my more “self-directed” art. I don’t start, usually, with a lot of preconceived notions. Not many, and more often than not, not any sketches precede a sculpture or more formal mixed media piece’s creation. The work can take me anywhere.
Between the start of the blog and when I finally ran out of gas and closed up virtual shop, I amassed approximately a year’s worth of posts, some serious, others humorous. A few highlighted other makers, and a for a very few I relaxed my iron grip on the blog and allowed guest writers. While I, at that time, permanently deleted perhaps thirty or forty of the posts I was most embarrassed at having made public (like the first one I wrote about the pop rock group ABBA), 303 of the rest remain in a kind of Han-Solo-frozen-in-carbonite-like state to this day, patiently waiting, as on a virtual island of misfit toys, for someone to re-check their box, click “Publish”, and, like Geppetto’s wooden puppet, to make them live yet again.
(Ed. note: I’ve temporarily come out of a similar self-imposed trance to make one comment: ABBA, Star Wars, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Pinocchio, all in one sentence. That’s Art Regard at its finest.)
Back to sleep, editor.
For a majority of the hibernating posts, my resurrecting them is about as likely as my making public the first, tentative, disparate sketches I made for the public art project on which I’m about to commence work.
Sorry, ain’t gonna happen.
Back to this blog’s precursor: In time, proving the movie Field of Dreams’ prophetic line, “If you build it, they will come,” its readership climbed and climbed, to the point where individual posts were averaging around, oh, between five hundred and a thousand reads, or about as many clicks as the Pioneer Woman gets in the first two seconds of publishing a blog post.
Out of them all, the one that rather quickly shot to the top of the stats chart was one I wrote in February of 2016 entitled “Moving On.”
The post regarded my reasons for resigning from my sculpture shop supervisory position at the Colorado College, and I’m sure its popularity was primarily due to the all too human desire to be in the know regarding anything potentially salacious and gossipy.
(As the post’s number of views was climbing ever higher, and as I was wont to do from time to time, I wrote Prof. Emeritus Carl Reed the following email:
Unfortunately, the blog post I wrote about your Denver Botanic Gardens piece, while still the most read piece out of 270+ posts [on my blog], will soon be surpassed by my recently written “Moving On” post. Seems people are really excited that I’m leaving.
But you’ll be posting many more reports in the future about me from Europe, right? Given what you said about CC being a small village, I think that you really missed a golden opportunity to CONFIRM the swirling rumors about getting fired, and then provide lurid details, name names, threaten legal action if not violent acts of retribution, make leaks to [the student newspaper], put up posters, organize emotional student rallies, accept emergency financial support, used clothing, canned food, etc., etc. It’s not too late.
Anyway, as mentioned yesterday, a few CC alums are coming out of the woodwork to check in on me, whether via phone, Instagram DM, or in person (as my wife, Nan, and I’ll be doing in less than a fortnight, visiting Erin and Jess A., both CC alum’s, in Napa Valley, CA.)
I’m sure they want to know how life post-CC has been treating me. Am I substantially the same person I was then, or have I gained 300 lbs? Am I now an embittered, resentful old codger, shaking my fist at the world in general and my previous employer in specific? Can I, at long last, tell the unvarnished truth about the real reason I left the college??
Two of the alums who contacted me in the past few days, Brent and Lela, an item back in their undergrad days and remaining so today, live in the Seattle area. While they’ll arrive in Colorado Springs next week mere moments before Nan and I’ll be heading to the airport, California bound, I told Brent that I definitely want to see them, if only for a brief visit, and that they should make a bee line to me when they arrive in town.
Next morning, I recalled that Lela had written me a nice, long comment and posted it under my “Moving On” post. I accessed the post and read it, along with all the comments and my replies.
What I wrote, mere weeks before my final day at CC, has been copied and pasted into the post below this preamble sans changes. I still stand by everything I said were my reasons for leaving – no amendments, additions, or subtractions necessary.
So why am I reposting “Moving On” again? Is it to see if it can generate another swell of views? No. I’m doing so because
it seems the subtext of a lot of my most recent posts regards the risky life of being a creative person; how, for me, anyway, the enterprise is, as with mountain climbing, nearly equal parts adventure/risk/effort on the one hand and sublime beauty/truth/meaning on the other. I don’t know how to untangle the two, and frankly, have no desire to.
If you’re still with me, and have the time to dive into what is surely the most epic post I’ve ever written (proving the point, again in regards to the post’s popularity, that less is not always more), I think you’ll hear the voice of someone riding a wave of emotion. Nostalgic sorrow for what he was leaving mixed with an excitement for the great unknown that lay ahead. (I’d no idea what was right in store for me around the first bend – the rocky road that caused me, in short order, to lose a tire, as it were – I spent most of the rest of 2016 painstakingly and methodically extracting myself from the slough of despond, while mechanically converting my catch-all of a home-based art studio, in need of much rehab, into the kind of space I could work in.)
And work in it I have, to the point where it makes sense to both Nan and me to retire my nearly 30 years old detached garage-cum-shop-cum-studio, converting it to an ADU, or “additional dwelling unit”, and, just adjacent to it, build a 1000+ sf. studio with an interior headroom of around 20′ at the peak and 12′ at the side walls, with a dedicated electric drop for plenty of power, three I-beams running the length of the building for use as a gantry hoist, etc. Sorry for the digression, but we’ve broken ground and I’m excited.
Yes, it’s still possible, any of you who might be reading this from either coast of the US, for one to carve out a thin but sustainable slice of an income in the heart of “flyover country”.
Why not follow Lela and Brent’s lead, and come home, CC alums, come home?
Actually, another alum, from the looks of it, will be doing just that, at least temporarily slated to assist me with my public art project. I’m doing what I can to reverse the brain drain here in the Springs. He can climb, but he can’t hide.
From my current vantage point, which I realize is subject to the vagaries of the economy, as well as the more personal decisions my wife and I try to wisely navigate, I feel blessed to report that the decision to detach from the safe and bounteous port that my college position represented and sail into the relative unknown was and continues to be a good decision.
Everyone’s wired differently, I remind myself, especially when I darken CC’s doors from time to time, and catch up with some people who were there long before I started working there and will probably remain there until they retire. They don’t seem to be going through the least bit of the internal angst I was, increasingly, in the years prior to resigning. They don’t seem to hear the same call of the wild I did. And I’m happy they’re happy, that they’re well provided for, and that they’re as secure in their employment as anyone could hope to be in the shifting sands of our current economic and political landscape. More power to them.
Speaking of energy, I’d better begin to wind things down. It’s 1:42 am; a rather early start to my day, even for me. Maybe I’ll be able to catch a few more winks before my day shift begins.
Prior to writing this prologue to “Moving On”, I thought I’d be able to content myself with writing a paragraph or two. Maybe I’m there now.
What about you? Where are you, internally, now? Some of you, I know, either feel the same tug of desire I tried to self-analyze in the repost below. Something within you yearns for deeper expression. Others of you, I know, have recently experienced a detachment that has, as it did for me, left you “twirling and swirling” inside – like you’ve jumped out of an airplane, pulled the ripcord, and the chute has failed to fully open, leaving you feeling for all the world like you’re plummeting and spinning in space, not knowing, some days, which end is up.
Please, please, hang in there. Seek wise counsel. Connect. Eliminate the negative, and accentuate the positive. Realize that this too shall pass.
Without further ado, my promised repost, followed by some sweet comments like Lela’s:
It’s just after 2 am and, while I’ve started my day the way I usually do these days, drinking my requisite starter fluid, stationing myself on the living room couch, opening my laptop, and clicking on Blogger, then “New Post”, the backlit blank page seems to be more obstinate than usual, and I realize my eyes are tired.
Well, of course they are, many of you are probably thinking. 2 am is no time to be awake, unless it’s the end of your day previous and, say, a paper’s due in the morning. Or your senior thesis show’s not quite hung.
But as you know full well, though I’m not a undergrad in college, I will often go through creative cycles that majorly screw up my sleep cycle.
When in an in-between period, I need my eight hours of sleep, minimum. If roused at any point short of that, the idea of slipping out of bed seems so alien to me it’s as if the other periods – like the one I’m physiologically noting is rapidly winding down – are another person altogether. Like the oft repeated, “Who are those guys??” line in one of my son Drew’s and my favorite movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, during in-between periods I have no earthly recollection how it is I can arise from bed night after night, often on only a couple hours’ of sleep, and begin another 20, 21, or 22 hour day.
(Editor’s note: here’s the real reason Andy can live on 3 hours of sleep for months at a time)
But as I’ve now mentioned a couple of times, things are shifting within me. Rather, they’ve shifted. While it’s still easy to awaken, sans alarm as per usual, I note a drowsiness that just hasn’t been there since this period began in early November of last year. Little weights have attached themselves to my eyelids, the past few mornings. The blank page remains blank a bit longer. The screen’s backlighting needs to be lowered somewhat. Much too early for all that brightness.
The “shift”? Well, as with all such periods, the internal twirling and swirling has given way to a relative calm. Something’s been “birthed”. “Normal life” can resume. Quote unquote.
And as some of you know, since I’ve announced it last week first to my supervisor, then to the chair of the Art Department, and next via an impersonal email to the rest of the department’s faculty and staff, as well as some other key people at the Colorado College, where I have worked now for ten years, four months, and five days: I’m leaving. Literally on a jet plane. March 9 will be the last day I don my apron as 3D Arts Supervisor and the first where I’ll be winging away more frequently, it is hoped. First stop: Roma.
Truth be told, the designation “3D Arts Supervisor” is totally made up. You won’t find it in my file in HR. There, what you’ll read is, “Art Shop Supervisor”. But despite its accuracy and relevance, I didn’t particularly enjoy the resulting acronym, and wondered if it was something now Professor Emeritus Carl Reed cooked up one day before my time, prophetically. So I changed it.
If you read further into my job description, you might also come across the name of the building I supervise through the end of this, my final “block”, which starts later this morning: “Art and Drama”. After a protracted battle in which that old designation stubbornly hung on, current undergrads have finally begun calling the building on the edge of campus in which I’ve been installed by the name Professor Scott Johnson and I renamed it perhaps seven years ago after the Drama Department’s Scene Shop relocated to another building on campus.
In relation to adopting the new name, many long time staff have adhered to the adage about old dogs, although at least some in Facilities have begun calling 3D Arts “3 Darts”. And there’s still a fair bit of drama that swirls about the place from time to time…
I expect that’ll be the case for the next few days or so as word of my imminent departure, my slipping beyond the invisible membrane of the “CC bubble”, floats around. The village of the Colorado College, like all small towns, is nothing if not garrulous.
So, in an attempt to set the record straight, to get ahead of the curve and dispel any potentially nasty rumors – “Did you hear Andy was let go??” “Did you hear Andy’s gone crazy??” – well, the jury will be out on that last one for a while – let me now, for the record, set the record straight:
I’ve gone crazy.
Just kidding. I think.
(Boy, you’rethinking, that Andy can sure draw something out a long time. Get to the point!)
Maybe I will and maybe I won’t. No, no maybes about it. If I’m going to continue sitting here at (checks Fitbit) 2:58 am on (checks Fitbit app) 3:33 of sleep, eyes still somewhat heavy and brain still somewhat foggy, I want to get someperverse enjoyment out of it. Why, I’ve never had such rapt attention from my audience! Makes me want to leave you all dangling out there in the ether for another post or two, now that I’ve finally got you where I want you.
But I won’t.
Ok, so here goes. Phew.
For the past couple of years I’ve noticed an increasing dissatisfaction within. Isn’t that how many wholesale life changes first announce themselves?
The feeling was accompanied by the troubling thoughts, on a more and more frequent basis, that I’ve been there and done that. That I’ve assisted, at last count, a gazillion students in their quest to make a canvas stretcher (take note, all, the improper nomenclature: they’re really strainers) or panel. I’ve done the same for two or three gazillion more who darken the door to learn how to use the shop’s machines and/or tools and/or space for their class projects.
But I love my job, I’d counter. Not just the perks of the position, of which there are legion. Some students mistakenly call me Professor, for instance, an error I somehow fail to correct. But the students – my throat is literally tightening up as I write this: they’re a part of me now. Hopefully, I pray, always.
Wow. I just had to take a break and had to use Kleenex paper to brush away the tears. But we’re back now, and, settling back and down, I can go on.
Part of me – a large part – doesn’t want to go on. To leave the college and set out into the relative unknown.
It’s not a fear of the unknown, though. I’m super excited about the future, chomping at the bit, etc. It feels like I’m about to start a super fun climb in the mountains. (Or, if you’re like my wife, waving your mountain climbing husband goodbye and settling into the couch for a nice, long nap…)
Again, benefits and perks aside, the college has, as I mentioned in my letter to my supervisor and my department, vicariously taught me, developed in me, brought meto a place – a platform – a launching pad – that has allowed me to grab hold of a life beyond its formative borders, just as it was designed to do for undergraduates.
Only, even after ten years, I won’t be handed a degree at the end of my stint there, like some of you readers will in just a few months’ time.
Be that as it shall be, yesterday morning as I walked around the CC track at 4 am in an attempt to best my son Will and his typical daily high water mark of 20,000 + steps, again as recorded on our Fitbits, I looked at the over-large words “Colorado College” emblazoned on the concrete wall below the stands – the same stands I jogged up and down eleven years ago, wondering how I might more fully enter into the lives of students at the school we had lived right next door to for fifteen years – and had the thought:
Despite the fact that there’s no way Admissions would have ever let someone of my limited brain power in as a student, even back in the era when perhaps one out of two applicants would be admitted, this place has been mycollege. The place ofmyschooling. It’s where I’ve learned so much about myself – my faults, failures, and deficits. My strengths. My desires and yearnings.
Just an example or two:
Current students may find this hard to believe, but ten years ago, I was even more unbearingly goofy than I am these days. Now, I employ humor pretty much at will, but then, it was my constant companion. Later, I’d look back and wonder why. Well, a key to the answer came when I recalled how my wife and I began to go on regular date nights (which we began the moment our eldest daughter, Sophie – herself a recent CC grad – turned 12, the Colorado sanctioned age for one’s children to babysit their siblings). On occasion Nan and I would spring for a more upscale restaurant, and at first, I’d act the clown from the moment we arrived until we left. Over time, even I grew tired of the act, and, looking back, I realized that my silliness was due to feeling totally out of my element. Over my head. Out of my league. Out of place. Outclassed.
Same goes for my CC experience, especially in the early years. I think Professor Kate Leonard made note of it in my first performance review, saying something about how said humor in me wasn’t unduly overbearing, or words to that effect – which even I realized was a not so subtle attempt to get it through to me that, in fact, Andy, it is. It’s on the edge.
In time, however, as with settling more comfortably into a nice chair at some fancy eating establishment, I similarly ratcheted back the humor in the shop, at Rastall’s, etc. These days, while hopefully still being a glass half full person, I don’t think students would say I’m a totalgoofball. Not even Abby, for whom, if she were to, in reply, I’d counter it takes such a one to know one.
Another lesson hopefully learned, despite all online evidence to the contrary: when to speak and when not to. Again, using poor Abby as an example, unlike the me of old, now when a student posits a question, I don’t automatically respond. Some students, I now know, don’t automatically, and silently, look within when presented with questions or options. They vocalize it. If the question is pointed and direct – Andy, what’s the best way for me to put out this fire, for example – I’ll answer.
Stop, drop, and roll, I thankfully have never had to say.
But if I know the student can figure it out on their own, I feign deafness. The Colorado College has taught me it can be appropriate, as a student, to pretend I didn’t hear my teacher.
That’s what you’ve been to me, all of you who I know at CC as well as those of you who’ve come and gone, faculty, staff, and, chiefly, students.You’vebeen my teachers, when I have allowed you to be. I know I’ve taught you plenty, but you’ve reciprocated in spades.
Yet I know that most lessons are learned beyond the classroom, in so-called “real life”, and so I feel it’s time to transfer back to that school from whence I came, despite the knowledge that I’ll never finish my degree there, either. To metaphorically get off my duff and rock climb again. To take more risks – calculated risks, despite how it surely looks to you – than I’ve taken in a good long while.
Because I’m not getting any younger. Nor any wiser, many of you would add. But you’d be wrong. I never was that good at math, but even I know that starting from zero (I’ve) got nothing to lose.
Accordingly, I thought I’d inform you all, at last, of my relative lack of plans:
I want to be a full-time artist.
Those of you who were slated to be in my woodworking adjunct this spring, as well as you all in the Registrar’s Office, now you know why I mysteriously canceled class. It was, on the one hand, very regrettable. On the other, it was, if I may say so, visionary.
There’s more to it than that, though time’s getting short and I want to head back to the stadium stairs to get another 100 floors in today. As I noted in many blog posts toward the end of December and beyond, I want to begin to make real inroads in the direction in which I’ve yearned for years. Creating art on the margins of my day gets old after a while. I want more studio time, plain and simple. There’s simply no way for me to get where I desire to go if I’m playing around the edges like I have been.
So, I’ll wrap things up soon, both today and over the next few weeks at school. My eyes, at this time, are wide open. I’m staring into the future like the blank page below my text with a full assurance that I am following the right path, although we’ve no assurance, whether written or stated, of an income going forward. Accordingly, neither my wife nor I blame you for thinking that we’re plum crazy.
When I started making art again after a 23 year hiatus, perhaps the thing I relished most was the open-endedness of the craft – the relationship I found I could have with my work, day by day. The slow unfolding of the “story” of each piece. All preconceived notions of what I was making proved inaccurate; insubstantial. Good or bad, what eventually transpired, sculpture and drawing by sculpture and drawing, was nothing like I thought they would be.
The story, from February 3, 2012 until now, to say nothing of the previous decades, has proved to be so much greater than I ever could have imagined.
So, one assurance I wouldn’t bet against, if I were you, while you’re betting you’ll soon be able to get a really good deal on some nice bungalows just off campus:
Expect more of the same. Expect the unexpected.
As to what that this more fluid and spontaneous life will eventually look like in the flesh, or at least as recounted the morning after, day bay day, as we go forward, well, you’ll just have to tune back in and see.
I’ll close with this. I’ve only just begun to unpack these, my chief reasons for moving on. As with what you’d find if you had the time to go back and read all my blog posts from November 8, 2015 until today, many looking longingly back at the years just prior to working at CC – years more attuned to risk and reward – and some forward-thinking and seemingly clairvoyant, to say nothing of all of the words it’s taken me to write this morning’s fare, or of this sentence in particular, I’ve much more to say about the things I’ve learned as a ninja-student/Art Shop Supervisor at the Colorado College.
Thanks, CC – Go Tigers!
P.S. – When not making some other corner of this great big globe my home, I’ll still live in close proximity to the school and hope to darken the doors regularly. At last, I feel I will understand that penchant some students have to bum swipes outside of Rastall’s, the college’s cafeteria. Brother, would you spare a tater?
Posted 15th February 2016 by Andrew R Tirado