Friday, October 23, 2015

Art Interlude (with bonus blather)

Avinash Veeraraghavan, "In the Upper Room"

Downtown Pittsburgh's galleries are currently featuring Indian and Indian-American artists for fall's "INDIA in Focus" events. My graduate school studies focused primarily on Indian art and culture, so of course I was stupidly thrilled about this series. Every piece showcases the diversity of India's visual culture.

(The fabulous lady in the poncho, by the way, is my cousin Meg, AKA the best art buddy around.)

Hetain Patel and Eva Martinez-Patel, "The First Dance"

 Most of the work is comprised of solo shows. The Wood Street Galleries, for instance, are showing several video installations and photographs from Hetain Patel. Patel's work was not actually my favorite from this series, but I did find the installation "The First Dance" eerily beautiful. There's a smooth rhythm for most of the piece, and its sudden interruption at the end is well-played.

Several of my friends have said that this show is their favorite in the series, by the way, so I probably just have really bad taste.

Shilpa Gupta, "24:00:01"

My personal favorite piece was located in Space. Shilpa Gupta's 24:00:01 rolls different words and phrases across a flapboard for a full 20 minutes, and if the gallery hadn't suddenly been overrun by screaming children, I could've stayed for an hour just enjoying this piece. Yes, the actual movement and sound of the flipping tiles are weirdly hypnotic. But I was truly taken in by how much it made me question myself. What do we think about in a day? Are words innately meaningful, or do we endow them with more meaning than they deserve? How we categorize our moments--do we remember them with words, with images, with sounds?

Sarika Goulatia, "A Million Marks of Home"

The 707/709 Penn Galleries are featuring two more solo shows, including this piece by Sarika Goulatia. When I first entered the room, I was very "meh" about it, but it quickly grew on me. I became obsessed with looking for patterns in the wood, admiring the stark difference between a board with a few minuscule dots and another that was covered in drill holes. The smell was addictive as well: that mixture of dry wood and chili powder needs to be a perfume. I would be stunned if the smell wasn't as carefully designed as the visual elements.

All of these galleries are free and open to the public, and the shows should be running through the end of November.

And now, a moment of blather.

This past month, I accepted an offer for a second job. Without getting too in to detail, it was a temporary work-from-home position with good pay. I left the job early on due to personal reasons. At the time, I was concerned about the money I'd just given up. But I realized something: working this job transformed my work week from roughly 30-40 hours a week to 50-60. Yes, it was only temporary, and yes, the money would have been nice. But October is my favorite month. And because I was so bogged down with work, I spent 4 out of 5 beautiful fall days...in my room. It was 65 degrees outside and sunny, with the leaves changing colors and the houses covered in Halloween decorations, and I was inside!

I'm not saying people shouldn't work hard, because a strong work ethic is something I truly value; hard workers keep the world turning. But when I left that second job, I became almost eerily aware of how much time I'd forfeited just to make more money.

Shortly after leaving the position, I spent time with my parents and video chatted my partner. The day after that, I ate pizza and ice cream whilst critiquing the Democratic debate with my friends. I was able to give my students my full, undivided attention without feeling stressed about how I was going to get everything done.

I slept better.

I took my time when I ate.

I read books.

I enjoyed the knowledge that, even with my busy "regular job," I had pockets of free space to do as I pleased.

I say this now because beholding a piece of art takes time. But if you find pieces that move you, that make you question something or feel a strong emotion, then it may be time well-spent. Our time is finite, more finite than our savings account ever will be; we must choose how we spend it wisely. I want to continue my journey to experience more and overspend less, and I hope you'll continue that journey with me.

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