Artist in Residence Blog: Updates from T Kurtz

T Kurtz was the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence from 3/2019 through 10/2019.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.

Opportunity has bad breath.
I am closing in on the end of my residency here at the School and I am amazed by what I have accomplished.  Dedicating 4 hours, 5 days a week has helped me grow in technique and ability. I look back on some of the work I was doing at the beginning of the year and I am in awe of what I have done since then.  I recently pulled work from one gallery because it was all from a ...
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How you finish
I think I am finally embracing my role as a grown up.  When we are young, we have so much passion.  We burn with a fire that will flare up as we see injustice, cruelty, joy or apathy.  We jump on our high horse and race into battle and will rail at windmills if we think the cause is just.  As we age, we tend to pick our battles and sometimes, we will leave a little landmine as we walk ...
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It’s all about perspective.
I have a Karen Mobley I bought from the Spokane Art School for an incredibly reasonable price “for a Mobley” I was informed. I bought it because I really liked it and it was a very incredible price. I would have valued it for 10 times as much, doesn’t matter who did it. I really liked it. I’m going to have to work quite a few hours to custom frame it, but I will enjoy hanging it when it is ...
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I am an overachiever, almost
I did my taxes today. That’s right, January 13th and my part is done. I’m an over achiever. Actually I’m not, an over achiever that is. I’m pretty lazy when it comes to book work. Owning your own business generates a lot of paperwork and the more successful you are, the more trees are felled to support it. I say I’m lazy because the proof of it is right there in my records and it tells me things that I ...
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Memory is a funny thing
Memory is a funny thing. Which is kinda scary when we consider how much we rely on it. We use it to tie our shoes, write our name, add and subtract; the list is long and scientists have been studying it for centuries. I actually suffered from memory loss once, three months were completely wiped clean. I forgot names of good friends, places I had known like the back of my hand, and valuable experiences like my husband graduating from ...
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Why do I even bother?
2019, A banana was taped to a wall with duct tape and sold for $120,000. The artist ate the banana and the business that bought the art just put up another banana in its place. 1980’s, A group of people tape a sheet up at a party and throw paint and food at it. They submit it to a prestigious art show where it wins first prize and sells for more than anything else at the auction. 1962 a print ...
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It’s professional, not personal
I just spent 8 hours in a car with my best girlfriend for a trip I could have avoided. The time wasn’t a waste, we had a good time and saw some lovely country but we both could have been doing something else with our time, together. We drove to one of my galleries to pick up my work. The gallery closes for the winter and is only open by appointment. The gallery owner and I had spoken about the ...
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Is art an investment?
I used to work in a gallery and it was right after the 80’s print frenzy. People were no longer buying art to hide under the bed as an investment. They were purchasing to hang on their walls and I would get the same question over and over: "Is this a good investment?" You are going to meet buyers who are going to ask you that. What I think they are really asking is, "Why is your work worth buying?" ...
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High mileage and check engine lights.
I hunker down in my bed, surrounded by crumpled tissue discards and empty pill packets. My new studio calls to me and all I can do is weakly consider what projects I can start. Each morning I do a self-assessment, hopeful that this is over; to find it isn’t. The plight of the self-employed, do you wait it out or spend the money visiting a doctor? One year I fought through during an art show: unloaded and set up by ...
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A tidy mind and all that jazz.
There are those who will tell you that a tidy space is the sign of a disorganized mind. I don’t agree. If you had asked me this 25 years ago, I would have answered differently. I have learned a few things since then. Your mind wanders as you clean, you don’t really need all of it to do the dishes. Folding laundry can be a zen thing as well and you can get into a deep, calm space while doing ...
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Revisiting the idea of mentorship
I was out yesterday at a craft fair as a patron. I don’t get to do that very often. When I do, I find myself watching people. Probably because that is what you do from the vendor's chair: people-watch, I mean. There was this elderly lady getting up from the lunch table and her daughter helped her zip up her coat. At that moment I flashed back to my mother helping me zip mine, and me helping my son, and ...
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I am a bed maker
I am a bed maker. I wasn’t always, actually; I never used to do it. Make my bed, I mean. Why should you? You are just going to mess it up again. It will only be made for a few hours, what is the point? I started doing it when I re-acquainted myself with a friend, Leah. She was going through a time of change and we would talk. One thing we discussed was the proper way to begin each ...
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Saying No, Defining boundaries.
People in your life think it’s romantic to know an artist. They are impressed by what you do, or they love your work but they don’t always understand what professional means. Heck, they don’t understand that any creative work takes time, financial resources and energy from the creator. Maybe it is because our grandmothers used to make so much for us when we were growing up. Perhaps we are taught then that people make things to just give away. The ...
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Make it easy for everyone
I swore I wouldn’t do it to myself again. I wouldn’t book so many shows this year, I was going to make good choices and make my months less complicated. Enter October… I am hanging 40 pieces in the gallery at Spokane Art School (that opened Friday); Hanging 12 at William-Grant in Kendall Yards, Spokane (that opened Saturday), Doing the Oldfield Art Show in Puyallup WA next weekend and the following weekend we are opening “Rooted” at the Jacklin Art ...
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Leaving the nest
I have finished my residency and my ever-enduring spouse helped me schlep all my supplies and equipment back home. Being an artist is difficult, but I am always amazed when artists don’t have the support of their spouse. He makes a huge difference to me and helps to keep me going. It was with a catch in my chest that I bid the school goodbye and drove down the hill. Now the work truly begins. I have created positive momentum ...
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Art by T Kurtz
I’ve talked about business, failure, challenge and destruction. I have spoken about supporting others and looking for support, being the person you want to find in the world but this is about keeping it pure. Being an artist is hard. I have said it before, it takes endurance. You will get mad, frustrated, hurt and shockingly insulted so why on earth make it harder on yourself trying to make art for the masses? Creating art is about looking deep within ...
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Keep a clean backtrail and work the path you are on.
It never hurts to pay attention to the relationships you are in even if they are coming to an end. Partnerships change over time and they don’t always work out. It isn’t that they fail that matters, it is how you leave them that is important. We all have long memories in this business, and we all travel great distances. Nothing goes farther than a juicy story of “who done you wrong”. I keep talking about relationships in this business ...
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Personal Investment vs. Professional: learning to let go
Why do you create art? Who do you create it for? I create art because I will be loony if I don’t. The thought now of giving it up makes me hyperventilate, seriously. I have said it before, it is the act of creating that is important to me. Once it is done, I need to start something else. I have found my stopping point; I can tell it is over, on to the next one. What makes it a ...
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The only stupid question is the one you didn’t ask.
Many would argue with the above statement – they have teenagers who will work hard to find the dumbest question possible. For the rest of us, what do I mean? There are times in our lives where we have missed the application boat by a few hours, wanted to be in another spot in a show, wished we had signed up for 20’ instead of 10’. When you get to the show, just ask. I set up at one and ...
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The Rest of the Story….
I’m thinking on an artist named Heade. When I was in college, I had a seminar class on art history. The instructor opened one class with a story about an antique collector. The shopper bought a painting at an estate sale for a very minimal amount. $20 maybe? She purchased it for the frame because the painting was so dirty, she couldn’t even tell what it was. There were flowers, and perhaps a bird but she couldn’t tell. Looking at ...
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Miniskirts, unicorns and economic indicators…. What is the plan for those?
The headlines scrolled across my TV today as I wondered what the new day would bring. “Recession Looming” is the one that stood out to me and I rolled around the complications in my head. As a person that is trying to make my money in art, I am always watching for economic indicators. Mini skirts, car sales, buttered popcorn, unicorns…. The list goes on and on. Ultimately, a professional artist will tell you that the worst thing to appear ...
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It’s a Keeper! Maybe.
I got an interesting question this last weekend, “How do you let go of your art?” It’s easy for me, I told the woman in front of me. I am a "Process Oriented" artist. That means, I find my joy in the creative journey when I paint. Other artists find their joy in the finished piece and they are "Goal Oriented". I believe it is easier for "P/O" artists because we are ready for the next ride. The Woman who ...
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When to quit
The hardest decision an artist faces is, “When is a painting done.” I am teaching classes and I will literally take a painting away from a student and say, “You’re finished.” Students generally tend to be grateful when I do that because they have a difficult time recognizing the finishing point. Let’s not kid ourselves; figuring out a finishing point is a gut wrenching, mind bending and heart-breaking task. Many artists struggle with it and all of us wonder if ...
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Going with the flow.
Being an artist is so wonderful at times. It isn’t always but there are serene moments that take my breath away. I get caught up in what I should be doing to the point of losing the perspective of Doing anything. Today for example, I got so caught up in the chores of my craft; I felt forced. It hadn’t been a great day prior and this isn’t as productive a month as the last 2. To date, I have ...
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Being a grownup;….. yuck.
About 6 years ago I made a conscious decision to be a “Professional” artist. I was going to be dedicated to my craft. I would work towards having things like; Inventory, Customer Database, Mobile Retail Space, Show Schedule and Dedication. I was raised by a Pro, I felt I knew what I was getting into. There was one problem, her footsteps no longer lead to the path of success. She started her art career in the 1980’s and things are ...
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Who wins when we pay it forward?
I got caught in a Starbucks “Pay it forward” chain today. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain. It all started when the company put in drive thru locations. The person in front of you; who is probably much more energetic than a coffee addict has a right to be, decides to share their joy of the day and buys your drink. It is a kind gesture that brightens your day. You decide; hey, that was nice! ...
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I am looking for a muse
Remember when I said, “Don’t court your muse”? I must admit it is hard. Creating when you don’t feel like it isn’t ever easy. I am a member of several artist Facebook groups and a common theme is “what do you do when you don’t want to paint” We all have our “go to” plans, I have several. 1) Look at other art. Find some artists that inspire you and go to their pages to be inspired. 2) Look at ...
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Stampedes and other obstacles
When I was young and had boundless energy, I was involved with a performing troupe. We would create costumes and travel to do performances wherever anyone wanted us. Singing and dancing, we were a merry bunch and there were several of us; male and female. I remember getting sideways with some of the women a time or two and I wouldn’t understand what I had done. Finally the director of the group took me aside and explained it. “It’s like ...
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Love is love, but business is business
I lived between a Cop and a Social Worker for 5 years. I had no political opinion that whole time. It wasn’t that they argued, they were capable of having intelligent discussions, but I felt that the détente was fragile and me picking a side might upset the apple cart. They understood my concerns and until the social worker started running for office, my political stance was never brought up. There is one other place that politics should never come ...
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Success is an Iceberg
I love Facebook pages. I am a member of several for various things (too boring to mention) but I also join artistic Facebook pages. One is administered here locally by Helen Parsons called Spokane Art Calls. Never met the lady but she runs a tight ship as pages go and she posts pictures and memes all the time to keep her page feed fresh and relevant to our news feeds. She recently posted the picture featured on the right (click ...
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Pudding on my shoes
Some days, life is a bowl of pudding and you are trying to swim in it. I gave myself a break today; well, kind of. I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning. We all have those days. I gave myself an extra hour, I have that luxury. It was hard to get up though and I got dressed and put on my “Carpe the F#@& out of this Diem” socks and went reluctantly to the gym. I ...
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Wasted Opportunities
I write with a heavy heart today, a gentle talent went home. Bob Walton was a wonderful man and a generous mentor to many artists. I had known this man for most of my 50 years and he captured the mountains and light on canvas in ways that Thomas Kinkade could only dream of. I was raised around artists, they were my uncles, aunts, surrogate grandparents and friends. Not everyone gets that chance, to be around all that talent and ...
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Competition is fine but always remember, We are in this together.
Just before I was given the residency, I was juried into an amazing national organization of Women Artists. They arrange for competitions for its members but they also support each other with knowledge and networking. I had been trying to join the organization and was encouraged to do so by a member I saw on a regular basis. I tried to jury in 4 times before receiving acceptance. During my efforts, I grabbed at the chance to have another member ...
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Teaching others; a lesson in humility
In the residency program, I am required to offer 2 classes per session. Here is the good news, I get paid an hourly for standing up in-front of people and telling them how I do it. The bad news is, sometimes they don’t need you as much as they think. Here I am, with 3 eager students. Each one of them clutching their untouched boxes of pastels. One with a brand-new set of hand rolled Jack Richeson. Oooo, so pretty! ...
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Pastels vs Chalk and other questions; discussing your medium and being nice too.
One of my favorite authors, Dick Frances, wrote a book about an artist. He actually wrote at least two but the one I’m thinking of was an acrylic painter. His family was faintly appalled with his vocation but were even more embarrassed with his choice of medium, “Not oils but those frightfully common acrylics.” The Character went on to explain to the reader how amazingly versatile acrylic was and that he was sure Michael Angelo would have killed for them ...
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Time Out for Prep
There are times that the muse sits on my shoulder and tickles, itches, pulls and tears at my ears. “Hey!” She says, “Pay attention to me!” I can envision each step of the next project to the point where I feel the pastel in my hand stroking the surface of my painting and clearly see the color laying down for me. I know the size, the underpainting, and even the frame I will use for the image. I rush into ...
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Don’t Court the Muse, Create!!
Boy was I surprised when I was awarded the residency. I had just recently moved to Spokane and needed a way to feel connected to the local community. I’ve been watching Spokane Art Calls on Facebook and when the residency application popped up, I decided here was an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. I put the appropriate information together and applied. Then with unpacking, doing art shows and sorting out my new life; promptly forgot about it. You could have ...
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