Friday, July 27, 2007

A Year and a Half in Minneapolis

Long Field With Tree, 2007, Oil on Panel, 9x18

While glancing through my stats today, I noticed that someone had linked to my blog via Studio McCann. Not familiar with that site I went to check it out. Turns out the artist is Shawn McCann, who lives and works in the Minneapolis area. He also attended the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, which is where I went to school for a year and a half back in 1983-84. He looks younger than me though, so I don't think we were there at the same time.

So this morning I have been awash in memories of my time at MCAD and of living in Minneapolis. I moved into an off campus apartment there within a month or so of my high school graduation and just spent the summer hanging out, looking for a job, and waiting for classes to begin. As I recall, I had about $20 a month for food, and I was always in debt, typical art student! I worked for awhile as a cashier at the nearby Kmart, and that totally sucked in every way possible right down to the blue smock I had to wear. When school started I began work study and I was assigned to the school library. I liked this job. While incredibly boring sometimes, it was great to have access to such beautiful books about artists, many of whom I had never heard of. The other students began to move into the dorms and I spent that fall drinking way too much at the endless parties on campus (this was the old days when the school actually paid for the kegs for our parties), making new and very interesting friends, and learning about art. I had woodshop class, metal working (I still have a little scar on my stomach where I burned through my clothing while trying to weld), color theory, figure drawing and a variety of other basic freshman art classes, all of which really opened my eyes to so many things I hadn't known or seen before. Not to mention the classic college all-nighters!

When it came time to choose a major for the second year, I had a tough time. I wanted to paint, but didn't really feel like the painting program there was right for me. I thought illustration would be good, but there was no official program for that (I think there is now) although the graphic design program offered illustration classes. So I reluctantly majored in graphic design. I kind of liked it, we did tons of typeface studies, by hand, no computers for that in 1984! I did take a class in computers but it was how to create programs, which I totally didn't understand and I think I actually got an F in that class. But most of the instructors were cool and I really appreciate the experiences I had in graphics, which have been useful over the years.

There were many visiting artists, but the two I remember most were Vito Acconci and Alan Ginsburg. Vito Acconci gave a lecture in my freshman year. There was a boy I had been seeing, but we had broken up and were trying to be friends. We were sitting next to each other during Acconci's lecture and all he talked about was sex, complete with, you know, sounds. I still remember how embarrassed my friend and I both were! I would have liked to have talked to Alan Ginsburg as he spent a lot of time in the common areas talking to small groups of students, but I was never able to get in (story of my life!).

There were a lot of intense relationships with other students, both good and bad. I drank too much during my time there and also didn't really know how to handle social issues very well. I messed up things up with a several people and have always regretted that. But I do have wonderful memories of a number of people. Blaine and Susan who dated then and are now married with three children. Lisa, a fellow outcast, who collected more stuff that one can possibly imagine. She ended up using up all of that stuff eventually in her assemblage art, which is really impressive. Tom, my beautiful gay friend who worked as a model part time and had a flair for everything he did, and John who has been a lifelong friend. He moved to Philadelphia a year after I did and we were roommates (platonic) for awhile. We still talk now and then.

I decided to transfer to the Philadelphia School of Art (now UArts) because they had an illustration department that I had heard good things about. Also, I was feeling very uncomfortable about how I had handled the social aspect of my life at MCAD, and as was my habit, leaving seemed to be the best option. It turned out to be a very good move ultimately, but I have always felt badly about some of the things I did when I was 18 and very stupid.

Of course, I went on to do even more stupid things in Philadelphia, which proved that my stupidity wasn't completely age-related. Heh.


Shawn McCann said...

Hi Tracy.

Thanks for the post. When I came across your blog, I was first of all impressed with the landscapes and then just as happy to see a fellow MCAD alum. Your memories of MCAD are all to familiar. From the parties, the all nighters and the eclectic mix of people, art school was definitely a unique experience here in Minneapolis. Thanks again and am looking forward to checking out more of your work!

Tracy said...

Hi Shawn, oops, meant to email you and say hi, but didn't get to it today. Anyway, I am glad you found my blog and it is nice to see another MCAD alum also. Sound like things haven't changed too much in all of these years! I am looking forward to reading through your blog also.

When were you in college?

Shawn McCann said...

I was a student from 98-02. So pretty recent. However I haven't really left, I have been on the Alumni Board of Directors for the last 4 years there, so I am still on campus pretty often. I think you would be really impressed with the Illustration program they now have. It helps when you have great Professors. Do you remember Kinji Akigawa?

Janvangogh said...

Let me introduce you. Tracy, Shawn. Shawn, Tracy. :-)

Might have been me. I clicked on your link just the other day.

The Epiphany Artist said...

LOL we all did things we regret in our youth. I am still doing things I regret... although not the same ones ;)

Kesha Bruce said...

Tracy- I don't think we should beat ourselves up about stuff we did when we were 18. If I did that I'd constantly have two black eyes.

Looks like you turned out just fine!

Tracy said...

Why Shawn, you are just a baby! Great that you are so active with the school. I was so burned on college that when I was done I ran as fast as I could the other way.

I can't recall the names of any on my teachers, unfortunately. But the one you mentioned doesn't ring a bell at all.

Thanks for the intro, Janet. And it's nice to meet you too. Glad you have visited here.

Terri, I am with you on that!

Kesha, I don't know if I am still beating myself over my behavior then, it was just such a big part of my time there that I can't help be reminded of it when I think about that time.

I am ok now but do still do some really stupid things. Just different, like Terri said:)

drips of paint said...

Such beautiful story

...ahhhh...if only we could go back to throw another party, bet you everyone would have a good laugh, catching up on how stupid we all once behaved.

long field with tree...I would enjoy taking walks in your sublime canvas, reflecting on past regrets and slowly moving towards the light spot that open up the horizon.

this is one of my farvorite