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I assume you naturally stop recalling Beach Boys songs after a while

Post #990 • April 16, 2007, 6:14 PM • 44 Comments

I have accepted an offer to join the faculty at the Laguna College of Art and Design. Much of what one might want to know about the school is on the website, but the highlights include:

  • Small, all-wireless campus (the first in the country, believe it or not) in Laguna Beach, CA, backed up to a nature conservancy
  • Fine art program with a 100% figurative focus
  • NASAD and WASC accreditation
  • Off-the-chart student work
  • Warm-hearted, highly accomplished faculty
  • They're not kidding about those beaches

The position waiting for me is twofold. First, as an Associate Professor, unaligned to any particular department, I will teach in Fine Art, Graphic Design, and Liberal Arts, and thus could potentially end up instructing anything from drawing to programming in a given semester. Second, I will be the Chief of Technology Innovation at the college. We have an understanding that the role of the CTI will define itself as he acts, but the basic idea is that I'll identify ways in which technologies could be used on campus to make it a better place to learn, and implement them. My first responsibility will be to reclaim ownership of the website and transform it from brochureware into a community-driven web application. (A standards-compliant community-driven web application. I know, it has some serious problems right now.)

So I'll be moving to Orange County in July. I keep looking around and thinking, Boston, we hardly knew ye, but LCAD made it worth my while to relocate. They've already had me out once, treated me like royalty, and made me feel immediately welcome both professionally and personally. I was identified, and courted, as an educator who can flip back and forth between cerebral hemispheres at will. I was invited along to a faculty meeting, which took place over the course of a ferry trip to Catalina Island, where imbibition of good cheer may or may not have commenced before noon. I get what they're about, they get what I'm about, and all around the opportunity is too good to pass up.

I'm about to become very busy. Here's the to-do list before the move:

  1. Visit a handful of yet-unseen (by us) New England destinations, as well as NYC one more time, at least
  2. Complete Walter Darby Bannard Archive with articles to date
  3. Develop ninja-like Python chops
  4. Wire-brush rust off of realist figurative painting skills

#1 will kind of take care of itself. #2 is going to be an act of discipline, but I'm concerned about not having time or a conducive environment for it come August. (Time and environment will be much more conducive to progress on Art Anatomy.) #3, well, I'm making progress. I can now construct multiple superclasses. Not really ninja. More like Okinawan wheelwright. #4 I'm not overly worried about. Like riding a bike, you never totally forget how. I just did a little realist watercolor of Supergirl and it came off. But your game goes out. It's hard to explain unless you've done it - the surety that you'd want to feel in front of a classroom of rock stars requires that you've successfully dealt with the problem sometime during the last 48 hours. I guess I'm asking readers to suffer, say, my posting four times a week instead of five, or opining about the beauty of multiple superclasses, or just taking off for a few days at a time to putter about in the studio or go to Vermont while we can still drive there.

Otherwise will persist as ever. In fact, this is the kind of arrangement that allows to persist. Come August you'll be hearing the report from OC, LA, and San Diego. And while two months ago I could have more easily pictured myself on the moon than in SoCal, the notion is growing on me. Not so much a notion, really. A vibration. Say, is that a theremin I hear?




April 16, 2007, 6:40 PM

Congrats and best wishes!

The theremin would have been heard two months ago, while you were closer to the moon. Right now you ought to be hearing bio acoustics, such as ocean waves.



April 16, 2007, 6:40 PM

Good grief! How did you find this place?




April 16, 2007, 6:49 PM

BTW after checking it out:

1. It looks like paradise. I hope it is

2. You can really help them with their web page.



April 16, 2007, 7:03 PM

way to go franklin. I wish you the best.




April 16, 2007, 7:21 PM

Thanks all.

Opie: 1 - It sure looks like it, even in person. You have to remember the contrast as well. I had to spend an extra day in OC on my trip there because Logan got hit by ten inches of snow in 12 hours. 2 - They know that the website needs a lot of help.



April 16, 2007, 7:27 PM

you must be pretty stoked. congrats.



April 16, 2007, 8:32 PM

wow... sounds like a potential dream job. congratulations.

(the website hangs on a "loading" message in firefox -- a first for me.)



April 16, 2007, 9:16 PM

Stoked is the word.

Alesh, if you have flashblock on, this site hacks up a brick. With Javascript disabled you get a purple screen of death.



April 16, 2007, 10:26 PM

Maybe god made me to rain on parades.

The university where I teach makes the same claim about being the first wireless campus. I don't really care which is first because being first is beside the point of art.

Southern California is indeed the Garden of Eden. But Laguna College of Art and Design is an institution, not paradise. The fact it belongs to NASAD means it has conformed to the layer of bureacuracy specified by that institution, as well as that of the standard regional accrediting body, WASC. NASAD, despite the presence of the word "art" in its name, is not that close to real art. It is much closer to herd thinking and the jargon that drives the art system so many on artblog despise. That's because it is a herd.

Laguna College may have a 100% figurative program, but that describes just another "type" in an art world that is full of "types", most of which are not involved with real art at all. Going exclusively for the figure doesn't guarantee anything except going exclusively for the figure.

Student work is very accomplished. But it is not off the chart. Much of it seems to be out of the hunt, in fact, if real art is the ambition. It is one thing to rob the past for aesthetic profit, quite another to carve out a comfy niche and settle in.

I hope the faculty are indeed warm-hearted. That would be a real plus.

Being unaligned with anything can make Franklin the target of all. I have seen this happen and I hope it does not happen. If tenured, being the target isn't so bad, but beware if you must also "get tenure" or be kicked out.

All in all, despite all the reservations, it sounds like a real job in a great place. The 100% figure thing will give you a platform from which to engage the SC art scene, a platform that will probably be respected in a way that UM is not regarded in Miami. Illustration is respected there.

The brochureware aspect of the web site came from somewhere, somewhere filled with academic buzzwords and slogans. I suggest finding out quickly where it came from. You will undoubtedly need to deal with that source and it may be difficult.

"Bottom line", this is a good way to have the financial security that leads to a decent life. Accept it for that, be diplomatic, be very smart, and it should all work.



April 16, 2007, 10:34 PM

Can't wait to see what it does to your color.



April 16, 2007, 10:34 PM

Can't wait to see what it does to your color.



April 16, 2007, 11:02 PM


You've got to check out the Pageant of the Masters and let us know how it is!



April 16, 2007, 11:09 PM

Best of luck, Franklin!



April 16, 2007, 11:19 PM

Catfish brings up excellent points. Some of them I hashed out in person with the people involved.

The fact it belongs to NASAD means it has conformed to the layer of bureacuracy specified by that institution, as well as that of the standard regional accrediting body, WASC.

It turns out to have some correlation with an institution's ability to get its act together. To some extent, a body like this is cursed to deal in standards rather than real art (or real education, for that matter). But I've seen it happen that a given institution was just too deeply flawed even to aspire to the standards. It indicates that the school, on an organizational level, is not hemorrhaging.

Going exclusively for the figure doesn't guarantee anything except going exclusively for the figure.

This is absolutely true, but it does have some positive side effects. For one, students are self-selecting into a program that has a well-defined skill set that it wants to impart. That streamlines the learning process, and in this particular case, cuts out a lot of the relativist horseshit that one commonly has to put up with in a "broader" environment. These people believe in merit. And skill, for all that's worth in the end, but I find you're better off dealing with people who believe too much in skill than people who don't believe in it enough.

But it is not off the chart. Much of it seems to be out of the hunt, in fact, if real art is the ambition.

From a skill standpoint, it really is off the chart. The website doesn't represent the best of it. As for its being out of the hunt, that may well be a legitimate concern. It occurred to me already. As counterweight, I doubt it is any more out of the hunt than equivalent efforts I've seen in other styles, and at least it isn't deficient in skill.

Being unaligned with anything can make Franklin the target of all.

I made it clear that my lack of alignment must not amount to my becoming a problem to three separate department chairs. I can't discuss the details, but we've made sure that it won't be an issue.

The brochureware aspect of the web site came from somewhere, somewhere filled with academic buzzwords and slogans. I suggest finding out quickly where it came from. You will undoubtedly need to deal with that source and it may be difficult.

Done and done. I've located the divide and I have a strategy to deal with the resistance where I expect to encounter it. It will make it easier that the majority of the faculty, staff, and students supports heavy reforms on the site.

Thanks for the injection of cynicism. Always a healthy thing.

Jeff, I hear that it's spectacular, and you absolutely have to see it - once.

Thanks again to all.



April 16, 2007, 11:24 PM

Catfish gave me some "cynical" advice when I came here. He was right.

You look like you are handling it.



April 17, 2007, 1:01 AM

I am really glad that you are moving to Southern California. We need people like you here because we need more healthy art criticism here instead of, still dominant, conceptual/PoMo art talk in local mass media or art schools This wishy-washy criticism is like cancer on contemporary art scene. It destroys art from inside out by promoting “anything goes and everything is fine” attitude. As an educator, I hope you start to (hopefully on, too) explore the rich history of California painting scene. So, it would give the solid roots for new generations of painters. I can’t find much reading materials in local bookstores which approaches this topic academically. I have couple books but they are hodge-podge of topics on California painters and I am missing the whole picture. If anybody has recommendations, please let me know. Laguna Beach is the artist dream comes true. It started as artist colony at the turn of 19th and 20th century still stays relatively small and pleasant to visit. Warren Buffett has a home in Laguna Beach so you know what it means, real estate is out of reach for average folks. I live in Santa Monica area but at least once a year I drive to Laguna Beach to enjoy the place. If somebody wants to paint, California seems to be one of the best choices. It is astoundingly beautiful state which has inspired a lot artists in the past and will in the future. I have live here for 23 years and I love it. Despite the talk of shallow/loving fun only culture (I am sure it applies to many here) still I have no intention to move somewhere else for simple reason: my creative juices would dry out quickly without California sun and its breath taking landscapes (and I am not landscape painter)
Good luck to you, Franklin



April 17, 2007, 1:47 AM

I can hardly wait to see the Development of Skills: ninja-like Python chops!



April 17, 2007, 4:48 AM

Great Franklin ! Miami has always been tough - I know the west cost will suit you - lots going on, check out San Fran. Figure drawing in bookstores and pubs... Live burlesque drawing sessions! Visit Meesey in L.A.


the real truth

April 17, 2007, 5:37 AM

Like a cancer, I move through the continent, extracting and infusing. Like a good looking disease, I aim too dictate my personal objectives and downplay the successes of others that don't fit my objectives. I pretend too wish good will, while I where Buddist philosophies on my sleave. This is why I am here. I want to be the one.



April 17, 2007, 5:57 AM

Opie, what is your problem, is your art intrinsic with the "oil-sands" ?



April 17, 2007, 6:33 AM

Congratulations Franklin! My brother is right there. Join him at the Laguna Beach Brewing Company, some of the best beer in town.
I will see you there! It is a beautiful place.



April 17, 2007, 6:59 AM

I'm saddened that you'll be leaving New England so soon, but this sounds like a great opportunity. Congratulations. You must promise me you'll visit the Clark Art Institute before you leave the area (Smith College has a fine museum, too, but the Clark is special and you'll love it--it'll get you ready to get back into figurative work in no time, too.)



April 17, 2007, 7:43 AM

I don't understand your question, George.



April 17, 2007, 8:44 AM

Opie, "george" and "the real truth" are the same person. I don't think clarity is forthcoming.

Thanks once again to all. XY - tributes to CA like yours certainly make it enticing. I'm impressed with the loyal fondness that many have expressed for the region. I know what you mean about the CA painters - California almost has its own art history, and there are some ringers in there that get neglected in the bigger picture. Get in touch with me in September. JM - I"ll drop a line to Meesey now. JL - it's a promise. We have a trip to the Berkshires lined up for May.



April 17, 2007, 10:36 AM

Congratulations, Franklin. I have the distinct impression CA is a better fit for you than Boston. If nothing else, it will make Supergirl's hair look brighter red.


Marc Country

April 17, 2007, 11:58 AM

Congratulations, Franklin. Any thoughts on a place to live? From the images, the campus looks like a nice place to pitch a tent, or maybe just a hammock, and crash for a while before deciding on more permanent accommodations.

I'm assuming that 100% figurative doesn not exactly mean 100% realist.

I've thought about moving, but I keep coming up against the likelyhood that I'll never find another place with such unfettered access to cheap materials, like I do here with the industrial steel and scrap yards in Edmonton... I guess you might say, the Alberta oilsands are somewhat intrinsic to my work...



April 17, 2007, 12:08 PM

Any thoughts on a place to live?

This is going to be an issue. From Miami, I've learned that you don't live on the beach. We're going to look inland, at Irvine and thereabouts, but this will be the subject of a factfinding mission in June.

I'm assuming that 100% figurative doesn not exactly mean 100% realist.

It's pretty much 100% realist. 96% at least.



April 17, 2007, 12:12 PM

I have written about why this might be a good way to go.



April 17, 2007, 12:22 PM

Congrats and good luck Franklin. and kudos for cramming so many of your interests into one paying gig.



April 17, 2007, 12:43 PM

Well, if the oil sands are intrinsic for you, Marc, I guess they can't be all bad.



April 17, 2007, 12:45 PM

WWC, I suspect Franklin's "many interests" played a part in his hiring. After all, he is a triple threat, with painting, writing & technology, and I have always thought he would be an excellent manager to boot.



April 17, 2007, 4:53 PM

kenny harris and jon swilhart paintings are fantastic, not sure about the rest, but looks nice



April 17, 2007, 5:13 PM

Franklin, I looked over the student work (Fine Art section) in the website. The drawings (most of them) come off distinctly better than the paintings, which almost invariably struck me as standard outdoor-art-fair stuff. Nearly all of them look and feel clammy, synthetic and lifeless. The Vermeer and Madame X rip-offs were exceedingly ill-judged and especially awful. There is higher than average technical skill in several pieces, but that's not necessarily saying a lot these days.

If this was commercial illustration I'd be less critical, but it's classified as Fine Art, and as such it's definitely not off my chart. If there's better stuff that's not on the site, get it on there ASAP, and get rid of the worst of what is there now. And tell the students to be very wary of inviting direct comparison with people like Vermeer and Sargent until they're sufficiently off the chart. Homage is one thing; folly is another.



April 17, 2007, 5:40 PM

And looking at the faculty artwork -ouch! - you are going to be far and away the wild radical.



April 17, 2007, 7:08 PM

Also looking at the faculty work, be careful not to get maneuvered into a position where you are looked at as "lacking skill" and "not meeting standards".


Nathan Ladd

April 17, 2007, 7:31 PM

Congratulations! While I lived a bit north, in the Valley, I had a girlfriend that lived near Laguna Beach so I went there often. Beautiful place, perfect weather, and the artistic community seems to be eclectic and thriving.

Good luck!



April 17, 2007, 10:47 PM

Wow, that's awesome dude. Laguna Beach is nice. I used to visit there pretty often when I lived in LA but, I know it is still nice after all these years. I'm sure you'll thrive. Best of everything.... and, of course, keep me in your thoughts as I will you. :-)



April 18, 2007, 2:06 AM

Well, I'm very pleased for you Franklin. I'm sure you'll be able to negotiate the political hurdles that have been outlined above. I didn't find LCAD's site to be glitchy, just untidy and difficult to negotiate. I thought most of the images I looked at were typical examples of student work, maybe slightly above average; but the sculpture looked especially poor. May you thrive and excel in that new place.



April 18, 2007, 8:59 AM

The sculpture section of the site is especially weak, and needlessly so - they had these two-foot high portrait heads around the studio that, for student work, were really damnably impressive. I think the issue is that the site is too hard to update. I'll be taking care of that.

As for my own work, I feel inclined to move in a more realist direction these days anyway, hence the aforementioned watercolor of supergirl. It may end up lasting with an environment like this to work in. But I'm not mixed up about realism's relationship to quality, and don't intend to become so.



April 18, 2007, 10:58 AM

Just went through the faculty Fine Art section of the website. Ouch indeed. Practically nothing there. The historical standards for this sort of work are extremely high, and this stuff doesn't even come close. As with the student section, inviting direct comparison with the real McCoy (Rubens's Samson and Delilah) is guaranteed to make the viewer cringe (at least this viewer).



April 18, 2007, 5:37 PM

As I looked through the LACD site images, I was reminded of Greenberg's dilemma: preferring figurative work, but being unable to settle for the contemporary versions of it due to insufficient quality, and thus focusing on non-figurative work because it was better done at the time and thus more satisfying.

It also seems fairly evident that, when faced with a choice between going up against immense, towering achievement and carving out a niche that's "new and different," like, say, so-called body art, the temptation must be quite high to take the path of less (much less) resistance--especially in the current climate, where innovation can get an artist quite far, even if it has little or no relationship to quality.



April 19, 2007, 2:43 AM

Well stated Jack.


Dying to know

April 20, 2007, 5:58 PM

If you found this job through CAA's job database.



April 20, 2007, 6:50 PM

You could look at it that way. I found another job at this school on the database that I didn't get, but in the course of a conversation to that effect, we started talking about doing some distance teaching, and things took their own course from there. The CAA job database is the best in the field, although it claims to be able to do some things (save job searches, eg) that don't deliver as advertised. It's basic functionality is fine, though, and it's completeness is probably closer to total than anything else.



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