Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I love oxymoron in the springtime

Warm perfume of sycamores this time of year always makes me wistful and not a little sorry.

Their sweet-butter aroma triggers memories of madness, long hours awash in stress — and loving every hateful minute. It's a wonder I associate the sweet smell because I don't remember taking time to stop and enjoy it. I was too busy helping run the Art Directors and Artists Club annual conference showcasing the best in design.

It was a lifetime ago. My children were just learning to walk.

(ADAC's demise is a sore subject about which I've talked on and on and on. Read if you really must.)

Volunteer run, ADAC put on an annual miracle producing the conference, tricking the best in visual arts to come to our humble spaces and talk to us of their greatness.

The secret: We worked our butts off through constant collective events known as the "work party." It was the best thing ever for me, whose definition of "party" is rather parochial. Provide pizza and soda, and that's a party in my book.

In the early days, work and pizza and soda held equal balance, dozens and dozens of artists and designers all volunteering to stage ADAC events and talk about their craft as they worked and tried not to drip grease on the brilliant work of famous people.

As the club winnowed awa, teetering against the growing competition of other conferences as the nature of visual art changed, the work parties became WORK parties, emphasis on the former. Pizza all but disappeared. The work had to get done, by fewer and fewer people.

Someone less enthralled than I with the nirvana of working alongside actual designers and illustrators, pointed out the irony — nay, the stupidity! — of calling these events work parties.

While the club was beating its last, we tried to make lemonade from this oxymoronic lemon. These stencils are for a promotion calling members to yet another work party. I doubt pizza was gotten for the event. I just tried to appeal to members' visceral visual sense, to act for the commonweal.

At one point toward the end we turned the phrase into our badge of honor, with T-shirts designed by my friend Will Suckow, with the corporate sounding slogan:

Work. Party. ADAC


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