Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I was on a roll having completed 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART, 1984-1998; wearing one color clothes and  experiencing thousands of disciplines/vows to keep me anchored in the 7 Chakras. I had also just finished a 7 year performance art teaching commitment at the University of Texas, Austin, 1992-1998, and as a  cocky academeze, I believed that the next move in my process must be an imitation of my experience and so I developed what approximated a self-designed school based on my past 7 years as a "professor" and called the institution,  ANOTHER 21 YEARS OF LIVING ART.
 My motives were:
1. To extend my research to others.
2. To create an institution devoid of the stink of academia.
3. To allow others to be with me/near me virtually and online, not in the flesh.
4. To dissolve the teacher-student dyad and allow everyone to enjoy their own professorship.
5. To dislodge $ from the equation and offer the experience for free.
6. To make sure that nothing was demanded of the participants: no grades, no dissertations, no nothing if that was what they decided.
7. To make sure that it was fun.

As I write this, it is 2015, and the experience in non-teaching is almost over and as I look back, I am amazed at how  organic it was . That is, it came into being, effulgently expanded and peacefully rescinded: during years 1-7, the "school" was in it's infancy. Per usual, I put out a call for participants, advertising it, at  Franklin Furnace. That had worked so perfectly when I had put out a call for THE SUMMER SAINT CAMP which I offered during 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART 1984-1998. Many, many came to be with me at  THE ART LIFE INSTITUTE thanks to  Franklin Furnace and Martha Wilson who let the art world know our needs, then communicated them to ou tribe, inviting artists/lifeists to participate.

Betsea Caygill saw my request and neither she or I knew what to do, since it was a "school" that had just opened it's doors. We parted ways with blurred eyes and it took me 6 years to grow into my concept or better yet, it took time for me to let go of how to do it and let the concept have it's own life and mood and reasoning and laws.  So here is the  second call. It is included verbatim:

It was time. The response was extraordinary. The following artists/lifeists are graduates:               

We blossomed, flourished, were in continual and  thrice daily email contact. Sometimes phone. In retrospect, maybe the timing was more appropriate because my father had just died and I NEEDED community and virtual "students" (really co-teachers). Not sure.
Or was it because the concept was ripe? Or was it because the "school" was mirroring other low-res  graduate art schools which appeal to already established artists who come together twice a year and then work apart from the institution via skype/email/internet?  Or was it because the internet is giving birth to multi-level interactive virtual communities  and teaching modalities and our "school" hitched itself to this cultural wave?

As usual, I put out the call via Franklin Furnace, but no,  maybe this time Facebook. Yes, now I remember, Facebook also. Facebook my companion and friend and letter carrier and stamp and dictionary and glossary and camera and gallery and meeting place. Many applied. I chose two, wondering what was happening. Was I becoming institutional? Greedy? Self-conscious? No more fun? Judgmental? Distastefully corporate?  Not good. Why do I say this?
1. I put a number limit on participants , and committed the sin of academia and exclusion. Not good.
2. I began thinking, hey, I could make money with this and even stated in the admission policy that I would charge $100 a year. Another not good .
3. I was in position of "authority" and said no to people who wanted to be in the "school" and that gave me flashbacks to sitting on committees while in academia and saying yes and no and judging peers and re-visiting that trauma was a real clue that the idea had run it's course but I was committed to ANOTHER 21 YEARS OF LIVING ART!!!! Now what could I do?

All of these gut feelings indicated that the "school" had:
1. Been born
2. Blossomed
3. Was evolving in a way I never imagined

There are now two artists who are completing the last seven years: EK Smith (repeating school for 14 years)  and Nells Festy. We have a great time. No expectations. Are there for each other if we want. We meet on Facebook. The crescendo is kind.

1. Giving myself time-based performances and endurances has insured my real-time existence. Reminds me to live and that I am alive.
2. We had a ball.
3. I'm BEYOND ecstatic that we went to school together and we might meet in the flesh for a reunion some day????
3. Time flies.
4. The universe is a school and we are all on the same page.
5. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Instagram, Netflix are school enough.
6. I'm enjoying my semi-retirement.
7. I now go to school at the gym and take SENIOR STRETCH.

Linda Mary Montano , Saugerties NY, 2015

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