by Cuilin Chen
As the crowd started moving into McMullen museum, Career Night for the Arts began. Before long, enthusiastic conversations were weaving in the air; a penetrating sense of excitement swirled around the room.
I started the night talking to the executive director of the Lyme Art Association, Joe Newman. An art dealer, experienced businessman, and enthusiastic art appreciator, he unveiled the business side of the art world. He says that a good artist often finds a delicate balance between reality and creativity, and matures over time to create the best work. Similarly, Newman himself has sharpened his sense over the course of his career so that he knows whether a work of art is what he is looking for, at the first sight. The process of development is organic and continuous, applying to both the creative side and the business side of the art world. And passion is what guides you through.
After this fast-paced conversation, I moved around the crowd and encountered a lady elegantly dressed in pink. A mom and a businesswoman, Cathi Fournier Ianno is the assistant director of Sound and Spirit. Our conversation, however, focused more on an exchange of stories instead of a discussion of her field. As uplifting as the color she was wearing, Cathi’s story was about her love for both the business world and the artistic world. She is a wonderful pianist, yet for a career she chose to be the person who takes care of the practical aspect of things to turn more artistic endeavors into reality. She told me to locate my true passion, be definite about it, but to pave my way patiently toward it. And it does not have to be a direct path!
Driven by the same interest yet as different individuals, many of us may have come to Career Night for the Arts hoping to find a way to navigate further in the creative field. From my experience talking to alums, a general observation is that, it is not necessary to rush through confusion. In this matrix, there are multiple dimensions including various forms of talent, dedication, collaboration, interception, and time, which, adds dynamics to the whole picture.
I think, Andrew Padilla, Creative Services Manager at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, would agree with me on that. He has always wanted to create art that has meaning to it, as much as he has always been concerned with the aesthetics of marketing. Voila, working in the marketing side for a museum seems to be the perfect fit after his long search. He told me that the interesting aspect about his career is that art, here, is so similar to problem solving, because the visually appealing works his team create, will engage and inspire people in the real world, and they carry a powerful message! As a dad, Padilla is busy with family life but still tries to squeeze in time for painting and carpentry, which recharge his creativity.
There are many other intriguing conversations spinning in my head, memories from the night still fresh. I also talked to Musician and music label CEO David Altenor, who is also interested in fashion; Photographer Christopher Huang, based in Boston and often photographing on campus; Fashion Executive Jane Conway Caspe who passionately discovers local designers and fresh talents; and the meticulous and dedicated director of Studio TK, conservator T.K. McClintock.
The last person I talked to, interior designer Kurt Hakansson, was wearing stylish glasses, which I discovered later to be one of his collection of many. He told me that he always knew he loved art, but it was during his apprenticeship at Crate & Barrel when he developed his skills rapidly and significantly. And back then the company was just a start-up! I could hardly imagine Crate & Barrel, the giant in the industry, being a start-up with just a few staff. But perhaps, that explains just how powerful ideas could be. The transformation of things we could desire and expect in the creative field is, indeed, generated from imagination and often grows beyond our own imagination. Isn’t that why this world is so fascinating?
The night wrapped after two hours, yet conversations went on. New ideas have been implemented, and I saw many faces lit up. Each of us is one of the many, but uniquely so. What is the right path? It really depends, but it is always a good time to start the exploration.
To see all the 2014 alumni guests at Career Night for the Arts, visit our website.