A Recommendation for Lubbock, Texas
To whom it may concern:
Artists should want to live in Lubbock. It is a place where, on any given day, I can call the Texas Tech Museum and drive over to hold an Albrecht Durer, Andy Warhol, or Alice Briggs print in my hand (gloved, of course.) As an art-baby, a third year MFA, I am represented in a gallery next to my professors, local stars, a Basquiat or two, Warhol (again!), Picasso, and Hurd. The rungs to the top of the ladder here are few. Perhaps that is the draw-back of living here, but I see it as a positive.
The daughter of a CPA, I have always known that finance plays a huge role in choosing vocation. As a newlywed, student, artist, and soon-to-be adjunct, I have experienced finances effecting where I choose to live. Lubbock real estate is dirt-cheap. My husband and I live in a 2300 square-foot home, with my studio, a well, and an extra living room (which houses my baby grand and couches that are now relegated to the dogs). All of this, and we only paid $85,000 for it. Our house payments are $800 a month. We live comfortably, I have a place to make my work, and because I don’t have to work 3 different jobs to maintain this lifestyle, I have time to paint. The sprawling availability of space here is something to be coveted, so why isn’t it? My brother lived in Boston, and rented a basement (by basement, I mean hallway--he had to sleep under his dining room table when my friends and I visited him) for upwards of $1500 a month. He has a degree from Princeton, and a “practical” one, no less. Consider the plight of the graduates of “fly-over” country MFA programs. These artists exist outside the city centers, but with the use of Internet and networking can be seen in shows anywhere, any time. Is the city-or-die mentality still as oppressive to the artist? Does the Coastal artist have much more of an edge now, or is that gap closing? Can the gap close? Maybe the snide, high-energy, starving-artist-vibe of New York is an essential breeding ground for artists to be taken seriously. While Lubbock may be rife with potential, can it actualize with this kind of self-critical cultural population? (Maybe we are the true subverts, choosing the path unnoticed.)
Sure, Lubbock is much like a larger, sleepy West-Texas town: friendly, mostly conservative, with people clinging to religious ideology all the way to the bar. It is also a university town, with a transient international, sometimes liberal, student population (some of whom stick around), with the availability of time and space. There is something to this place. Did I mention we have a Basquiat--what more could the current artist ask for?
Image courtesy of David Kozlowski of Dallas Photoworks