Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Van Cliburn

I had a fun class at Mountain View College in Dallas this morning, but in the middle of it, I learned via news on my smartphone that local pianist and icon Van Cliburn had passed away.  He'd suffered with bone cancer for the past view months, so his passing was expected but still sad.

Van Cliburn first came to prominence in 1958 when he did what was previously thought impossible:  he, an American, won the Tchaikovsky Piano Competition in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War.  I attended a concert on December 31, 1990 in which he played with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and the experience of seeing him play his signature piece, Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, live is something that I will never forget.  I also attended the first official baseball game ever played at the Texas Rangers' Ballpark in Arlington in 1994, and Van Cliburn and the Fort Worth Symphony played the National Anthem before the game.  That remains the most amazing rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" that I've ever heard.

And some time in 1998, I was shopping for DVDs at a BestBuy close to my apartment.  When I turned to look at another rack, I was surprised to see Van Cliburn standing next to me.  I said, "Excuse me, but you look just like Van Cliburn."  He smiled, offered his hand, and said, "That's because I am Van Cliburn."  We had a nice little conversation, and I told him about the times I had seen him play.  He remembered that New Year's Eve concert very fondly.

Here's video of Van Cliburn playing the first ten minutes of Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto, taken in Moscow during his return trip there in 1962.  I wish I could find video of the entire piece, but this will have to do.  Rest in Peace Van Cliburn.

ADDENDUM:  I know I posted this last week, but I have to add an addendum here.  I found a video of that National Anthem performance at the opening of the Ballpark in Arlington, attached to the article here:

Monday, February 25, 2013


It's Monday night, and I still haven't heard anything about the two job interviews I had last week.  I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing, even though I know I can't go on like this forever.  I feel like I'm having the time of my life, but I'm sacrificing financial security and peace of mind for that time.  I woke up this morning, knowing that I would get to model for an 8:00 to 11:00 class and an 11:00 to 2:00 class at the University of North Texas.  And then I thought about how wonderful it would be if I always had a job that I "got to" go to rather than "had to" go to.

Anyway, my two classes were both Drawing II classes at UNT, in the same room, and today they were doing an exercise on perspective.  There was a large rectangle on the floor, and the students were supposed to draw that rectangle, preferably from a corner.  I would then take three different poses in that rectangle, and the students would have to draw all three figures on the same drawing.  They would all be standing poses, so my eye level was supposed to be at the same height on the paper in all the poses.  Here's a picture of the room this morning, with the rectangle laid out with masking tape on the floor.

It's a little different feel being off the model stand and on the floor at the same level as the students.  I kind of like it, and I like doing the standing poses.  The only bad thing about the whole thing was winding up with charcoal all over my feet from the floor.  In fact, I gave up on my slippers early on, and just went barefoot the whole day.  My feet were a mess when it was all over.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Illness, Unemployment, and Job Interviews

I've had a wonderfully busy six weeks of modeling.  My long pose at the Texas Academy of Figurative Art is now in its fifth week, and the pieces that are being produced are looking fantastic.  I took this picture in the middle of week three...

I'm not crazy about a back pose since I have to spend all my time looking at the wall, but I do love the work that is being done by the artists.  I wound up catching the flu during the second week of this pose.  I felt fine for the Tuesday session, but by Wednesday night, my head was pounding with a fever of 101 degrees.  I didn't feel any better Thursday morning, and I had chills.  I didn't want to cancel the session since they couldn't very well hire a sub for this long pose.  I was bundled up at home and couldn't stop shivering, and I wondered how I could model nude and be able to hold a pose.  I had some 800mg Ibuprofen pills left from a bout with strep throat the previous year, and I took one of those.  My fever went down, and the chills stopped.  So, I went to TAFA to model.  Since I was facing the wall, I wasn't breathing toward anyone, and I made it a point to keep to myself during that session and not speak to any of the artists.  As far as I know, no one caught the flu from me.  I don't recommend modeling with such an illness, and I probably wouldn't have done it if I hadn't been in the middle of a continuing pose like this.  I have to say probably though since I like to maintain my reputation as a dependable model, one who is going to show up on time every time.

I've also modeled for multiple sessions at Mountain View College and the University of North Texas.  I did a Friday evening with some very talented teenagers from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  My session a few weeks ago at Friday Night Lights and Shadows went well.  I was able to hold the Dying Slave pose for the entire three hours with regular breaks.  The more I model, the more I love modeling.  I wish there were only some way I could do it full time and make a real living at it.

I've been on unemployment since the start of January.  The salary at my old job was such that I am getting the maximum unemployment benefit, $440.00 per week.  The maximum allowed earnings on unemployment is 125% of that, or $550.  So, if I make $110 or less modeling in a week, I still get $440 dollars in unemployment compensation.  If I make $120 modeling, I get $430 in unemployment, and if I make $150 modeling in a week, I get $400 in unemployment.  And so on...

I've been talking to recruiters and sending out resumes regularly since before I was laid off, but I've not had any serious job prospects until this week.  I have an interview tomorrow (Thursday) at 9:00 before I go model at TAFA that afternoon.  Depending on how long the interview goes, I may have to show up at TAFA in a suit and tie before stripping down to nothing.  Talk about contrasts.  But I would take nude over a suit any day and for any class.  I also have an interview with another company the following day.  So things are looking up on the job front.  I hate to think of having to give up all this modeling availability, but my family and I need some financial stability and security, something only a full-time job will bring.