Upheaval

I will have to exert a great deal of self-control writing this post. My normally joyful, witty, free-flowing verbal style has to be reined in (moderately at least) to avoid going off on a horrible rant. I’ll try, but I can’t guarantee I’ll be successful. Ranting is not generally in my nature. Right now, I am angry and disappointed and stunned. Throw in a little financial panic and we’ve pretty much summed up my current mental state. So I’ll try to do this as soberly as I can without minimizing my natural emotions. I am human, after all.

I have incurred yet another bruise from art modeling. This one, however, is not from posing on a platform, not some black-and-blue mark on my leg. How I wish that were the case. No this one is from the business. This unpredictable, volatile, lawless, absurd art modeling business that, right now, I HATE with a passion.

One of the more dangerous and destructive situations in life is when a petty, small-minded, incompetent person finds their way into a position of authority. That has trouble written all over it. And that’s exactly what has happened at the Model Registry at the School of Visual Arts, a place I’ve worked steadily and happily for three years. The previous model coordinator was an exceptional man. Intelligent, efficient, fair, a true gentleman and professional in every way. He is a man of tremendous people skills and managerial talent. Unfortunately, he left the Model Registry in December, and his replacement is a silly, spiteful, immature person who has arbitrarily decided to alienate certain models and essentially get rid of us. Why? Because she CAN. Because she feels like it. Because, as a limited person, it’s the only strategy she knows as a way to distinguish herself and make her mark. Of course most people try to make their mark by doing something productive and positive, by engendering good morale and enthusiasm. Not this person. This person knows only how to “break down” rather than “build up”. She’s decided that her professional statement will be a contrarian one, a gratuitous ego-driven one, one born out of antipathy and ill-will. I am among the ostracized group of art models, I’m sorry to say. In other words, I no longer work at the School of Visual Arts. I’m dumbfounded. Absolutely dumfounded.

I won’t recount the horrible phone conversation I had with this person earlier other than to say that I can’t recall being spoken to in such a rude, cold, and disrespectful manner. Then she LIED. Fabricated and/or exaggerated merely as a pretext to stop using me. See, she needs this to be MY fault, so she can justify her actions. If it’s not my fault, then she’s just a bitch. So she’s converting her bitch move into an “executive decision” so it looks legitimate. Well, I won’t be accused of something I didn’t do. I told her she was spewing falsehoods, and of course she changed the subject and dismissed me. That’s what crafty, underhanded people do. Avoid discussion. Avoid the truth.

Weeks and weeks had gone by without SVA calling me for work, which never happened when the previous model coordinator was there. But I was patient about it. I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt since she was new at the job. I figured she deserved a grace period to get oriented. How wrong I was. She knew exactly what she was doing, that sneaky little creature. She didn’t even have the decency or consideration to talk to me directly. She just wasted my time, allowed me to lose money, and kept me in the dark about everything. Never mind that I’ve been at that school longer than she has, have never been late or called in sick, have done everything that was asked of me in the classrooms, and have done absolutely nothing to her. I even wished her good luck in her new position. Turns out she doesn’t need luck. What she needs are some professional ethics . . . and a little integrity.

For all the other art models out there, especially the ones just starting out in this business, there is a lesson to be learned in this. Don’t EVER put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to employment. You are a freelancer, an “independent contractor”. Spread your work out among as many schools as you can, because NO JOB is secure. None. Something as seemingly innocuous as a new model coordinator can change everything. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how reliable you are, or how inspiring you are. If the new person decides – like a petty, power-hungry tyrant – that they don’t like you, you’re out on the curb. With no explanation. Because you’re not entitled to one. She actually said that, in her grating, abrasive style: “I don’t owe you a reason”. Her exact words. So ALWAYS have other art modeling jobs to fall back on. No matter how much work they give you, do NOT rely solely on one place for your employment.

This is an awful situation and I have a lousy few days ahead of me. I have to find a place of work to substitute for SVA. Yes I did start recently at the New York Academy of Art, but that was to replace the Studio School. Now I need a second replacement. SVA pays their models well (thanks to the efforts of the previous model coordinator who secured us the good pay) and I depended on that SVA paycheck to cover a lot of my bills. Now, in one fell swoop, at the random whim of ONE person, it’s been taken from me. My livelihood is in jeopardy. (When I mentioned this to the model coordinator, she said “That’s not my problem, sorry”. Isn’t that sweet?).

To make matters worse, I went to the doctor today for a regular checkup. Basically everything went well, and he was impressed with my 110/70 blood pressure. I also have to get an echocardiogram (I was born with a congenital heart defect. An aortic valve replacement is in my future 😥 ) But then I told him I’ve been experiencing a whirring sound and vibration in my right ear, and an occasional throbbing in my right temple. He looked in my ear and said it was fine. Clear and “perfect”. So what’s causing the whirring?

18 thoughts on “Upheaval

  1. fredh1 says:

    Claudia

    If you need good references, I and I’m sure many of us who know you will testify to your creativity and professionalism as an artist’s model.

  2. artmodel says:

    Fred, you’ve made me smile through my tear-stained cheeks. Thank you. You’re a true friend 🙂

    Claudia

  3. Lin says:

    I’m really sorry to hear about this Claudia. It sucks, it really does.

    With your high, reputation I wouldn’t mind betting you’ll bounce back with a much better job very soon though. It’s amazing what good friends and good contacts can do.

    Regarding your tinnitus, I urge you to go back to your doc and get it checked out. You need an MRI. Of course there’s probably nothing to worry about, but it won’t hurt to check. These docs won’t do anything unless you go back and push (I speak from bitter experience.)

    • artmodel says:

      Lin, congratulations! Yours is the first comment I am responding to using the new “comment threading” feature. This is pretty cool 🙂

      Thank you for your supportive words. Much appreciated.

      As for my ear discomfort, I am thinking about what to do. I know you have firsthand knowledge of this, and because of that I take your advice seriously.

      Claudia

  4. ColdSilveRMoon says:

    Sorry, Claudia! That really, really sucks. You shouldn’t take it as a slight on you AT ALL – we all know you are a superb model, a true muse. Jim’s leaving was very unfortunate, and has obviously affected many people. But you are a great model and will get through this. We have faith in you, and will be in my thoughts and prayers, as well as many of your other readers as well.

    • artmodel says:

      ColdSilverMoon,

      Thanks to you as well for your warm reassurance. Very sweet. You know all about this SVA turmoil, and I honestly never anticipated it would be this bad. Yes, Jim’s leaving was a serious blow to many of us, but I really didn’t think the “new person” intended to “clean house” in this way, and eliminate the legacy art models of SVA. Such destructive, arrogant behavior.

      Again, I appreciate your kindness. Thank you 🙂

      Claudia

  5. Brian G says:

    Sorry to hear about your situation, Claudia. As I mentioned in a previous post, I can’t imagine making a living strictly as an art model, your situation being an example of what can happen. However you do live in the city with the most modeling opportunities in the country, and with your experience and reputation I’m sure you will rebound eventually.

    But to sustain yourself until things get back to where they were, have you considered working a “normal” job for a while? Maybe modelling just part-time for a while will recharge your tired muscles as well as your enjoyment of being an art model. I model just part time and I enjoy each session like it’s my first time. Hope things work out for you.

    • artmodel says:

      Brian G,

      My third comment response using the threading and I’m loving it! This is so much easier for everyone, right? Wow, this almost good enough to take my mind off getting shitcanned from SVA. Ok, not really. But it’s still neat 🙂

      I was actually thinking about our recent discussion when I was writing this post. Quite a coincidence that this happened right after we talked about the instability and unpredictability of the art modeling business. I hope you’re right, though, about the rebounding. All I really have to do is hang in there until the summer sessions begin. I think I’ll make it, especially since I have such wonderful support from friends and Museworthy readers.

      As far as getting a “real job”, I don’t think I’m going to go that route. Not that it’s never crossed my mind, but I tend to function better when I focus and concentrate on one thing – one passion. And when things get rough, I try to tough it out. It tests my dedication. Sounds a little masochistic maybe, but it’s who I am.

      Thanks so much for your comments Brian!

      Claudia

  6. Jeff says:

    Really sorry to hear this Claudia. Wish I could offer more than my sympathy :-/

  7. PADoug says:

    Claudia,

    First off, I have to give you a LOT of credit for hanging in there with the Art community. The moodiness, the personality changes go on and on.. Recently I had an instructor ask me to jump through some hoops to get on a modeling list. I’m not a professional model. I really don’t want to be. But I am good. I follow good business ethics modeling, as I do with the rest of my work li life. I confirm appointments the day or Monday before in a timely manner. I show up early. I work with the instructor or supervisor to get an idea of the focus of the project and work a plan.

    Anyway, the day I jumped through the hoops, I called once (on a Wednesday) to set a modeling date.No answer, no reply by Monday. Hmmm. Call Monday. No response. April is looking busy with my other work. not good. Friday I call and state what is going on and that I will be in contact the following Monday.I should have stopped there. Monday I call and state I have “X” day available. I’m still assuming (we know what that means) that she would like me to model, else she wouldn’t have asked me to go out of my way to make sure I’m on the list. Of course I want to help. Maybe something happened to her, and I’m getting concerned. Well, four phone calls are four phone calls. You can guess what happened.

    When all was said and done. I was accused of being a PITA, that I was getting “on her nerves”, basically harrassment, She “Understood that I’m trying to line up gigs.” Umm…..No I’m not. I’m trying to schedule my work life, but I didn’t get a word in edgewise except to say “I’m sorry you felt that way, it wasn’t intended.” Then a lecture of how I may be dealing with other people. What?? Ohh, you mean PROMPTLY returning E-mails and phone calls, even if to say “We will talk on X-day” and really mean it.

    I’ve heard many artist complain about the poor state of busiess and the economy. Then I hear them dis somebody like Thomas Kinkaid who successuly markets his work. I’m sure he has upset people. But as a business man, he sure has my admiration. And so do you. Time to move on.

    Personally, if I get so blacklisted, esecially over pettiness, that I NEVER model again, I’m fine with it. I AM a good model, as you definetely are. The artistic world has lost something, especailly the poor students. But it’s the instructors and coordinators responsibility. (In fact, I’m not really optimistic about next Fall, let alone the rest of the semester). There are other forms of income. but the creative passion behind Musing will never die. That is what you have shared in your blog; and that is worth thousands of hours of modeling. You can keep your dignity.

    Sorry the post was so long.

    Doug

    • artmodel says:

      PADoug,

      You’ve been reading Museworthy long enough to know that lengthy posts are not a problem for me! So no worries, and no apologies friend.

      I relate to your story. It speaks to the communication/personality issues that plague the art modeling profession. Your incident reflects especially, the often SIMPLE things that are made much more complicated than they need to be. It can be very exasperating.

      I definitely could have done without this incident. I got no sleep last night and was tossing and turning in bed from anxiety. I’m just glad that unpleasant conversation ended – or rather I ended it – before it turned ugly. This person is bitchy and irritating beyond words, and has the potential to tick off even a normally reasonable person like myself. But thank god it’s over. I’m still quietly fuming, though, over the deception and bullshit lies tossed at me. For that reason alone she deserves to lose her job. Instead, I lost mine. The world is screwy, to say the least.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences. I like reading what you have to say.

      Claudia

  8. Stephanie says:

    Claudia,

    Okay, I know this isn’t constructive, but I thought you should know that after reading this post I started having fantasies of calling the school, pretending to be an art student, and asking what happened to my favorite model. And if that didn’t work, I’d just have to stride in there and punch that woman’s lights out.

    Inappropriate? Absolutely. But I couldn’t help getting riled up. Love you.

    Stephanie

    • artmodel says:

      Stephanie, you are the best!! 🙂

      Your imaginary scheme is not nearly as inappropriate as the model coordinator’s unprofessional behavior and nasty attitude toward me on the phone. And that punch in the face would do her some good; knock her inflated self-importance down to size. But she’s a child. Hopefully she will grow up soon.

      I don’t blame you for getting riled up. It’s an unfortunate situation.

      Love you so much, sweetie!!!!
      Talk soon.

      Claudia

  9. PADoug says:

    Claudia,

    Maybe the..the…. “it” (Woman is far too mature in this case) is envious because you are so beautiful. Would she have the courage to undress and let dozens of eyes explore the shapes, curves, and changing tones and pigments of her body under various lights and poses? Probably not, because that is a constructive personality who enjoys being both the muse and artist.

    >> This person knows only how to “break down” rather than “build up”. She’s decided that her professional statement will be a contrarian one, a gratuitous ego-driven one, one born out of antipathy and ill-will<<

    And her view is this: She MUST keep the school in “Check”. It’s reality. But she misses the point. With schools, the pendulum is supposed to be off-center. It’s up to the muse to appraoch this as a business.

    After all, the pay is lousy, The hours are hit-and-miss. The climate uncomfortable. (You can’t exactly put on a sweater like the students). Oh and those heaters? If you want “male reaction” story, I got a doozy. Lets just say that my buns were freezing, yes goosebumps, while my front side was roasting from the lights and heater. I asked the heater be turned off before anything happened. Better everything freeze than get thrown out. Yes, I’ve been asked back to that place. I think they knew what I was worried about…

    And why is it that after working nude most of the day, we still have to shower and wash your clothes of all the dusty chalk and charcoal?? It would be cleaner walking nude behind an old city bus. Just not as legal…

    So it’s business, with some rather interesting business choices. It requires intellegence, stamina, and guts. Add your Armenian beauty, and admit it, she had you pegged. Maybe you should look for a job being a model coordinator. Wouldn’t that be funny if you wound up with her job, or one like it? Don’t worry, she couldn’t be your boss. At least some school would have a coordinator who understands both Art and, once again as we say in PA: “Bid’ ness.. It’s jus bid’ ness”. I think you have the tact and talent for better opportunities. You’ll find them. Now get some sleep! I don’t think any of us want to see the next picture of you sick.

    Peace,

    Doug

    • artmodel says:

      Much appreciated, Doug 🙂

      By the way, this person was once an art model herself, and by all accounts a painfully mediocre one.

      Be careful with those heaters! They are treacherous.

      Thank you for your very interesting comments.

      Claudia

  10. swatch says:

    Claudia – this is awful – manipulators have a way of making us feel absolutely powerless – and we cannot try to beat them at their own game – they are way ahead.
    And you have real financial concerns.
    This is a real test.
    I am so far removed but I find myself wondering what someone with your passion for art and artists and your facility for stories, will do next.
    What are all the strengths and supports you can muster?
    Perhaps it is too soon for this but I wonder.
    What does the economists daughter do? The economist who chose to play music?

    Strength my new friend. (In afrikaans we say “sterkte” which means strength but also well wishes. )

    Stephen

    • artmodel says:

      Swatch,

      What an intriguing and heartfelt post. Thank you for your insightful musings.

      I have endured many tests in my life and made it through all of them, so at least I have that track record in my favor.

      I love “sterkte”! Such a resonant word. And thank you also for referencing my father, that really moved me.

      Good wishes to you too, new friend.

      Claudia

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