Art of the Job

New York Husband/Wife art critics, Jerry Saltz and Robert Smith each recently posted similarly on their Instagram pages. They name five jobs they have had and posed the question to others. Well, she specified “first five” jobs and Jerry did not specify. Since the word count there is so limited and I was energized by this subject, I am giving myself over to that topic here…

Jobs not an ascending process—although it may feel that way at times when each seems a little more dignified and better pay, etc.—looking at the long views reveals more of a parallel adventure in the name of becoming who we are and surviving along the way.

I’ve had at least thirty jobs and another ten creative endeavors in the realm of freelance/art business efforts.

1.     Babysitter ~ Being a girl born in the 1950s, this was my first job as a teen  and I got a lot of mileage out of that one well into my 20s. My first “real” job was a brief few weeks as a cashier at one of Buffalo’s first discount box stores called Two Guys.

2.     Sandwich Maker ~ During Summer of 1973 I worked in a late-night sub shop inside a Cape Cod nightclub featuring rock bands—same Summer I hitch-hiked to the Summer Jam Music Festival in Watkins Glen, New York.

3.     Waitress ~ Beginning with Pizza Hut and ending with a San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf seafood restaurant serving coffee and eggs to actual fishermen early in the morning. Between those places, there were a few others, but most memorable was serving breakfast to European tourists staying at a hotel in downtown SF. The busy dining room was managed by a portly Frenchman who had frequently called me out in the kitchen: “Patrizia, Patrizia…hurry, hurry, hurry…they are waiting” and a stint in a Long Island seafood establishment that involved carrying heavy trays loaded with lobsters and clam chowder. 

4.     Fashion and Art Assistant ~ During the 1980s I worked  in a NYC  Soho design studio helping to make and sell stylish clothing and accessories. Another brief scenario in the garment district required standing around long tables painting floral flourishes onto not-so-hip clothing. After taking a typing class, I managed to land in the Photograph Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where I had a chance to hang one of my paintings in their first ever Employee Art Show and enjoy many leisurely walks through the halls and galleries delivering envelopes between departments in a time before email.

5.     A few more illustrious job titles…House Cleaner, Taxi Driver, Secretary, Project Manager, Executive Assistant, Art Therapist, Counselor, Case Manager, Clinician, Sales Associate, Telephone Solicitor, Data Entry Associate.

Then there is that murky area of freelance/creative business in the name of getting money for art or creative products/services. In my case, these efforts were light on the business side in terms of income, yet a lot of inspiration and productivity resulted.

I sold ceramic mugs and bowls, batik scarves and t-shirts as a San Francisco Street Artist at the Embarcadero Plaza in the mid-1970s, followed by sewing some clothing items in the late 1970s-mid-1980s and hand painting…eventually had a line of children’s shirts and a line mesh tote bags before reusable tote bags were a thing. Typically, I sold some of my production and gave away many more as gifts.

I began writing online content in 2010 and learned to submit short informative articles to Demand Media. That led me writing a monthly column (blog) called Pat’s Cracked Cup for a couple years and writing art exhibition and book reviews for free alternative press in Buffalo (Artvoice and The Public). I facilitated a monthly Buffalo Writing Salon groups for a few years and printed some painted designs onto cotton fabric in 2016 and played around with sewing flags and neckties…called this endeavor PATOLOGY.

Consistent through all of this for the last 25 years has been making paintings, occasional exhibitions, and generally sharing the work in some way, such as this website.