Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics

Freelance administration and community engagement — April 29, 2014

Freelance administration and community engagement

We the Weeds Story Elicitation event
Original artwork exhibited by community members at the Conestoga Recreation Center in West Philadelphia

Of the many hats I’ve been wearing lately, “freelance administrator” feels like it’s the weirdest.

It’s the latent romanticism of the word “freelance” that seems so out of place next to the grasping boredom inherent in the word “administrator.” I think that if you told dreamy eight year old me that I’d be making most of my paycheck in this way in – what – twenty years? – I’d not only be horrified, I’d be extremely skeptical.

“Administration” is an odd tangle of “in charge” and “subservient.” Obviously, the administrator is there to do things for other people. I kind of like it because of its position in the background; as an administrator, I get to help others, help in the operations of an event. Type A people make plans, and I make sure that there’s follow-through.

I enjoy follow-through. I hate to see a good plan go to waste because no one spent the time – or had the time – to implement it fully. Starting a project and then dropping it is way more disenchanting than never starting it at all.

The “freelancer” idea of course comes from the concept of the mercenary, the “free lance” – someone whose sword is free of commitments to any country or corporation. Don Quixote comes to mind. And goofy as he is, you just can’t see him sitting down and ensuring that the invoices are processed properly. You don’t imagine him with a typewriter nestled against his horse’s neck, as the two of them stand idiosyncratically on the open plain. No, he has a spear.

At Mural Arts, I’m now a four-days-per-week “administrator.” My title is actually “Project Coordinator,” which sounds way sexier. I work with two projects: journey2home (check out the blog, which I’m now running) and Restored Spaces.

I’m getting a chance to work within communities and try to engage people in Mural Arts’ efforts to improve the city. It’s not something I’ve ever focused on before, and it certainly isn’t the direction that my own art points in, but it’s interesting, the people are wonderful, the effects are glorious, and I’m learning a lot. Here’s a taste of the kind of community-based work we do, in my first article on the Mural Arts blog.

I may not have a horse or a spear, but I have a laptop, a bike, and no loyalties. And if you have room in your budget, I’ll administrate your arts business.

Nichole Canuso — April 27, 2014

Nichole Canuso

FringeArts presents world premiere of Nichole Canuso solo work “Midway Avenue,” May 2-4. Photo by Peggy Woolsey
FringeArts presents world premiere of Nichole Canuso solo work “Midway Avenue,” May 2-4. Photo by Peggy Woolsey

Over the last year, I’ve done quite a few interviews. Sometimes they’re exciting; sometimes they’re fearful; sometimes they’re just work, something I have to do to get the article published. It’s not that the people I’m interviewing aren’t interesting, it’s just that I don’t love interviewing itself. I’m uncomfortable, often intimidated, and generally out of my element.

But sometimes it’s an exciting prospect to sit next to X artist and ask them questions about their work—and just be in their presence. When I realized I was going to interview Nichole Canuso, the creator of Wandering Alice and The Garden, both of which were pretty aesthetically important to me, especially for the place and time that I saw them, I experienced a rare kind of enthusiasm for the interview itself. To me, she’s larger than life.

Well, it turned out that she’s on tour, and that I didn’t get to do the whole sit-down-in-her-presence and chat thing. But I did get an interview, and we had a pretty interesting conversation about her upcoming Midway Avenue via email. Find out what I asked, and what she had to say, here. Or just go ahead and buy tickets for the show (May 2-4) at; you’ll want to be there.

The Head and the Hand —

The Head and the Hand

Philly is home to Quirk Publications, who put out the widely read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, as well as something about sea monsters and Jane Austen. They also did the Worst Case Scenario series.

Quirk is a good name for them and their work; The Head and the Hand, another Philly-area publisher, goes for personality instead of quirk. Inspired by founder Nic Esposito’s background in farming, this idiosyncratic publishing company has soul.

Check out my article about their chapbook vending machine—and various other arms and initiatives—for ArtAttackPhilly here.



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Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics