post by Rachel Pastan
This week when I wandered into the cool, second-floor gallery where Anthony Campuzano is conducting Summer Studio—a free-form art school and working artist’s studio, both free and open to the public here at ICA throughout July—I found Campuzano (T.C. to his friends) chatting with a family from Connecticut. The man was a big guy in a Saab baseball cap who turned out to be an architect and photographer. The woman wore jeans and nice glasses (I didn’t find out what she did), and their girls, busy coloring on poster board at a table, were 6 and 3. It was hot outside—101 degrees—and an air conditioned art museum was a good place to be.
T.C. was talking: “We had a great class here Saturday,” he said enthusiastically, referring to the Sculpture Scavenger Hunt. “Everything here is like an experiment.”
Sometimes I think of ICA as a big laboratory where the questions pursued are not (as across so much of Penn’s campus) about the physical and physiological life of the body and the natural world, but rather about the nature of contemporary life, the boundaries of art, the intersections of the two, and—in this case—what one youngish, ambitious, talented artist might do given a big room and a bunch of materials and some willing friends and thirty days.
The people from Connecticut seemed happy. They’d spent the day before at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where the kids kept asking when they could do some drawing. The six year old, wearing a green dress, struggled with a pencil sharpener and an orange colored pencil. She was working on a drawing of a dinosaur and a flower. Her plastic triceratops (which I mistakenly called a stegosaurus) sat nearby, partially engulfed in a woolen hat. The younger girl had made some very nice red scribbles on her poster board.
T.C. told them about that night’s Kite Technique drawing class (offered Wednesdays from six to eight PM all month). The class is based on a lesson Campuzano learned from his teacher Elena Sisto, which she learned from the late Philip Guston. “It’s a modernist technique where first you plot the edges of the figure,” he said. “I still use it, even though I don’t draw the figure anymore.” He told them about the model he had lined up for the class, a guy named Ezra who’s doing an internship at the Fabric Workshop. Then he started rummaging around in a corner. “I got this cool thing from my parents’ house for the class,” he said, pulling out an old-fashioned bird cage strung through with ivy. The woman asked him how he was getting any work done with all the classes and field trips and film screenings.
“I haven’t actually gotten much done yet,” he admitted. But T.C. strikes me as someone—energetic, resourceful, overflowing with ideas—who will always find a way to get work done.
When I left, the girl in green was cutting off a sliver of poster board with big scissors, and T.C. was telling the family from Connecticut about Andy Warhol, how he had his first solo museum show here at ICA. “It’s a thrill for me,” he said, “because I had my first museum show here, too.”
ICA has been instrumental in the making of many careers. Could Campuzano’s be the next?
That’s exactly the kind of question that gets answered here in the ICA laboratory.
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To see the whole Summer Studio calendar, click here.