Monday, October 7, 2013

Careering to a new(d) career


     Gil Salk - Modeling          Blog #3

    My modeling career moves (careers?) on to new vistas. This evening I get to pose for an introductory Life Drawing course at Manchester Community College (on campus, in actual classroom studio, as opposed to Main Street's gallery...this one's for students getting real academic credits).

    (Warning: I stumbled into a rant as I wrote the next paragraph. My thoughts on modeling follow soon after.)

    If you're not familiar with the MCC campus, it should be on everyone's “Things to See in Eastern Connecticut” list. The buildings form a large architectural sculpture which is a pleasure to explore - both visually and mobilely (SpellHeck hates that word. I'm not going to tell it that I just made it it up on the spur of the moment....It doesn't like being called SpellHeck, either, but until it can: (1) tell the difference between so, sow, and sew, or (2) inform people that "myself" is NOT a substitute for "me" or "I", or (3) relay the appropriate use of the possessive apostrophe, or... oh, never mind - the list is too long - Until SpellHeck really learns to spot errors, I don't care if it likes what I call it or not.

    I visited the Art Department a couple of weeks ago and got the name of the professor in charge of hiring models for drawing classes.

    I emailed him, he called me, we played telephone tag, and we talked. The highlights of our communications: I missed the scheduling for this semester, but he'll likely use me next term. In the meantime, he'll get in touch if someone calls in sick. Someone called in sick. He got in touch. I'm on for a 3-hour stint.

    I'm torn here. Should I use a theatrical image, or go with sports? I feel like the understudy who got to play the lead when the quarterback broke his leg. Glad to be there; sorry about the circumstances.

    Anyway, the game’s afoot, Watson.

    This should be different from what I’ve done at MCC on Main. This will be one of the first meetings of the class, and the Rick (the teacher) tells me that he’ll be emphasizing bone structure. For the first part of the class, he’ll be using a large drawing pad while standing next to me, and directing me into poses that will show off body structure. Then he’ll have me do quick poses – with lots of angles, I expect – while the class does fast sketches.

    At MCC on Main, the artists were generally older – 40 and above – and nearly all women. If the MCC class is typical, I expect that there will be a more even mix of genders, and about 3/4 will be in their mid-20s or younger. Since it’s a for-credit course with an actual instructor instead of a casual drop-in open studio, I also expect that there will be a more serious attention to how drawings are created. On the other hand, since the group will be younger (and larger), the atmosphere might actually be a little more light-hearted. I have no idea how much exposure they’ve had to live models, so that could also be a factor in the overall experience. We shall see…

    Stay tuned for further reports.

So I really am a nude model! Who'd'a thunk?

Gil Salk - Modeling      Blog#2

My first actual modeling gig: I posed for 2 Life Drawing groups at MCC on Main in Manchester CT. The background for this is in my last post.

I had only four concerns going into this:
Would I actually be able to take my clothes off, or would I have a sudden onslaught of shyness, modesty, or paralysis?
Would anybody laugh – or worse, everybody?
Could I hold the poses?
Would I be able to think of enough different poses?

As it turned out, I would have had no problem disrobing – if I had been wearing a robe. (Sorry, sometimes I can’t help myself. I blame it on too much exposure to Groucho Marx as a child.)

Getting undressed was actually a “no worries” experience, and being nude in front of a group felt no different than walking around naked at home. The latter did surprise me a bit. I had expected to have to ward off a little self-consciousness, but the whole thing was very comfortable. (And nobody even snickered.)

The first day (Friday) there were nine people in the group. Age range was from college age (a guy and girl) to retirement age. The college age guy was the only male artist. Their skill level varied widely. One of the women clearly knew what she was doing. The others were having problems getting my feet right, or dealing with foreshortening if they were viewing me from a difficult angle, or getting curves and angles right, or some other issue. Several of them clustered during breaks to critique drawings and offer advice to each other.

Posing turned out to be less of a problem than I thought it could be. For the most part I used the familiar – sports poses (boxing, archery, in the blocks at the start of a race, et al.), sculpture (The Thinker), talking on the phone… Using the advice I got from the model I observed a couple of weeks earlier, I assumed standing-needing-to-balance-a-little positions for the early 2-minute poses, more stable standing postures for the 5-minute poses, and sitting or reclining for the 20-, 30-, and 60 minute poses.

Because they wanted angles and curves, for a lot of my poses I had my arms and legs bent and my torso a little twisted. I found that I was able to hold the poses up to 30 minutes (though my muscles, such as they are, were trembling toward the end of some of them. Fortunately, we took a break halfway through the 60-minute pose – I never would have made it all the way through in one take.

I did a lot of stretching during breaks, and I stopped to swim a couple of hundred yards in a nearby pond on my way home

All in all, it didn’t feel like a lot of exercise, but I had an amazing collection of stiff muscles in the morning.

Saturday was very similar, except that there were only two people; the woman a retired art professor at UConn, and the man working full time and taking evening art classes. He wants to be a set and costume designer for theater.

I had expected that Saturday would bring a lot more people than a Friday afternoon, but they told me that the groups were usually very small on Saturdays. Strange.

By now, being an experienced model, I got to be a little cavalier about what I could do in the way of posing. I kept getting into postures that were difficult to hold for any extended period. I’d have too much weight on one leg, or I was resting my head on my hand, which fell asleep a little more than halfway through the pose. I also discovered that, even with a pillow, my elbow would start to talk back to me.

Before I do this again, I think I’m going to Google “poses for models” and see if I can expand my repertoire. I might also start stretching and exercising a whole lot more than I do now.

I’ll find out toward the end of the month whether they would like me back in September. My fingers, eyes, and legs are crossed.

One last thing. I got in touch with the professor at Manchester Community College who is in charge of Life Drawing classes to see if there are any opportunities for me to model there. I hope to hear back from him soon.

Stay tuned.

How did a nice guy like me end up wearing no clothes on Main Street in Manchester CT?

  1. August 16, 2013  

    GIL SALK - MODELING         Blog #1   

    Me? Starting a new career? I'm going to be a model for 2 Life Drawing classes at Manchester Community College's Main St. Gallery. Next step: Vogue? Cosmopolitan? Stay tuned!...
    So – today is my first day as a nude this something to brag about – oops – of course, I meant blog about? Sure, why not? (But reader feedback is welcome.)

    First, the background.

    How did a nice guy like me end up wearing no clothes on Main Street in Manchester CT?

    The story starts about 18 months ago when I was at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the Marlborough Arts Center (MAC). Folks were discussing the difficulty they had had finding a model for a recent class at the Center. Without the benefit of any thought process, I offered to be available if the problem arose in the future.

    Time passed. Manchester Community College opened MCC on Main. It serves as an art gallery, a site for musical performances (including some very good jazz, for those who are interested), art classes, and other events. It’s a great addition to the ambiance of downtown Manchester, especially since many of their activities are free.

    Not long ago, they added a self-directed Life Drawing program. (Not free, but low-cost.) They supply easels, chairs…and models. People bring their own materials. It runs twice a week, Fridays & Saturdays, from Noon until 3:00. No preregistration is required, and you come whenever you want. Just pay $8.00 per session ($5.00 for members.) I sat in on part of one session, and observed that there was a wide variety of artistic skill amongst the half-dozen participants. (More about this later.)

    One member of the MAC Board happened to be in the gallery and saw the flyer for the program. She told the Director that she knew someone (male) who might be interested in posing.

    (I was surprised that she even remembered my off-hand offer from a year-and-a-half ago. To the best of my knowledge, there had been no discussion of it in the intervening months.)

    They were interested due to an apparent shortage of male models, and told her to have me give them a call if it was something I wanted to do. She dropped me an email about it.

    Still unencumbered by the thought process, I jumped at the opportunity. No doubt, I was influenced by the fact that I’m retired and have wa-a-a-ay too much time on my hands. Having left the 60s behind (age and historical era), it also sounded like an interesting adventure and a chance to pick up a little pocket change. Close friends might even add that I’m a nudist at heart, so it’s not that great a leap for me. (I do try to avoid audiences, usually, but in this case I won’t be surprising anyone.)

    I called, expressed my interest, and was immediately signed up for a Friday and Saturday three weekends away – also known, now, as Today and Tomorrow.

    For those who are wondering, Kathy (also known as my wife) thought it would be a fun thing for me to do.

    Anyway, that was on a Monday. The following Friday, I stopped by at MCC on Main and asked if it would be okay if I sat in on part of the day’s session in order to get a feel for how things went. Management said it was fine, so I walked back to the studio and introduced myself to the early arrivals, telling them that I was scheduled to model in a couple of weeks, that it would be my first time, and I wanted to see the set-up. Again, fine.

    Then the model arrived. She was a young (twenty-something) woman, blonde, and attractive, and carrying a bag which turned out to contain what she wore during breaks, and an extra change of clothes.

    Lesson #1: Don’t expect to hang around naked while chatting with folks in the class.

    She was wearing tight-fitting jeans. When she started to take them off, she realized that it would take some contorting to remove them. She grabbed her bag, departed for the ladies’ room, and came back wearing looser-fitting clothes which she then took off. A couple of women in the group mentioned that it was amusing that it was okay to be seen posing naked, but not okay to be seen undressing.

    I told her why I was there, that I was planning to stay for only 3 or 4 poses, and asked if my (non-drawing) presence was okay with her. Once more, fine.

    At first, there were only four participants: a couple of older (not old) women and two college-aged folks, male and female. Two more women came in a little later.

    From where I was sitting, I could watch one woman while she was working with charcoal, using sure, deft strokes as she quickly drew very good likenesses of the model. After watching a couple of poses, I walked around to see what others were doing, and it was evident that the first woman was by far the most accomplished in the group. It was interesting, though, to see the different styles and approaches that people were using.

    The model, in the meantime, flowed gracefully from one 2-minute pose into another. It was pretty obvious that this was not her first time as a model.

    I watched five poses, then thanked everyone and left the studio. I stopped in the gallery on my way out to see what was on the wall. After a couple of minutes, one of the women in the group came hurrying out and asked the staff person if she had seen which way I went. I came out from around a corner in the gallery and said I hadn’t left yet. It seems that the model had asked her to try to chase me down and find out if I’d be interested in talking with her during the upcoming break. Needless to say, I took her up on the offer.

    She gave me a few pointers on the fine art of posing.

    Lesson #2: As in sports, pacing oneself is important. Use the early short poses for harder-to-maintain standing poses, and save sitting and reclining for 10-, 20-, and 30-minute positions.

    I had noticed that in almost all of her stances she had placed her feet at right angles to each other. This led to a discussion of balance and centering, things which I had not really considered before. (Amateur!) I probably would have put myself in postures I would have been able to maintain for, maybe, 10 or 15 seconds before I had to either shift or fall over…or both.

    She said that standing with her feet slightly apart at right angles helps distribute her weight. She also pointed out that she made sure to spread her toes, broadening her support. (Who’d a’ thunk?)

    Lesson #3: Establish a firm base.

    She also pointed out that it was important to assume poses that kept my center of gravity between my feet, so that my core muscles (as if I have core muscles!) were doing most of the balancing, rather than putting most of my weight on one leg. Note to self: Work on core muscles for next two weeks.

    Lesson #4: Distribute weight evenly, and center.

    Finally, she said, bring water and something light weight to wear during breaks. Posing is hot work, and I will need to hydrate and avoid heating myself even more.

    Lesson #5: Stay cool.

    I thanked her for her time and consideration, especially that she had thought to call me back after I had left.

    And now, in about 3 hours, it’s my turn. Stay tuned. I’ll try to blog about my experiences later today (or early tomorrow.)


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Springfield Tornado – Volunteer Cleanup in Arcadia Blvd Area

Yesterday, I met heroes.

On Monday, five days after the tornado hit, I drove to Springfield from Connecticut, to offer my services cleaning up.

I ended up in a neighborhood of middle class, single family homes adjacent to Watershops Pond and between Springfield College and Cathedral High School.

My first stop was along Arcadia Blvd., across the road from the pond. The people there said they had just finished loading a rental truck with furniture, and said they didn’t need help at the moment, but we chatted for a while. What stands out in my mind was the woman’s comment.

“We could never see the pond from the house before.”

I looked behind me. Trees, many too large for three of me to get arms around, lay scattered like pik-up sticks, some with roots torn from the ground, and most of the others snapped off. I could see the pond and on the far side, incongruously, a kayaker enjoying the cloudless sky and calm waters.

Around the corner, on Mary St., the first house I encountered simply wasn’t there any more. All that was left was its basement. The car in the driveway was partway onto its roof, and had a gaping hole in the windshield.

The owner, a young man, said he was in the house, beneath a sink in the cellar, when the tornado hit. He remembered starting down the stairs, but not reaching the basement, not curling beneath the sink, not hearing the inevitable freight train roar (which he said all his neighbors heard), not the destruction of the house. “But hey, I’m alive.”

He was standing and talking with a friend about how he retrieved his trash barrel from the splintered ten-foot stump of a tree between his house and his back neighbor’s. He knew it was his because he had drilled two holes in the bottom so water could leak out.

I noticed a 2-foot statue of a bird placed in the center of the top of the concrete steps that had led to the house…a good perch for it to survey the surrounding flattened landscape.

The owner didn’t know what he was going to do, except that he had tickets to that night’s Boston Bruins game, and he was going. I commented that it seemed like a good idea to take an emotional break, and that I had some sense of what he was dealing with from having spent a week in Biloxi helping clean up after Katrina – but that experience was nowhere near actually having gone through such a disaster.

He leaned forward. “And I hope you never do! I hope you never do.”

At the next house I stopped at, I spoke with a woman. After I offered my help, she pointed to a red X painted on her door.

“That means I can’t let anybody in…no volunteers, no contractors, nobody who didn’t live here.”

Her house was one of many still standing, but condemned as unlivable.

I walked up and down the streets of the neighborhood in the hot sun. No trees were left standing to provide shade. Instead, they had crashed through houses, or were leaning against them, or blocking driveways, or already chainsawed and stacked at the curb…rows and rows and stacks and stacks of logs lined the streets.

There were few sounds. No barking dogs. No children’s voices. The air seemed to absorb the sounds of people talking to each other. It wasn’t silent. But there was a palpable muffling of the noise of human activity.

Everywhere I looked, there were electric company linemen working to restore power to the neighborhood, cable companies getting tv service back to the area. Many of the cars along the roads belonged to insurance adjusters, working, I hope, to start the process of compensating people for their property losses. Many people who were there were waiting for adjusters to arrive. Tree removal services, trash haulers, and contractors were there in numbers. The City (or somebody) had already been through to clear the streets.

But the houses – the homes. Many were nothing but piles of wood and siding, with nothing vertical remaining where the house had stood. Others were partially collapsed, or had gaping holes in roofs and walls, or blown-off roof shingles or blown-in windows. Some showed no structural damage I could see from the street, but had the red Xs on their front doors. Many had doors and windows boarded, and blue tarps had begun to appear on rooftops.

This one small neighborhood – probably fewer than 200 homes – was a tiny blip along the 39-mile path of destruction the tornado carved across western Massachusetts. The inner city is much worse, as is the town of Monson. But the violence that occurred here rips at the heart. As I walked and talked, I repeatedly had to swallow a lump in my throat.

But nearly unanimously, the residents with whom I spoke were optimistic about the future, seemingly more concerned about neighbors than about themselves, grateful for help already received, and offering me thanks and blessings for my offer to help.

This is not to say that they weren’t in pain, suffering losses, feeling overwhelmed, worried about relocation.

They had used the weekend to move what they needed to move, and to begin cleaning up. And they saw themselves as being able to overcome.

These folks, in ways large and small, were all heroes. They won’t get medals; they certainly won’t feel like heroes, but to one who was witness to, but distant from, their direct troubles their determination and courage was unquestionable.

Of course, I didn’t get to talk with those who weren’t on the scene. Elderly people had moved somewhere – to family, or to shelters. Those who couldn’t get time off from work were at their jobs. Some simply didn’t have a home to come back to. I can’t speak about any of them, and I can’t stop thinking about them.

I didn’t get to do any physical help on this trip. They were done for the time being, or not yet ready for help. All of them expressed gratitude for my being there, and I hope that my presence gave them a little emotional support.

I’m a photographer; I had my camera; there were breathtaking pictures to be taken. But I decided very early to leave my camera in the car – to take photos would have seemed too intrusive to me, a slap in the face of those who were still absorbing the instantaneous change in their lives.

I’ll write in another post soon on how I arrived at this neighborhood after starting out among downtown-area apartments and homes.

By the way, according to Google maps, this area is less than a mile – a 15 minute walk – from where I used to live in Springfield.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Let Bush-Obama Tax Cuts Expire

Copy of a letter sent to other member of the Hebron Democratic Town Committee. Also see my earlier posts on this subject.

Dear Fellow DTC members -

I am dismayed by President Obama's surrender to Republicans regarding the expiring tax cuts.

I was opposed to the cuts when they were proposed during the Bush administration. The intervening years have proven one thing: They didn't work.

I feel that the best course would have been to let them all expire because they are increasing our national debt (which our children and grandchildren and great...etc, will have to pay dearly for.) Even the teabaggers knew that bringing down the debt should be a national priority.

Our President and other elected officials should be howling this message from the rooftops: the cuts are fiscally irresponsible. The national debt is money we owe primarily to other nations, particularly China. This outside ability to cut off our access to funds threatens our national security...It may easily be money we need for national defense, and we've put ourselves in a position where our potential adversaries can control our economy.

Ideally, the tax cuts could apply only to the most important 98 (or 99%) of us - those of us netting less than $250,000 (or $1,000,000). This would keep money in the hands of those who spend it on things that create and sustain jobs. those who net more than these amounts can, and should, pay more tax on the amounts above these numbers.

Republicans would have us believe that this would hurt small businesses because they have to spend money on wages and supplies. In a word, bull. These Republicans either do not understand how business taxes work, or they're lying. Any business paying taxes on gross income (before deducting costs of labor and supplies) needs to find a competent tax advisor. Small businesses will not pay the pre-Bush taxes unless they have a net profit (i.e., the dollars the owners get to keep) unless those numbers are over the minimums.

If push come to shove, I would much prefer to see all the cuts (including mine) expire, rather than continue them for the super-rich. I don't really want to pay more taxes, but I understand that my civic duty sometimes requires that I do things I don't like.

Kathy & I have contacted Courtney, Dodd & Lieberman asking them to oppose the cuts. See a copy of the letter on my blog.

I also just learned that Rep. Peter Welch, Democrat from Vermont, wrote a letter last night saying NO to this deal and asking his fellow Representatives in the House to stand with him. Within minutes, many other Representatives added their name. Can you call Joe Courtney, and ask him to sign the Welch letter and fight against this deal to give tax cuts to the rich? 1-202-225-2076. I called, and got a "He's not here, and nobody here knows where he stands on the issue."  ( ! ! ! ! ! ! )

Please help. I think we need to push Pres. Obama to learn to negotiate before he gives away the most important parts of legislation, not after. And in this case, the"deal" does major harm to our economy and to our children.

Thanks for your attention.

Gil Salk

Also see my earlier posts on this subject, today and in Nov. Thanks. Comments very welcome

Let tax cuts expire...ALL of them

Kathy & I just sent the following to our Congressman & both Senators:
(Please consider sending something similar to your politicians.)

Dear Sir -

Let ALL tax cuts expire, please.

This is immensely preferable to extending them for 1 or 2 years, which we think translates to "forever."        

Our national debt is an impediment to every social and economic improvement we want. It piles an every-increasing burden on my daughter's generation...and on her children and grandchildren.

The increasing proportion of our debt held by foreign countries (especially China) poses a serious, and seriously under-appreciated, threat to our national security. If China decided to stop underwriting our debt, it could undermine our ability to fund the needs of our military, among other things.

It would be preferable to let the cuts apply only to those with incomes below $250,000 or $1,000,000, but capitulation to Republican obstructionism is far worse than letting the ill-advised cuts simply expire - - and blame the Republicans for stonewalling a vote.
Please advocate and vote for responsible action.
Thank you for your attention.


Gil & Kathy Salk


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WTF: Today, the Republican leadership declined an invitation to meet with the President

Okay, this is an official WTF: Today, the Republican leadership declined an invitation to meet with the President to discuss coming issues. The invitation included dinner.
The Republican leadership is "too busy" to meet with the President of the United States?!! WTF?
They may not like the man, and they may disagree with him, but what about a little respect for the office? Mr. President, go on the offensive against those arrogant SOBs.
Mr. President, don't offer compromises (make them come to you). Call them out for every mischaracterization (lie) they make to us through the media (I know, this will take a whole new government department...I'll help pay for it.)
Mr. President, the Republican game plan is to pick a Big Lie of the week, and every Republican and/or conservative who is on a talk show during the week repeats the same lie with the same talking points. Find a way to fight it. Use your veto. Use your Senate majority. Use your "bully pulpit". (BTW, this phrase originated with Teddy Roosevelt; bully meant powerful, not bullying.)
Mr. President, call the Republicans on the tax cut for the rich. If necessary, let the entire stupid tax cut expire.
I don't want to pay more taxes, but we have a huge National Debt. Mention often that the Republican (disloyal opposition) created much of the bloated debt, and now they are doing their damned worst to block paying it down.
Mr. President, dedicate a major part of the revenue from the expiration of the foolish tax cut to paying off the debt. Explain why. Explain why. Explain why. (Get it?)
Economists, true grass-roots tea party members, true conservatives & libertarians, most Democrats & Republicans, all know that we need to pay our debt. We can't pass this off to our children without biting the bullet and at least TRYING to pay it down.
One more thing (for now). The Republicans are going to try to dismantle our new health plan. Again and again they say we've already got the best health care in the world. Lie, lie, lie. Google any world health statistics. We, the US of A, are at the BOTTOM of the industrialized world on health outcomes.  This includes things such as access to care, birth survival, and hospitalization not leading to worsening of condition and/or death… Let's talk about health care from this reality.
Yeah, I know, world leaders and very, very rich folks often come to the U.S. for treatment of very, very serious ailments. At the very, very top of the medical treatment pyramid, we can provide very, very good treatment. Look around you. How many people do you know who have even a very, very tiny chance of getting into this level of care?
Okay, this was an official WTF: The Republican leadership is "too busy" to meet with the President of the United States?!! WTF?