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Book of Jobs Part 3


by Chris Auman

Art installer is a job title I never thought I’d have on my résumé, but the brother of good friend /ex-roommate hooked me up with this job at a museum on State Street in downtown Madison. It was temporary full-time work on about three installs per year for each of the museum’s three galleries. I slapped multiple coats of paint on walls floor to ceiling, loaded and unloaded crates from trucks, packed and unpacked valuable art under the watchful eyes of travelling registrars, dealt with the whims of temperamental artists and drove a scissor lift into a wall more than once. I returned home each afternoon tired and sore, sometimes bruised and battered. I had just enough time to soak in a hot bath before my shift at the restaurant began. Thankfully installs only lasted four to five weeks.

I usually did not attend the openings to the shows I worked on. I did not want to be in the company of civilians who had no idea about the sweating, bleeding and cursing that went into the show. The few times I did attend, instead of looking at the art, I focused instead on barely visible blemishes on the walls, tiny nails holes that didn’t get spackled, drops of dried paint on the floor that didn’t get scraped, and questioned the levelness of every hanging frame.

The museum also put on an annual art fair in the capital square in July. At this time the install crew transforms into the ice crew which is tasked with delivering 20 pounds bags of ice to ice caddies, as well as hot dogs, brats, buns and condiments to concession stands. It’s a 45 hour workweek packed into three and a half days and it can be brutal in the hot summer sun. To help cope, we created a themed playlist to blast out of the rented pickup truck as the “Icy Bunch” pulled up to concession stands. Depending on the particular commodities on the truck, you might hear “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice or Foreigner’s “Cold as Ice”. But also “First Bratwurst of Summer” by Those Darn Accordions or LMFAO’s “Hot Dog” and if you were lucky, “Hot Cross Buns” sung by a children’s chorus.

You're in a Box >>

Originally published in RW#24, 2014

RW #24

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