Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stone Soup

My live painting experience Saturday night reminded me of one of my favorite childhood fables, Stone Soup. Only instead of adding ingredients to the pot to improvise a feast, everyone contributed their items to help me improvise a painting.

I began with some cardboard I had in the car and mounted it on stretcher bars left over from another project.

I added a few more pieces for texture.

From their purses, pockets, and cars, people contributed items for me to add to the painting.

And that is the final product.

A hot new orange cocktail?  Not really.  I needed to wet my brushes, so I used a cup of ice.

It was so great to have another chance to create a piece of artwork and I would love to do more live painting events in the future. 

2010 Chicago Art Open

I had such a busy day on Saturday.  My first stop: The 2010 Chicago Art Open, where my painting, Fuchsia Sublime, is hanging.

And there were so many pieces on display that I really liked.  Here are a few:

Kristi Kohut, Crazy Lace, 2010

And these are by my former classmates at Governors State:

If you missed the opening on Saturday, you can still see the work on display on the following dates:

Wednesday, April 28 – Saturday, May 1
11 am – 5 pm
Wednesday, May 5 – Friday, May 7
11 am – 5 pm

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Looking forward to this Saturday

When I paint, it is one of the only times I feel fully alive.  It is one of the only times I truly feel free.  It is when I find myself in the Flow state that
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi writes about.  I haven't worked on a new painting since last year.  Haven't had the proper space for it.  I can't wait to do my live painting on Saturday.  It will be interesting to see what people will bring for me to add to the piece as I work on it.  I'll be sure to post pictures of the work in progress and the finished product.  And if you'd like to see me in action, here are all the details:

9 p.m. - 2 a.m.
Artists of Eastbank Studios
1200 W. 35th Street (35th & Racine)
Chicago, IL 60609
FREE PARKING (enter lot on Racine)


complimentary cocktails all night

Click here to purchase tickets online
Tickets in person: Three Peas Art Lounge, 75 E. 16th Street
Tickets via phone: 312-624-9414

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Screwed by Sallie Mae: How Getting Private Loans for Design School Ruined My Life

Sallie Mae

 It's a good thing I wasn't planning to have any children, because I already have a mouth to feed: a brat named Sallie Mae. She was a mistake.

 --my Facebook status a few days ago

Everyone makes mistakes. Some are more expensive than others. My mistake is currently accruing 13.25% interest, a loan for an "investment" that never paid off. Before you say "I told you so," before you call me a "whiner," let's rewind the story to see how I got here.

It was fall 2003. Two years had passed since I graduated from college.  And a little over a year had gone by since I dropped out of graduate school for an MFA in fiction writing because I had writer's block.  I could not find a good job because of the recession, so I was working in retail with a lot of other college-educated young women. 

People who were close to me did not hesitate to tell me how disappointed they were with me, and I felt like a failure. I sucked at sales and never made much on commissions, and it seemed like no one would hire me to do anything else. On the rare occasions that people I'd known in college would shop in the department store where I worked, I wanted to hide in the stock room.  I felt so ashamed of what had become of my life.  My disappointed family members suggested I go back to school.  

I still had writer's block, so returning to the MFA program was not an option. Law school and business school never appealed to me, and I had spent enough time in core courses I didn't want to take as an undergraduate to know how badly I do in classes that bore me to tears.  And since the age of 17 I was a C average math and science student.  But I had another idea.  I had been watching HGTV a lot and thought I could put my creativity to use in a career in interior design.  Wouldn't it be nice to get out of my dead-end retail job and do something I could feel good about?

I contacted two local schools about their interior design programs, and Harrington was the one that followed up with me.  I thought I had done my research.  I looked at the starting salaries of designers, looked at Monster.com and CareerBuilder to see what kinds of jobs were available, talked to a designer about it.  Yes, it all seemed like a logical, sensible plan.  My B.A. in Humanities was useless, it seemed, so I should study something practical.  Well, at least I thought interior design would be practical.

What I did next was stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.

I went to the financial aid office and applied for loans.

Little did I know that Career Education Corporation, the big company that had recently acquired Harrington, was in bed with Sallie Mae.  I'd borrowed money for school before, but these were Federal Direct Loans with fixed interest rates, reasonable terms, and numerous repayment options.  But did I get Federal Direct Loans for design school?  Of course not.  Why offer them when you are getting kickbacks from the Great Satan of all lenders?  So I ended up with private loans, Sallie Mae Signature Loans, which I have recently learned are sub-prime student loans. 

Now, much to my chagrin, I see that the terms are not negotiable, I cannot get forbearance, and they do not participate in any of the loan forgiveness programs.  Oh, and did I mention that while they were in deferment when I went back to school to study art since my design degree didn't get me out of retail hell, they tacked on another $20,000 in interest?  Isn't that wonderful?  Another splendid thing about my private loans is that the number of in-school deferments is limited to 48 months, 31 of which I used already, so that last-resort plan of becoming a permanent part-time student is not even an option anymore. 

I think it's great that the Income Based Repayment option is now open to everyone with a federal loan, and that they also have forgiveness for those who work in the public sector.  But these private loans are another story.  They are a fiscal abomination, a financial monster that cannot be killed.  I'd have been better off paying for design school with credit cards; at least they'll work out a fair payment plan with you.

But Sallie Mae?  "Fair" is a word that is meaningless to them, and they won't take "no" for an answer.  They are legalized loan sharks.  You know what they told me when I tried to negotiate?  They said to get a second job.  A second job in this crappy job market!  I am doing good I even have a full-time job at all, even though it's not in my field.  These recalcitrant leeches are about as willing to negotiate as Michael Clayton.

And I am not alone in this.  As I searched the internet for insight into this quagmire, I came across many, many, many stories of other graduates who are also in dire straits thanks to student loan debt:

My student loan debt has kept me from doing everything meaningful I've wanted with my life, other than my relationship with my husband (also drowning in student loan debt, if my parents hadn't paid for our wedding after 8 years we still wouldn't be married).
I worked so hard through my entire education, I earned a 3.9 GPA in graduate school. After I graduated, I continued to work hard, working 2 jobs to try to afford all our bills. Finally I was offered my dream job, (the whole reason I got myself into this debt), as a professor, but I had to turn it down because it just didn't pay enough. Now I've been in a job I hate for 3 years, making only 30k/year (I've looked for something that pays better but it just doesn't seem to exist), and the only other thing I want aside from my dream job is to have a child. But I know we'll never be able to afford it.
I really wish that we could use "defective products" law against financial products somehow, because what Sallie Mae and being forced to quit college and go into massive debt has done to me in shoving me "off the grid" has been worse than a physical accident in some instances.
by MiscastDice

Let me add too, that some fines for criminal behavior are dischargeable in bankruptcy, provided certain conditions are met. Why treat student loan borrowers worse than criminals? Unless I’m mistaken, higher education is good for society in general. Creating a permanent class of indentured servants is not.
— Brian Galloway

A House? Hah!
I live in an apartment. 710 square feet of which is shared with my husband who dropped out of college with minimal debt, and is holding down a nice little job as a security guard. We have been married for a year now, and I am almost 31. I probably won't ever have children. Five years from now, unless I can find a way to pay a substantial amount, I will still be $100,000 in debt due to interest, I will be 36, and my biological clock will be running out unless I want to have kids while in my forties that won't be out of the crapshack until I am of retirement age.
Having no job and lots of debt means no house. No mortgage is possible. It also means no desperately needed second car. It also means that the cars we buy have to be under $2000. This also means no health insurance. On only one small salary, we don't make enough to make the payments even on the company policy that is offered to my husband.
Essentially it boils down to the death of the American Dream. No House,no car in no driveway, no kids, no money, no health, no life, nothing left to bury us, and every debt left to our nonexistent survivors.
I used to have five year plans, but not anymore.

I am upwards of $50,000 in debt for an IN-STATE four year, undergraduate degree. I do not earn any more money than individuals without a degree. At a rate of $200.00 dollars per month which will increase to close to $400.00 a month towards the end of my payment plan, I will have finally paid off my loans when I am 56 years old to the tune of $80,000!!!!

With all these people coming out of college with student loans, this is bound to have a negative effect on entrepreneurship, since students need a reliable, stable job to pay off the huge loans they have. This in turn slows overall economic growth. Corporate capitalists destroying small-business capitalism.

left over 10 years ago – live in Europe – have spent every holiday and birthday alone – miss my family & friends – but I lost touch with most people and could not bear the shame of poverty and dissapointment – and the student loan collection agencies STILL CALL MY FAMILY. Toughened me up, however – I take pleasure in the simple things in life now – a piece of bread, 10 minutes in the sunshine, etc. I will live FREE OUTSIDE THE USA – and poor, rather than being a slave at home and defined by this credit score. As I understand it, to have a job with any financial responsibility the employer will review your credit score. Shall I advise you where you can stick my credit score? I KNOW THIS WILL NEVER CHANGE. I am 40 years old now – with no real home. I don’t want your pity. I don’t want anything from you ever again! I try not to think or speak about this subject as it upsets me too deeply. And anyway people never understand – they just assume you are one of those terrible people in life that does not pay your debts.
It is not a democrat/republican issue – it is a generational issue – you baby boomers – pointless to even engage you in conversation – its all about YOU! I curse you all! May you reap what you have sown in the afterlife.
And when you come to Europe for your holidays, I’m the one glaring at you on the metro. And when you ask for directions I will reply in the foreign language I did not learn at your university.
Posted by John

I am not asking taxpayers to bail me out. I am asking for regulation and restructuring of the student loan system.
I want to pay, I want to be free, They don’t make it easy.
— i’ll never be free

Our last hope as Sallie Mae survivors is this legislation that goes before the House tomorrow, H.R. 5043, the "Private Student Loan Bankruptcy Fairness Act of 2010."  The idea of filing bankruptcy makes my skin crawl, but I think if private student loan lenders knew we had the option of getting our debts with them discharged, they'd be more willing to treat us with the same equality that we would get if we had borrowed money to finance a home, small business, car, or consumer goods.  Most of us are not looking for a handout.  We just don't want to be treated as private lenders' indentured servants. 

The other day I said on Facebook, not without a note of false bravado, that I am "not going to pick up a second job just to appease the morons at Sallie Mae."  But the ugly truth is that I may not have a choice in the matter.  And if working 7 days a week is the only way I can feed the monster, that means there will be no new paintings and no new interior designs, because when will I even have time for that?  I was really thinking that now that I have my good day job I'd be able to get a little studio and keep on painting, but if Sallie Mae gets their way, there aren't going to be any new paintings for a long, long time.

So I hope H.R. 5043 passes, or else that a miracle happens and I get $65,000 I can pay those parasites before it's too late.  

I feel like it already is.

And this will affect more than just the graduates who took out these loans.  The private student loan mess could be the next big bubble to burst.

Related Links:

Blind-Sided at Sallie Mae? 
Pilfered Dreams: The Story of Student Loans and Sallie Mae 
Student Loan Sinkhole? 
College grad: ‘I wish I’d gone to prison instead 
The Subprime Student Loan Racket
For-profit colleges prosper from student loans 
Student Aid Reform, Still More Needs to be Done 
Commentary: A Plea to Add Consumer Protections to Student Loans

Americans for Fairness in Lending 
Student Loan Justice
Forgive Student Loan Debt to Stimulate the Economy

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My first live painting event!

I am so excited about my very first live painting opportunity, coming up next Saturday, April 24th! Yes, the 24th is going to be a busy day for me.  The plan is for people to bring their recyclable items to the event so that I can incorporate them into some spontaneous artwork.

Here are all the details:

Date & Time:
Saturday, April 24th 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Artists of Eastbank Studios
1200 W. 35th Street (35th & Racine)
Chicago, IL 60609
FREE PARKING (enter lot on Racine)


complimentary cocktails all night

Click here to purchase tickets online
Tickets in person: Three Peas Art Lounge, 75 E. 16th Street
Tickets via phone: 312-624-9414

And the event is also on Facebook.  Hope to see some of you there!

I can't believe I forgot to mention...

Echoes of Silver Whisper

I can't believe I forgot to mention that one of my paintings won an honorable mention!  Yes, that's right, Echoes of Silver Whisper won an honorable mention at the student show this year.  And to think it was the very last student show I had the pleasure of entering, and the first art award I've gotten in a long, long time. 

By the way, the award-winning painting is available for sale on Etsy for just $40 plus shipping.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

See my work at the 2010 Chicago Art Open!

This year Fuchsia Sublime will be on display at the Chicago Art Open at River East Art Center in Chicago.  The Chicago Art Open is a great opportunity for art collectors and enthusiasts to see new work by local artists.  This year 350 artists' works will be on display.  I am so excited to have this opportunity to show my work to a new audience.  And I hope you will be able to attend.

River East Art Center is located in a great part of the city.  It is walking distance from many attractions, including Lake Michigan,  Navy Pier, The Magnificent Mile, and the AMC River East 21 movie theater.  There are plenty of great restaurants in the area as well, including the cafe at Fox & Obel Food Market in the River East building.  (By the way, they provide Free Parking  for 2 hours with a $20 purchase.)  So bring your family, or bring a date!


Tuesday, April 20th, 6-9pm
Preview, Benefit and 35th Anniversary Party
*Tickets are $50 in advance, $65 at the door. Click Here! Or contact the CAC office for more information.

Saturday, April 24th, 12-4pm
 Public Opening (free admission)
Sunday, May 2, 12-3pm
How to Collect: A Panel of Experts

The River East Art Center
435 East Illinois Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Get Free Shipping in the Spring Cleaning Sale!

ana reading 4
Ana Reading, framed 8"x10" print, $35.00

Are you one of those people who waits until there is a free shipping offer before shopping online?  So am I!  And so that's why I am offering free domestic shipping to all my Etsy shoppers. This deal lasts now through Sunday, April 11.

Visit my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/tjgholar

Sunday, April 4, 2010

See my work in the Planet Earth group show

Five more of my post-consumerist pieces will be on display at PlayfulZen Gallery.  The show runs April 9th - May 5th.  Curated  by Anna Timmerman the pieces in this show illustrate the incredibly diverse terrain, life-forms, and materials found here on Earth, and are made made from natural or re-appropriated materials.  The opening reception is Friday, April 9th from 6-10 p.m.  The gallery is located at 2147 S Lumber St., Loft 516 in Chicago.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

My first solo show!

I want to thank everyone who came to see Post-Consumerism at Three Peas Art Lounge on Friday.  It really meant a lot to me to get your support.  I am pretty exhausted right now, but when I get some energy I promise to post pictures from the opening reception.  And if you missed the opening, you still have time to go to the gallery and see the show.  It will be there until May 31st. 

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Upcoming Shows at Governors State University

Now that spring has arrived, a new gallery season is upon us.  And there are three you might want to see at the Governors State gallery.

The 2010 Student Art Exhibition runs from March 30, through April 7.  The opening reception and awards ceremony is Wednesday April 7, from 6 to 9 p.m.  I actually have one piece hanging in the show, which is kind of bittersweet because it is my last student show at GSU.

And then from April 19 - 26 there will be a showing of art by the multi-talented Sharon Burrink, who does photography, sculpture, drawing, and is also an interior designer.  The opening reception for her show, The Redemption of Brokenness, will be Friday, April 23 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Another show you definitely don't want to miss is taking place is Christopher Clark's aptly titled You Never Get a Second Chance.  Chris has been involved in numerous artistic pursuits both on and off campus, including the Feed Art Center, which he recently co-founded with fellow artist and GSU alum Michael Costanza.  Chris's show runs from May 17th through 24th, with a reception on Friday, May 21st from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

The regular gallery hours are Monday - Wednesday 11:00am - 4:00pm and Thursday 2:00pm - 7:00pm.

All three events are free and open to the public, so check them out.  The school is located at 1 University Parkway in University Park, Illinois.
And if you need a map to help you find it, visit the Governors State website for more information.
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