Cube Flare

Our cubicles can be a reflection of who we are, who we would like to be, or simply an embarrassing mess reflecting what we eat at work. One colleague, Stacy, adorns her cube with pictures of her niece, Tiffany. There is Tiffany as a chubby-cheeked baby-Tiffany wearing an outfit that identifies her as a proud member of the marching band. -Tiffany in a purple tap costume- and finally, Tiffany, covered in sweat, wearing a hospital gown, and holding her very own baby, which she, if she has the opportunity, will undoubtedly photograph and post in her very own cubicle. The circle of life continues. 

In Joe’s cube, he houses items from the offices of previous VPs. A giant cattle skull, a water thermometer, a Mr. Potato head and angry client letters fill his personal space. It’s a special – a virtual reliquary of VP’s past.

My cubicle is comparatively boring. Just a note pad for taking down messages, last month’s production report, and some books on design. There is also a listing of pertinent evacuation procedures, holidays, extension lists, and birthdays. I have no photos and no special knickknacks.

When the new VP came to see my cubicle, I suddenly realized that my space lacked character, class and personal flare. I brought her through the dregs of cube city, introducing her to my cube mates and finally showed her my space where a blinking light indicating that there was a voicemail message on my phone was the only sign of human life within a 3-foot radius.
“This is where I live. ...Uh, extension 17 if you ever need anything.”

She stood there for a second and I wished I had something to show her. Maybe a photo of a child I was related to, in order to demonstrate: Just look! I’m a person with a very special life.

Instead, I blurted out exactly what I was thinking, which unfortunately was, “I don’t feel it necessary to impose my personal life on others.”
She smiled and put her hand on my shoulder “Whatever makes you comfortable.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking about what I could do with my cube to reflect my own sense of style, class, and personality, without dressing my walls with photos of family members, birthday cards that I feel too guilty to throw away, or free calendars.

I would begin by adorning the fiber core walls with a life-sized portrait of Benjamin Franklin. In his live sized half-portrait he would be wearing a monocle, holding some mineral in one hand and a tiny colonial flag in the other, presented in an ornately carved frame with ruby, pearl on oak in gold leaf -to catch the subtle lighting from the computer monitor as well as the two red candlesticks on either side of the flat screen.

On the cube shelf would be an old-fashioned phonograph, set to play records of the 50’s French singer, Edith Pilaf. La Vie en Rose would play softly in the background complimenting the hum of the printer as I printed out the monthly dashboard. 

Additionally, I would keep in my desk drawer, a carved wooden box featuring whimsical islanders blowing ceremonial trumpets and M.C. Escher-esque geometric patterns. When a special guest visited like my immediate neighbor in cube-city, the office assistant, I would unearth the box from the mess of paperclips and say,
“Barb! It’s wonderful to see you. Can I offer you a pickle?”
She’d say, “Sure. I’ll take kosher dill, if you got it.”

I would still prefer to keep my friends and family out of the work environment. I don’t want to give anyone any ideas.


Motorcycle Portraiture: An Ingenious Business Pursuit

There are many artists who work mundane day jobs and, in their spare time, pursue a more fulfilling craft: be it painting, photography, music or knitting. My craft, as of late, has been drinking Merlot out of a pickle jar and writing pithy anecdotes about my adventures owning, maintaining and occasionally operating a vintage motorcycle. Since my computer was ruined in 2005 after a near fatal Merlot accident, I’ve been strongly considering moving into a more lucrative hobby which would allow me to bypass the incredible frustration I have with my computer crashing and the risk of publishing work that is slanderous and/or self-incriminating.

As an undergraduate, I took on studio art as a minor to my major in art history. I was pretty good at drawing and painting and sincerely I enjoyed those classes. At this point, given that I have masters in the business of arts programming and an undergraduate degree in liberal arts, the business of Motorcycle portraiture seems like a logical career move.

The idea is simple: You pay me to paint and possibly frame, a quality portrait of yourself and your outrageously expensive Hog.

In this way, I could pursue painting in addition to my love of being around other people who are completely self-obsessed, neurotic, and irrational. This is not to suggest that all bikers are ridiculous. Just anyone who would commission an oil painting of their bike. And fear not, plenty of people would…Probably more people than anyone is prepared to recognize- would spend money on an original oil of themselves mounting a giant purple Harley.

And yes, I am the right person to handle this market at this time for several reasons:
1. Because it would be funny and 2. Because men who ride motorcycles love me, and finally 3. Because I like to paint.

There is, as of yet, no service or product offering quite like the service I plan to offer and no quality, personalized portrait studio that specializes in motorcycles portraiture. There are studios that accept commissions for paintings of bikes and bikers, but those don’t seem to specialize in any technical quality or artistic capacity. Go ahead, google “motorcycle paintings.” Your first hit will make you laugh at out loud.

My target client base will be older men who spent way too much money on a giant Harley (or look-alike Yamaha) that they are prepared to drive about twice every summer, but are otherwise terrified of. The secondary target client is the woman who is married to someone from the first group, interested in commissioning a painting as a very special gift for a birthday, retirement or anniversary.

The money I earn from this pursuit will go directly toward refurbishing my own motorcycle seat cover, obtaining a radical helmet with a synthetic Mohawk and getting a new computer. Expect to see me peddling at First Fridays. Business plan is forthcoming.

Photo from: Motocycle paintings by James “Kingneon" (Talented Motorcycle Painter- Likely to be direct competition. )