The Promotion Project

The Promotion Project is underway. Putting together a successful application for academic promotion is an unapologetically narcissistic undertaking. The process involves sifting through years of paperwork from past projects and attempting to explain their relevance�-without sounding like a egomaniacal blowhard. Where I teach the activities are divided into four categories: teaching, creative activity, professional activity and service to the University. To make the process more interesting and to help put blogging, community building, and the multitasking, DIY nature of contemporary art practice in context, I�m asking readers to participate.

My goal is to get letters from people at all levels of the art world (artists, critics, collectors, dealers, curators, readers, and, of course, bloggers) to support my application, and I hope @ Bushwick & Main readers, Two Coats subscribers, Facebook pals, Twitterati, etc., will consider participating. The letters will be exhibited as a group show (each writer will be considered a collaborator), and will also be published in an artist book (probably through Lulu.com). The letters should be more about the writer, art, art criticism, art blogs, bloggers, than they are about me and my small contribution. Although there isn�t much time, a short paragraph, a sentence or two�-hell, a few words, would certainly be welcome. I need the letters by Monday, October 12, but let me know if you need more time.

Please send letters to:
Sharon Butler
Department of Visual Arts
Eastern Connecticut State University
Willimantic, CT 06226

Clarification/Update: Thanks, everyone, for your interest in participating in the Promotion Project, but I’ve gotten several notes wondering exactly what the letters should say.  First of all, they are recommendation letters supporting my promotion to full professor, and although writers will send them to me at the above address, the greeting should be “Dear Committee.” Perhaps you would like to say something about who you are and how you have become familiar with my work. If you are familiar with the blog, write about that. Don’t feel you have to cover every aspect of my career or need to do any research. As they say in the Creative Writing Department, write what you know–and please, stay in character. The content of the letter is up to you of course, and I hope you will give your own work a little boost as well–after all I’m planning to exhibit the letters publicly, so please take advantage of the opportunity to draw attention to your projects, which will help put my work in a larger context. Thanks again. I look forward to hearing from you.

September 21 Update: Letters of Support are arriving

The first letter for the Promotion Project arrived today from Kathy Stockman at Cincy Art Snob. Thanks Kathy for participating in the project. Stockman, an art historian, writer, and critic who has taught art history at various colleges and universities in Ohio, agrees with Mark Rothko that “there’s no such thing as a good painting about nothing. ” Check out her lively Twitter feed at http://twitter.com/artsnob. Also thanks to Art Fag City, C-Monster, Joanne Mattera Art Blog, and Absent Without Leave for posts about the project. 

October 11 Update: Progress report
The Promotion Project, which includes my (embarrassingly) self-regarding application for promotion and all your amazing letters of support, has grown to fill 5 binders and one accordion folder. Today I hope to finish the narrative summary, which at this point includes far too many �In addition to…� type phrases, and desperately needs a good edit. Luckily the award-winning writer who works downstairs has agreed to help. Also, the College Art Association has expressed interest in showing the project at their Annual Conference in Chicago this February. Can you think of a more appropriate venue? I can�t. And besides, I’d love to spend a few days in Chicago, even in February.

November 3, 2009 Update: Promo Project complete…and then not
I handed in the five-binder Promotion Project last week (image below), which I thought was excessively long, but Visual Arts colleagues suggested I was in fact too humble, that I needed to beef up the section on my creative work, add more narrative about each project, and tie my activities more tightly to the university’s mission statement.  I spent the last week obsessively reworking the project, which ultimately required adding an extra (6th) binder.

November 4, 2009 Update: Exhibition in Chicago 

Sharon Arnold, Seattle, WA
Amy Bassin, Long Island City, NY
Farrell Brickhouse, Staten Island, NY
Timothy Buckwalter, San Francisco, CA
F. Lennox Campello, Washington, DC
Jenny Zoe Casey, Tavares, FL
Patrick J. Donovan, Washington DC
Ted Efremoff, Willimantic, CT
Laurie Fendrich, New York, NY
Brad Guarino, New London, CT
Mary Addison Hackett, Culver City, CA
Ross Harney, ECSU student
Paul Gustafson, Farmingdale, NY
Lisa Klow, Laurel, MD
Joanne Mattera, New York, NY
Thomas Micchelli, Chatham, NJ
Ross Page, ECSU student
Jane Rainwater, Andover, CT
Julie Sadler, Canajohorie, NY
Mira Schor, New York, NY
Andrea Scrima, Berlin, Germany
Kathy Stockman, Cincinnati, OH
Rebecca Taylor, Los Angeles, CA
Austin Thomas, New York, NY
Hrag Vartanian, New York, NY
Leigh Waldron-Taylor, Providence, RI
Victoria Webb, West Chester, PA
An Xiao, Brooklyn, NY


  1. OK, you and Cincy ArtSnob means 48 to go. Thanks 🙂


  2. The Lenster is in as well… will post it over the weekend…


  3. Thanks Lenny 🙂


  4. Love the idea, but I don't even know you. Do you want letters from bloggers/artists you've never met?

  5. Absolutely, Victoria. If we've connected in any way, either online or in person, you're welcome to participate. Everyone who reads the blog, knows my work through Twitter, Facebook, Geoform, or any other venue is welcome.

  6. This sounds interesting, and fun! 😀

  7. Or perhaps, SharonA, just another ingenious way to procrastinate…?

    –other Sharon

  8. Well, the more creative the procrastination, the better! (isn't this how all the best ideas begin?) 🙂

  9. posted 05-23-2009 12:26 PM
    Here on Artdish and elsewhere I've made no secret of my resentment over the resume requirement for Artists. Somehow I've always felt the weighted cloud of authority encircling my head and thus blinding my clear vision.
    About fifteen months ago, during an intense moment of societal angst I noticed a want-ad posted by the critic Jen Graves who was looking for an intern(unpaid?).
    Feeling naughty(and truthfull) I decided to respond to Jen's entreats with my own resume.
    So, recently having come up a bit short monetarily, I engaged in the honorable occupation of School Bus Driver.
    Honorable though it may be, I am not satisfied, and I will therefore reprise the resume I sent Ms Graves in the hope of finding a new gig.
    Here is that resume, ver batum. Please respond with job offers in care of Artdish.
    Here it is:
    Hi Jen, My name is Ken Marulis/Artist/Painter. Having just read your want-ad for a visual art intern my interest was piqued and I thought that in an odd strange way I might be just what you are looking for. Firstly, I thought it prudent to list my shortcomings. I�m a two finger typer who gets worse if someone is watching. I�m ignorant, I have almost no schooling and I come from a strictly blue collar background. I�m sixty years old, uncomfortable to be around, have a stupidly perverse and immature sense of humor, I sometimes emit dense male body odor, and have been known to say the wrong thing at the wrong time(and usually to figures of authority). I can be a troublemaker. I like to peek down woman�s blouses and a nice ass will make me lose my concentration. I avoid being politically incorrect but if you look into my eyes you�ll see the truth. I may have been barred from entering a couple of galleries but I�m not sure yet. I love Artists more than I love critics. I like to drink sometimes.
    I know there are more than a few items missing from the preceding list but you can point them out to me when we begin working together.
    On the plus side, I love art and I think I may be interested in writing something, and as stated before I�m ignorant and would like to learn a few things.
    Oh, and the answer to that question: If I could go to any art show in the world this very minute it would have to be a caf� somewhere, an art town maybe, and see the work of the best ignored Artist that that particular area has to offer. Some hidden jewel of a painter that the entrenched have chosen to ignore because he/she does not come replete with a following. Aside from that, maybe I�d like to see Al Held�s studio. Thanks, Ken Marulis
    Well, needless to say, I didn't get the job which was probably best for Jen as I am sure it was best for me. I have a problem concerning perceived authoritarian oppression and the first time Jen would have yelled at me I would have been tempted to plant one right on her snoot.
    Nevertheless, thank you Jen for your thoughtfull consideration.
    Now to brace myself for the eventual outpouring of job offers.


    Fool Rushing In Where Wise Members Wouldn't Dare. Ammunition Provided. No Charge.

  10. Hi Sharon. Remember those grade-school reading groups that attempted to disguise tracking with titles, such as the bluebirds, jays and buzzards? Consider this a note from a buzzard. What? I don't understand what you want. It shouldn't be about you? Could you post a couple of appropriate submissions so I can copy the model of their right answers? Regina Hackett

  11. Thanks, Regina, for your interest in participating in the Promotion Project. I've gotten several notes wondering exactly what the letters should say, so let me clarify. First of all, they are recommendation letters supporting my promotion to full professor, and although you will send them to me at the above address, the greeting should be to the Eastern Connecticut State University Tenure & Promotion Committee. Perhaps you would like to say something about who you are and how you have become familiar with my work. The content of the letter is up to you of course, and I hope you will give your work a little boost as well–after all I'm planning to exhibit the letters publicly, so please take advantage of the opportunity to draw attention to your own projects, which will help put my work in a larger context.

  12. I just saw this and it is fascinating. I am a late-bloomer in the tenure process at my university. I hate it more than Satan. It is like pledging a sorority which I avoided like the plague when I was in undergrad. Service, exhibitions, or publications, etc are calculated for the pay-off to get through the next level and that is just wrong. Lucky for me, I do what I do despite all this.

    Well, if you need a black woman artist/curator/asst. professor I am your person. I would definitely write a great letter, or at least try. But the 12th is tomorrow…

  13. I'll look for you at CAA. I am on a panel.

  14. Hi Joyce,

    By all means, send a letter. I'm not handing it in until next week.


  15. Congrats on the CAA show, Sharon. Chicago- great city.
    Bon chance and all that jazz~


  16. Truly how exciting. Glad to be of assistance.

    leigh waldron-taylor

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