With a new public art installation at the 5th Street SEPTA Station, and a related exhibit at the Woodmere Art Museum, artist Tom Judd has attention focused on his process right now. So he decided to focus on the process of other artists.
Judd’s new podcast, “Being An Artist,” interviews local artists about their work-life balance. He introduces every episode with his declaration to “explore the nature of being an artist and what drives this life-long commitment”.
The 10-part series started March 3 with sculptor Darla Jackson. David Humphrey and Jennifer Coates discussed the challenges of two artists sharing a marriage and maintaining separate careers. “What it’s like to be married to another artists, where you both have that kind of commitment,” explained Judd. Other guests include painter Tim McFarlane, sculptor Donald Lipski and stained-glass artist Judith Schaechter. “I’m really interested in how people make it work and have a life,” said Judd.
“I’ve been interested in this for quite a while,” he said. “What kind of personality, what kind of person makes that kind of commitment – just all-consuming. You could say it’s talent, or it’s confidence…but none of those things explain it. It doesn’t matter what happens. They just stay in it and do it.”
Elements of the show are threaded together from personal connections. The show is produced by Radio Kismet from their studio at 448 N. 10th Street or via Zoom. Christopher Plant was a friend and had interviewed Judd for his own podcast, and then liked the concept for Judd’s show. The theme music is “Shooting Creek” by Judd’s old friends from his early days in Utah, the Fuzzy Mountain String Band. Most of the guests are people Judd has known for years, or known through their work. “Basically, it’s artists I’m interested in.”
“I look for interesting stories. Donald Lipski is a huge artist. A while back he took his career from gallery shows to large commissions all over the country,” he said. Tim McFarlane talked about patience, and staying focused on long-range goals. Judd is exploring the solitary nature of the creative process and how that coexists with living in a family, a neighborhood, and sometimes a day job.
“For me, I’m looking for ways to interact with the public about my artwork and art in general, in a way that I don’t think is getting done. I think the conversation I’m having with artists about how they make it work, what that looks like on the ground, I’ve never heard anyone go in with that particular angle. We talk about their work, but really what we talk about is the experience of making art, of being slightly obsessed with making art, and no matter what shows up it doesn’t seem to take you away from that.” He’s seen a theme emerge. “One thing that’s come out is that it’s not that making art isn’t fun – but having fun isn’t what’s running it.”
Judd, 68, came to Philadelphia from Utah and received his degree from PCA (now University of the Arts) in 1975. In 2011, John Thornton created a series of videos about Judd for the Michener Art Museum. They provide a glimpse into his Fishtown studio he shares with his wife, artist Kiki Gaffney. Occasionally in the videos, Judd breaks into song, singing something like Jimmy Reeves’ “Put Your Sweet Lips a Little Closer” while the camera wanders over sketches and artifacts he keeps around the studio for inspiration.
“There’s a drive to see if you can do something. It never ends, and you’re never satisfied with anything.”