PREPARA­TOR TIM JAG

Pasatiempo - - IN OTHER WORDS - TIM JAG — Michael Abatemarco

THERE’S A LOT OF AES­THETIC CON­SID­ER­A­TIONS. THE RULE OF THUMB FOR MOUNT-MAK­ING IS WHAT’S THE LEAST OB­TRU­SIVE MOUNT AND WHAT­EVER MAKES THE OB­JECT SAFE. YOU PUT THOSE TWO THINGS TO­GETHER AND COME UP WITH VERY ECO­NOM­I­CAL FORMS OF MOUNTS . ... WE CON­SIDER LIGHT­ING, AES­THET­ICS, AND SAFETY. AL­WAYS, THE PRO­TEC­TION OF STATE OB­JECTS IS THE MAIN CON­CERN. —

It is a given that the risk of dam­age to an ob­ject in our state’s mu­seum col­lec­tions in­creases the more the ob­ject is han­dled. For a prepara­tor, whose job en­tails prep­ping ob­jects for dis­play and mount­ing them in an ex­hi­bi­tion, the safety of the state’s pat­ri­mony is of ut­most con­sid­er­a­tion. The task of do­ing it un­ob­tru­sively and with care falls un­der the purview of Tim Jag, a prepara­tor for the Mu­seum Re­sources Di­vi­sion of the Depart­ment of Cul­tural Af­fairs and for the an­nual Cur­rents New Me­dia Fes­ti­val. Jag, a man of seem­ingly in­ex­haustible en­ergy, is a go-to guy when you need an ex­hibit mounted and you want it done right. “We do a va­ri­ety of mount-mak­ing for ob­jects in the state col­lec­tion, and that can be any­thing from a man­nequin form to a small metal mount for a fivet­hou­sand-year-old ob­ject,” Jag told Pasatiempo. “There’s a lot of aes­thetic con­sid­er­a­tions. The rule of thumb for mount­mak­ing is what’s the least ob­tru­sive mount and what­ever makes the ob­ject safe. You put those two things to­gether and come up with very eco­nom­i­cal forms of mounts. We also do some pro­duc­tion with pedestals and other fix­tures. We con­sider light­ing, aes­thet­ics, and safety. Al­ways, the pro­tec­tion of the state ob­jects is the main con­cern.”

Any­time you en­counter Jag — a painter, print­maker, in­de­pen­dent cu­ra­tor, for­mer arts ed­u­ca­tor, co-founder of Baca Street Art Projects, and DJ who goes by the moniker DJ Prairie Dog — he’s likely to be do­ing some­thing rather than noth­ing. “You can choose to watch TV or you can choose to make stuff,” he said. “You’ve only got 24 hours in a day.” His most re­cent cu­ra­to­rial project was the ex­hibit The World Is Flat Not Round, a group show at Phil Space that opened in Septem­ber. In his own artis­tic prac­tice, he em­braces fine art and street art forms. “The fine art is kind of this the­o­ret­i­cal ab­strac­tion I’ve been do­ing for about 10 years. It’s med­i­ta­tive, con­tem­pla­tive. The street art is fast and fu­ri­ous, like throw­ing down a col­lage or a print, and some­times there’s some drink­ing go­ing on. I’m mak­ing art for my friends. It’s been a goal since mov­ing here: Make some­thing that’s $10 or $20 that my friends can buy, and a lot of my friends own my work be­cause of that. It’s not a mon­ey­maker, but it helps me pay for mak­ing more stuff.”

His work for the state, how­ever, is typ­i­cally more mun­dane. He’s been with Mu­seum Re­sources for about three years, af­ter a seven-year stint at the New Mex­ico Mu­seum of Art and a brief hia­tus in Cal­i­for­nia. “I work at all the state mu­se­ums within our sys­tem here. About once a year, we’ll ad­dress a mon­u­ment or historic site and go there and work.” Some of the ex­hibits he’s worked on went up quickly, in a mat­ter of weeks, and oth­ers, such as the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum’s ex­hibit Frac­tured Faiths, took months of plan­ning and mount­ing. “That show was about a two-month in­stall with over 300 ob­jects,” he said. “When you get up to that many ob­jects, it’s just a real long process of mount­ing the show. There’s a lot of prob­lem-solv­ing on the spot that hap­pens that you’d never an­tic­i­pate when you’re in the plan­ning stages. You have all these pro­duc­tion meet­ings and plan­ning meet­ings about ‘this is what the show is go­ing to look like,’ and ‘this is how we’re go­ing to do it.’ But when you go to do it, you re­al­ize that out of those 500 de­ci­sions you made at the meet­ings, there are 300 more de­ci­sions to make while you’re putting up the show. Be­ing a pro­fes­sional in the field helps you make those de­ci­sions quickly and move on.”

If any­thing can pre­pare you for mount­ing a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion with hun­dreds of ob­jects, it’s a fes­ti­val like Cur­rents, which en­tails in­stalling hun­dreds of elec­tronic de­vices in­clud­ing mon­i­tors, com­put­ers, LED pan­els, cam­eras, lights, and pro­jec­tors. For a prepara­tor, mount­ing Cur­rents is the equiv­a­lent of a physi­cian work­ing in a busy emer­gency room (though maybe not quite as bloody); it’s a place to hone one’s skills. “Cur­rents is an elec­tronic me­dia show that’s been go­ing on for sev­eral years now. I’ve been the lead prepara­tor for it for the last four,” he said. “It’s a real bear of a show be­cause it’s mostly in­stal­la­tion work that artists do, and any­time you get into elec­tron­ics and in­stal­la­tion, you’re dou­bling your prob­lems. It’s been in­ter­est­ing to watch artists come in, and some nail their me­dia and things go smooth, and then some just can’t fin­ish the in­stal­la­tion. The equip­ment breaks down or does some­thing they didn’t re­al­ize it would do in­side the space. It’s a crazy show in terms of who’s go­ing to make it to the fin­ish line. Ev­ery year there’s a cou­ple of peo­ple who just don’t make it, and Frank [Ragano] and Mar­i­an­nah [Am­ster], who run it, they know that, and they al­ways have back-up artists who can move into a space that isn’t be­ing used. We mount that show ba­si­cally in seven days. When the clock’s tick­ing, there’s no time to dil­ly­dally. That’s part of the fun and part of the frus­tra­tion.”

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