October 19, 2011

The Lunch Break Times


Artist Sharon Lockhart reflects on the presence of the individual in the context of industrial labor through film, photography, and printed matter. For Lunch Break (2008), she spent a year at a naval shipbuilding plant in Maine, and the exhibition — now on view — examines the workers’ activities during their time off from production. SFMOMA is also distributing Lockhart’s newspaper, The Lunch Break Times, which relates stories about labor and lunch breaks. Every Wednesday, at NOON, we’re posting one of the articles here.………………………….


Tammy Fortin: What do you do at SFMOMA?

Walter Logue: I’m an operations technician. I move stuff, set up and break down events, maintain the building, paint walls, fix people’s desks, set up their ergonomics.

Tammy: Do you have a lunchtime ritual?

Walter: Generally I go to lunch with Jess and Al on the installation crew. We have a circuit. Sunrise for the falafel; the taco place, Si Señor, which goes from one condescending and insulting name to another — now I think it’s called Ay Caramba!; and Sammy’s on 2nd, a liquor store with a deli in the back. I try and keep it under eight bucks.

Tammy: Downtown that can be kind of hard. Do you ever bring your lunch?

Walter: Not really. I feel like I’m treating myself when I buy my lunch.

Tammy: Can you describe your workspace?

Walter: Back of the house, like the catering kitchen and the back stage of the theater, various storage areas, and offsite storage.

Tammy: Is there anyone’s workspace you’re particularly impressed with?


Walter with the Wall of Cats; photo: courtesy Tammy Fortin

Walter: I like the communal paint shop and woodshop downstairs. Al has a crazy wall of cats he started in the woodshop. It’s funny because there’s this macho table saw, and then these cute little pictures of cats. [We walk into the woodshop, and Walter shows me the cat wall.] We made a ’zine called Consolidated Cat, a collaborative art project, by me, Al, Jess, and Jeff. Al likes squirrels, too. [Walter points to a poster of a squirrel in a go-cart. We walk into the paint shop.]

Tammy: How did the idea for Merle’s Bar come about? [Merle’s is an impromptu party that appears for special exhibition openings in the basement’s paint shop.]

Walter: It’s the bar left over from Tom Marioni’s Free Beer piece [featured in the exhibition The Art of Participation].

Tammy: William Kentridge came down here for a drink once.

Walter: Yeah, and Ellsworth Kelly. He seemed excited by the dude vibe.

Tammy: So, by day this is a paint shop, but at night, if there’s an opening, Kentridge and Kelly can be found having a beer down here. [Walter shows me the official Merle’s signage, complete with spilled beer logo on what is shaped like the back of a dreadnought guitar. Then he hands me a giant cat made of black tape.]

Walter: And here’s the tape-ball cat.

Tammy: What’s the best part of working at a museum?

Walter: Getting to work around the art is fun. And there are lots of artists and creative people. I like to show my work to some of them, because I value their opinions. And there’s free stuff, like recycled wood left over from exhibitions. It changed the way I make art in a lot of ways. I never painted on wood before, but now it’s one of my primary mediums because there are dumpsters full of it after the exhibits come down.


Tammy Fortin assists the curator of media arts at SFMOMA. She is a San Francisco–based writer and musician who splits her creative time between working on a novel called A Modern Champion of the World and playing guitar in the band Excuses for Skipping.

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