Art And Its Wonders

1 Sep

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* A highly informal essay. Just because.

Gram was an art teacher for over twenty five years, and because of this had an entire art room set up in the house that was the wonder of our childhoods. 

…Eventually there would be thirteen grandkids who would pass in and out of it’s doors, gobsmacked with the infinity of possibilities it held.  Every pen, pencil, crayon, marker and craft item in existence, was housed within it’s closets, cabinets and shelves. The gigantic table could sit three butts deep on one side, easily…as we would all lean over our work with tongues poking out the side of our mouths in deep concentration, comparing creations.

It was a breaker of rules, that room.  Just passing it’s threshold, entered you into special “time laws,” that could suck away six or eight hours within the blink of an eye…so consuming and enticing it’s possibilities.  It should be no surprise then, that I would naturally want my own version at home, and after a couple of trial and errors, managed to finally create a serviceable mock-up.

Gutting my tiny bedroom closet…leaving only the naked light bulb on a string, and all my clothes crammed in the far corner…I inserted a mini fold-out table, squished in a kid-sized folding chair, and VOILA! My very own art studio, just like Gram’s.

…Only mine came without windows.

…Sure, I had to crawl in under the table and do a chin-up off the lip at a specific incline, just to ease myself up into the chair. But it had plenty of space for all my art-making stuff…arranged according to size, shape and color. And it had it’s own door that I could hang a sign on, indicating it was a real studio and whom it belonged to.

I spent hours and hours in that “room”…sweating my ass off and nearly passing out from lack of oxygen. Jackson Pollock might have had more manic creation fever than me at that time, but that’s about the only person I can think of. I was totally fanatic about it…even keeping to specific “studio times” where I would lock myself in, staring into the abyss, just waiting for the muse to reach out to me. (This was sometime circa age eight through ten, btw…just in case you were wondering how far back my little anal-retentions actually reach.)

…Every once in a while, Ma would come knock on the door and peek in, just to check on me. The door itself, I kept insisting, had to be kept closed for privacy…”so I could think and things.” Even though I was an only child, with an entire bedroom just on the other side of it, that stood completely empty. Had Ma not done these occasional check-ins (annoyingly always leaving the door cracked open when she left), I prob’ly would have died from asphyxiation.

…Which is prob’ly the only time in all of History that a coroner’s report would have come back, “death by complication of intense coloring.” I could totally have been famous and things. But then, I hear posthumous fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I mean, lookit Van Gough, for instance.

Anyway…the point of this story was to ad more evidence to the fact that I am a highly disciplined person. Even when it comes to my creative work. But minus anything having to do with consuming food. I like it: taking stock of my creative self, holding me responsible to perform up to a certain standard, even if it isn’t really convenient, and I am the only person who ever knows about it or sees the results.

And even if that means literally shutting myself up in a closet in order to accomplish it.

It’s because of these kind of things that I think people often confuse “Artists” as freaks, hermits, irresponsible lushes, moody assholes, or just flighty scribes of bitchy wit. Possibly also, because we often “act” like it. But by and large, we are actually quite manic furies of creative energy, that occasionally just need to blow off steam after a long day of focus, concentration, and dedication. And, I think we’ve earned it. Look at the things we create and set free into the world:

Music is the only language without any barrier of class, race, age, political, religious or educational barriers, that has ever been invented…reaching literally every civilization the world has ever known.

Photography can speak in more silent words that haven’t even been invented yet, per square inch, than the whole of the Oxford Dictionary.

The written word has more power to change relationships, beliefs, theories, insights, affections, enticements…fuel anger, honor, regrets…infuse power, introduce change, and keep safe our History than any other artifact that a time capsule can possibly hold.

Performing Arts, are the lessons of our past, the hopes of our futures, the well-earned mini vacation after a long day. They are the window into our own personal souls, and the opportunity to share our cultures and experiences with one another. With heightened emotions, and physical intent, it empathises with our pains and pleasures. With immediacy and technique, it instantly shows all the limitless kinds of life journeys that exist around us and through all of time.

Culinary Arts, are built to experience every human sensory perception we own and explode them with the infinite possibilities of paired perfumes, textures, tastes, crunches, slurps, visual presentations, and new invented delights.

Architecture represents it’s people and time, with date stamps meant to last for the remainder of our existence…and whatever comes after. “We were here!” It will say in stone for thousands of years after we are all gone.

…And the collective of formal Fine Arts, bring us the ability to actually visualize our past, experience collective movements throughout history from the time they were recorded, see the dimple in stone, the stroke marks on canvas from another era made of berry pigment and indigo…burnt wood charcoal scratched on pulp from ancient trees, forming the yellowed paper where Michelangelo’s sketches cavort in various states of dress, work, love and play. And they give us the opportunity to record the “now,” for future generations to refer to.

…So sure, Artists are kinda “different” from the average guy.

We aren’t wired to accept the normal processes and aspirations of society as a main. We keep odd hours, dress different, think different, focus for far too long on minute details while totally ignoring the obvious. And, we can get depressed because, for whatever reason, we can’t re-create what’s in our head.

…Where a “good day” for a millionaire is making two more millions. A good day for an Artist is making a single perfected sentence that rings just right when spoken aloud. Even if it took twelve hours to accomplish it.

…A “normal person,” understands the concepts of corporate ladder climbing and building a decent 401(k). An Artist is an Artist until death…it isn’t a job description we can ever walk out on. It isn’t something you can “graduate” or “retire” from, just stopping one day and moving on with the rest of your life. When we try, it actually tortures us. When we “can’t,” we get drunk, fall into epic depressions, invent quests, become hermits, battle insanity, and in some extremes even kill ourselves.

Because, it is the only life we know.

…It is the greater part of who we are, the people we surround ourselves with, the things we believe in, and the sacrifices we have made for a life that could depress anyone who wasn’t in Holy Orders. It’s the whole reason that things like money and power and (sometimes self-respect) never seem to matter a damn to us.

Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying we are all on the same level, together. There are the wealthy of Hollywood, and Award-winners…there are the Intellectuals, and Politicians among our numbers as well. What I’m saying is: an Artist would do it even without the money, power and fame. Most of ’em do.

Here is what I think: An Artist is an idea in human form, birthed for the sheer purpose of inventing relatability, beauty, honesty, horror, hope and communion with one another, as a species. And it all starts with the passion of whatever the hell it is that you know you were put here on this earth to do. Because guess what? Art is everywhere. It’s in a prime number, a theorem, scientific invention, the planting of a garden…the technique of driving a race car, the swing of a golf club…the mixing of a really good Martini.

YOU are an Artist. Even if you don’t know it yet.

…Maybe not in the “conventional” way, (you rebel!) Maybe not with a box of Crayolas or a block of marble…but of something. I promise you. Whatever that “thing” is that makes life’s color seem a bit brighter to you…that is your Art. And you should make time in your life to dedicate to it.

If I learned only one thing so far, it’s this:

Art isn’t an “extravagance” in life. It is a necessity. And it has no “wrong answer,” because it’s expression is a representation from whatever time and circumstance in which it was created.

…From the first cave carvings, to your favorite movie…from architecture in Rome to an Olympian’s performance. From Betsy Ross to whoever sewed the flag that is flying right now on the face of the moon — Art is the only thing that links every human being to every other one…in some way, shape or form.

However you practice it, whatever strange disciplines it requires of you, however “inconvenient” it might sometimes be…make time for it.

Practice your Art.

Hell, practice all fifty of them!

Be brave and explore things.

It is the whole reason we’re even here.

~D

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