Friday, June 21, 2013

The Case for Being an Artist.

This is why I want to make art and sell it. Well, there's no one reason. There are several of them which I can go into another time. First and foremost is that I love creating art. It's what I always wanted to do since I was 10 years old, teaching myself how to draw. There's an elemental charge that goes through me when I'm drawing and it's flowing. Like many artists, I hit stuck patches when things don't go as well, but I've realized that making art is about course corrections, much like life. We move forward, we stumble and fall, and we get up and keep going. We (hopefully) learn from our stumbles and get more accurate, more true to our vision.

I wanted to be in business as an artist because I think it's an amazingly cool way to make a living, and I'm constantly intrigued by the people who are able to succeed at it. I've come to realize that if I'm going to succeed, I might be well served to watch and learn from what they do. I do not believe that it's just luck or predetermination. I want to do what works. But I also feel that more than ever in this country we are experiencing a critical breakdown of deep thinking, of contemplation, of awareness and of a sense of meaning, and it's infecting everything from our media culture, to our public discourse, to the way we do business, to our sense of civility. I believe that if you learn to observe and appreciate art, live with art, be it drawing, painting, sculpture, film, or great writing and literature, you're more of an awakened person. A more conscious person. And this has practical value. You might slow down a bit, not just race through life without ever noticing it, much less living it.

It was Henry David Thoreau who said that he wanted to "suck the marrow out of life" and that he didn't want to come to the end of his life and realize, as he said, "that I had not lived." You can almost hear the emphasis on that last word. I've said earlier that in our culture, art has been if not devalued, then certainly undervalued, and that has impacts for our society and our life as a nation going forward and they're not at all good ones. I wrote recently about the blistering pace of life as our technology races ever forward, ever it seems, ahead of us. That's one of the impacts. Anyone who deals with operating systems for computers (and unless you're off the grid, that's ALL of us) feels this on some level. Art, living with it, creating it, being a part of it, almost by necessity makes you pause and become aware of something you might not have been prior to that moment. Art causes you to be in the moment, yet it's not asking that life around you should stop. Just you stop. Pause. Just for a moment. And it does this by being something that makes you want to pause. Stop. Just for a moment. Look around. Really see. Really hear. Really check in with your self. When was the last time that happened? It's been a while, hasn't it?  Look how crazy off-the-rails things have got since the last time.
Hello, stranger.
Where've you been?

The ironic thing to me is that in the 1840s when Thoreau wrote and published Walden, he had the idea that life was going entirely too fast and that people were missing it. He'd hardly feel at home here in the 21st century. He'd probably...go off the grid. Permanently. But here's the rub: some artists like and need to retreat to recharge their creativity and their souls. Then they end up staying gone, and we miss their singular gifts. For example, JD Salinger, the author of The Catcher In The Rye, pretty much vanished into thin air after that book came out. He lived a reclusive existence in New Hampshire and no one knew he was even alive until he gave his last public interview in 1980. There was talk of legal squabbles more recently. Publishing rights and so on. Then, he died in 2010, having published nothing new since 1965. That's kind of a shame. During his time out of the public eye he continued to create, and there is apparently a trove of finished work that hasn't seen the light of day and may never see it. More's the pity.

My point (and I do have one) is that, silly as this sounds, beyond the rush of creating, I like to think being an artist of any stripe has value in this world, particularly at this time, and any time an artist succeeds, that's a win for us all in my view.

Now, is my view the truth? I don't know. But I think the evidence is out there, and who doesn't think that we don't need more "conscious beings", as a friend of mine put it, walking among us?

And while we ponder that, maybe someone can tell me where the hell Meg Ryan has been?

More Later


Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Computer!

I got a new (well, new to me, that is) Intel Mac Pro Tower delivered yesterday. It's an early version from 2006. I honestly thought it was later that Apple started using Intel chips. Like around 2008. But anyway, I got this at a great price from a place called Mac Of All Trades in Tampa, FL, one of my old stomping grounds from back in the day.

I know. You can't see that it's a new computer I'm writing this on. Not from your end. But from my end, this may not be the latest and greatest out there (Apple is going to debut a new, cylindrical tower later this year), but for me and my purposes, it's AWESOME. Can't wait to get my design programs loaded on here.

I'm excited. Can't you tell?

More Later


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Birth Takes a Khardashian

According to press reports, reality star Kim Khardashian, after what seems for her (and certainly for many of us!) was an agonizing pregnancy, finally gave birth to...a human as far as we can tell. A human female. The bundle of joy comes five weeks early to the relief of those of us who have had to be subjected to the endless photos of the expectant Kim in all manner of fashion disasters. I will not be posting those here in this space, nor will I link to them. My eyes can only take so much. I imagine so can yours, dear readers. Leaving aside the artistic aspects of pregnant female celebrities (which I've discussed here before), the father of this little girl is Kanye West who probably should not be, shall we say, "replenishing the earth". Now, I leave you to ponder what kind of maternal instinct Ms. Kardashian will have and will it trump her instinct for gratuitous self-promotion and prompt her to leave us all alone for a while. We can only hope. God knows we've endured enough.

On a comforting note, at least Beyonce isn't knocked up again. Turns out the rumors were wrong and so was I. That's comforting.

More Later


Friday, June 7, 2013

Let's Just Settle This

I heard about this before my poor Mac G5 started having issues and needed to go get looked at. Now that I have it back and working (for now: upgrades to come soon), I felt the need to insert my own skewed perspective into what has become an almost ridiculous debate. What's everyone on about this time? Well, folks I'm a bit embarrassed to say it but here it is.

It's Cheerios.

Well, not Cheerios directly, but the maker of Cheerios, General Mills' new ad that's been on TV and online. It features a family, and it's about a little girl's concern for her father's heart health. And the rest, well, maybe you should just see it here.

Now, how on earth can anyone have a problem with a face like that? Or with what she did to look after her daddy. And the ending is just priceless. I LAUGHED. Why? Because it's just too darned cute. It's beyond cute. It's too adorable for words.

So what's the problem?
Apparently, this ad features an inter-racial family. Mommy is white. Daddy is black, and the little girl is obviously the product of both of them via a process known as...well, we don't need to get into that, but without trying to sound obvious or cliched, didn't we get past this? According to the Huffington Post, some people had a whole lot bad to say about this ad. Enough that a spokesperson from General Mills, well, spoke up and essentially told everybody who's up in arms about this to chill.
Now, full disclosure. I'm black, so I may have a bias here. But I would argue it's towards little girls who love their daddies and want them to be around to watch them grow up. There are worse ones I could have, and there are far worse ones that a still too-high number of people have. I guess those folks will be swearing off Cheerios (as well as Wheaties and Pillsbury...everything) from now on because, oh my God, black people eat them. And now the universe as they understand it has been forever altered.

Black people eat Cheerios. With their familes, some of whom might be...gulp, white. Or mixed.
What's next? The Apocalypse?

I groan.
All right. Maybe I had this idea that we were all past this and I wanted to indulge it for a moment. To their credit, General Mills is saying, quite boldly, that its brand message needs to reflect the America we actually live in, and that the traditional sort of Leave It To Beaver approach, while perhaps safe, is not authentic. I couldn't agree more. Turns out, the ad got something like 20,000 "likes"and maybe 1500 negative commenters. I did read some of the "dissents" if they could be so politely called that. I almost lost my lunch. There's respectful disagreement and then there's all out reptilian-brained insanity.

So. We're done here, right?
Reptiles can stay in the swamp. We will leave you in peace.

More Later