Posts Tagged ‘artists’

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 31, 2014
Seattle and Environs

Seattle and Environs

In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town

 

A criticism lobbed by the inhabitants of our large cities of our country’s rural areas and small towns is that they are ‘provincial’.  And ‘provincials’ are seen as uneducated and unsophisticated people who have the speech and narrow, limited attitudes of rustics and small town Babbitts.  This is seen as a bad thing.  And in some respects I’d suppose it is.

 

However, there is at least one respect in which small town life is refreshing.  I’ve lived in Seattle for many years, and now I live in rural Belpre Ohio, a small town across the river from Parkersburg, West Virginia.  Most people here are as they pretend to be.  Your waitress is a waitress.  Your bank teller is a bank teller.  The electrician, garbage collector, lock repairman, heating and air conditioning fellow, the insurance salesman, the nurse, and on and on are who they pretend to be.  And so far I’ve found them to be quite competent, solid and hard working.

 

I was talking over our policies with my insurance salesman who has his office a couple blocks away just the other day.  He’s a younger fellow, smart, good looking, and working out of a small cottage converted to business use which is on the main thoroughfare.  He had always lived in a small town and was wondering if he shouldn’t try living in a big city for a while, and asked me what I thought the differences were.  Off the top of my head I said, “Well, they’re probably more ambitious.”  But I was ruminating more on this after leaving his office, when it occurred to me, that a most interesting difference was that the people in large cities see themselves as acting on a world stage.  They see their concerns as world concerns.  They see themselves as arbitrating the path of civilization, the future of our planet.  Their concerns are big and important… usual crucial.  So they can get pretty hot about them.  In this small town I’ve moved to, the concerns are much more human-sized.  (Though they can still get hot about them.)

 

A problem I’d had in the big city was that probably all of the people I knew were not on a world stage.  They discussed things as if we were.  But actually the world stage for whatever issue we were discussing was usually New York or Washington D. C.  or some other world capital where the actual Mandarins of opinion worked and thrived.  My personal experience was not a credible currency for argument.  What was credible and powerful in conversation was information, opinion – and especially attitude – as disseminated by these Mandarins… all of the talking heads out there in the media.  So, though important conversations on the face of them seemed to be between the people you were speaking with, they were actually discussions over the digressions of various mandarins.  This is tedious once you begin to recognize the mandarins.  You’ve heard all the moves and countermoves.  It is also suffocatingly pedantic.  In this respect, the blogosphere is a recent help.   You send me your link.  I’ll send you my link.  We save each other the waste of a lot of hot air – the inaccuracies of interpretation.  And neither of us read it.

 

In the big city the waiter is not a waiter, (they’re actors, artists!), the salesman is not a salesman (he’s a promoter), the tech fellow is not a tech fellow (he’s an entrepreneur), your teacher is writing a book…  Not many Americans in big cities.  They are World Citizens.  In the big cities married people are not really married (in the traditional sense), nor are they really religious, nor are they really the sex they appear to be (either through clothing or desire)…

 

Everybody is a big potato in the big city!  No small potatoes there.  I used to complain to my wife that, “I wish many of my artist friends would just admit that we are small potatoes.  Maybe we will become big potatoes some day.  But if we could just admit that right now we are small potatoes – maybe we could have a satisfying conversation.”  But up and onwards the whole system goes in its ambitious, progressive frenzy.

 

In the big cities there is really only one game in town, and it’s out of town.  In the provinces there’s really only one game in town, and it’s right here.  There’s the big difference.

Belpre Ohio1

Photos by Google Images

 

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From the Editor’s Perch

January 8, 2012
And No Money for a Beer

“Artistic Failure in America”

I take this title from a blog of the same name.  Here’s a post to get you started:  http://www.artisticfailure.com/category/artists-who-fall-through-the-cracks/

I especially enjoyed some other articles on this blog about “grizzled artists” – what happens to artists as they get older?

By far the largest percentage of artists are financially unsuccessful.  (Can you holler?  “We are the 99.999999…%!”)  In a society moving so quickly that it’s hindering to stop and puzzle over anything , artists can be slow off the mark.  Artistic endeavor tends to be quite introverted.  Couple that with failure – or just an initial ‘failure to launch’ – and you have the recipe for a mesmerizing dance which can pull an artistic mind downward, occupying  its thoughts for years.  Or, you become successful! for whatever reason, and go on some crazy, lunatic’s getaway of fifteen minutes with the Bitch Goddess.

Better to rush headlong than to be left behind!  Or.  Stay awhile.  Look around.  Get creative.  Think your way out of this.  Failure and success are both interesting mysteries.  Artists worship mystery and often find themselves caught like clouds of gnats buzzing in the darkness of those hot summer nights around the mesmerizing effect of those glittering imponderables… often wondering  if they should continue on in the cultural buzz, or just fall out of the air.  Thinking, while at the bar with another cold one,  ‘this all made sense, when I dreamed it.’

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

February 16, 2011
Patrick Pelham is Travelling the World Filming Arists

Filmmaker Encounter

While my wife and I and friends were on Orcas Island for the Kindlings Muse Winterfest, we met Patrick Pelham/Filmaker.  After receiving his advanced degree in filming he has been travelling across the globe, on the cheap, creating short documentaries of artists he has decided to investigate.  He has a very nice website at: http://www.askingfordirections.tv/  Visit with a screenwriter who lives in the last castle on the northernmost tip of Scotland.  Or, for a sunnier look, visit a cellist in Barcelona, or many other interesting folks.  The world is a click away.

Photo by Carl Nelson

From the Editor’s Perch

September 14, 2010

Diagram: 1a

How to Be a Genius!

Creative individuals (e.g. artists) are often pressed by the need to be a GENIUS.  To do this, they need a GENIUS idea.  But, as you can see from the Diagram (1a) above, for most of us, it is simply too big a leap from our paltry notion to a truly genius idea!  What to do?

Baby steps.  We simply start with the best idea we can come up with.  Some of these ideas may lead nowhere (points K, B, H, J, E).  But some of these ideas (which fall within the blue bounding box: points C, F, G, D, L & A) can put us within target range.  And from target range we need just one more normal sized idea – and we’ve struck pay dirt! 

Talent is nice, (when it comes to becoming a GENIUS).  But as you can see from the diagram, nothing beats getting started.  (Or, just “showing up”, as Woody Allen says.)  First you must create a bunch of normal ideas. 

The other thing you must have is faith.  Without the faith that one of your ‘normal’ ideas will eventually lead you to a GENIUS idea, you will stop showing up – breaking Cardinal Rule # 1 – and experience…. failure.  This is absolutely true. 

All of which makes me think that artists are more beholden to religions than as just our historical patrons.  Artists also suffer this necessity of faith.  Artists and religious figures suffer together – appearing as fools (and worse) until some breakthrough is finally had: the miracle occurs, the work of genius is finally created.

So say “Hi!” to your local minister/rabbi/imam/priest…. and shake their hand.  They are our Brothers and Sisters in the Struggle.

Diagram by Carl Nelson

(For a nice printed copy, suitable for framing, send $5.00)


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