Friday, April 27, 2012
state of the artist
I've heard word from a number of my female artist friends about the writing from whole hog a few weeks back. It's comforting to hear that it strikes a chord.
My friend Joyce Lim sent back a great offering - Diane Ragsdale's post from State of the Artist, a conversation sponsored by the the McKnight Foundation in Minnesota. While I am battling my younger-self demon, who upbraids me for shifting, for getting older - Ragsdale is suggesting a paradigm shift. It's useful. It could even make this particular demon vanish into thin air - or split like a potato, or peel like an onion.
Ragsdale points to Charlie Leadbetter and Paul Miller's 2004 pamphlet "Pro-Am Revolution," which states that it's not helpful or accurate for artists who create work on a professional standard to be devalued for under-achieving some illusory money-based "professional" standard. It points to the vitality of thousands of professional-standard American artists who spend their lives' emphasis on their art, but who also work other part-time or full-time jobs. Such artists by current paradigms are often considered amateurs, failures, or both, since they are not fully financially supported by their art-making. Leadbetter and Miller suggest a new title for this kind of artist, "pro-am," and positive perception of their position and contribution to American society. I'm not crazy about the title, but I like the sentiment.
John Lennon also responded to me, when he was exactly my age, in a 1980 article titled "John Lennon: Must an Artist Self-Destruct?" from Robert Palmer's posthumous collection of writings, Blues and Chaos. Palmer interviewed Lennon and Yoko Ono as they were preparing to release Double Fantasy, a shared album and return to creative and public work after five years of reclusion. It came out only a month before Lennon was killed.
"Is it possible to have a life centered around family and a child and still be an artist?...In a way, [Yoko and I are] involved in a kind of experiment. Could the family be the inspiration of art, instead of drinking or drugs or whatever? I'm interested in finding that out."
"You know what I listened to for the past five years? Muzak! For the chores I was doing around the house, it was perfect. I know people are going to say, 'Oh, that's because he's got to be forty and got soft.' Well, it might be that; it's irrelevant to me. The attitude is that when you change when you get older, there's something wrong with that, but the world is stupid enough as it is; if the young were running it, it would be really dumb. Whatever changes I'm going through because I'm forty I'm thankful for, because they give me some insight into the madness I've been living in all my life."
Of course, someone must lead the opposition. And in this week's rite, a young Lou Reed from The Velvet Underground steps up to the plate.