Sunday, June 28, 2015

Finding your Tribe

Equal rights for all Americans has been in the forefront of the news all week, following hard on an ongoing tide of tales of bullying and discrimination against those among us who are NOT in the majority.

I've always thought that diversity, individuality, creativity, are qualities that should be encouraged and celebrated, instead of castigated.

So often, in our youth, the characteristics that make us special are treated as aberrations.  We must fit in.  Don't stand out.  Blend in.

Why should we?  Why should we strive to be mediocre?  Why must we be bland to be accepted?

I'm a huge fan of RuPaul.  I think many of his catch phrases, while simplistic, ring with basic truth.

"If you can't love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?"

Simple, but still so true, and so wonderful.

I was listening to an interview he did as part of a series called "It Gets Better."  In childhood, he was always aware of a difference between himself and the other children.  He wasn't like everybody else.  So when he grew up, he moved to a big city and found people like himself.  He found his tribe.

That thought stayed with me, for weeks now.  

"He found his tribe."

Again, so simple, but so wonderful.

The idea of it, finding your tribe; finding a group of people like yourself.  Fitting in; belonging, at long last.

Again, I thought how wonderful for him, but, I felt a sense of jealousy.

Where is my tribe?  I've always tried to blend in, to pretend that I was one of them, but I always knew I wasn't, not really.

My likes, my interests, my opinions, just never fit, anywhere.  

Not mainstream.  I tried what I could, but even among the band kids, or the drama kids, the most classic of the misfit, I was still a misfit among misfits.  

I think it's wonderful that RuPaul found where he belonged.  I love that the bullied, the special, and the creatives can sometimes find a place where they feel that sense of belonging.  

But me, I'm still looking.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Keep Your Heart Safe

The older I get, the more guarded I become.  

I think it's inevitable that, over time, we become more wary of sharing our heart and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable.

The caged heart has sustained some damage.  My grimly determined Victorian avatar has opted to place her heart carefully under guard.

She can't risk letting herself be harmed again.

Her heart just couldn't take it.  Another injury and her heart might break beyond repair.

But, just because you are determined to protect yourself, doesn't mean that someone might not try to breach your defenses...

Pardon the overly phallic symbolism, but our guarded Victorian lady just might have to weigh her options....

Is he worth the risk?

Think carefully!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Family Portrait without a Father

Father's Day: my Facebook feed, my radio stations, my internet news sites, have all been flooded with the trumpeting of Father's Day.

What do you do if you are raising children without a father?

I know some fathers leave by choice, some withhold their love from their children, and some are just lost.

My own children lost their father to cancer three years ago.  My oldest two, teens when he died, have a lot of memories of their father, (which isn't to say that it makes the lost somehow less, or easier to bear).

But my youngest two don't have as many memories.  They are basically growing up without a strong male influence in their lives.

I can't teach them to play baseball.  I can't teach them to change a tire on a car.  I cannot fill that gap.  

Of late, I have been binge listening to the podcast of Mark Maron.  He had comedian Joe Rogan on as a guest.  I don't know much about Rogan aside from his work on "Newradio", but Joe Rogan said something on the podcast that really resonated with me.

To paraphrase, the most interesting people he knows all had to overcome some sort of trauma or adversity in their childhood.  For him, it was an abusive father that he didn't see after the age of six.

Basically, everyone I have ever been close to had something in their childhood that left them emotionally bruised or battered.  Whether it was divorce or a dysfunctional family, none of them escaped childhood without some sort of emotional trauma.

They came out the other side damaged, but not irrevokably broken.

My boys will grow up with that same sort of adversity.  It's not a wound that I can possibly fix.  I can love them from here to the moon, but the loss of their father isn't a gap in their lives that I can fill by wearing a lot of plaid and taking them fishing.

The hearts of my beautiful boys are damaged.  They have suffered an emotional trauma that will never go away.

I can only hope that they will come out the other side of their childhood, somehow stronger, self reliant, and maybe, just maybe, a little more interesting for what they have survived.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

What if you were really old and, and really kind?

I may or may not have been binge watching Doctor Who.

The new season is coming in less than two months so I am treating myself to a marathon of Doctor Who.  Clearly, I am well into the Amelia Pond years!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Support an Artist, Support the Arts

Want to help an artist?  Talk about them.

To be an artist is to be equal parts vulnerable, passionate, determined, with at least a dash of lunacy.

We spend years honing our craft.  We spend endless hours trying to define who we are as an artist.  All so that we can try to start building a cohesive, coherent body of work.

We show up in our art studios, day after day, with very little immediate payoff.  Even if we spend hours creating a piece, we may only think it wonderful for a brief, shining moment before that critical voice re-emerges in the back of our head, assuring us that all our hard work is in vain and to stop persisting in our daily delusion that we can be a successful artist.

We spend money on supplies.  We meet with a few little successes, probably a lot of  failures.  We try not to internalize the criticism or the amused suggestions that we need to get a real job.

We are artists and, many of us, continue to wade on. 

Some people assume that artists are lazy.  

How much work can be involved in picking up a brush, a camera, or a keyboard?  All our mental agony is dramatic self-indulgence.

Go to an art market, any art market.  Arrive early in the morning and watch these lazy artists unloading their cars, hauling all their gear to the booth spot.  Watch them spend a couple of hours arranging their art is a pleasing manner, all in the desperate hope that someone, anyone, will come and connect with one of their pieces.

Remember too that we pay for the privilege of performing all this work and, sometimes, don't even make our booth fee back.

Next, we have to perform at these markets.  We have to talk coherently and persuasively about our art.  We need to make that connection with the potential patron.  We have to be salespeople.  (Personally, anything involving talking, I am complete crap at, but I try.)

Want to support the arts?

Is there anyone in your life that is an artist?  You don't even need to be the biggest fan of their work (My own mother isn't that keen on my version of photo-surrealism, but I digress.)

Whether the artist is your best friend's sister, your cousin-in-law, or your hairdresser's niece.  Please talk about them.

One of the hardest things about being an artist is getting your art seen.  On one level, you are terrified of letting other people judge it and you.  On another level, it is hard to get into a gallery while art markets are a serious commitment in time, money and resources.  

If you know an artist, talk about them.  Please feel free to mention my work to your barista, your librarian, your dental hygienist, or even better, to your friend that needs some art for that twelve story hotel they just acquired.

To paraphrase, Neil Gaimon, when we make art, we feel like we are walking down the street naked.

If more people want to come watch our one person parade of vulnerability, all the better.

Notice us.  Point us out.  Talk about us.

Thank you.

What are you afraid of?

Think that there might be dark, nameless, disturbing things in the dark?

Ever wonder what might be hiding in the shadows?

Take a risk.  Go for a stroll.  

There might be nothing there at all.....

Friday, June 12, 2015

Much Ado In Baton Rouge

I've been having a lot of fun the past few weeks creating some gorgeous ladies a la Dias de la Muerte (Day of the Dead).  Instead of using the more traditional roses, I thought it would be fun to work in some antique Haeckel shapes from under the sea.

My time in my art studio has been very limited in the past few weeks.  I volunteered at my art association's summer art camp last week and then spent the weekend at the NOLA Time Fest in New Orleans.  What I have been really been longing for is a day off.

However, last Friday night, I heard about an exciting new development in the Baton Rouge art scene and it drove all thoughts of doing nothing right out of my head.

Talented artist, Michelle Elder, has been extremely busy at 524 North Foster Street helping to renovate the former Southside Motors building into an exciting new art cooperative in the heart of Baton Rouge's arts district!

The venue will feature ongoing events with local musicians and performers as well as art exhibitions AND the building features studio bays which can be rented out by local artists and craftspeople.

I am absolutely thrilled to be included n the preview party tonight!

I really just started a serious foray into the arts world about a year ago.  I took the Artist as Entrepreneur course through the Arts Council of Baton Rouge.   It really opened my eyes to how the art world works.

I learned about juried art markets and art exhibitions.   I applied to two immediately and was ecstatic to be accepted into Art Melt and then receive an Honorable Mention at the September Competition at the Alexandria Museum of Art.

Exciting, absolutely, but what happens next?

Apparently, group shows are the next stage if you're interested in pursuing a serious art career.

Beautiful synchronicity at work, I met Cindy Wunderbar who was creating an urban art house, Chez Fab, to host art exhibitions as well as a venue for performers and musicians.

I was thrilled to participate in Chez Fab's first group show as well as in their "BRothers We Love" show.

And, then, last week, I heard about Studio 524 and the upcoming preview show and party.

Another group show.  Another amazing venue.  Halfway through 2015 and I am absolutely delighted to watch as life continues to beautifully unfold before me!