Tuesday, February 17, 2009

'Art is Vital!'

Last night we were at the theatre until midnight, but came home afterwards and listened to every old western song you could imagine, from 'High Noon' to 'The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly'. The sound and music score to this play has been another amazing journey, and we may be going right down to the wire with it, but again, I use this word a lot, 'exhilarating' is the only way to describe it. I would go so far as to say it's 'addicting' if that word can be described in its lighter shades. I'm just about to down load the tunes we found from I tunes, which is really fun to do, (and they are only 99 cents!) I would say that 99 cents to have 'High Noon' on your computer is a steal! 

We also finished most of the set last night and the lighting. The lighting looks great. Although the theatre is smallish, it has high ceilings which make lighting the show a dream. (I'm so used to working with low ceilings, its a revelation!) I did discover that I'm not as deft at climbing ladders any more, and have been a bit sore for a couple of days. I'm starting to allow myself to let the younger ones climb the high ladders. Still, I could not resist 'getting up there' to be close to a few of the lights. I also had to drive into the 'garment district' in downtown L.A. yesterday to pick up the material for 'the sun and the moon' on the set. I found some great material on the cheap, so it was worth the drive. While I was there, I dropped post cards off to a friend of Scott's to pass out and promote the show. Then it was back to the theatre, and then to Home Depot for some small tools, a hook, and a couple of small shrubs to experiment with on stage. Then is was to Big Lots! to pick up three small photo albums. Then back to the theatre to paint the moon frame, and then we did a run-through! There were many other small chores that needed to be done that I won't mention, suffice to say that this is the work in guerilla style theatre, but I can honestly say that this show will entertain you in some form whether you like me standing up there or not! There are always elements you want in a show so that the audience can 'take a rest' from what may get intense, (look at a photo, listen to a song, examine how the light hits a table, etc.) I'm not advocating a boring factor, just that in this show we have tried to create an environment that one can examine through the course of the show. We hope we can take you to 'The Valley of Fire', to the horse races, to 'The Circle Cliffs', etc., all while we are doing a play. Kurt, Scott, and I have thrown the 'clock out the window' now in terms of hours we work, which is pretty much around the clock except for the six to eight hours of sleep we are trying to get each night. Its going down to the wire, there's nothing like it! 

Scott and I had a conversation this morning about how difficult it really is to create art in an environment (our last administration) that does not view art as 'vital'. I think lots of people see it as something that can be cut out either when 'times get tough', or in the case of (our last administration) when capitalism is much more important, (look where that idea has got us). ART is vital, and the people who work at it work just as hard. Creating art takes a 'blue collar, sunrise to sunset mentality. It is also an amazing way to examine history, something that everyone seems to understand, yet seem to sometimes have the mentality that it was something that 'they did' long ago, or something historians do. We must never take this form of examination for granted, or we are doomed to fail as a society.  Its an ongoing process to chart  history as a rich subtextual encounter with a vital life that exists in the emotional heart of a life lived.  My own journey to chart my father's history and his relationship with the world has had to be all consuming to 'get at things' that made his life interesting. In this play, I am examining and redefining what's under the surface of a 'disappearing specialist'. Most people know about his last 'disappearance', but few know his history of this disappearing pattern he had. Creating the art is creating a beauty out of things we mostly read as tragic, and if that work doesn't get done, we will have facts without any real motives and emotion. I read scores of biographies, and its always the people in the stories that are seemingly unremembered that are the ones  most interesting to me. Does anyone remember Jackson Pollock or Eugene O'Neil's best friend? As a society, we sometimes make choices that elevate one person above another, but the people that create the support are so often overlooked, and so often the 'key' to the whole rise of an art form. I always love it when a painting comes up on 'The Antiques Road Show' of obscure painters who no one heard of until they are long dead and leave this amazing body of work. As you look at those beautiful paintings, you begin to realize that this was a life being lived, where there was this amazing observation happening. And there were family members, friends, and influences that helped mold this 'art call to action'. This is why it is important if you are not mining a creative vein, support an artist and you will be doing the world a great service. I was always so grateful to the people that supported me morally or financially to do what I had a passion to do through the years. Everyday, you got to where you prayed to have someone that would recognize what you do and lend a hand. In this current event, I am very grateful to Todd Campbell who recognized that by financially supporting this project, he could be a vital part of 'making it happen'. I am also so grateful to my cousin Cheryl, my mother, Aunt Ann, LaRena, Tom Jerome, the people of Boulder, and scores of others  who have mentally and morally supported me in this endeavor. (more on all of that at a later time.) It's so important, (even in tough economic times) to look around you and see how you can contribute to creation, every bit as important as giving your money to 'The Democratic Party'. You want change? Support an artist who is willing to explore other ways of looking at things, explore new ways of examining ourselves, explore ideas that are yet unchartered. It would indeed be 'a brave new world' if artists where given their own 'bailout'. What people don't realize is that most artists work in tough economic times throughout their lives, and only about three percent actually are augmented for their efforts. Support an artist today. Art needs you. In all of this rhetoric coming out of me this morning, I am so grateful to those who are supporting me, and I take my work seriously, and I will humbly submit to you, 'what I have discovered'...

4 comments:

Gerry said...

I agree that artists may not be compensated for their work in 'good' times as well as bad, but it seems all the more vital to have their inspiration to give us hope when we are experiencing an economic squeeze. So if a way can be found to finance something, we must look forward to seeing it and supporting it as much as possible. It is like the best possible antidote to despair. Most artists don't expect to make a lot of money, because they find their joy in the work. I don't think there is going to be a time when the effort is going to be any more appreciated!

ksuss said...

great post

~*~Travelling Gnome Jossi~*~ said...

I'm so excited for the show! I can't wait!

DB said...

Thank you for this escellent essay. Having spent my life in the theatre I can so appreciate the struggles you are going through to get your show open Most people don't realize that theatre artists are also engineers and mechanics, if not with hands on tools, then with mind on tools, trying to solve problems and get things to work. We are a money oriented society. Artists make art not money. art buys a brighter life, with deeper feelings and senistivities, greater understanding of the world and of oneself. Money should buy art, but if the goal is more money then why waste it on the grand things that art can buy? Some CEOs allocate no money whatsoever for cultural things and are proud of it. An artist is an artist because he has to be.

DB Vagabond Journeys