Sunday, December 13, 2009

'Cast Your Bread Upon the Water...'

Good Sunday morning! There are four more shows in December to perform, and four more in January. Then, I'll have to make some decisions, or, hopefully, before then. If the past year is any indication, It will be probably be in the final hour that something happens to make it for me. Austin is a remarkable city in so many ways, and I could see myself living here, at least late fall through early spring. Yesterday, I searched on line for booking agents, talent agents, and possible places I could get representation. I even tried to contact Tommy Lee Jones's company, Javelina Film Co., but couldn't get through. I also did some publishing inquiries, letters of submission, in other words, I'm looking for 'the next unsure thing'.

Rustin and I did make some small in roads by hanging out a few nights at 'The Broken Spoke'. The 'Spoke' is one of the most famous 'honky tonks' in Texas, and we met Doug Moreland (a local fixture on the music scene), and lots of cowboys. Doug is supposed to be bringing a group of his cowboy friends, but of course we'll see if that happens. Of course, I had plenty of post cards to hand out, and with the show winding down, I'm trying to get as many people to see the show as I can. I'm figuring out that's the key, someone to see it who can 'do something' about it, and so I'm having to be more assertive in my evangelism. So far, however, none of my 'post cards' have come back through the box office, so my campaign is not having the effect I was hoping for. I did inquiries on the effectiveness of print ads, but most people have informed me it's a waste of money unless you can spread them all over the city. I was hoping reviews would help, but so far, they have done 'zilch'. It is amazing, however, that we have never been 'skunked' on a show, and have always had enough audience to not have to cancel. Still, I remain ever optimistic, I know that other artists have experienced similar experiences, and so I remain ever persistent, even while I feel, (once again) like I'm pushing a boulder up a hill.

The other night in the parking lot of our apartments, as we were leaving to go out, a young woman was walking across the parking lot with a guitar in hand. We stopped her, (she was with two other musicians), and asked her what kind of music she played. So, in the parking lot of the complex, she played us one of her songs. It was beautiful, she had composed it herself, and seemed happy that we were interested in what she was playing. This morning, I thought of all the artists in the world having difficulty in the ever persistent dilemma of 'surviving' while trying to make the art work. Its true that we live in a country that does seem to relish in the work of the 'best, the brightest, and the talented, but the 'development' stage is so important at that 'critical moment' for these young artists. I had a letter from a former student, (yes, and actual letter which was impressive), lamenting the loss of her artistic vision as reality said, "You must eat and have a place to live..." For many, however, that initial excitement of creating is thwarted by the inability to survive on a developing canvas, and so years hence, the loss of that vision returns, and often, to late to make a life out of it. Even though I know I have the experience and the drive to continue on this path, as I get older, it gets harder to face the end of the 'bacon and eggs'. Irony, however, will get me through, as it will once again prove an ally as opposed to an enemy, and I'll find something coming through at the stroke of midnight. I've always said and believed, if I ever really make some money 'doing this', I'll spend my fortune seeing that other artists have an opportunity to spend that two or three years pursuing an artistic vision, as I most recently have had someone who did that for me. We need more of those people in the world, with the gift of the imagination to make creativity something that is of paramount importance. I would encourage those who seek worth causes for 'tax write offs' and other contributions, to look around you and find something really interesting to direct these funds towards. There is an artist out there, a theatre company, a band, a painter, a writer, who needs your support, and I promise you, the bread you cast on those waters will return with sweet jam on the top of it.

Today, the weather is beautiful, 'Baby' and I went to the dog park early, to be met by forty or so dogs, it was quite the 'scene'. With the rain, most dogs have been absent from the park, but today, it was a 'dog parade'. Baby is an amazing dog, a catalyst amongst the other dogs, she keeps the energy and dog antics going there for the sometimes two full hours we are there. I'm finding that I've met more people at the dog park than the whole of Austin, and of course, we stand there talking about our dogs... "what kind of dog is that?" "She's so pretty..." etc. "Baby did this, Baby did that..."

Lastly, several of you have asked for my address, however, don't send packages unless they are directly delivered to our door, (our mail box is tiny), but cards and letters are encouraged... Happy Holidays, from Austin...

Raymond Shurtz
300 E. Riverside Drive #203
Austin, TX 78704 All donations are welcome, support your local artists...

3 comments: said...

How difficult the everyday living is to balance the artistic needing to eat and drink.
Just being independant to the end of your life is difficult. You have had quite a stay in Austin even though not many appear. The artist's life is not easy! It's surprising how many try to make it work. Hang in there and have as Merry Christmas as possible. We are thinking of you.

DB said...

Raymond, this posting of yours is a thinking through the problems and coming up with answers. All I can do is nod my head in approval.

I know the agony of having nothing on my plate for too long or else some awful piece of shit that I didn't want to do. I have appealed to The AQctors Fund and other such clubs for a grant just to pay the rent. I stood in Sheridan Square every day for ten days with a tin cup and begged. As an oldster now I will tell you there is no better reward than knowing that you stuck it out no matter what. The artist needs to be fed, but so does the art.


Gerry said...

Back in college I thought I have got to have the courage to write the truth or I will never be a writer worth reading. So I started writing what I thought in all my classes. I had in back of my mind that was the only way I was going to be able to reveal things I had been concealing for years because I deemed them too hard to tell. If I did not talk about them these secrets would cause me to have a split personality as an adult, as those around me who were part of the secrets had. So I saw the writer as one who would always attempt to shed the light of truth in some dark place where civilization had gotten stuck and could not progress. I see the writer as also the savior of the human race when the thinking has stopped and development is nil.
The writer has to do some heavy lifting sometimes and the price might be high. Crippling could result, but if truth is valued again somewhere as a result, the writer has served the human race. I see the artist who sheds the light of truth as essential for progress, so compensating the writer so he or she can survive and do the work seems vital, not a luxury but absolutely necessary.