I had the chance to spend this past weekend with great friends, some new and some old, discussing the nature of art and photography. As we gathered in the great little town of Port Townsend on the Washington peninsula, I wasn’t sure what would come of day long discussions of the nature of life the universe and everything–art related of course :).
Many of the discussions were hazy only to become crystal clear and finally drifting back into the fog. But as I was reminded, this is the gift the universe gives the artist. The artist really has a job here that others don’t. Artist whether they be painters, writers, sculptors, photographers or finger painters spends time playing with this gift much as they did with a new train, doll or bike under the christmas tree. Then as those toys faded into memory, we find ourselves still deeply connected to those things. Hazy, washed out colors of old Kodachrome memories but emotionally as vivid as the day we saw a Red Rider BB gun under the tree. We move in and out of these transitions from clarity to haze and back again because we know that is where the need to create lives. That is where our office desk and chair live, and art really does live in the space between.
And so in the spaces between clarity and haze, you can find yourself in a room with amazing people, amazing scotch, and amazing views out from the table and still go in circles feeling like you aren’t stepping forward. However, it is in those moments when you realize that going in a circle forwards, backwards, sideways, up and down all that the same time is something unique. And, in that universal mix of time and space is the rabbit hole. There are days I want to stay out of the rabbit hole and continue down the path of what I think life is but truth is my artist can’t. I have learned that my own way of being in the world is my own. I learned this from my parents, my mentors and my friends. My art by extension must be my own too.
I have learned as an artist that the challenge of being me is well….hard. The easy road is just that the road. It is paved with one route and few exits and on ramps, but it is easy. I often times drive the Interstate 5 of my life, but then I find myself not being able to get where I need to go. When I find that I need to explore those transitions and spaces between, they don’t ever happen at mile marker 174 next to the Shell station.
I was also wisely reminded that the times you create and leave the art behind. Whether it be 42 sculptures left for others to find and re-experience in ways they never thought they would or images from the daily events in your life that move others to understand the universal threads of children that tie parents together, you have to be true to you. You have to be true to your art. And integrity like this is really fucking hard.
So you might ask, did I learn anything this weekend since most of what I have written to this point seems to go in a circle. The short answer is this. I learned that sometimes what you leave behind for someone else is what matters. It might be a conversation with someone to help them understand something they were struggling with or something they might say to help me. But in the end, artist want to leave a trace. A trace of something behind in the world. To each and everyone from the weekend, feel free to create something new and cross that need off the list. And as for me, who knows that I up next in my work, but the camera is calling….