I have a younger sister who lives in Los Angeles. Well actually we’re from the San Fernando Valley; a hot place to live. But she currently resides in Temple City. Anyways, sometimes we write each other to keep in touch. Usually we gossip about family or talk about our future as granny’s touring some obscure town in the middle of nowhere drinking whine and talking about how hard it was to be an artist post the economic crash. But let’s be real, it’s always been hard to be an artists.
And that’s what this post is about, I suppose. Not my sister, but the world she and I live in. The world of Art/Art Making/Artists – and their purpose in this world.
As a young person I always thought, oh am I going to be impressed when I see this dance? this performance? this singer? Are they going to show me something I haven’t seen before? I sure hope so!
I suppose I thought that art was there to serve the artists — and in turn impress the audience. Like –you know, art for the sake of art. But the older I get; the more I make my own weird art — short videos, short stories, short dances and share them with people I find that what links us is our ability to connect through these experiences. We connect and wonder and remember together; each our individual journeys, but eternally connected through this one experience.
Once I saw a video that was about a woman turned man that lasted ten minutes long. This person wore a “feminine” outfit and gradually through a rewind effect (editing) the person’s clothes flew off of him to reveal the beginning of the film at the end — a naked man sticking his hand in different parts of his body and then smelling his finger. I sat there thinking, Oh my God—he’s putting his finger there and we are all watching this.
Not just that, but I have a bad habit of turning my head and looking at people as they watch something. I like to see their reactions, or I get curious as to who in the room has fallen asleep. But when I turn, the artist is in the center of the room and when his finger goes into … a hole, I remember seeing him cover his face, groan and say “Oh God!” in a loud whisper.
Now, if I would have seeing this video in a gallery on my own. I would have tried to connect it with the space — if it would have been a bare room, I would have thought — oh, this is about being bare, open, vulnerable, and real. But I saw this video in a free performance setting, in the dark, with a bunch of sweaty bodies around me, after performing myself (as a volunteer dancer) and with the artist present — and seeing the artist react to his art.
I fell in love!
Not with the man in the video, nor with the artist, but I fell in love with the feeling I got inside my heart seeing the artist completely fall apart in the center of the room. And I thought, that’s it — that has to be it!
Art is about sharing the deepest parts of ourselves and just throwing caution to the wind! Yes?
Yes. It’s that and yet every year another layer of it lovingly leans atop my head and piles itself on the other definitions I’ve been collecting as the days go by.
Today, I walked down the stairs of the Civic Center BART and saw a woman singing to herself, “you belong to me…” and I noticed her eyes were closed and she touched her chest as if her heart was ready to leap out. I kept walking through the BART station and saw one of the local musicians do his thing on some drum set. He hummed a tune, probably saving his voice after hours of singing in the hallway. Music just takes over that space, and it’s beautiful!
All kinds of musicians go there. Some do it for money, some for the chat, and some to network. There’s the Country Singer, an Afro-Caribbean performer, a Bob Dylan sound a like, a Lady Violinist with a pink music stand, and a gent who only plays the chorus of “Ho Hey” by the Lumineers.
So today I added another pile of my definition of art, based on this experience and the sister chat. Art is there to remind us of each other, that we are individuals, but that we are also a whole. It unifies us, it invades us, it reminds of our past lovers and our future goals.
Some wonder if it’s ever achievable —happiness— and I think Art helps us touch it.