Thursday, April 25, 2013

Get Out!

I remember having a conversation many years ago with a student about what art-making is - what its purpose is. The student was very involved in her new experience of making imagery but she hadn't realized that just making the work isn't enough to be an artist. It's very easy to get confused between exploring your creativity and actually trying to be a working artist. What's the difference? 

4th Street Bridge, Multiple Viewings
Bringing creativity into your everyday life is a valuable way to make each day more meaningful. You find yourself surrounded by a world full of wonders and questions...and that's a worthy goal in and of itself - but being a working artist is different in that you're creating something that must find its place in the world. Making art and then just hiding it in your room/closet/studio isn't enough. Art is a commentary about the world/time/space we live in and you owe it to the work to bring it out into the world. Additionally, you don't really know the work until you've seen it in a different environment. 

This week I'm stepping out in two very different venues. The first is part of MOPLA which is a month long celebration of photography in Los Angeles. I will be participating in a group exhibition at a "pop-up" space presented by OFFSITE Projects. The exhibition features the work of five photographers all exploring Los Angeles and is called LA Story.  I'll be showing work from my Multiple Viewings series which explores the iconic spaces in LA. This is a collaborative effort and we're all pitching in during the four day run of the show. It is located just a block away from Paris Photo, an international photography fair, so we're hoping to get traffic from there as well. 

At first I only saw the trees, Razor's Edge
The second event is Connect 2013, The Palm Springs Photo Festival, which starts on Sunday and runs for the week. I'll be bringing a new body of work - Meditative Spaces Found While Traversing The Razor's Edge - this will be its first real journey into the world and I have no idea what to expect. My work (all the different series) has always been about the experience of living, who we are, what we leave behind - but it was always fairly subtle. This new work speaks to the experience of living in a much more solid manner. The images came out of my meditations dealing with change, life, age, fear, name it...I'm trying to illustrate the human condition. As I said before, it's not enough to just make the work, you then have to bring it out into the world to start to fully understand it - so this is my first step at that process. 

LA Story, April 25-28th, 660 N. Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles

Connect 2013, April 28th-May 3rd, Hyatt Regency, Palm Springs. Come by this Sunday from 2-5 for an open Portfolio event. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Another Important Tool...

What if I were to tell you that one of the most important tools for being an artist is not creativity (ironic thought for this blog, I fully realize) - but rather resiliency - or what I like to think of as "bounce." The ability to face a world of rejection isn't just about our interaction with the outside world - it's an essential tool in the creative process as well. 

How many times have you had an absolutely brilliant idea only to see it die a thousand deaths as it hits the page? Or that great image that almost works but for some reason you just can't quite make it come together? Every artist, writer, filmmaker, musician...probably even most scientists have to learn how to face failure and not allow it to dampen their ability to keep coming back the next day. 

One way to do this is to shift from a "goal" orientation to a "process" one. What I mean by that is, if you're only focused on making a new masterpiece - then anything that falls short of the mark will likely be very disappointing. If instead your focus is on the process or practice of creative output, then you've succeeded to some degree just by showing up everyday and putting in the time. This doesn't mean you don't care about making good work - but you become a little insulated against those times when it just isn't working.  Showing up for the difficult process of being an artist on a regular basis will mean that eventually you're going to hit those masterpieces and find your way...but you can't find that path if you're not in the game. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

As Time Goes Bye...

Today my neighbors are having a massive garage sale...they're leaving the house they've lived in for over 50 years and we're all heartbroken about it. On either side of me, I've had the same neighbors since I moved in twenty years ago. One set is ten years older than me and the other is twenty, so I've been able to have interesting and vibrant "previews" of what life has in store for me. But this change wasn't expected and it's been a wakeup call for us as we try to see what lessons we can learn, and the biggest ones seem to be about recognizing change and responding to it. 

You'd think that change would be easy to spot a mile away...but often it's a bit of a slow moving glacier. You don't miss the big changes: deaths, births, job loss, heartbreak - those hit you in the face and demand an answer. But it's the sneaky ones catching you by surprise that really seem to make the biggest impact on life longterm. I think that's what happened to my neighbors - over time, their life and business was changing, demanding they change the habits of a lifetime and I think they missed it - and they're not the only ones - it happens to us all. 

Right now, as you read this, your life is changing. The relationships around you are different than they were even a month ago, your work/school/life environment is morphing and you may have missed it because you were coping and coming up with short term solutions. How do we prevent this? I don't have the full answer but I do know that it's really important to assess your life and choices on a regular basis. Ask yourself if your current solutions are working? An easy way to assess this is to see if you're having to face the same issue over and over again - or better yet, do your solutions really address the root of the problem or just the symptoms? Are you challenging yourself to change and grow on a regular basis? Are you doing things that scare you (no, not robbing banks...) on a daily basis, getting you out of your comfort zone?

At the core of it, I think that's why I've been so interested in creativity. It's not just about creating new art, but rather it's developing a way of approaching life that remains surprised and striving for new solutions. So...what is it for you? What could you do today that would shake things up? 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

One From The Heart

One of the best ways to set the mood in the studio is to turn on music...often I listen to energetic stuff, especially when I'm stuck doing the endless masking that this new series involves. However, there are times where I really need something that removes me from this world and places me into my fantasy world. What seems to work best are movie soundtracks...and I guess that makes sense since they are created to partner with images...and I find instrumentals are best in that they allow me to continue with my own inner dialogue. 

This is one of my all time favorites...Tan Dun, For The World from the film Hero. I listened to it a lot a few months ago when all the drama was happening at my school...the sadness helped me find a larger perspective and what's interesting is I think I can see its influences in my work months later. This soundtrack has the beautiful violin of Itzhak Perlman which, when combined with the orchestration, feels like a person standing in that beautiful landscape. I've created a cd that features several from this film and others and I use it often when I want to create imagery that really comes from the heart.