Wednesday, December 10, 2008


After jackhammering concrete:

Isaac and I have been talking about what it is that stops us from becoming successful artists in a way that is meaningful to us. We come at it from different stances. Being older, I have a greater hold on the concepts of high art and the pitfalls of being a modern man – struggling financially, but maintaining some separate sense of honor. He just thinks he basically gets in his own way.

I think the same can be said of spiritual matters and non-profits. That somehow we are all exempt from the impurities of capitalism even as we struggle to do business within an established paradigm.

Well, the paradigm is unlikely to change much in the near future. So unless we can shift how it is that we see ourselves in the ‘real’ world, and become more conversant in the language of commerce, then the more likely we are to languish in frustration and borderline poverty. That is not a good thing, because it hinders us from pursuing our calling in an effective way. And that stops the world from benefiting from our contributions.

An individual or an institution that is especially worried about ‘keeping the door open’ has closed the equally important door that is the access to creativity and clear thinking.

In Isaac’s case, we are beginning to look at his stockpile of paintings as his inventory. At the Center, the inventory could be energetic and committed personnel, vibrant and forward thinking visions, plans to implement those visions, and established publications.

If there is no other lesson to learn in today’s economic malaise, it is that diversification is paramount to success. An artist may need to focus on several series to indicate a depth to an investigation. But there must also be ‘side ventures’ that indicate a broader field of interests, involvement in experimentation, and an ability to risk failure in the pursuit of a new idea.

I am convinced that art is not a solitary pursuit. An individuals ‘expression’ is only actualized in community. A great painting, a great novel, a great curriculum are disempowered without involvement within the context of  viewer, reader, student. A tree may fall in the unpopulated woods and still make a sound. But that sound is not experienced without a human present. That sound is not open to discussion and evaluation without a community present.

Historically, as an economic or cultural wave has collapsed, a new wave has already formed and started its steady march towards shore. Every social movement, every painting, every poem and every business finds egress in the collapse. In the completion. This is how we grow. This is how we lean into the experience of success. 

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