I abruptly made an audition the other night for a local TEDx event. Although it was a wonderful experience and I gained a lot from it, I had not planned on talking that night. I didn’t even have a speech lined out (outside of a few abstract ideas that had been rolling around in my head). I was just there to check out the competition and get a better feel for the formatting of TEDx since I was under the assumption I would be auditioning the following week.
I was wrong.
Long story short, I thought I was registered for the following week and I was not. However, there were a few no-shows that night, so I had the ability to just go for it willy nilly.
Unprepared, unpracticed, and unsupported (aside from my mom) I decided to just jump. That’s my way of explaining how I go about doing uncomfortable things so I don’t miss out on all the wonderfulness new experiences can bring – I just fucking jump. That way, I don’t allow myself the opportunity to back down or talk myself out of it.
Take standing on a stage in front of a bunch of random people for instance, once you get up there, it’s better to say anything than nothing at all.
That being said, practice would have helped.
I did not bomb, but I did not get to say everything I would’ve wanted to that night had I of had more time to prepare.
So, now you get to ‘hear’ me ‘talk’ about all the things I wanted to say that night about ‘art’.
Art is for Pussies
Did you hear what I said? I said art is for FUCKING PUSSIES!
(Yeah, I totally said that in an art gallery.)
Oh, sorry, is this the wrong platform for that speech? (Smirk) Just messing with you guys. You don’t have to roll your pretentious art collecting eyes.
Once again: joking.
What’s funny though is I bet some of you were reading that headline going, “Wow, this is gonna be some really abstract, edgy shit.” Well, I appreciate your ability to believe I am capable of such high brow stuff, but I am not that clever.
I bet some others read that though and went, “Hell yes!”.
Either way, I do not actually believe art is for pussies. But I used to. I used to think a lot of ignorant things, and so do a lot of other people. But, it really doesn’t matter whether or not you think art is or is not for pussies. It doesn’t even matter if you can appreciate art. Because before you can even begin to like or appreciate art, there is something greater you must obtain – acceptance.
Acceptance is what really matters in this world when it comes to art (or anything actually), especially acceptance for others. Because until you can have acceptance for other people (for all people), until you can see another human being as equally human, it doesn’t matter what they do. There is no appreciation without acceptance. There is no art without acceptance. Pussies or no pussies.
The saddest part of that statement is that in my opinion a person cannot even call their own art art until you accept it as such first. Until you accept them in essence first. I cannot say this writing is art unless you agree. I mean, yes, I can still call it art without you acknowledging it, but I can’t really give it the validity you can without your acceptance (whether we want that to be true or not). My words, my voice, my art are null and void unless you can accept them as such. Unless you can accept me.
How sad is that? How sad is it that we rob people of their own value, talent, and self worth simply because we cannot accept them? Because we refuse to see them as equal. Because we refuse to see them as being capable of expressing themselves with the same value, talent, or ability as ourselves. Denying someone else their art, their essence, their value, to fuel our own egos.
But the thing is, you don’t have to even like a painting or know how to paint to accept a painting as art or to see value in it. You just need to see value in that person. Ignoring all the thoughts in your head that tell you have to understand something first before you can first accept it. Which I assure you, I know how hard that is to do.
I mean hell, I’ll go ahead and say that I don’t get modern art at all. In fact, I spent a few hours in the Tate Modern this summer because it was supposed to be a must see for any tourist in London, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what the hell I saw in there. But it was art. I didn’t need to understand it or like it to know that. I just simply needed to have the ability to accept that my brain is different than others, and that some things are just never going to be my cup of tea. Some things I will never understand, but that doesn’t mean that what other people do or what their brains produce is worthless because I can’t see it for what they see it as, or because I don’t “get it.”. Because if that’s the metric we are going to use to gage life and people by then we all get zeros.
I mean honestly, I don’t know a fucking thing about art in comparison to lots of people. But I can appreciate it. I can appreciate it because I can accept others. Because I try and see others as equal. Because I no longer need to understand someone, or be like someone, to see them as capable of producing something similar in worth to myself. And really, in my opinion, no one type of art is greater than the other just as no human being is more human than the other. Everyone is an artist, because art can be anything. It can be a painting or poetry or music. Art can be in the way someone runs or in the way they work. It doesn’t really matter what someone’s art is, because as they are real it is real. Of course, you’d have to accept all that first.
And for the longest time I couldn’t do just that – accept things. For the longest time I robbed myself of my own art, and the ability to appreciate the art of many others, simply because I lacked acceptance. Because I lacked the ability to see others as equal. As a result, my world was not filled with art until now (even though it always had been).
So, I hope you will choose to fill your own worlds with art now.
I hope you will choose to accept me and others now, because that is what matters most.
“Art is the most intense mode of individualism the world has known.” – Oscar Wilde
*Extended: Below is some art from some incredibly talented friends of mine. Enjoy!
Joey is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met. We became immediate best buds when I stayed at his house this past summer while couchsurfing on a trip through Indianapolis (where he lives). At the time, he was free handing a giant sign (see above) for a local business in Indianapolis that looked to me as if it were printed right off a computer. Joey has a kick ass graphic design and illustration website http://www.joeyponce.com if anyone is in need of any work.
Joey also recently completed a personal project called Robots of Indianapolis where he released a new ‘robot’ each day for over 100 days straight. Here is one of his favorites.
This is Robot #040 – “Kim” which is kind of a “need to escape” piece according to Joey. To check out all of Joey’s Robots of Indianapolis series, and other interesting stuff follow him on Instagram @joeyponce. My favorite is Robot #64 – Jasmin.
Below is a piece he did just the other day. It’s a quote by Zora Neale Hurston, an American novelist and anthropologist. The quote is a much better version of “the grass is always greener on the other side” according to Joey.
Garic Stephens (Stephen Curd)
My good friend Stephen Curd – aka Garic Stephens – makes the best jeans I have ever worn. Period. They’re also manufactured right here in the USA! Stephen makes some amazing accessories and custom clothing as well if you’d like to own something truly original and of incredible craftsmanship. He is a true diamond in the rough. I strongly encourage you to check out his website www.garicstephens.com, or check out his Facebook page to see if he does a pop up shop near you!
LaMB Fine Art (Laura Marie Blankenship)
I actually met Laura through her parents (who used to be at all the music shows I went to). Coincidentally, Laura now does live event paintings of musicians. She captures the energy of the event as it unfolds, and gets to dance while she paints! Her friends Annabelle’s Curse got her started at The Camel in Richmond, VA in February. That painting and many more are available at www.mkt.com/lambfineart.
What sets Laura apart is her willingness to actually paint the musicians themselves as the subjects of the painting, but still manage to incorporate some optical illusions and psychedelic effects as well. With some formal training, she is grateful she can create at the point where fine art and applied art, performance and observation, and dancing and painting, intersect!
Jeremy Johnston and April Hill
Jeremy Johnston is a composer, lyricist, producer and owner of Nubivagant Records. He now divides his time between Asheville, NC and Kingsport, TN. Jeremy got his professional start in music in 2007 upon moving to Monterrey, Mexico where he played keyboards and trumpet for pop/rock band Ciao Granada. There, he and his band toured most of Mexico promoting their debut record En Gravedad. Below is “Lejos,” the first single from that record.
Upon returning to Kingsport, TN in 2012, Jeremy started the found-sound electronic-pop project Then Said Almitra, which inspired him to build a studio and start his own independent record label Nubivagant Records. Below are two songs from Then Said Almitra.
The Passersby, a folk/pop duo, is his latest project with the uber talented (and superfriend) April Hill from Knoxville, TN. April is a highly desired vocalist in the Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia area, and is a member of the band Feed the Birds. Jeremy and April’s first album is titled Breath to Your Bones.The first single “I Know You” (available on Spotify) is featured in the Mexican film Cuatro Lunas (available on Netflix and Amazon) as the closing theme. The a cappella track Red River Gorge was featured in the Mexican stageplay Lobos por Corderos by Reynold Robledo.
The album is due for release in summer of 2016. Below are two videos from the album Breath to Your Bones.
Select tracks from Breath to Your Bones are available for listening and download on the Nubivagant Records SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/nubivagantrecords
Maybe my favorite, though, the next one is super catchy.
If you need something to get stuck into your head this is the ticket. In a really good way.
Eric Drummand Smith
Eric is without a doubt the most brilliant person I know, and is like a Bob Ross when it comes to painting. He can doodle something totally mind blowing while holding a conversation that’s way over my head all at the same time.
Check out some of his prints for sale at https://society6.com/ericdrummondsmith/prints. I really like the alphabet ones.
If you’re ever in the Abingdon, VA area, Eric also hosts trivia night every Wednesday at Wolf Hills Brewing Company.
Thanks again! Please share the love and talent of these amazing people! This is the American Dream at it’s finest!