11×14 Acrylic Ink
I’ve been thinking about dying. Listening to myself breath, with more than usual effort. Listening–thinking about dying–I ask myself–if it were only to begin something–what would I like to do before I die?
I feel inside this question, another one, in hiding. Another question wrapped in the first
What is it I have wanted, and not found?
What has been missing for me, that it took me so long to begin doing what I have felt was my real calling, and which, even now–the lack, speaks back to me, but this time in a form I’m beginning to recognize.
If only there had been someone to listen…
What if we were to make together, a circle (or circles) of Elders and Mentors for artists–poets? — certainly not an organization, not quite a movement–though that would come closer–especially for creative fields that don’t now have this as a more natural part of their development (I’m thinking of dancers, or musicians–poets sometimes find this). But for these too–I can imagine such a mentoring. I ask myself: what would it be? What do I feel, might have made my life … more true?
What would these mentors, do?
That’s what comes to mind, and everything else shapes itself around that. Listen. Not teach. To encourage, yes, but out of a deep listening that hears what the younger artist may not yet hear themselves. Mentors who would be there for the artist to speak to — from the heart–to tell about what they want to do, hope for themselves, what they are perhaps least sure of–or most anxious about how they will be received in the world.
Not pretend to know better than the younger artist, what they want for themselves. To listen in confidence to the their most daring ideas, what they are most confident–or most anxious– about.
To them talk about their work In the conviction that in being heard, we hear most clearly–our own voice, see most clearly our own, deepest vision. And return, more ready to present the gift that is ours alone–whether created alone, or in collaboration, the gift that is ours to leave the world on our parting.
Why is it so hard to find committed, radical/anarchist artists–committed, both to making art, AND to working together to find ways to make art outside the capitalist, gatekeeper, gallery to investor system? Cause no one can do this alone.
One of the factors in what makes me so discouraged, and depressed in my efforts to make art.
It can’t be just talk. It has to be action–discovering, creating through action. It has to begin with saying: we can’t do this anymore! We can’t work within the system anymore! Enough!
And then–looking at what we CAN do–and doing it!
Though the material and social problems involved are unique to each medium and form–this is something that should be addressed by artists of all kinds–dancers, theater people, poets, musicians –together, as a collectivist work.
Every election under capitalism is of course conducted on a terrain of ideological distortion, but there are degrees. One the one hand, one could think of the kind of ideological distortion that narrows the range of acceptable debate artificially, but that presents the issues more or less fairly within those artificial parameters. An election conducted […]
Walking this morning in the bright spring sunlight, I happened on a pine cone, a weathered piece of wood, a twisted twig with peeling bark: the kind of objects I like to have before me when I want to draw, slowly–in a state of concentrated attention. While few of my finished pieces are representational–it’s in drawing that I learn to see. Drawing mediates between what my eyes encounter, and the corresponding inner vision that is the source of my art.
The photos below are examples of what I think of as drawing-meditation.
It occurred to me on my walk, that I would enjoy teaching this kind of drawing–for anyone, but primarily for people who don’t think of themselves as artists, who believe that art is for special people with ‘talent,’ who have convinced themselves that they “can’t draw a straight line with a ruler”
The goal would not be to learn to draw–in the usual sense of what that means: making drawings that “look like” what you see, but rather, to learn to see through the mediating act of making marks on paper. Drawing as meditation, as the key to opening the third eye–to seeing what is there, and what is not.
There can be no right or wrong, no good or bad to the drawings we would make–because the marks and patterns we would be creating/dis-covering, wouldn’t be on the paper, but in the mind, where no one else can see to judge them.
We could begin, for those with no background, with some ideas about how to make different kinds of marks with a pencil, how to use a fine pen nip with ink. This too, is about learning to see: acquiring a simple vocabulary to use when we begin to translate the vision of the eye to the vision of … but why give that a name? …as there is no label that would be common to all.
We would need three pencils: a 2H, an HB, and a 3B. (later, you might want to add an even softer/darker pencil: a 4 or 6B.
A pencil sharpener (or single edge razor and piece of fine sandpaper)
A #102 crow quill pen nib and holder.
A bottle of India ink.
If I had space to do this (I was thinking that a picnic table in a park would be perfect–where we could always find objects nearby to draw), and people who would like to do this with me, I might ask for $15 a session… but no one turned down for lack of funds.
Would you like to try something like this?
In a better world, there would be no need for artists to sign their work. Material support would not be tied to a competitive system, and confirmation would come from performing and making and doing, without the destructive, enervating conflict that comes from confusing satisfaction with one’s work with social approval and economic status. On that level, the distinction between craft and art would vanish—as the satisfaction that comes from work well done would fall equally to all who contribute to the benefit of the community. Art would not be a specialty of a few—but a gift nurtured and shared by everyone. Those more dedicated and gifted would serve to teach and empower others.
The capitalist systems of exclusion that corrupt the arts and those who are called to them—the gatekeeping function of galleries, critics, investors, and yes—schools of art, which combine to work from earliest childhood to destroy the seed of the imaginative impulse before it can germinate—which works to marginalize, impoverish or reduce to servitude all but the smallest number of those who survive the culling—having lost its economic and political purpose, would crumble and disappear.
Aroused from the drug of the Capitalist nightmare, every artist, poet, dancer, actor, musician… would be a revolutionary
Years ago I lived in a communal house. Expenses were divided proportional to income. For those willing to to do this, a house or loft space with 6 to 8 people (more would be better), would free people with those academic skills our late zombie capitalism continues to marganialize (the better to control and confine what is taught to ‘productive’ job training)– to teach and mentor, especially in the arts (the most inclusive definition of what that means) as alternatives to preditory graduate programs designed as institutional income generators.
We need to seriously think about, plan and experiment with education outside the academy– for all the humanities, creating non-hiarchal, student participatory teaching models and measures of competence as alternatives to grades and degrees, not modeled on existing institutions, but freely drawing on their rescources, becomeing predatory parasites of the predatorys at the top of the educational food chain.
This is not a utopian idea–this is what MUST be done if education in other than science and business is to survive outside the jaws of our corporate masters into the rest of this century. Whatever the personal sacrifices requiered (which more and more, means giving up nothing but the illusion of tenure and financial security), this is the cost of creative and intellectual freedom. It’s time and past tiime to renew the idea of the “free university,” not one modeled on existing institutions, but as decribed here–aa living cooperative communities. It’s time and past tiime to renew the idea of the “free university,” not one modeled on existing institutions, but as decribed here–aa living cooperative communities.