30 day blog challenge – day 3
I was listening to my friend, singer/songwriter, Juliana Finch, on this awesome podcast (“Making a Living as a Creative“) yesterday, and she was talking about how important it is for artists to get out in the world and see and experience art. I couldn’t agree more. She talked about how when she went and saw a play or read an interesting novel or went to an art exhibit, she was inspired to write. The same is definitely true for me.
I made a resolution for 2014 to get out there and go to more literary events, more art museums, more plays, and more music performances. This is not to say that I haven’t gone to a lot of these things in the past. Last year, though, I felt like I was much more of a hermit than years in the past. When I was really involved in the music scene in 2011 and 2012 with Pocket the Moon and as a solo artist, I went to see other musicians at least once a week. I was constantly surrounded by other musicians. And it was awesome.
I still went to music events last year. I still went to art exhibits and plays and probably participated in art way more than the average person, but there were also a lot of nights where I just stayed in and wrote or read or watched Breaking Bad.
I do believe there is a place for these types of hermity activities, though. (To everything – turn, turn, turn – there is a season – turn, turn, turn!) And I think you can still experience art by staying in. (I would argue that Breaking Bad is a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy even, and I think I learned a lot from that show as a writer.) But I think it’s important not to get stuck here, and that’s what I’m trying to do this year.
I think it’s very important for artists to physically go support other artists and see and experience as much art as they can. Take the time to try to find new things that you might not otherwise hear about. Look up a few local bands and go see them. Look up plays by local playwrights and go see them. Go to poetry readings and spoken word events. Go to the local art galleries showcasing local and independent artists. This is a great way to get inspired and experience art, but it’s also a great way to connect with like-minded people in your community. And the local/independent artists will definitely appreciate it if you come out and support them.
I remember once when we were playing a show at 529 in Pocket the Moon, there was a guy there who neither of us knew. When we talked to him, we found out that he had just heard us on WRAS (the college radio station) and thought we were awesome and wanted to check out our live set. I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever heard in my life.
When you support local and independent artists by attending their events, you are saying, “I believe in what you are doing. You have a voice and people want to hear what you have to say.” And you never know. Maybe that artist is having one of those “I hate my life and why am I doing this and why don’t I just go work at McDonald’s” days that we all have as artists and your comments will give her a reason to want to do what she does for another day. I guarantee you, you will be inspired, you will learn something, or both. Even if you go see a local artist you aren’t terribly impressed with, you can learn something from what he or she is doing–by looking at the performance or painting or reading and evaluating what you may do differently.
I will leave you with a poem that is related to this. We had an assignment in a poetry class in grad school where we were supposed to go look at art (any art exhibit would do) and then write a poem about one of the pieces that inspired us. (This was in the fall of 2012–my last semester of grad school.) I went over to the Art Place to see the “Watercolors of Georgia” exhibit. Here is the piece that spoke to me and the poem that came out of it:
Autumn, North Georgia Mountains
Autumn, North Georgia Mountains
There is nothing more
than the scent of autumn,
remembering pumpkin patches, Ferris wheel
rides, walking home from school
listening to the sounds
of the fallen leaves crunching
underneath my feet.
From up here, I imagine I can fly,
soaring past the deep reds and oranges
until the trees are tiny
bushes in my peripheral vision.