“Science works with chunks and bits and pieces of things with the continuity presumed, and the artist works only with the continuities of things with the chunks and bits and pieces presumed.”
~Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintainance
Last week I traveled to New York City. This was only my third visit to the ginormous metropolis but it was the most relaxed visit I’ve had thus far due to a comfortable home base and a good long time to stay in town, not to mention friendly locals. The primary reason for the trip was to accompany my friend kim on a music trip but I also knew that it would afford me the opportunity for some time on my own to think, draw and write in my sketchbook. The week was filled with music, coffee, more music, amazing salads, subway rides, dog parks, more coffee, lots of thinking, writing and a bit of drawing. From an art making perspective it felt very deep and nourishing. Un-rushed, with very little schedule to adhere to, I just wandered around NYC some, watched Kim make a few new songs, and thought a great deal about art making, my career, and this balancing act called life. It occurred to me that I don’t often have so much time on my hands to think and it felt really great.
Lately I have been so wrapped up in the business of art and the teaching of art that I haven’t allowed much time for the making of art. My sketchbook is a great place to keep myself drawing and noticing the world around me, but I have not spent enough time actually working on the more conceptually sound art work that is a bit like therapy to me. It’s been months since a concept has grabbed a hold of me and begged to be made into some semblance of a body of work. A visit to the American Museum of Natural History reminded me of what makes me tick artistically. The displays at the museum are nothing short of art in and of themselves. I really loved all of the fossilized bones in the paleontology wing. I find myself looking at these collected specimens and wondering where people fit into the puzzle. We are the cause of so much extinction and yet capable of such beauty as well. This dichotomy is interesting and worth exploring through visual art. I wondered why we are compelled to make art when so much of nature is so beautiful to look at already. Like I said, deep deep stuff. But good to ponder. A bit existential maybe, but healthy over all I think.
Some early drawings….
I look forward to pouring over my photographs from AMNH and hitting the library for further inspiration. As usual, the sketchbook is capturing whatever pours out.
Besides the museum, a trip to the Tompkins Square park was another fun venture which resulted in a few dog drawings. It has been quite awhile since I have made a point to draw dogs. I suppose there is just no one to draw quite like old Caskie. But I need to get back into dog drawings. They are tremendously good exercise.
All the while I doodled and pondered the trappings of the visual art world, Kim was hard at work in the studio writing and demo-ing, meeting with important people and doing a show. It is interesting to me how much work goes into art. All forms of art are so much more process laden than most people ever realize, and music is no different.
One new song has a line in it, “What do I know?” That’s a good question. I am often so filled with questions about what’s around the bend, where to go from here, what next? etc. etc. etc. But when I think about what I do know instead of what I don’t, or even can’t know, I find some comfort.
I know that I am incredibly grateful for what I have. I know that I may love traveling but I also love coming home to my quiet little acre and the group of people that I love most. I know that I love the work I do and that while it hasn’t paid much quite yet financially, it’s rewards have been priceless in the form of growth and experience. I spend quite a chunk of my writing and thinking time contemplating the financial end of my work. While in NYC, I met up with a fellow artist who is also straddling the lines between business and art and making a go at life as a working artist. It’s an adventure ride for certain. But we plug away at work we know is important. This is all we can do.