I believe in art and in artists.
When I got out of college, I was writing a lot of poetry and drawing little sketches. I studied the history of art and culture. This became a spark which determined how I’d live the rest of my life.
In the Summer of 1977, I took a long hitchhiking trip around the United States. I left Detroit and went down to New Orleans, through Texas to Arizona, through California, up the coast through Oregon and Washington, then back to Detroit through the North.
I had stops in New Orleans, Arizona and California, where I stayed with family and friends. Mostly however, I was close to being poor, hungry and homeless. It was on this adventure that I dedicated myself to art, for good and forever.
In San Francisco, I met with the late poet Philip Lamantia and other Surrealists. They gave me a cardboard box full of books to read and hitchhike home with. Surrealism helped give me the faith to believe I could be a painter. From that time on, I got down to work. I was so happy with the results of my first efforts, that the die was cast.
My “anti-career” has included helping run an art gallery, doing a huge street art project in the heart of downtown Detroit, going to France to exhibit my work, doing hundreds of puppet shows, putting out a monthly poetry and art broadside and playing music in a jug band and a Space Band.
Marcel Duchamp once said “I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” I believe in both but I see his point. The living, breathing creatures who create such work are more important than the work itself. Too many artists have been treated badly or ignored, only to become “successful” after they’ve left the Earth.
Like Van Gogh, I believe in a new renaissance of art. Art may well reach great heights throughout every art form. This would have a potent effect, should their quality ever fully match their quantity.
I believe we need to support and encourage each other. The successful artists should do better at being touch with the less successful artists, especially those who are creating amazing, even important work. I believe that no one has heard of many of the very best artists in the world. Yet they create, they never stop, they endure.
I believe that artists are good at solving problems in their art. They can make things work and turn failure into success. Things go wrong and are made right.
In a leap of faith, artists can turn these skills toward solving problems in their own lives. In another leap, they can turn these skills toward helping solve problems in the world, in real life.
Imagination is needed! If we can’t “save the world” we can at least try to play our part in the ongoing struggle.
I believe that creating and experiencing art can both be transformative. Art’s spirit moves outward and flowers in many forms.
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