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The Insanity of Artists

Hanging out in a castle last nite. A real live castle outside of Dresden. The castle is a collection of about 6 buildings and grounds in a complex in which the other half contains a Denny’s wannabee pub, a suburban like ice cream parlor and farmer’s market shop that makes the perfectly predictable and safe day outing for the family from the big city or suburbia that suburbanites around the globe would be perfectly at home in. Need help visualizing it? Think parking lot full of clean, new, shiny sedans, randomly placed farming equipment, new furniture that has been intentionally distressed to look old and peach, the colour peach that rears its ugly head out from the 80’s when you least expect it.

Hanging out at the “Denny’s Wannabe” we feared the worst on the other half of the grounds.  We were pleasantly suprised. We found normal people and normal living. Well, normal for us. In the public area we found ornate ceilings, peach sheets and a bit of “Tammy Faye” with the black and gold toilets. Beyond the public areas we found families hammering together random bits of wood to create important objects like helicopters and boxes and boats. mismatched patio furniture in the back, randomly placed mattresses and plastic cars in the hallway. Real people with long hair and mismatched clothes. One look and we saw that they were “our tribe”. We should have known. Not let the Denny’s scare us. So many of our friends have been telling us we need to come here. Friends that are not impressed with fancy buildings but by real people, by people living out the free, yet sometimes insane, life of an artist.

We talked late into the night echoing each others thoughts and finding more and more people we both knew and loved. Thoughts about art being a language that transcends the boundaries of mere words. So many words have lost their meaning through misuse that art is becoming a more efficient way of communicating truth. This is because art, many times, has a mind of its own. It will communicate more deeply and with greater truth than even the artist intends.

The conversation started my mind spinning.

If art is a language then what makes an artist?

Earlier this year I spoke with the father of 4 musicians who I considered very talented. “It isn’t about talent”, he said, “They practice hours each day”. I spoke with a potter as well. “What makes a great potter?” he asked, “The sheer quantity of clay that goes through the fingertips”. How many artists have echoed the words, “talent is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” or “2% inspiration and 98% perspiration”. One of my favourite songwriters once said, “The songs are up there, the question is do I have the courage to pull them down”.

If perspiration and courage are factors then what makes an artist?

Many of the most “talented” artists are broken. A bad childhood, mispent youth, illness or abuse shadows many artists. I refuse to put brokeness in as a requirement to being an artist. Maybe brokeness is just one path to what is needed.

I have a theory. You know how I love my bizarre theories. Maybe what makes an aritst is freedom. If it is a language then we all have it in us somewhere. The difference is that through need or strength or perceived insanity some of us rebel against what is considered “acceptable” and declare ourselves imancipated. We refuse the boundaries and what is deemed normal and permisable. All too often we must be broken to rebel to this level. To daily throw off the cages of “the good life”. To not care is we create something that is “pretty” but  to declare truth in ourselves and the world, as we perceive it. The better we do this the greater our reputation of “insanity” while living and “brilliance” long after we are dead. To create art is to expose our souls for all to see. Not caring, if only for a moment, about whether it is understood, accepted or rejected. It is an insane undertaking.

Am I taking this too far.

How about spirituality? The trappings, institutions and rules of religion remain long after spirituality has left the building. Is becoming more spiritual, intertwined with rebellion and freedom from acceptable norms of conduct and thought.

Are the two related?

At Freakstock now. Andrew seriously contemplating getting a mullet….. again. Drinking lots of tea with old and new friends.

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