State of the Arts turns one!
How does one mark their time here on Earth? I do it with art. Tutankhamun’s treasures, a Lawren Harris retrospective, Larry’s Hideaway & Miss General Idea, Toronto’s DNA Theatre, a real Van Gogh, The Scream, Robert Wilson’s H.G. installation in London, Lepage’s Needles and Opium etc. Each art work marks an era. This week marks a new one: I began State of the Arts one year ago this week.
According to my site’s stats I have been gaining readers and I get new Twitter followers every week, so I don’t feel as though I am blogging into a void. This is a good thing; as someone who played to audiences of four and five in my alternative theatre days I no longer relish the deluded sense of notoriety that comes from being obscure. I don’t need to be a hit mind you, rather a small cultish status suits me just fine.
State of the Arts started with a local editor/writer Stephen Patrick. Stephen is a controversial figure in my tiny Haliburton community but I adore him. He saw my art work over the years and thought that I would have something to say. After one meeting I got a column in a local paper and State of the Arts was born. He then went on to mentor me in a gentle and encouraging way, even against the wishes and will of others at the paper who disliked what I was doing. You know, in life anyone who goes to bat for you, no matter how small the matter they deserve your thanks. He has mine.
I was very thrilled to have a weekly column and found it rewardingly challenging. I had always wanted to advocate for the arts; specifically on issues, both local and global. Artists need to keep their eye on the stars because their greatest efforts usually evoke how human beings are connected and that we all live in the world together, perhaps exploring different aspects of it, but we are still sharing life all the time.
I wrote about Google and surveillance cameras, medieval art and the church, gay pride, how I wept in front of a Rembrandt, women and comedy, selling art on the internet or actually not selling art on the internet and a really popular column on Brit bad boy Damien Hirst.
But all good things come to an end and after a change in staff at the paper I worked for I realized that State of the Arts had to leave or die. I decided to make it into a blog and here I am today.
Blogging however has become part of a routine created through a discipline of having to file writing every week. In many ways the blog is an anchor for how I spend my time. As an artist your days can unravel fairly quickly and become unstructured leading to a morass of being not very productive. This is something you live in fear of. Not because you want to be disciplined so much as you want to be productive. Or, should I say you are productive because you can’t help it. Discipline allows for sleep and eating. Being creative kinda’ gets under your skin and without it non-existence seems real.
Yes, discipline is an existential thing to artists. Having the blog is great for my existence. I was already reading way too much and researching all the time. I read Das Kapital for crying out loud. Allowing ideas from all this gushing information to suddenly flow into somewhere else feels great. Like medieval bloodletting, I am able to open a vein and allow thoughts and feelings drain into a small pool of exposition and deposition.
I think that little blogs like mine have an important role to play in the arts in our country. It is a huge uphill battle because most people still don’t find their information on the internet. And writing about art is tricky since lots of people don’t trust anyone without a bunch of letters after their name. But I believe that over time blogs like mine and my colleague Trout in Plaid whose Peterborough and surrounding area arts blog is stunning for its simplicity, vetting, writing and online skill, will have our day.
Mostly however I believe in the written word. I have kept writing throughout my art career and it is the river from which I draw most of my depth, introspection, and fundamental inspiration. I have never had the chutzpah to write a book, nor am I prepared to actually publish my tepid attempts at poetry but blogging I can do. And so I blog. Yes, I guess you could say I blog there fore I am. Happy anniversary to this wonderful little blog which I hope continues as I do.