Firstly, I spent the latter part of this past week in New Orleans with my very good friend Vina - with it being the first time I had been to the moody, sultry city. In true fashion to my continued habit of late blooming, the best day I had walking those moist streets was the last day I was there. Perhaps it was because it was the lord's day and it put a vice on some sins, but the city was quieter and calmer, except for the wonderful waves of jazz that hung in the humid, winter air. And I mean this quite literally, as the street performers were out in full force - and that's fine by me, as they quickly became one of my favorite things about the city.
With my own home, being from New York is a double-edged sword; on one hand, you grow up with all that the (arguably) most famous city in the world has to offer. But on the other, you're doomed to spend the rest of your life comparing every other city to it; once you have New York as your standard, it's hard to raise the bar.
Yet, I couldn't help but think of the street performers of New Orleans in relation to the many, many artists that inhabit New York. I left thinking that all of us New York artists should only be so grateful if we inhabit a just small portion of the unrecognized talent and passion that the musicians in New Orleans possess.
“The port scenery at night was striking and almost surreal,” she remembered, “massive stacks of containers, heavy machinery, bells ringing, workers shouting, commotion that felt somewhat archaic.” They set sail toward New Jersey on a three-week trip with stops in Greece, Italy, and Spain. “Crossing the Atlantic took exactly one week — so every night you get an extra hour of sleep, which was delightful.”
The journey was a boon to Strauss’s artistic practice. She used the opportunity to take photographs that became Freight, a series of lush, moody photographs that capture life on the vessel. The experience also widened her perspective on so many things: the hugeness of the earth, the vastness of the ocean, the structure of contemporary cities, the importance of unplugging from the world every once in a while. And of course, the maritime shipping industry.
Luise Rainer, First Star to Win Consecutive Acting Oscars, Dead at 104 - via The Huffington Post. (First of all, this woman lived to be 104, god bless'er. Second of all, I always love reading about semi-forgotten Hollywood stars from the golden yesteryear. A, it gives me hope that the Kardashians will be forgotten some day soon, and B, there's a bit of a "circle of life" to it - a cyclical pattern of memory. It's a bittersweetness I always seem to long for.)
You are about to enter the much more difficult phase of unlearning everything you have learned in college, of questioning it, redefining it, challenging it, and reinventing it to call it your own. More than in any other vocation, being an artist means always starting from nothing. Our work as artists is courageous and scary. There is no brief that comes along with it, no problem solving that’s given as a task… An artist’s work is almost entirely inquiry based and self-regulated. It is a fragile process of teaching oneself to work alone, and focusing on how to hone your quirky creative obsessions so that they eventually become so oddly specific that they can only be your own . . .
. . . Being an artist is not just about what happens when you are in the studio. The way you live, the people you choose to love and the way you love them, the way you vote, the words that come out of your mouth, the size of the world you make for yourselves, your ability to influence the things you believe in, your obsessions, your failures — all of these components will also become the raw material for the art you make.