Art as Entrepreneur (Part 5)

Art creates melodies that run through our minds when we wake up. It creates images that we dream about. It creates imaginary worlds that we see our own existence through. Art haunts our world with another.

That’s why it is so powerful. It gets beyond our rational defenses. It gets seeded deep into our imaginations. There is almost breeds without our permission. It clones and spreads and before we know it there is a mutiny.

Why is this melody stuck in my head? Why am I so drawn to this or that movie? What about this picture is so compelling? We don’t even know. Our rational mind can not figure it out. It’s because someone else is in charge for the moment.

That someone else is the imagination. The imagination, fueled with the great art, is given a certain power to take off and run with things. This may be scary, but we can trust the imagination, even though it does not seek our permission.

The imagination is our ability to dream about a world that could be. It helps us remove barriers that are not really there. It helps us to see an enduring world that actually is, somewhere, just not yet. Imagination inspires vision.

Without it we are restricted to what is. We are forced into a limitation that is self-imposed, but carries the weight of universal banishment. We see something as impossible. It is. We must strategically fight this false impulse.

Imagination always believes. It endures the insults expected for one who sees what others do not. It literally is that: seeing a world that is not yet. It is not science fiction as much as vision, or the ability to see into the future.

Ok, imagination is basically time travel to a preferred future. It is the catalyst to a road there that otherwise would not exist. We don’t create that road, we discover it, but only as we allow ourselves to see that future end. See it!

Of course it is possible that our imagination gets out of line, so out of touch with life that it becomes a distortion of reality. But that is not really imagination at that point, it is fantasy, specifically escapism. It is avoidance of reality.

True imagination is not the ignorance of reality, it is the full acceptance of it and through it. It is seeing a life possible within and without it. It is life fully realized, current reality fully redeemed. It is everything we think that life can become.

Some will certainly see it as wishful thinking. They would be wrong. That is something entirely different. At best, it is imagination that is completely lazy. More accurately it is the lack of thinking, or at least the lack of imagination.

Pure imagination is beautiful, a ride into the truest forms of reality. Real stuff. Stuff that has been created. It came from imagination. We came from imagination. Life has always come from imagination. It is a beautiful gift of God.  

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 3)

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 3)

Without art we lose beauty. Art is the ability to find and translate beauty. Beauty is hope. Beauty is always around but not always available. She can be quite elusive at times. Artist must follow her and remind us all that she is still alive. 

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 2)

This work requires we take the long view of things, and a humble one. It’s easy for the artist to inflate his importance to the world. Like any field, dominance in that field is quickly mistaken for dominance worldwide. We forget our niches. Even the greatest of songs will ultimately be relegated to the place of background music. Great art masterpieces will be used to dress up a living room. They will be forgotten, or at least under-utilized, or perhaps rightly utilized.

Think for a second of the shoe-maker (or cobbler). They make good, sturdy shoes that protect our feet and hopefully keep them comfortable. They provide humanity a great service, one that is completely taken for granted regularly. What if providing the world a great song or a great piece of visual art is really more like making a great shoe (not even so much in the fashion sense). Through artistry, integrity, and commitment we can provide great pieces that will be put in a closet. In other words however important a work may be at one time it will not remain that for long, especially in today’s world. The reality is that humans can only consume so much, and for so long. After we absorb something we have to move on.

The artist, fortunately, is the same. He or she must move on as well. He must find a new thing to say, a fresh reality to explore and articulate. Like the consumers, the artist can only live with and under a certain creation for so long before moving on.

Of course certain works make it into a category of “transcendent,” which means at its core that a work is timeless, or breaks normal cyclical rules about consumption. It has a sense of timelessness, or “staying power” - longevity in its connective power. But those are exceptions, and even those have cycles of use and re-use. The reality is that we are creating consumables, things enjoyed (consumed), and then forgotten, at least for the moment. Lasting impact, though, may have already happened.

That is the magic really of art (and all created things really): we will never totally know there intrinsic value. No matter our attempts to measure outcomes we will never accurately know how our pieces effected others, let alone ourselves.

How can we know the reality of a world without our works? Even the slightest influence of a background song my have changed the nature of reality for one big decision. Let’s be honest, it usually is the small things. Art may be one of those small things.

Ours is ultimately not to know the value of intangible things. Inner compelling may not be justification for some people, and certainly for some pieces, but it ultimately must play a part in the value of art, if not for the artist.

In our valuation of art we mustn't forget to measure its effect on the artist. What might life look like for the artist without his art? What would happen if an artist did not have a creative outlet? What would spoil and turn rotten within him?

Art as Social Entrepreneur (Part 1)

There are certainly enough social evils and enormous problems in the world to keep good-hearted people busy for a few lifetimes. What we can do to help is almost as limitless as the problems themselves. So much to do. And the problems are legitimate. They are serious. They are felt, currently. They are being experienced by someone right now. And I, potentially, could do something about it. The fact that I’m thinking about it makes it so.

In light of this incredible human capacity to care, to innovate, and to help, how could we not spend our time actually doing just that? How could we waste our precious little here sorting out emotional details within us, narcissistically looking inward?

And that right there may be the right question about the nature of art. Is art, by its very nature, inward focused on the artist’s own journey only? Or, is art, by nature, focused on the real world around all of us and the human problems we all face? Have you seen the documentary Conflict yet on Netflix?

Maybe some will point out that might be one and the same. In other words, the inward journey of an outward focused person who is wide aware will and should reflect the struggle in us all to make a positive difference. It may be more direct than we think.

Think of it, who does not struggle first inwardly? It could be argued that all of man’s battles start inside. If we, no since we as artist’s get to address such internal tensions do we not have an amazing capacity and power for change? Ok, we may not directly be effecting human lives in desperate need, but indirectly we could be softening the hearts of those that could, and encouraging the hearts of those that do. And, of course, we are not only an artist anyway.

What if we were to think of a piece as an address to a group of humanitarian workers? How would the message translate? Or, what if were addressed to the people who were actually suffering. Would they understand or resonate with it?

And maybe, at the end of the day, there is not really that much separating the sufferers from the helpers. In other words, those are physical needs are so apparently different, our emotional or soul level existence is ultimately one and the same.

On a different scale we all deal with figuring out what to do, wondering if we are doing the right thing, trying to do what’s best, pushing ourselves to great extremes at times in order to. We all struggle with human existence in similar ways. And perhaps that is art’s great contribution to the human race. Perhaps it is what reminds us that we are ALL on the same journey, just at different parts. Sure some will refuse to go along with life but even those consequences are universal. There may be a hierarchy of needs, but sooner or later we are dealing with ourselves. Once and if we get to food and shelter, then we have plenty of other problems to deal with.

The good news is, we can endure and even enjoy them together!