Since I came into Art making, I questioned: “Why wouldn’t everyone want to be an artist?” It’s been a voyage of such un-ambivalence, when there is so much in question as we lean into the age of robot masters. The algorithm making decisions. You don’t think so? Put that pad, pocket-phone, that lap-top away for a week. I dare you. But in creating images, I’ve had very little else on my mind—a lot more fun than scrolling through someone elses’ guff, as you watch your own images develop. How do you do it? Do it every day, even if only for five minutes.
Who wouldn’t want to engage with this? Over the years in the studio and in travels to what I think of as Art destinations, and Art landscapes, one thing is perfectly clear—Art is part of the human genome. From sitting, quietly drawing for hours in the Paleolithic caves in France, to being a part of the audience of authentic (not for tourists) Temple Ceremonies in Bali, Indonesia, I have felt this truth in my body. The truth of what Maurice Merlou-Ponty calls Eco-phenomonolgy. What Gregory Bateson calls An Ecology of Mind. What it feels like to be in an intact environment, is this: All the creatures, the growing things, the Milky Way, are part of a linked system. Bateson and Merlou-Ponty were both concerned with mental health, mental health being evidenced by a human with an intact internal eco-system, where all the human functions for Science, Art, Business, Theology, Education, etc. are spooled together on the winding-reel of curiosity. Curiosity, Madam. Curiosity, Mister.
This experience is for anybody who wants to take the trouble. And it doesn’t have to carry the exoticism of the fore-mentioned examples. I only mention them because they were extraordinary experiences that nailed fast, forever, the understanding of the wisdom I feel is carried in the Homo sapiens genome. Anybody can experience the riveting wonder of Art, and in the slightest venue and briefest moment. Anywhere there are Homo sapiens, there is art being produced. The scant few examples of that not being the case, has made for a worthwhile academic paper or two.
Here's Pablo Neurda telling it better than I can in his POESIA (1933) And it was at that age … Poetry arrived in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where it came from, from winter or a river. I don’t know how or when, no they were not voices, they were not words, nor silence, but from a street I was summoned, from the branches of night, abruptly from the others, among violent fires or returning alone, there I was without a face and it touched me. I did not know what to say, my mouth had no way with names, my eyes were blind, and something started in my soul, fever or forgotten wings, and I made my own way, deciphering that fire, and I wrote the first faint line, faint, without substance, pure nonsense, pure wisdom of someone who knows nothing, and suddenly I saw the heavens unfastened and open, planets, palpitating plantations, shadow perforated, riddled with arrows, fire and flowers, the winding night, the universe. And I, infinitesimal being, drunk with the great starry void, likeness, image of mystery, felt myself a pure part of the abyss, I wheeled with the stars, my heart broke loose on the wind.
But, that said, Art is not for everybody. Neither is a career in orthopedic surgery, or real-estate development, or high-stakes gambling, or professional basketball. (And speaking of basketball, Kareem Abdul-jabar, has been outspoken on the value of Art Education…did a famous PSA on the subject). So art for everybody? The point is, Art IS for anybody. It’s not a question of talent, it’s a question of responding to the call when it is received. And anybody can be in receipt of that call. Right, Señor Neruda? And, not every-body needs to like Art for it to have a living presence in our lives. King Carlos knows, though he is of two minds, trying to parse a direction. So many choices. Ambivalence kills.