Thursday, May 18, 2017

:art life:

Yes, I am supposed to be on "hiatus" from writing on here like I said last week, but several paths of thought prompted me to return this week. And while the website is still a new priority, truthfully much of last week has been spent doing some overdue Spring cleaning. Much of my life remains in the boxes that I brought them in when I first moved into this current apartment. Part of it truly is for storage reasons, but part of it has been the dreaded "I'll do this some day" curse that applies to too many things in my life. Which is why my to-do list grows and many things get only partially done. So I try to adopt a philosophy of "Some Day is Today." Sometimes it works. But the large list often leads to paralysis too.

Two documentaries that I viewed in the past week inspired me to write. One was "David Lynch: The Art Life." No doubt it was released to coincide with the premiere of the new Twin Peaks series this upcoming weekend, of which I'll probably see the opening episode, but my lack of a TV or cable subscription means that I won't keep up with it until a DVD collection comes out or when it shows up on Netflix, and most likely will be spoiled for me before then by peoples' need to post it all online nearly immediately afterwards. I saw the first series when it was on TV the first time, and revisiting it recently, I realized that that was the only time I had truly seen it, other than a few episodes that I had taped. The story and images had stuck with me that deeply.

The documentary covers Lynch's early life up until his first movie, with him narrating it in his own inimitable way. Mostly it's about his "art life," as he started out as a painter and we get to see him create several new works throughout the film. He seemed to get into film only because he had the idea of paintings with sound, which led to filming them as well. The film concludes with his recollection of the filming of "Eraserhead," and the good fortune of receiving a grant from the American Film Institute, much to his genuine surprise. He muses about what sort of life he would have led if hadn't had this stroke of luck.

This resonated with me because it's clearly that most of what he wanted to was create art. But modern society makes it difficult for those who want just that. The world runs on money, and you need jobs for that money, for who is going to pay you to "just" make art? A frustration I've known all my life.

The other documentary was "Dear Mr. Watterson," about the comic strip "Calvin & Hobbes" and the artist and creator, Bill Watterson. Through interviews of other comic artists and "regular" people we see what it came to mean to them, both at the time it was running and of newer audiences discovering it.

Much is made of his resistance to any kind of merchandising, and of ending the strip well before than he had to, and fighting any of the traps of fame. He wanted the strip to stand on its own, nothing more. One of the interviewees noted that a stuffed Hobbes doll would probably still be making millions today, but part of the point of the strip was that to Calvin, Hobbes was a real tiger. Creating him as an actual toy would take away that magic.

At the end of the documentary it's said that the strip came out at just the right time in history. In today's times of dying print and shrinking comic pages, plus the sheer volume of competition added by various media online as well, it's more and more difficult to stand out among the rest. Something else that I am all too aware of, and probably adds to my recent crisis of thinking "why bother." That's if you're creating with an audience in mind, of course.

But I don't turn off the creative mind if I can help it. Always have some sort of camera with me, of course. This past weekend was the annual Steampunk festival, held in the city where I currently live. However you feel about the genre or of cosplay in general, some people's work in that area can be quite impressive. Some photos from that were added to this group on my flickr page.

Watch City Steampunk Fest

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