I don’t know what it is about live performances, but I always get ideas in concerts or plays. Something about seeing other artists working live always sends my mind straight to whatever project I’m working on. Last week I saw Sondre Lerche and Scott Alexander live, and I came out with two good ideas about how to structure a new opening I’m working on for Summer’s Twilight.
My high school art teacher, John Kavalos (p.s. wow did I not know he had a blog until I was writing this post – and man is it wild.), always said that the best art makes you want to continue the art-making process. It’s a strange idea, and one of a dozen things he said that stuck with me. I know he didn’t mean it that way, but that remark has always been a way of separating the artists from the audience in my mind. If you’re an artist, great art makes you want to see how it ticks, what makes it move you, and how to use it to make your own art better. If you’re an audience member, great art just affects you powerfully. It doesn’t seem like the kind of idea that would stand up to much scrutiny, it’s just one of those useful ideas that you pick up when it’s convenient and put down again when it isn’t.
Those ideas are so important to making art, at least for me. Sometimes I repeat the Jim Henson mantra “simple is good” in my head, and other times I repeat Jorge Luis Borges’ idea that you should never be too obvious. Holding a big pile of wildly contradictory, yet practically useful axioms and aphorisms together in my head is a big part of how I do what I do. I guess you can tell I have a degree in philosophy?
I should do a post one day about all the things Kavalos said that I still say. He’s probably the teacher I think about most. He cared a huge amount about art but not that much about me, so he’d give me fantastic advice and it was my job to get better. I’m certainly not a visual artist, and I only ever did one drawing a couple prints that remotely interested me, but he’s been a huge influence in how I think about art and arts education.
But like I said, for some reason I always get good ideas during live performances…
Oh, and Scott and I are thinking of collaborating on something. I certainly don’t know how that would work, but I’m definitely excited to find out. If it comes to anything, I’ll keep you posted.