Sitting in the Whitsell Auditorium this evening, I was given a moment to reflect. The film on the screen was Laurie Anderson, whom I love dearly, but I was not thinking about Laurie so much specifically; rather I was thinking about the entire concept of being an artisan.
What is it that makes one an Artist and another simply having artistic intentions?
It was a question that I desperately wanted to answer, as I had sat through the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma just prior; and wanted to find a shred or two that I could praise instead of fully slamming their ‘performance’.
Watching Laurie performing in those decade old video discs, made me think of the power of her live performance the other evening, even though all of those decade[s] have passed, and the technology is now familiar… How is it that Laurie will probably still be able to lure me in for decades to come, even if she is just croaking a few words from the chair and can not longer even hold a violin or squeeze a pick-up in between the dentures… [no offense Laurie… chronology is not a flaw, it is only a fact]
Laurie, like a handful of artists, are ones that I would drop everything and make their performances no matter what. Why?
Is it technical skill? Yes, on some part; but that is only the beginning.
Is it a lineage of works? No, because I felt that way about Daniel Bernard Romaine well before he had the caché that he now may conjure.
I think it is most important to have integrity and passion. A passion that comes forth out of the artist’s soul; having a will of its own, something that would create a work of art, even if it needed to find another host body to make it happen.
I have seen that in the brushwork of kids just out of highschool selling their plywood + oilstick on the side of the road. I have heard it billowing from Shawn Shameless Flanigan’s rawk dulcimer on the street outside of Nordstroms. It is feeling the raw brilliance of an artist, knowing that this is only the tip of the iceberg; and there will be decades of creativity to come, if they can just cover their rent and get a few more cups of top ramen… [This would be a great time to make a plug for Disjecta… ]
It is this brilliance that I have come to ascribe to PICA.
A difficult thing for each artist in the T:BA line-up to attain.
But, there it is… I expect greatness from the artists that PICA curates.
[Mark, keep that in mind for next year! Nothing but greatness… and zippy dj’s at the Works!]
Hold it…
That cannot be so…
In nine years of steady PICA attendance… I do not recall hundreds, but rather maybe a dozen artists [artistic troupes] that I could pin such greatness upon. There are the dance troupes managed by Barbara Bryan [John Jasperse + Wally Cardona Quartet], Daniel Bernard Roumaine, Dumbtype, Rosanna Gamson/World Wide + Cecilia Appleton/Contradanza, and of course Laurie Anderson, to note a few. From film I continue to have inspiration from Alain Bufard’s “My Lunch With Anna” and Édouard Lock / La La La Human Steps’ “Amelia”!
But, that’s the beauty of PICA.
If you go with an open mind to every performance that they host; some will knock your socks off, some will just not connect with you, some your friends will love, some you might even hate or become offended by… but you go, and you keep going. This is how you learn, how you grow as an artist, how you find those pearls of inspiration [like the ones that I tauted above], and this is how you form / support an artistic community.
So, maybe I did not care for the humor of Oklahoma; but a number of my friends that were in the performance had a great time, and really enjoyed working with them.
Tomorrow is another day, and I look forward to embracing PICA again with open arms, a passionate heart, and thoughtful eyes/ears.
Fredrick Zal
Architect | Sculptor | Advocate