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From Bill – Life of the Artist (part the first)

October 25, 2011

It’s kind of a loaded word, “artist”. Look it up in the dictionary and it says a bunch of things, but the one that is on my mind right now is this:

art•ist  [ahr-tist] noun
1. a person who produces works in any of the arts that are primarily subject to aesthetic criteria.

We just finished a run of Into the Dark, the culmination of eight months’ work, and there were any number of “criteria” that the work was subject to that weren’t aesthetic – time and money, of course, but also personnel, skills available, the balance of the ensemble as a creative team, audiences’ interests, presentation, being understandable, and reaching our target audience – all these forces and many more weigh and influence the work. Art is not free to be concerned with aesthetic criteria alone, that’s for certain. And primarily? I’m not so sure; and what is “the right mix”?

Reaching out toward something that always seems to get away

Cathleen, Rob, and Emma in "The Hound of God," a scene from INTO THE DARK - reaching out toward something that always seems to get away.

Back to the dictionary:

art  [ahrt] noun
1. the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

So, lifting us out of the ordinary is key, but what if your aesthetic goal is to show and strengthen the beauty that is inherent in us all? It’s common, but extraordinary nevertheless. There’s a conundrum here, or at least there is for me. If you think about it, there isn’t a moment that goes by that isn’t filled with art, beauty. Do the geese flying overhead intend to be beautiful? Is the silver water of the pond reflecting their passage asked if it chooses to do so? It is there for all to see if we will simply lift our eyes.

The job of the artist, then, for me, isn’t so much about creating art, as it is assisting our audiences to lift their eyes. For some reason, that makes sense to me, makes things clearer.

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