In this artist's life, I have endured hardships and made many sacrifices to experience the sensual and revelatory pleasures of making art. All artists have. And now I must make a few more. I shudder, for I fear the stakes are graver than ever before.
I think of Robin Walbridge, most recently the captain of the tall ship HMS Bounty. Not so long ago, he looked across a far horizon that was disfigured by the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. The Captain had to chart a course to save his ship.
Look at today's headlines. "Poverty Spikes to 1960s Levels." "Nearly 50 Million Americans Below the Line." "California Unemployment Rate Improves to 9.6%." "Euro No Duro." This does not signal a boom time for the fine arts. Like aye, did Captain Walbridge have a knot in the pit of his stomach?
Over the years, I have lived a loose cycle of seven years making money against seven making art. While the schedules may overlap, the preferred lifestyle is obviously one of a dedicated artist. Today, I am at the bitter end of eight glorious years devoted entirely to art making. In truth, that cycle ended a while ago, a reality I have been loath to admit. Now it is time to pay the Piper. My decks are cleared. Health Care and other trivialities have long been tossed overboard. My stores are sparse. The rum is gone. The barrels are empty. Even the rats have taken a swim. I have kindled the furniture and ripped up the decks to make fire for the boiler. The steam gauge reads low. And I now must chart a new course.
Captain Walbridge eyed his concerns and made a clear and clean choice. Years at sea, he spoke with experience. Concerned for his crew, he weighed all options with a steady heart. Eyeballing Sandy, he chose a Southwesterly course to salvation.
Eventually, the caprice of Hurricane Sandy sank the HMS Bounty. The ship, Captain Walbridge and a young intern were lost to the sea.
The headlines make me shudder. The economy, religious fervors and our guardians of the public trust are as whimsical and capricious as the path of a storm. I see my apocalyptic horizon. I must make a plan and take an action. I need dough to get a fix. All for the addictive love of creation.
Throughout the centuries, artists have waxed poetic on the pleasures of making art. "The Zone" is a popular contemporary description. It is that place of total concentration and sublime focus. Chet Baker screamed it best, "Let's Gets Lost!" I've never tried heroin but I have heard young junkies revel in their newfound euphoria. Creation is the same thing. I am addicted to its agony and transcendent ecstasy.
Younger, I felt creation was a privilege that I was happy to earn. Down the road, invention became a hunger. I could get my fill and then happily I would serve a Master in order to feed the pleasure. Today, I want nothing less. My addiction is full-blown. I want nothing but the freedom to create as I please. Whenever I desire. Whatever the objective. Whatever the medium. I want to live in The Zone and never leave. I want to stay Lost. Like a hollow-cheeked junkie, desperate for a purse to steal and a fix to boil, I gotta make Art.
Gordy Grundy is a Los Angeles based artist and arts writer. His visual and literary work can be found at www.GordyGrundy.com.