All my life I have had some artistic outlet although the nature of that expression has varied over time. Drawing, pottery, photography, music, writing, and a few other explorations along the way. Much of my writing in recent years has been travel-centered but once you get into the practice of putting down your thoughts, it’s hard to draw lines.
As an eighth-grader, I applied to Arts High School in my home town of Newark, New Jersey, and was accepted, but, despite my parents’ encouragement, I declined to attend, preferring to walk to local Weequahic High with my friends rather than taking a bus across the city every day. I started college as a French major—my interest in languages strong—but found myself spending free time in the halls of the art building peering into the classrooms. At the end of my freshman year, I changed my major to Fine Arts. My love of clay and pottery has stayed with me and the sense of composition that formed in my brain from working with many diverse art forms influences my photography.
Sometimes it has been difficult to find time to pursue an idea or interest, busy with family and jobs, but they hide in my head and come out eventually, like the Altered Landscapes and Through the Window photography series that ultimately found their way to fruition and hung in Colorado galleries and shops for many years. I’ve read novels that provoke thoughts and wandered art museums for inspiration and appreciation of the beauty and visions within. Once in a while, I read or see something that touches a nerve, a need, evokes a response that comes out of me in some way. Here are a few that need to be shared.
If you haven’t already viewed it, find the YouTube video of Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech in 2012 to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Make Good Art. I’ve gone back to it many times.
“Whatever discipline you’re in—whether you’re a musician or a photographer, a fine artist or a cartoonist, a writer, a dancer, a singer, a designer—you have one thing that’s unique, you have the ability to make art. And for me, and for many people I’ve known, that’s been a life saver, the ultimate life saver, it gets you through good times and it gets you through the other ones… Make good art… Make your art… Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”
In a recent interview with Bruce Springsteen, at seventy now, in AARP Magazine, he talks about his inspiration over the years.
“You’re just walking through the world and you’re picking up these signals of emotions and spirit and history and events, today’s events and past remembrances… These are the tools of the songwriter’s trade before he even picks up the pen.
“People who are very attuned to that atmosphere usually end up being artists of some sort. Because they’re so attuned to it, they have a desire to record it. If that desire to record it is strong enough, you learn a language to do so. Whether it’s paintings, films, songs, poetry…”
And to leave you with some visuals – Asbury Park, New Jersey, one of Bruce’s hangouts, was also mine in an earlier time of life. Or more specifically, summer weekends at Bradley Beach, nearby, an easy walk on the boardwalk to Asbury. These Asbury Park off-season images were taken a few years ago, a visit to my past while on the way to somewhere else.
Email me at: RRontheroad@hotmail.com