Saturday, January 17, 2009

watching it happen



Last night was not your average Friday night for me and Jon, meaning it did not involve Netflix, beer, tortilla chips, or the couch. Here's the run-down (as if you care). Stick with me though, I do have something to say at the end.

After dropping the kids at Nana & Papa's, we stopped by a surprise 40th birthday party for a friend from church. Quiet everyone... Surprise! Grab a deviled egg, hug the birthday boy, peace out.

From there we hit up McCormick & Schmick's on Lake Union to celebrate Jon's 30th birthday. The menu had his name on it. Blue Marlin for him, cedar-planked salmon for me. Very nice.

It was 9:30 when we finished dinner: too early to go home when the babysitting is free. Through facebook, I had heard about a concert & live art event not far from the restaurant. Three wrong turns later (thanks Google Maps), we were settled into 2 stools at the back of a coffee shop listening to a one-chick band called "Husbands, Love Your Wives" and watching Scott Erickson paint. It was a cool experience, in a 'this-is-not-at-all-our-scene-but-we-can-still-sit-here-and-enjoy-it' kind of way.

Watching people make art totally captivates me. Whether it is music or painting or dance, I am entranced by the utter vulnerability of the artist. Other types of art allow for revisions, adjustments, fine-tuning, or even Auto-Tuning, but performance art is happening completely in the present. It is a pure representation of the artist's creative abilities at that precise moment. You can't dress yourself up to be something you're not; you must put your authentic self out there to be applauded or ridiculed. Talk about courage.

The music last night was not the best music I've ever heard. To be honest, I can't say I even really liked it. But it was authentic and unpolished and it was made fresh, right there in front of me. The painting was amazing, but the most valuable thing about it was the incredible privilege of being allowed to watch the process. For crying out loud, I don't even let Jon look over my shoulder while I'm blogging, and he is my husband. Scott invites complete strangers to watch him work. I admire that level of openness and vulnerability.

I have more to say about performance art as worship... but I am going to leave you hanging and save that for another post. Now go out there and watch some art, or better yet - make some, if you're braver than I.

3 comments:

Deborah said...

The interesting thing about that guy is that, like, well it seems he can create his art right there and that's that. Does he take it home and refine it or anything, or is that the finished product? (Like that's an actual question, do you know?)

That's why I couldn't let anybody sit around and watch me write music. I have to be all alone in a quiet room for hours, and it can take me days, weeks, or sometimes longer, to finish something. I can't let a bunch of people see it until it is finished, or at least until there is some sort of "skeleton and meat" to it.

Interesting.

Haley Ballast said...

As far as I know, when Scott paints live he doesn't touch it up afterward. Quite often he sells the art at the event, or as part of the event. When he was part of the Vancouver Project he made several pieces in the studio at UBC so those were touched up, perfected, etc. But when he paints live I am pretty sure the finished product is just whatever he has at the end of the event.

I know that's not the way everyone can make art and I wouldn't elevate it as being better than other art that takes weeks or months... in fact, I know he gets crap in the art community for NOT taking weeks or months... but I just think it is pretty darn cool, especially when I get to watch! :)

Deborah said...

Well, I wouldn't really care to compare his art to art that takes weeks or months or whatever, to each his own. Everybody's art is different. At least it's not, like, art that I hate and think is ugly, haha. So as far as I'm concerned, it ain't bad!

And I mean really, if he was to paint it privately in his own studio in three hours and then tell everybody it took him three weeks, would the "art community" know the difference? Probably not. It seems to me that they're making some pretty superficial judgments that are unfair.

Some people have the talent to paint a beautiful painting over the course of three hours, and some people need the time to paint it over three weeks. Some people can write a beautiful piece of music in one day and some people can write it in three weeks. Everybody is different and judging based on time has absolutely nothing to do with the art itself, except in the fact that this fellow makes his art briefly four-dimensional, sort of performance art. And what's wrong with that? And once the performance is over, it goes to being three-dimensional where their judgments have nothing to do with anything.

But now I'm rambling.