The First Rule of Art Club…

Private Art is my new obsession. Remember, I’m an actress… the opportunity to create something strictly for myself, is tantalizing and fulfilling, and damn near naughty. I love it. Whatever I do within this realm, is for me – for my growth as a person – and nothing else. Ahhhh.

As a director and acting teacher, I have always preached to my actors that the “end” result of their performance is not apparent when the curtain falls; it is what you, the actors, the designers, technicians and audience members take with you when you leave the theatre. It is REALLY difficult to convince a theatre artist that performance alone isn’t the most important thing in the world. The best I believe I have managed to do, is convince an actor or two that this performance will probably make the next better. Harumph…

As a theatre Managing Director, I preached to our audiences, Board and committee Members (and anyone else who would listen) that we were supporting our own growth through the act of enabling the creation art. Frankly, I don’t think very many people took that idea seriously. Some nodded their heads, more rolled their eyes or simply voiced their tacit disagreement/disapproval/ennui. I obviously have not yet found a way to express this idea clearly and in a compelling fashion. Well, I’m not giving up, dammit!

When I research a character, hone my performance skills, craft a song, paint, sculpt, take a photograph or write a poem or story, I choose to grow as a person from the experience of the process of artistic creation. I learn about myself; I teach myself; I develop skills that you cannot see or hear or experience in that construct itself… only in me. I grow as an individual.

Now, you may grow as an individual as a result of experiencing my artistic product – my performance or piece – and that’s lovely. I really appreciate that idea, but that is not what this is about. I’ve spent most of my life trying to create something that will move you. I don’t mean to sound harsh here, but that’s enough for you – I want this for me. I’m putting the oxygen mask over my face first, as it were.

Okay, now imagine a room or a town or a Town Hall or a company or congregation, filled with individuals who purposefully grow and develop themselves through the act of artistic creation. Do you see it? I honestly believe we are all doing our best at any given time, most of the time. I don’t mean to belittle your best or that of the person next to you. What I’m suggesting is that our best can improve if we find a vehicle to facilitate activation of some different brain cells and a fresh point of view.

And now we’re back to my painting again. And please, insert your form of art in the place of “painting.” If you don’t have a form of art, decide on one, it won’t matter if you feel you can do it well or not, you don’t have to ever show it to anyone or even talk about it. In fact…

The first rule of our new art club: Do not talk about art club.

That’s the second rule too.

The third rule: Do not show, exhibit, print, frame, re-enact, record or otherwise raise up on a flagpole whatever artistic expression it is that you choose to bring to Art Club. Don’t talk about it, show it, share it or think for one moment that anyone but you will experience whatever you choose “it” to be. The thing itself is absolutely relevant, but only to you in this moment.

Back to my Private Art [painting] again. I’m not going to talk about it, but I will talk about the growth, pleasure and stimulation I receive as a result of it. I am learning patience and acceptance of my expression of process. I am learning to see the world around me without judgment or editing. I am learning that what I thought was true – that which I would have sworn was true… have committed hours and years to… have dressed and worked and said and done for the sake of… have begun and ended relationships because of… have hated and loved in the name of – has not been true and in fact, was only real, substantial and relevant to me, in my mind, in that moment.

That is what I’ve learned thus far from my “it.” Jeez, I can hardly wait for the next visit to Art Club!

I’m still a conventional artist. Hell, I’m posting this blog, right? This is not exactly the front page of the New York Times, but then again, it’s out there to be seen. My Private Art is separate from any piece or story I choose to share with the rest of the world – My Private art is what I bring to Art Club. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.