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Connecting

April 14, 2016

 My painting "White Bird, red sky" was purchased by Children's Hospital in 2015.

 

 

 

We went to hear some music tonight. And as is usually the case, there was a warm-up guy.

 

Sometimes warm-up acts are great, but other times, well,  really, they can just be something to endure.

This one ended up in the "keep looking at your watch" category.

However,  if nothing else, at least it made me think about something.

 

Here on stage before us was someone who had obviously spent a lifetime honing his considerable talents.

A world of effort, and love, and hope had been poured into the effort.

And it was a great thing for him to be willing to put himself out there, to have that courage.

And yet here we were, listening to someone who, although  playing the piano amazingly well,

chose to play in a style from a bygone era, and that style and era did not really beg to be revisited

by the people in the audience.

The lyrics and the singing just did not pull you in. He never once got a hook into you. It was technical brilliance without an emotional core.

 

Despite  the considerable talent on display, I knew I could describe the event in a few words:

"a monumental failure to emotionally connect with the audience."

Those few words summed it up quite succinctly.

 

Did this guy realize he did not connect, and not care? ( I will do my thing, regardless).

Or was he oblivious and deluded?

Paranoid and delusional thinking come quite easily when you are a creative.

You might imagine yourself to be great, when you are not, or just as easily imagine

yourself worthless when you might actually be pretty great after all.

 

As an Artist, listening to the warm-up guy made me feel very uncomfortable.

 

Because I could not help but wonder, as I sat there in the concert hall, if my own Artistic endeavors actually made any connection with my own audience?

I too have spent many years of effort honing my own  obvious talents, and the idea of my audience fidgeting and checking their watches was not something I wanted to consider!

 

It is a good thing to question yourself, and try to objectively see your work as others see it.

But it can also be very unhealthy if it causes

you to doubt yourself too much.

It's a fine line to walk.

 

Then, finally, the main act came out. And he was that rare person who, armed only with an acoustic guitar and a few chords, and a ton of charm, plus decades of experience and great songwriting ability, kept you right in the palm of his hand and completely riveted for two hours straight. In the course of those two hours, you laughed and cried. But the emotional connection with the audience never wavered.

 

How I wanted to be just like him! Armed only with  a brush and a few tubes of paint and thereby able to keep people riveted for hours. A worthy goal!  But so very rarely ever attained.

By anybody.

 

Walking out after the show into the rain, I decided you just had to keep working on that connection.

Because in the end, if you do not connect with the audience, whatever your art form may be, if you fail to make them laugh, cry, or just feel something in some way--to have some reaction to your work--you do not in the end have much you can really call Art.

 

You just have people checking their watches and squirming in their seats.

 

You have nothing at all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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