I believe that Art is conceived in the same place from which all creation comes . . . this mysterious force that creates song and sculpture is the same one that animates the grasses, bees, bacteria, fish, and all things we call “alive.” In the beginning, we artists feel that we are the ones creating; but as time moves on, we (hopefully) realize we are instruments of some greater force at work. Hopefully, as artists, we escort our egos out of the way and allow this force to use us, allow our experiences to inform – and the talents we’ve cultivated to merge with – this “inspiration” the best we can. Some call it God; others call it a “muse”, and others just bow before the mystery and allow it to move through them, nameless but sacred. This process doesn’t exempt artists from being humans. . . nor does it mean that violence and suffering are not a very real part of our humanity and our healing.[singlepic id=323 w=320 h=240 float=right]Both Leonard and Jackson clearly and openly share in many songs and interviews how the muse moves through them and that they understand their role as stewards of such inspired works. One of the things I love most about the songwriting of both of these fellas is that grace is truly evident in the muck of the profane and that is what I believe makes their songs so eternally nourishing for the rest of us.
#2 Art that reflects our humanity is not always pretty, nor are its makers.[singlepic id=327 w=320 h=240 float=left]Lets face it, even the Bible has some pretty controversial tales. They don’t talk a lot in church about when Lot’s daughters got him drunk in the desert in order to seduce him in order to continue the family line. . . I used to visit the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam when I lived in Holland in college and stare at this painting by Hendrick Goltzius for hours. . . pondering the line between the sacred and the profane and the humanity that seems to be the thread between . . . We are all here living this human experience, and its more often than not poorly-dressed, foul smelling and far from chaste. Life and other people are cruel. In our weird culture, we place artists on pedestals – expecting them to be avatars of the divine, never grow old, stay pretty and sexy, and never do evil – then we become so offended when their humanity shows up in the tabloids. Ironically that same humanity is what drew us to them in the first place.
Its as hard to live up to one’s own lyrics as it’s hard to stick to a 1200 calorie a day diet and perfectly balance family, recreation, and finances.
We are silly animals. We love to project our own fears and insecurities onto those in the public spotlight. . . we wrap our hearts around the songs that speak to our innermost beings and we reject the same intimacy when our heroes “let us down”. . .
We have an opportunity with all clearly flawed and incredibly touched artists to have compassion for both our own and their human experience, and that is a gift to us all and all of our growth and healing. . .