In The Wandering Who?, Gilad Atzmon tells of the day in his youth when he first heard the saxophone of Charlie (Bird) Parker. It was on vinyl and from the only record store in Jerusalem. Young Gilad studied that disc night and day and then purchased his very own sax. The “miracle of music” was to take him to an international career as musician, composer and author, and permitted his escape from what he felt was the misguided direction of the State of Israel, where he was born.
The idea that art has the ability to rise above religion, nationality and race is well understood. I’ve asked a lot of questions when speaking to art groups, but I’ve never found it necessary to ask people about those sorts of things. After a few months of study, Atzmon was surprised to learn that Charlie Parker was black.
When you think about the Brotherhood and Sisterhood of Artists, you might conclude we’re a tribe of our own, and a mighty wide-ranging one at that. Subscribers to this letter, for example, include creative people in 115 countries. Like the UN, we don’t always agree, but it can’t be denied that we all have a mutual love. From the emails I receive, some of which have to be run through a translation machine, I get the idea that art might even be a vehicle for peace. We artists certainly bring a world view based on respect, observation, play, learning, celebration and mutuality. In the machinations of humanity, these traits must surely hold some value.
The Internet builds friendships between those who might otherwise be enemies. The Internet also facilitates foreign workshops, travelling shows, residencies, and international artist exchanges. Artists from one nation sell their work more readily in other nations. On The Painter’s Keys site, and on your own blogs and websites, art made today goes online in minutes to be seen within seconds by a world of others.
To ensure that universal online freedom prevails, we may need to temper some of our baser instincts. We don’t need regulations to do this. We need character. Our tribe is in a position to show this character.
Singularly and together the nations can make great music. Music needs to blow into all corners of our world. All art reaches out to shake the hands of strangers.
PS: “After one month with a saxophone shoved in my mouth, my military combatant’s enthusiasm disappeared completely. Instead of flying choppers behind enemy lines, I started to fantasize about living in New York, London or Paris.” (Gilad Atzmon)
Esoterica: We dine at a table of many nations. As artists we celebrate our creative joy and toast our mutual humanity. While we all speak with some sort of accent, we do so in the universal language of art. At your table, when you get a chance, please consider raising a glass to our tribe. It is a tribe beyond tribes, and in my heart of hearts I believe our tribe has an illustrious future.
Highland Art Games
by Brian Crawford Young, Forres, Scotland
Here in Scotland we are used to the idea of being both Scottish and British in nationality (although the British part may disentangle in the next few years!). We are also very familiar with the idea of the clan, as I’m sure everyone knows. Clan in Gaelic means ‘children of,’ and as you know we have all the different clan tartans (plaids). So my big idea for artists worldwide is — How about we think of ourselves as members of the Art Clan? We could have our own tartan (would it be kind of abstract, like a Mondrian perhaps?) and we could have our own clan chief. Once a year we could have Highland Art Games, splashing paint around, tossing the giant caber paint brush and jigging to the sound of the Highland pipes. Surreal!!
(RG note) I’m in, Brian. The scotch is on me. I’ll buy it on Islay when I get there.
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The Pilbong Art Project
by Pat Viles, USA
This morning I read with interest your thoughts on global sharing of art, music, etc. After many years of exhibiting my work in Europe and Asia I firmly believe that art and music are universal and bring people together like nothing else! During my years of traveling all over the world to paint, and my exhibiting my work in Europe and Asia as well as the USA, I have made many life-long friends and learned much from all of them. Never have I encountered opposition or any kind of problem.
Before Christmas I was contacted by Kim Juewhe for the Pilbong Art Project in Tokyo, inviting me to participate in an exhibit opening in Naples, Italy March 8. The title of this exhibit is “Chaos to Creativity: One Mind One Heart” and addresses global calamities like Tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, school shootings, terrorists attacks, etc. that have happened in the past years. Kim believes we as artists can make a difference, so there will be 50 artists from Italy, France, USA, Canada, China, Japan, Korea and other countries all working together, exhibiting our work in the Castel del’Oro in Naples. Each artist has submitted 2 paintings. This exhibit will travel to many different venues during the next year. I only wish I could attend the opening!
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Art without borders
by Adam Cope, Lanquais, Dordogne, France
La culture n’a pas des frontières
Bravo for creative types from 115 countries reading your letters! So true that cultural exchanges are peace-making, enriching, thought provoking … and foster a sense of the Fellowship of artists. BTW, a fellow artist is either a confrere or consur in French, so it’s interesting to note the use of sisterhood & brotherhood in your letter to ‘The Tribe.’ How we choose to behave to each other remains an individual affair. Anyone wanting a laugh/headache, and who is curious about how artists spoke to each other on the Internet way, way back in the early D.O.S. days, could read the yahoo group “World Artists”… it was before most of us had our own websites and thus had very little idea of to whom we were speaking to and where they were coming from. Blind Man’s Buff… a great recipe for confusion! Still it warped my brain from no Internet to Internet exchange between artists. I totally agree with you in the creative exchange that can happen in real life, around a table with a cup of friendship, maybe on a foreign workshop.
(RG note) Thanks, Adam. You can check out Adam’s workshops in France and other international learning opportunities in our Workshop Calendar.
by Brenda Behr, Goldsboro, NC, USA
I especially love that you so loftily put art in a position that supersedes religion, nationality and race in its ability to connect different peoples. Every time I receive a friend request on Facebook from an artist in a country in the Mideast whose government is at odds with the West (or vice versa), I accept that friendship as I would extend my hand if I were to meet that artist in person. I want to say, “Let our governments do battle, let us do art.” How ironic that the Internet, designed originally as an instrument of war, failed because of its inability to maintain secrecy. This sharing of information has instead beautifully evolved into a potential instrument of peace.
We speak a universal language, the language our ancestors used with their first cave paintings. Not all art depicts beauty, but even the most humble art is an attempt to connect with another human being.
(RG note) Thanks, Brenda. And thanks for the three artful tins of cookies you sent the Painter’s Keys elves at Christmas. We’re still loving them.
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100 Thousand Poets for Change
by Lisa Vihos, Sheboygan, WI, USA
This group was started in 2011 by poets Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion. We have had two worldwide events, “100 Thousand Poets for Change.” The next is scheduled for September 2013. Poets, musicians and visual artists from all over the world have been involved and I have made friends (through the miracle of Facebook) with artists in Greece, Nigeria, Australia, South Africa… oh and North Carolina, California, D.C., etc. etc… All in the name of peace and sustainability. I just thought you would appreciate this very clear example of the “the tribe” at work.
(RG note) Thanks, Lisa. Readers can learn all about this poetic worldwide peace effort here.
Who’s an artist?
by Angela Lynch, Toronto, ON, Canada
My husband owns and runs his own manufacturing company in the Greater Toronto Area and has been successful at it for 26 years. His background is music, and along the road, he became a boss in a completely different field. He’s created a sustainable, thriving business for nearly 100 people, and since I started painting in 2005, he often compares what I am doing, where I am going, who I am with, my thoughts and ideas, my disappointments and failures, to his work. He is an avid goal setter and often tosses quotes at me which are laced heavily with meaning that can be applied to either of our respective works. He creates, just as I do. He creates jobs, ideas, the foundation for others to do their own creating. Engineers are artists as they create their own works of art for the customers. The folks on the shop floor are builders (artists) making their craft. He often promotes the idea that one does not have to paint, carve wood, knit… to be an artist. My husband is creating his business and pulling in his life experiences and ideas, his passion, into creating his work of art. Robert, can you expound on this idea of artists outside the typical “art” scene?
(RG note) Thanks, Angela. On other occasions I’ve numbed readers with my attitudes on the fine arts of carpentry, plumbing, bird-house building, vintage car maintenance, scotch drinking, fly-tying and worm threading. I, for one, do not discriminate. All is art and art is all.
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Wisdom is now everywhere
by Dan Mosheim, Dorset, VT, USA
I started writing a blog about my woodworking in 2007 and through the miracle of Google analytics, I have discovered that I have accumulated interested readers from 114 countries who sometimes contribute astonishing ‘small world’ comments to my posts. Thirty people from Croatia spending an average of almost 9 minutes each reading my stuff last month? … who knew? The internet has indeed created a truly astonishing breadth of connected information, available at the click of a mouse or finger. When I started doing my art in the ’70s there were a few oldsters you could visit to glean some wisdom, but now that wisdom is online and available everywhere.
Your post on heuristics quoted below, which I quoted in my blog, contains one of my favorite sets of advice for my assistants, and even for other artist and non-artist friends:
Accept “nearly right” in order to get going.
Forgo early accuracy and precision.
Let early strokes determine later ones.
Assume a solution and try working backwards.
Of two solutions, choose the simplest.
Move forward on incomplete information.
Think smart rather than laborious.
Use intuition to go directly to the outcome.
Trust your instincts.
Critiquing and free speech
by Nicoletta Baumeister, Vancouver, BC, Canada
Two elements of art tribe culture are the practice of critiquing and the pursuit of personal expression. A Jewish friend recently ventured his opinion to me that a major factor in the ability of Hitler to swing a very rational people to the type of war that was waged in WWII was the suppression of free speech. Similar situations occur in most every type of human strife.
The need to express one’s perception of an event is critical to healthy communication. A person who is allowed to articulate their perceptions is able to compare those perceptions with another human to verify, modulate or repudiate the accuracy based on a secondary point of view. It allows one to confirm or reject perceptions of events and opens up the possibility — to both parties — to modulate their behavior.
A secondary, valuable by-product of expressing oneself is self-knowledge and its corollary, self-esteem. To express one’s perceptions, one requires to be aware of them, examine them and discover oneself. This is where the second practice of the art tribe, the critique, becomes of service. A good art critique examines not whether someone likes or dislikes your work, but rather consists of observing and sorting the visual components of the work. Good critical thought sharing about a person’s most authentic expression and a person’s most authentic apprehension goes a long way towards understanding and communicating, no matter what the subject or the tribe.
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Enjoy the past comments below for The tribe…
watercolour painting, 15 x 15 inches
You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.
That includes Nancy Schempp of Brisstol, RI, USA, who wrote, “I have learned that each form of art, though they differ in medium, calls forth from the heart great effort and great love, and a determined pursuit of life. A love of beauty and a tender pursuit of honesty and courage, all needed for good art, are certainly building blocks in man’s effort to live together in brotherly love and mutual respect.”
And also Linda Anderson Stewart of Alberta, Canada, who wrote, “Playing for Change — Connecting the world through music — is exactly what you are talking about… one to share with all.”