Uniting Artists & Travel
Artist of the World Unite!
I was asked to write a piece for the World Artist Exchange by my brother in arms Daithi. Daithi created and keeps alive the World Artist Exchange. Big thanks for that my friend.
I have been asked to write pieces before but those usually have been politically motivated as I am a political activist. I have written several Op/ED pieces printed in local newspapers to support education and the arts and they largely have been critical works admonishing poor leadership by elected officials. I have taken lead roles in displacing a State Assembly Person and State Senator. Their respective political lives ended for going after education and working folk. Don’t do that around me, I mean it.
Our despised by many Governor Scott Walker recently did away with the Wisconsin Arts Board and the David Lenz painting ‘Wishes in the Wind.” The painting hung in the governor’s mansion and was replaced with the mount of the bald eagle “Old Abe” that accompanied Wisconsin soldiers in the Civil War. Lenz has been predominately displayed in many museums including the Smithsonian. His stuff is hyper real and his painting was symbolic of those in need with images of homeless kids chasing bubbles down a street. Removing the painting symbolized Walkers disdain for the arts and defunding the WI Arts Board is the practical application of his lack of vision for what is best for the arts. For these reasons among others, Scott Walker must go. Artists need to help make that happen, and we can, but we must unite.
Change is what I seek- change that represents growth in culture for my community. I view politicians with a certain disregard and they especially get in my gnaw when they oppose funding for education and the arts. I energetically go shoulder to shoulder with my brothers and sisters on these issies. And make no scribbled lines about it- these are real life battles not paranoia. The potential to shed political blood and end the civic lives of tightly sphinctered foes seems to be a strong motivator for me. But more importantly I think about the kids- my kids- your kids- all the kids. Without education and arts where will they end? Where is their future? Well, they are our future and represent the survival of the species and the only way we survive is if art survives. Wisconsin will not become Walker’s Dresden.
The arts have a lot to say about whom and what lives a full meaningful life but we, as artist rarely grasp that notion as a functioning reality. Usually it is thought of as a dream but I am here to tell you it is not. We are the creators of reality and it is time to rise and meet that dream image and snatch it in or collective hands and start making the changes in our land we have all envisioned. Now is the time. Today. This hour, this minute, this moment. Now. Let no one give art less significance than any other thing- like business, sports, TV, or food! If you do, you are dying in that moment- you are not living. When you let Art die, you let Humanity slip away a little bit more and no time in our lifetimes has there been a more significant time to live and make art than now. When art and artist live, humanity survives. It is our responsibly, our obligation our challenge and our charge to save this world by creating a beautiful and lasting image and tangible reality of what man and woman kind can be.
You know, I once fancied myself the next great American writer in the vein of Steinbeck. Steinbeck wrote of the common man against the dredge of society in a prose rarely match. You see, my art comes from my own experience interacting with others and nature. It is what C.Wright Mills might describe as “a cross- section of my biography and history.” Many people are unaware that Mills, a Sociologist I like to describe as the “Christ of Sociology” for without him I believe sociology may have died; earned his PHD in Madison, Wisconsin. He then moved to New York and was a radical who lived and died during the days of Kerouac and Burroughs. There exists a photo of him riding a motor cycle on the lower east side of Manhattan rumored to have been clicked by Neal Cassidy. Mills gave us the idea of the military industrial complex and also connected the dots of the powerful. He demonstrated the significance of the rich marrying the rich and powerful by naming names. These things are arranged to maintain power by the few over the many. These people where not free thinking artist. Instead they created a war economy that gave them control of everything from the education systems to what toilet paper you wipe your ass with. They were not artists wanting freedom or democracy. They wanted control. Mills died at age 46 from a suspected “heart attack.”
Free Thinking Artist and Musicians are the children that will lead against these power mongering control freaks. Face it- enjoying colors, sunsets, the light moving through the tree tops and the accompanying sound of the wind are things that are most important. Being greedy, having more than others for the sake of winning is not. Creating a death machine that continues to be recreated in the image of a global war economy is not art and it is not living. It is helping the species to systematically self-exterminate. Art can stop that because art is the antidote.
We are living in historic times for our world and united artist and musicians are the ones who must lead. Bringing people together to face the reality that the military- industrial complex is leading us to kill each other is crazy. There is no future in that. Chuckle right now- please chuckle…how many times have you heard ‘art degrees are okay but there is no future- no way to make money” Bullshit. We don’t need the money, we need the love and understanding of each other to change the world and change it now.
Artist are usually driven by an internal force that matches an external reality- that is why most artist are connected in some way because that is how we function- processing our internal experience into art forms of paintings, sculpture, dance or music. It’s all art. Art is the most genuine and human form of creation that exists because it has not been sacrificed to the division of labor that dominates “product” sold in stores. Those are items that were made by machines in a factory often using materials that damage the earth and are processed to be cheap and sold for profit. Doesn’t sound like art to me. Art is often made by one person or a small group who have shared vision. It often costs more in time and materials that what it is sold for and enriches the world we live in. It is Art, not Product.
Art has intrinsic meaning as a result of the human process that created it. IPODS, cars, clothes, anything plastic usually has no or little intrinsic meaning because they were made to be sold for profit. Real art is made to create beauty and culture. Do we want to sell? Sure. But any honest artist will tell you that is not why they do art- the will likely tell you they do art because they would go crazy if they did not. Ironically, many folk see artist as crazy but then again they are the same folk who have JC Penny or Target shit scattered throughout their house. I say they are the crazies. C.Wright Mills wrote: “It is the political task of the social scientist -- as of any liberal educator -- continually to translate personal troubles into public issues, and public issues into the terms of their human meaning for a variety of individuals. It is his task to display in his work -- and, as an educator, in his life as well -- this kind of sociological imagination. And it is his purpose to cultivate such habits of mind among the men and women who are publicly exposed to him. To secure these ends is to secure reason and individuality, and to make these the predominant values of a democratic society.”
I say Mills is right about everything he says except one thing. It is not the social scientist- it is the artist. It is our job to create an artistic culture that values living. We are the antidote to the war complex that values death as its means of exchange. I don’t want to be a soldier that kills; I want to be an artist that brings artists together to change the world and I want to do it now in Wisconsin. How about you?
In Solidarity, Rich Norenberg