Blogging about Beats, tween fiction, parenting tweens, rebels, rule breakers, historical 1950s fiction and an 11-year-old who wants to meet Jack Kerouac.
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Saturday, January 4, 2014
Here. Now. 2014.
Is art a luxury? Is it yours? I tried (unsuccessfully)
to figure this out while writing The Beat
on Ruby’s Street. I decided that the Beat Generation
artists felt it was their air, water and shelter—metaphorically and even
If you don’t think of it that way, I
still have a question. How long (counting days) do you go without the
Listening to music
Watching TV (and yes, Virginia, it counts as entertainment/art)
Reading (fiction, non-fiction, poetry)
Seeing a movie or play
Visiting a museum
Week? Month? Day? What would happen if
you didn’t (couldn’t) do any of these things?
If there were no stories to read or
watch, wouldn’t you make one up? Isn’t that what people did before they had
printing presses and movie screens? We sat around fires (when we figured out
how to build them) and told each other stories. And the best storytellers were
prized for their abilities.
Obviously I’m writing this with my own
biases, and you already know what they are. But whether you agree or disagree,
I’d love to hear from you. Especially about what you spend on art.
I hear from a lot of people who say they
don’t mind paying ticket prices but don’t give to theater companies or museums
because they don’t really help anyone. While I don’t ever want to compete with
the many necessary causes people give to, I don’t think people understand that
ticket prices cover only a fraction of what you see.
Example? One of my favorite Twin Cities theater companies mounts innovative,
award-winning musical theater. To create a piece with professional actors,
musicians, and crew including director and choreographers, pay for the venue
and publicity, they need at least $150,000. They depend on donors to get there
and I’m one of them. Because I’d rather live in a world where this kind of
theater exists, and it won’t exist without support.
Books? Don’t get me started. Thousands to
print, design, publicize and illustrate.
Some people say that’s what Kickstarter is for. Others say, the
Beats knew they weren’t going to make money and made peace with it.
I say, what is it about the world that
pays its rock stars well and likes its poets and artists poor and scrounging?
I’ll leave you with two of my favorite
lines from the Sondheim musical Sundays in
the Park with George. It’s framed as a conversation between husband and
“Artists work, Franz. I think they work
“Work is what you do for others,
liebchen. Art is what you do for yourself.”
Yeah, sure. But I’m still wondering… how
long do you go without those movies, books, etc. (see above?)