The Arts and Everything Else

This has been an interesting, and at times challenging period in my life. Having finished writing my Thesis last December, I decided to take some well earned time off. Time off for me meant traveling, literally, to the other side of the Earth. Exhausted from the bear that is writing, I needed to take some time to sit and breathe. To figure out what my next step would be. I had watched my fellow cohorts struggle to find job opportunities in our ever financially declining field, knowing that within a few months I would be right there with them in this struggle. So when it came time for me to face the drums of reality I chose to postpone real life for a little bit longer. I went to China to escape, to gain some perspective, and to maybe glean new insights into what I was facing back home. Escape…worked like a charm; perspective….I’m discovering it everyday; new insights….I’m still working on those.

The funny thing about writing a Thesis is that even though your subject matter inherently places you directly in line with the thing that you love, you become so isolated in the creation of it that you become even more disconnected from it. It becomes theories and metaphors instead of conversations and actions. It loses a sense of reality as it becomes immortalized on paper. It’s strange…it’s there but it doesn’t quite seem real. I flew to China with the hopes of grounding myself back into the world of the living, and to reconnect In Real Life with the themes I had been writing about for the last year.

3 1/2 months later I came home feeling more disconnected from my creative life, than I had at the start.

I arrived back in the USofA with barely a penny to my name, custom made clothing for below market prices paired with a Silk Market of every fabric imaginable will do that to you. So first on the agenda was to find some sort of temporary employment so that I could get my bills paid on time. So I did what most graduates do when they can not find employment in their field, sign on to a temporary agency. My placements have been fairly consistent and I’m currently working for a publication that is allowing me to learn a bit more about the other side of non-profits, but it’s not permanent. And stability is something that I not only crave, but need. Still the current placement is not in the arts, a step in the opposite direction, it sometimes feels like. My saving grace has been my yoga studio Flow Yoga, they have been so incredible over the last few months. They trusted and took me on as a manager when I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay in DC, it is here that I find my grounded self. I owe so much of my sanity to them. My practice continues to grow each day, and I know that sounds strange coming from me, but it’s true. Next year I plan on going through their Teacher Training Program and I couldn’t be more excited about it.

Still I continued to feel disconnected to from the art world. It’s rare that I have a spare moment, to visit a museum, see a play, go to a concert. The people that I connected with the first few years I was in The District felt like friends from a different lifetime.  Trying to come up with ways to reconnect myself with this world, I first turned to Twitter, because what better way to maintain ones network than through social media.  I discovered #artsmgtchat which allowed me to listen to the new conversations that were circling the arts world ( as expected they are very different conversations than those found in China regarding the arts).  I was also able to make a few new connections.  But I’m all about the In Real Life (or IRL) encounters, finding the time in my 13+ hour workdays is next to impossible.

Then I spotted that Theatre Washington and Social Media Club DC were co-hosting a Panel Discussion on building your online community, focusing on the arts sector.  I happened to have this Tuesday evening free, and so I quickly grabbed a ticket.
After last night’s event I feel not only reconnected but reinvigorated in my commitment and place in the arts.  I have more to say on the panel discussion, they were all saying things that I absolutely agree with, but I’d like to break it down a bit more.

This is a step in the right direction. To the Arts and Everything Else.

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#ARTSMGTCHATart

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Fridays are #artsmgtchat days.  I recent discovery of mine within the twitterverse.  Each week presents new topics facing arts organizations these days.  The first week I participated we were talking about social media and arts advocacy.  While I sometimes question if all the chatter will motivate us to get out there and implement the ideas we toss around, I think that the #artmgtchat(s) are a step in the right direction.  They also allow a real-time conversation to happen across regions rather than some of the blogging-response-commenting situations that occur during these conversations (also legitimate mediums for these discussions).

Every Friday at 2 pm EST

**image from artsmgtchat.com

Posted in art

Symphony Remix

Last friday’s #artsmgtchat was focused on symphonies and their place within Millennial lifestyles (essentially).  One question asked us

“As an arts consumer+arts manager, what are some of the major barriers to symphony orchestras+classical music?”

Now my focus is not in classical or orchestral music, but I do enjoy it. I spent much of my youth singing in choral groups staged behind orchestras, it is not unfamiliar to me.  However I am not one to necessarily spend my Friday nights at the Symphony.  A large reason for this is budgetary, but another is that I grew up singing the same movements over and over again.  The music has grown stale for me, and uninteresting, still beautifully composed and conducted, but lacking that little bit of life.

This leads me to wonder what it would take for me to throw down my hard earned dollars at the symphony.  Innovation.  Reinvention. Something-Completely-New-And-Interesting.

Why is it that new composers/conductors have not thought to re-mix, if you will, classical music.  I’m not talking about new compositions, they stand on their own merits.  What I’m talking about is taking Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and completely re-imagining it.  I think about contemporary music, and groups on youtube that have become successful, their success is based primarily on their ability to re-imagine songs that we are already familiar with.  Take the group Pentatonix (They won The Sing-Off this year).  What made them so sensational was their ability to take a song that we all know well, break it down to its base elements, and then completely re-tool it so that it was completely different, but still recognizable.

Could symphonies attempt this on a grander scale?  Would they even try?  I have been scouring the internets since Friday trying to find some examples of symphonies who might have attempted this but have come up with nothing more than youtube videos of DJ beats behind a Beethoven melody.  So my question to you is this.  Do you know of any symphonies or orchestras who have attempted/succeeded in reinventing the Classical wheel?  What does it take to make these imaginings a reality. Or are we locked into listening to the same classical music we have since childhood.

Manicures At Home

So life is a bit crazy right now, I’m working 3 jobs as I seek out full-time employment.  I work, at minimum 13 hours a day including weekends.  The last thing I want to worry about is whether or not my nails are looking presentable.  Budgets and time-constraints prevent me from making it into the salon to keep my manicure in check, and most days my nails look less than polished.  Enter Couture Gel Nails.  Now I’ve done the gel nails at the salon, I like it because it it provides a hard topcoat that allows my nails to achieve a nice length.  Without it my nails will grow to a certain point and then simply begin to break before I can really have any fun with them.   I wanted to try the Couture Gel Nails to see how comparable this product was to an in salon manicure, which will run you at least $30 a pop.

Couture Nails offers a $129 Kit.  This includes 3 bottles of polish, a base and top coat, manicure tool set, and the UV Espree Salon Lamp (essential for curing the polish).  4 manicures and it’s paid for itself

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My kit arrived within a week of ordering it which is impressive since I’m located on the opposite coast as the company.

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I wanted my lady friends to join me in this, so I had them all over for a sunday afternoon of mimosas.  We are all very impressed with the product.

Tip number #1- FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.  There are a few steps to this process, make sure you follow all of them, otherwise the manicure will not last as long as it could.  Also, if for any reason you end up with a bulb that does not work, be aware that it will affect the longevity of the manicure as well.  We had one bulb that was burnt out and our manicures were chipping by the end of the week.  A replacement bulb came within 2 days of informing Couture of the issue (they are so speedy over there).

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It’s been almost 3 weeks since the first manicure, there were a few mishaps and repair jobs that were necessary but the great thing about this system is its a quick fix.  If you are repairing a single nail it will only take you 10 minutes ( a full manicure for both hands about 20 minutes), and your nail/s are completely dry, ready for the rest of the day.

I did a second manicure a few days ago, with all 4 UV bulbs in working order.  This round feels stronger and more permanent.  I get bored with my nail color quickly so I’m going to try and hold out as long as I can for the full life of the polish

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bit of a TMNT vibe

 

Posted in art

1, 2, 3…. (Multiple Movie Overload)

Last night I found myself settling into an evening of epic movie watching. Had I planned for this, not at all. I assumed it would be a normal night just like any other, until I had the burning desire to watch The Lord of the Rings immediately ( I credit this impulse to my 6th sense and the impending announcement by Peter Jackson…see below).  I was caught with an urgency that caused me to purchase the entire trilogy on iTunes in one fell swoop. I hadn’t watched these movies since the conclusion of Return of the King, in part because I often have flashbacks to the agonizingly long ending of that third and final movie. I had invested 3 years to this story, more if you count the years it took me to read the books. I loved these stories from the beginning and more so at the end. The great thing about trilogies is their ability to hold you captive over long periods of time. You wait with bated breath for the next installment to arrive in the theater, and as you watch this next chapter unfold you recall all that went before. It’s magical the way you can get caught up in the adventure. And the time spent waiting for its conclusion only makes it that much sweeter… or so it used to be.

Remember Star Wars… not Episode I, II, or III but IV, V, and VI. That was the beginning, I think, when we realized the potential of multiple-part storytelling on the big screen. Something special happened with those movies. It was the beginning of our love affair with epic tales. True: I wasn’t alive to watch these movies in the theater but my dad ensured that I grew up watching them. This story, and these characters grew over those three movies and when it was over you felt a little bit of sadness, like you had lost a dear friend. But it was ok, because give it some time and you could join back up with them on their adventure all over again thanks to the invention of the videotape.  It was something special.

It’s been 9 years since I’ve watched The Return of the King, and 11 since The Fellowship, and in that time I feel like I have been sucker-punched by “trilogy” after trilogy. They don’t hold the same value, the same unique qualities that made the first ones so special.  You don’t even have time to take a breath from the first one before you are plunging head first into the second. Gone are the days of waiting in anticipation for the next installment,  because now, while you are waiting,  you can watch Part II of Movie A, followed within a few months by Part IV of Movie B, and then back to Part VII of Movie C. Now don’t get me wrong I loved Movie A, B and C but not all together, not all at once. I haven’t even seen the Hunger Games Movie because I’m just too exhausted to commit myself to a whole new story ( I read the books, that’s enough for now). My love affair with multiple part movies is dwindling, its all just so overwhelming.

But wait… what’s this I see The Hobbit will be presented in a 2 part installment, perfect. The complete Middle Earth series in 5 films, even better. It just seems to make sense. It fits together like the perfect Middle Earth puzzle. But wait again, Oh Peter Jackson, brilliant talented Peter Jackson, you’ve just announced that The Hobbit will be 3 movies. It’s just too much, it’s too Epic for the story of the little Shire Hobbit who found a ring and defeated a dragon. I need a breath between Bilbo and Frodo.  I need to be able to join you on this journey and not feel like I’ve been drop-kicked at the end.  A mild emotional beating will do just fine thank you.  I understand that a story such as this deserves a rich and complex narrative, but 3 movies is just 1 too many.

As I finish Return of the King for the first time in what seems like a lifetime, I have that familiar sense of melancholy. The adventure is over, friends have been lost, quests have been completed, and life moves on. It may be another 9 years before I watch these movies again, but I think that’s as it should be.  Perhaps in time, the abundance of multiple-part stories will diminish and we will be left to enjoy those that remain on our own.  To remember what it was we loved about them, without the distractions of all the rest.  To see them as the cinematic triumphs that they are, and not feel as though they are just repeating the same box-office driven 3-8 part formulas that have become so common.  I hope for the magic to return someday.  I think it will.

We Write Frankly and Fearlessly…

… but then we modify before we print.

Mark Twain understood more about the human condition than most.  He understood what it meant to be a child, to see the world for all the wonder that it holds, but also to realize that the wonder is hidden behind everything else.  I’ve been grasping at straws to find that magic again.  The real world seems to keep it heavily shrouded.  Maybe that’s why I’m here, searching desperately for something that I can’t quite see, hoping to find inspiration in the smallest of things.  While here I am keeping a personal journal, and lately that’s where all of my words have been going.  We write frankly and fearlessly.  But not all of that can go here.  And so the blogs have been farther between over the last few weeks.  As I try to work out what it is I’m trying to work out I’m leaving the words on the physical page. but then we modify before we print. I’ll have something to say soon, I know.  but for now it’s all, effectively, in my head.

so until I get those creative juices flowing again i’ll leave you with this lovely image from my travels in Thailand

Tea and Terra-Cotta

From Hanyangling Museum it’s about a 1 hour drive out to the Terracotta pits.  On the way my guide told me a little bit more about the city, how it was set up based on feng shui with each direction playing host to a very specific function.  For instance the Textile’s in the East (which apparently is actually where all of our ‘made in china’ products come from).  Xian has always been the hub of textile making, The Silk Road began in Xian. Embarrassingly, perhaps, I had done little research on Xian before going and this was a perfect introduction to the city.

When we arrived at the Terra-Cotta’s the parking lot was already pretty full with buses and tourists.  even at 11:30 in the morning there were a lot of people ready to see those warriors.  After a brief introduction about how the warriors were first found ( a local farmer was digging for a well and boom ancient statues, isn’t that always the way it is) we made our way into the first pit.  What I found most interesting was that there were no written records regarding the warriors in Chinese history.  There was no prior knowledge of their existence and no information on why they were created.  It was something completely knew and unknown.  So exciting.  Another thing that really struck me was that the pits are living excavation sites.  There are shelves lining sections of the pit, statues and pieces are tagged and numbered as they are still being unearthed and pieced back together.  That’s another thing.  The story goes that 200 years after the Warriors were made and the Emperor buried, the people revolted and stormed the tomb for the bronze weapons the soldiers were holding.  Every single bronze item was removed at that time, and then the wooden thatched roofs that protected the warriors were burned down.  Not a single statue remained intact in Pit #1 (there are 3).  Those long lines of statues you see in the images, those have all been pieced together like a jigsaw puzzle.  Each statue has been reassembled so that there are no mistakes regarding rank and station.  Can you imagine finding a million tiny pieces and having to put them back together, making sure that the pieces you are using were actually part of the statue to begin with.  And then to realize that every statue is unique, whether because of facial structure, military rank, or even expression. Apparently some of the warriors are happy to be going to war, and others are sad to be leaving their homes.  I mean what?!  just amazing craftsmanship.

We still had some time to kill before I needed to be back at the airport so we sat down at the Tea House and I had a cuppa Jasmine tea.  To sweeten it they brought out tiny sugar rock crystals.  The perfect end to a whirlwind trip to Xian.

Posted in art