Parting thoughts on Take What You Need, my first experience as a showing writer and artist:
I learned a lot last night, spending a few hours of explaining what Take What You Need means. As I tried to describe the process of the collaborative show to countless guests, I realized, maybe a little late in the game, what the six of us had actually accomplished. I think it was Jo’s interview that initially pulled the epiphany out: the show itself wasn’t a result, but a live run of artists maintaining an open channel for creative resource sharing. Last night was the first step in a trust-based, liberal conversation about our art, a conversation that no doubt elevated my own contributions.
I like to write. And I’m the type of guy who needs to physically write things down on paper, lest I lose them into the great void of “too busy to think of this again”. Each little excerpt or micro-narrative you saw in the show represents an idea I wish I could revisit, something that begs for more attention that I haven’t been able to offer. I’d love to flesh some of those out, but the time hasn’t been right so the words stay in their tiny version, an abbreviation of the feeling that made them. And look, I’m a realist, so I know what happens to those flashes of something great: they sit and wait for me to come home. They don’t know any better, and they loyally and stupidly remain on some cerebral porch, in the rain, in the dark, idling for their master to return and pretend that no time has passed. But time does pass. What a motherfucking waste of ideas.
When Sean Martorana and I had a conversation about artists needing “ammo”, some motivating catalyst to provoke a piece, I immediately thought of the shreds of stories I’ve kept in the cold. There was opportunity there. I shared my (growing) collection with him, and he shared that with a few more people. And here we are.
I wasn’t entirely honest with my co-collaborators in terms of explaining where those pieces of micro-fiction came from. They were born in peculiar places, of course, plucked from some mundane but mostly painful environments - and, hey, that’s neat -, but they weren’t long for this world. Or maybe they were too long for this world, like bodies left in stasis far past the point of being thawed and brought forth into an evolved world. Consider, what if Captain America was never found by Namor? He’d remain frozen in some North-Atlantic glacier, “alive” in his body for an eternity until some villain consumed the earth, and no one would ever remember that he existed at all. A block of squandered, hidden potential. That notion, for so many reasons, depresses the hell out of me, and it was a lot more than a hypothetical tragic future for the ideas I’d been collecting.
That collection of excerpts represent some form of personal failure - a failure to launch. I regard them as “excerpts” because there was supposed to be something more, but I wasn’t confident they’d ever take an actually fulfilled form. As often as I tell myself that I’ve been incubating the concepts, I’ve had a morbid understanding that maybe they were all stillborn. It’s a strange thing to give away your ideas, especially when you don’t fancy them to be particularly good ideas. Those words, far as I can tell, weren’t ready for anybody’s eyes, let alone the spotlight of sharing a frame with gorgeous, realized artwork. Until last night, I think I’d neglected to understand the relationship between my words and the artists’ visual extrapolations. They need one another, or they simply don’t exist.
I get it now. My protective sentiment of my literary “scraps” had been negative and wasteful. It’s a strange and difficult to share something that’s not ready for the limelight, to show vulnerability and not fear the consequence, and I guess that’s what it means to trust someone. I gave up under-developed material that might have embarrassed me at one point in my life, and had utmost faith that five talented creators (and more importantly, friends) would fill in the blanks I’d left. It was the most ambitious “yes, and” I’ve ever muttered. The result was bigger than anything I could have imagined because I could have never comprehended the form my words would take when they left my private security. Those pieces were totally out of my world, and my god they are remarkable.
For as much as I’ve written about my personal lessons, I don’t want this to be about me. Praise to all five of the artists involved in this experiment, my brothers, who asked all the right questions without ever questioning the desire to participate. These dudes, they took to the concept like starving sharks and the product of their hunger was so much less savage, but still so fucking brutal. Forces of nature, these guys: Parker Whitney, Sean Martorana, Mike Heston, Mike Jackson, and Zeke Jenei. You all may have taken what you needed from me, but you gave it back in spades. Your hunger, your fearlessness, your critical eye, your ethic, your gratitude, your outgoing and positive natures. How could I not absorb those elements? I’m full on your energy, and so thankful for it.
Everyone who helped out when the show was going on and before we even set-up: Alex Hillman, Karina Ambartsoumian, Kristyn Stewart, Austin Seraphin, Martha Stuckey, Sonia Petruse, Allie Blum, Brionne (soon to be) Jackson, Kelsey Stoler, Thomas Thomas, Amanda Thomas, Joanna van Thuyen, Adriano Martino, Reed Gustow, and I know there are many more. The entire Indy Hall community for supporting me with patience and curiosity and high-fives. If you directly helped out or even offered assistance or enabled any of it at all, you made this happen. If you looked in my direction and smiled, you helped make it work. Thank you.
Every guest. Every walk-in. Every family member, every friend, every stranger who sauntered down N3RD St. and heard the music and joined the crowd. To anyone who ‘grammed the night or snapped a selfie by my uncanny chalk doppelganger on the wall, you made this more special than many of you may ever know.
And what happens next? Well, the show stays up at Indy Hall for the full month of April until we tear it up on April 26th for Synethesia (which we’ll be sharing VERY soon). Come and visit Indy Hall (22 N3RD St.) any time through the month of April to see what you missed last night. All of the pieces are for sale, and they’re going fast.
Past the physical presence, though, and beyond my personal lessons, Take What You Need was a hugely successful stepping-stone into artists sharing visions and toolsets. It was a testament to an ethos well beyond a tight group of friends, the notion that half-baked ideas might need to be shared to be acted on and brought into reality. The sum is so much greater than the parts, and it’s okay to be brave enough to offer up your scraps for someone else to compliment and build on. It’s not just an art thing, it’s a way to live.
Give what you’ve got, and take what you need. Do it with mutual consideration of one another and I promise you’ll see the world through a new, grand lens. And that new perspective is going to put you on your ass - but just for long enough to admire what you helped make.
I lost it at the end.
Okay, I had to check out the Van Eyck thing. I was a bit in denial because, come on, every single person can’t look like President Putin!
There are no words to describe how wrong I was.
reblogging again for putin galore