I am sitting here in my living room, pellet stove putting out the heat, music singing in the background and I can't help but to reflect on the many incredible moments I experienced during the brief 4 days that was Art and Soul 2009. It is held every year in various parts of the country but generally hits Portland sometime in early October.
Just last night Mija, Christina, Helga and I were laughing so hard we could barely stop ourselves from wetting our pants. We had gotten together after dinner in our hotel room to share our 'finds' and show each other the art we made in class. It was already 9:00pm by the time we got up to the room. After all the excitement of our little "Show and Tell" wore off, the wine and the chocolate helped loosen our lips and soon we were telling our secret pasts lives to each other. One person's included tales of being a proprietor of LSD during the Haight-Ashbury days. Another's including stories of illegitimate sons. But soon the wine had us entertaining thoughts of the absurd. Someone mentioned suppositories and suddenly the idea surfaced 'next art challenge: things you last put up your butt'. Howling with laughter our imaginations brought us to ever more absurd places until around 11pm we were suddenly too tired to continue.
After everyone was gone I lay in bed pondering the conversations of the day. Aside from making some amazing art and some even more amazing new friends I suddenly realized my 'artist construct' had dramatically changed.
I, like many of my generation was taught that artists were tortured souls who had no other means to connect with people. Jackson Polluck got himself so drunk that he killed himself in a car crash, Van Gogh spent too much time alone and ended up cutting off his ear. Seraphine made her own wine and though she sold a few paintings in her lifetime, died in an insane asylum. The list is so long that many of us have been convinced one must be crazy to be an artist. Although I have disagreed with this construct for many years it wasn't until this weekend that I reaffirmed the importance of community. Artistic community. Making art with other people and sharing it. When creatives get together an 'energy' bounces between them in an almost manic manner. Call it what you like but it is so robust I can almost see it's presence. And it is this 'energy' that keeps me coming back year after year to artist retreats like Art and Soul. That, the laughter, the crude jokes and the secrets too. Tonight, I am in love with almost everyone.