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Updated: May 18

Art. Does it matter?

You bet, because on this planet earth “there are" only "two distinct languages. There is the verbal, which separates people… and there is the visual that is understood by everybody.” (Yaacov Agam)

So . . . separation or inclusion?

Are you an artist, an aspiring artist or an artistic thinker wanting to be included?

I am, and have been since age 8 when I watched a lettering artist painting whimsical designs on one of the races car my father built with parts he salvaged from what us kids knew as 'the car garden; a heap of scrapped, damaged and disabled vehicles in the lot behind his repair garage and gas station. It was also through my dad that I learned the art of invention and repurposing.

And it all started at 'Ruby's Garage'.

The lettering artist painting the race car was using a Mahl Stick and brushes that he dipped into various trays of very delicious looking paints. I immediately went into a trance and fell in love.

The next day my dad helped me to manufacture my own 8-year-old-sized Mahl Stick and took me to the local Five & Dime store for some paints and brushes.

From that point forward, difficult or not, the arts were destined to be an integral part of my life. I wanted to be included in this group; the weird people, the poets, misfits, mystics, heretics, painters and troubadours, for they teach us to see the world through different eyes (Jacob Nordby), and the first thing on the roster was to disassemble and paint my bike canary yellow (which was all I had).

Reassembling it however did not go well until my dad stepped in to help.

SIDE NOTE: Relative to the times, at age 11 (for my birthday actually) my dad decided that in addition to cleaning their car windows and checking engine oil levels and tire pressure for them, I was old enough to start handing out his promotional Playboy Calendars to customers, which clearly featured, yes, nudes. It goes without saying that I had a very uninhibited and unsuppressed childhood. The 1966 edition that I was handing out showcased Raquel Welch, and I was so smitten with it that kept one for myself and hid it. (he admitted later on in life that he knew of my undertaking)

To wrap it up, 57 years later I still have that calendar, complete with all the tear-off months in tact. It also reads on the top of the calendar that he offered 23 1/2 hour towing service, so if someone called in the middle of the night and he didn't want to go out, he could claim it was his 1/2 hour off. What a guy.

With that said, my dad regularly impressed on me and my siblings that there was nothing more important than protecting our mother, and for that matter all women and girls. He also drilled into my sisters heads that they should never allow themselves to grow up depending on a man; that for them, be it a hard road to travel, their independence was all-important.

We all know that life is sometimes hard. It's different for all of us and we can only guess at what others are feeling and experiencing, so if needed, reach out where and when you can.

"Things go wrong in life, love, business, friendships, health and in all other areas of of our lives. And when things get tough, this is what you should do . . . remember that whatever the discipline you are in, whether you are a musician, a photographer, a philanthropist, a waiter, a fine artist, a cartoonist, a writer, a mechanic, a dancer, a designer, a rocket scientist, an athlete or a meteorologist, in whatever you do you have one thing that's unique. You. And the option is yours to turn what you do into an art form, like my dad did with his race cars.

I think this is called the art of living.

“It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that society is huge and the individual is less than nothing. But the truth is that individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different. So be wise. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would. "Now go, and make interesting mistakes. Make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here. Make good art.”

"I'm serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best.

Make good art."

"Make it on the good days too."

And "while you are at it", "do the stuff that only you can do."

"The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can."

"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right." (Neil Gaiman)


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