August 1st, 2008
At an old-fashioned soda-pop style lunch counter in Bowman, North Dakota, I met Scott Parsons. He was eating pie in black, white and pink spandex with a smattering of corporate logos across his chest. After he had learned that his friend's daughter Mikyla had been diagnosed with Rett syndrome, Scott quit his job as Western VP of Sales with Georgia Pacific to ride his bicycle from San Francisco to Boston to help raise money to fund medical research for Rett Syndrome.
Our conversation covers:
• Scott’s motivations to ride
• Information on Rett syndrome and the hope of a cure
• Highlights of the great American landscape
• Impressions of the American people
• The goals for the ride and beyond
Learn more about Scott, his trip, and the cause for which he’s riding at
Enjoy the show! (The interview is about 25 minutes.)
Listen at your convenience!
May 1st, 2008
To live your life as a creative artist, everything you do and experience is invested into vision, meaning and insight; and in this, there cannot be a separation between self, work and life.
Successful creation is a distillation of many hours of time alone just sponging things in and then processing them with the light of solitude on. Solitude, a word that comes from the Latin "solus," is akin to the Greek word "holos," signifying whole, entire. An artist comes to wholeness in and through solitude.
You'd be hard pressed to find an artist who isn't poignantly aware of her existential aloneness, and yet, like anyone else, she lives in relationship. However, often, instead of social relationships, she relies upon deep, abiding relationships with the ineffable intimations of her gift. There's a sense of partnership with the unseen--the muse, the unconscious, the universe--to get her work done.
And so the artist working in solitude is not really "alone." She is having intense affairs with aspects of the self and with the numinous. Henry James once told the journalist Morton Fullerton that the "essential loneliness" of his life constituted his "deepest" aspect.
The quality of relationship with one’s own inner dynamics, which are nurtured in solitude, provide the conditions for creation. The feeling arises, when you are creating, that you are doing what you are meant to do and it is sustained by the experience of being touched by something larger-- a communion experience that one simply cannot explain, but instead must honor and serve.
But there is a big difference between solitude and isolation. To balance long stretches of unbroken solitude, an artist, especially a developing one, needs like-minded others, people who understand the passion and process of a creative person and who support him in his efforts, who welcome him when he finally does come out from behind the closed door. It helps to have a peer group or, at the very least, one trusted fellow artist with whom to share both the work and one’s life.
Solidarity means unity among people, a shared sense of purpose and understanding of what matters--values, feelings, sensitivities about things, qualities of life. Solidarity is every bit as crucial to the health, balance and survival of the artist as is solitude.
Some artists must or perhaps choose to find their solidarity without real-time contact with peer artists, but instead, through the works of more distant artists. In the words of painter and art teacher Robert Henri, "If the artist is alive in you, you may meet Greco nearer than many people, also Plato, Shakespeare, the Greeks. In certain books--some way in the first few paragraphs you know that you have met a brother."
T.S. Eliot states something similar about our solidarity: "A common inheritance and a common cause unite artists consciously or unconsciously: it must be admitted that the union is mostly unconscious. Between the true artists of any time there is, I believe, an unconscious community."
I wonder, are these qualities, which are so obviously critical to the life of the artist, not important to the health, balance, development and well-being of everyone? What do you think?
I have been traveling alone since the end of March, and also living among artists with long days of solitude in my studio and cherished connections at shared meals and walks through the Illinois prairie. I have now relocated temporarily to Austin, TX and I have been exposed to a great deal of art and culture along the way!
Since that last week of March I have seen:
The Homer and Hopper exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago;
Laurie Anderson speak at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago;
The collections and current shows at The Milwaukee Art Museum;
The current shows at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin;
The Kohler factory tour;
Columbia College Book & Paper Arts facilities and the M.F.A. show there;
A lecture by G. Edward Griffin at the University of Texas;
The On the Road show at the Harry Ranson Humanities Research Center in Austin;
I was also invited to spend an overnight as an all-expenses-paid guest at one of the exclusive private Kohler clubs.
©Jari Chevalier, 2008