I remember my father having many interests that did not interest me as a child. He had a stinky old dark room in the basement along with a wood shop set-up and a partly assembled motorcycle. The garage stored even more piles of great things to be - as I'm sure he saw it; to me it looked like a mess of rusted bits from an aging life. Later in life he was obsessed with Simon and Garfunkel, playing coveted albums purchased during tight budget months over and over. Really? I must have thought as a child, didn't you get it the first play through?
My photographic pursuits have crept up on me, primarily because written expression leaves me quite drained and (with the exception of my mother), devoid of feedback. The modern digital camera and post-image processes I use were not available to my father, but I see today the similarities between our quest for creative connections. I think my father gave up many of his pursuits because not enough people listened, or maybe he didn't broadcast his work in a captivating enough manner to garner much attention. I think he turned to admiring others' who's creative work seemed more effortless; taking his engagement as the audience to be sort of a vicarious participation in the world he longed for, the one not commonly found in his mid-American placement in mid-management in mid-life.
Of all the albums I could have purchased, most unexpectedly I ended up with "So Beautiful or So What". I didn't think of the connection to my younger days, when hardly a weekend went by without hearing Paul Simon's voice wafting throughout the house, until this morning. Reading the liner notes in the digital book,
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"The trick is, as I know it, is to care like hell and not give a damn at the same time..."How to connect with your audience (aesthetically, intellectually, etc.) is the 'caring like hell' and the 'not giving a damn' is saying "this is me.... wether your were interested or not". Like my father I suppose, I'm coming to find that the later is reserved for the few who gain some status to be deemed worthy of being paid attention to. Where do you spend your efforts? On understanding the most likely "connection points" or working some undercurrent of social equity building? (That is of course assuming that you actually do give a damn.) This is a hard trick.
An overheard comment last night when someone's spouse was questioning the meaning of my work, "I don't know, it's over my head" clearly left me with the impression I failed on both accounts. It is a challenging piece, it does require thought -- maybe nobody much wants to do that on a rain soaked Friday evening. So I'm left with these questions: Why do I care? Why do art? Maybe Paul Simon does address this in his thoughts on his album, (click on the image above to enlarge the text) - but maybe I understand my father a bit more; that can't be all bad.