Showing posts from September 14, 2008

Axelrod: Artists and American Identity

Another thought-provoking post by Laura Axelrod, this one on "Our American Identity." Declaring that "we have lost sight of who we are to each other," Laura asks all of us, artists and otherwise, to relinquish the tendency toward demonization and caricature in favor of seeking out the similarities we share as human beings. She concludes, "it is vital that artists and writers step in to act as witnesses. We have the unique ability to remind people of their humanity. We don't need to be spokespeople for them. Instead, we can inspire people to lead themselves." I like Laura's choice of verbs: "remind," "witness," and "inspire." She presents a more humanist view of the function of an artist, the purpose of art that reminds me of the vision Jill Dolan describes in her marvelous book Utopia in Performance. Blogged with the Flock Browser

Local Art

Laura at Trainling Spouse Blues writes a report from the field called "Act Locally." Check it out. As far as my own commentary: this is the power of being part of a community, a locally-known citizen with people who know you informally. Unlike the imported artists, you have a built in following. It takes a lot of advertising to make up for the lack of that connection. Suddenly, the production is not a commodity, it is a relationship.
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Ayn Rand: The Arts and Metaphysical Value Judgments

I'd like to start this post with a simple statement of fact, one that raises many issues for me. The statement:

Recently, I have been reading Ayn Rand's The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature.

The first issue it raises for me (and I suspect for many people reading this post) is reading Ayn Rand at all. What I know of Rand's philosophy, with its focus on a ferocious libertarian belief in capitalism and egotism, threatens to create air bubbles in my bloodstream. So on the level of broad philosophical orientation, Rand and I are not in agreement.

The second issue is one of style. When Rand moves from the description of general abstractions to specific illustrations, I find her style to be abrasive and arrogant. This is magnified by the fact that I often don't agree with her evaluations, so her slash-and-burn literary style is particularly irritating. I suspect I wouldn't have liked Rand in real life -- or at least, I wouldn't have liked her philosophical…

Preach It, Laura

I'm going to link without (much) comment to Laura Axelrod's "Where We Stand," counting the minutes until the second installment. While I might quibble with the emphasis on the artist as rebel (I'd say it is just one of many possible functions that would be valuable in our society), the overall message is so strong it gives me goose bumps.
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Actors: What Do You Think of This?

This is a page from a recent book on managing your career as an actor. My question is normative, not descriptive; not "Is this the way it is," but "Is this the way it oughta be?" And if you answer "no" to that question, to quote "psssst. Do something."
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Money and Art

Over at Gasp, Laura Axelrod draws our attention as artists to the current economic crisis. "It will affect you and your work," she writes. "Something with this kind of impact will change our culture. It will alter the way society sees itself and the world." Isaac followed with a post entitled, "Money, the Arts, Etc" and Matt Freeman discussed "Laura Axelrod on Money and the Arts." [Update: another contribution from Adam Thurman at Mission Paradox.]

I think Laura is right, and we do need to talk about this. On an immediate level, any slump in the economy that negatively affects the stock market will affect foundation endowments, which means grants will be smaller and harder to come by. If the economy suffers, people have less disposable income, or are less free in disposing of it, which will impact ticket sales. When people are suffering in our society for economic reasons, money gets shifted in that direction and away from the arts, which are con…

Small Town People and Politics

Here is where the <100K Project, and the Big City media's (including theatre's) tendency to sneer at small town life intersects with politics. From Daily Kos: "Small Town Values."
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