I’m finally back home after my “East Coast Summer Art Tour Extravaganzathon 2012”, which began with 2 weeks in Vermont at New Music on the Point, continued (after a week home) with a 3 week residency at the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, and wrapped up with a brief stop-over in North Carolina to see the family before driving back up the coast to good ol’ Massachusetts. And boy are my arms tired…
So it’s been a busy summer, and it’s good to be back in one place for a little while before school/ work/ etc start back up. It is a bit bitter-sweet, however, as I had a wonderful time at each place, and was in the company of many wonderful, talented, and creative people. My stay at ACA was especially eye-opening, as I was able to work and converse with artists from other disciplines. Musicians are a great breed, and I’ve been fortunate to know composers and performers working in a wide range of styles and genres, but it was a completely different level of revelation getting inside the heads of poets, playwrights, painters, sculptors, and performance artists. As artists, we all think about, worry over, and strive for similar things, but we do so in vastly different ways and from vastly different perspectives, depending on our discipline. And what’s wonderful is how much we can learn from each other, and how much of what we learn we can adapt and apply to our own work.
For me, listening to how visual artists think about and deal with “space” was particularly revelatory. Music is such an abstract thing sometimes, and it was immensely grounding to see and hear an evolving artistic process in a more “tangible” medium. Performance artists also deal with space, in a much more kinetic manner, and the way in which they discuss “activating” a space – transforming it in such a way that you see and interact with it differently – hit particularly close to home, confirming and expanding ideas I’ve lately been attempting to bring into my music.
In terms of process, it was nice to find kindred spirits among the literary artists in the group. In a way, writers (poets and playwrights especially) also deal with a somewhat abstract or intangible medium. The words on a page could, in a way, be a sort of visible or tangible art, but the work really comes to life only when read aloud or performed, much like music. Also, composers and playwrights share the beautiful and terrifying necessity of creating something which is then entrusted to others to convey to an audience. So there was much commiserating on this point.
All in all, the feeling from the residency was one of kinship, camaraderie, and rejuvenation. An artist’s “tank” can empty pretty fast in the midst of everyday life and culture, so to be able to immerse one’s self in such an artistically rich and fertile environment from time to time is crucial. It’s easy in our society for artistic souls to feel out of place, isolated, or a bit “weird” – all of which, admittedly, we are to some degree. Having places like ACA, where we can go and celebrate our collective “weirdness” for a while, reminds us that even if we are all islands, there are bridges in between.