Tears Of An Abstract Artist
“You have to suffer for your art” I’ve heard that so many times before so maybe its worth considering. But what kind of suffering? Public ridicule, self mutilation, a good old fashioned ass kicking, exactly how should I suffer for my art? Some artists cut off their ears although I‘ve grown attached to my attachments, others go mad listening to the passengers in their heads (was that me that aid that?), some turn to drugs, and many go the route of heavy alcohol abuse. Maybe I’ll start at the drugs and alcohol and work my way up. Okay, that bullshit, that brushstroke dried on the canvass a long time ago, so if abusing drugs and alcohol are all that’s needed to suffer I’ve already suffered for years. But those aren’t acts of suffering they’re consequences of attempting to avoid the suffering. The suffering we bring on ourselves by being our own worst critics. Why? I believe its rooted in the fact that we tend to live our lives in the abstract and not in the conventional world that most “normal” people live in.
Artists think see and feel in the abstract. Even “normal” people experience abstract thought everything they sleep because our dreams are the inherently abstract. The brain functions for us when we’re awake but once REM sets in it’s the brain has free reign and great god almighty can it do abstract. That’s why our dreams can be unreal, surreal, or too real. Its like the brain likes to fuck with us while we’re lying defenseless in bed. It needs to keep itself occupied while we’re snoozing and its like “what the hell, might as well throw some weird ass shit out there that makes no sense” just to amuse its superior self and to keep us wondering. Sometimes I wake up and my first thought is WTF was that all about? Sometimes I wake up and think holy crap that was awesome, Ima try to get back to sleep and see some more. Other times I don’t even remember my dreams at all. More than likely a defense mechanism using selective recollection so I don‘t actually blow my own mind. But while our bodies are at rest our brains goes into an abstract state. That’s why dreams can seem so strange yet so real. Abstract is the normal state for an artist. Not much of a reach to label us “dreamers!”
At any rate I’m awake now and debatably lucid so allow me to define my concept of what an artist is. An artist is one who uses any or all of their senses to express their abstract manifestations in some form of expressive medium. We are familiar with the painters and sculptors because we can see their works Rodin, Michelangelo, Picasso, Van Gough, all the great works of the world expressed through colors and shapes and textures and committing their visions or images to canvas or marble. The same is done with a musician who hears sounds and then recreates those sounds using instruments, or anything that makes the sound they hear. Jimi Hendrix is the best example, using his guitar to express sounds we would never have been able to experience had he not been able to summon the abstract. The writer who puts random thoughts into words forming a recognizable pattern that expresses emotions. All of those abstract thinkers are artists but an artist is not limited to those more familiar mediums. I first began to understand this when I became a chef and learned to cook in the abstract.
I have always had the soul of an artist and it made me feel like I was just a tad different from others when I was young. I wanted to be some sort of an artist but it was frustrating. My best drawing are my stick figures o that was out. I loved and still do love music but I could never read it. I could read the note on paper but my mind and my hands failed to form the synergy necessary. I erroneously assumed without being able to read music I would never learn to play. I would have loved to get into acting but I suffered from chronic stage fright and rejection anxiety. I always wrote but never learned how to structure properly so only wrote for my self and my friends and even that was done sparingly due to that rejection anxiety. To make matters even worse I wrote a love poem for my first girlfriend and she laughed, effectively destroying both my elf sesteem and my self confidence while smiling. I suffered!
But working in restaurants is where I learned about artistry. I began washing pot and pans and quickly learned how to make salads, then simple deserts. I learned about food prep and eventually worked my way up to lead cook. But it was just a J-O-B, a way to make money for weed. A I got older I discovered I could make a living cooking so I worked hard and got pretty good at it, ultimately went to school for it. Once while I was working in a restaurant in midtown Manhattan as a line cook the chef took an interest in me. He is a talented chef from France and he saw something in me so he began to instruct me on his style of cooking. As time went by I spent many of my days off and after work hours working with him and he taught me so much. I quickly became not just a line cook but the best line cook, then the sous chef. My benefactor began teaching me how to not only cook, but how to give my dishes personality. I began to form my own style and every dish I created had a bit of my culinary DNA in it. That’s when I put it together. I wasn’t merely a cook, I was a culinary poet.
Cooking creatively is art. Performance art using a biodegradable edible format that is in the moment. It’s a fierce and fast paced performance balancing the demands of a hungry public and their discriminating taste buds. But the chef is responsible to reach every one of the senses with his creation. First it has too be appealing to the eye, it has to have a fresh and enticing aroma, it needs to feel good in the mouth and be at the proper temperature, It needs to incite a number of sounds from the diner (MMM, ahhhh), and most importantly, all the flavors have to come together in a harmonious taste sensation. During many of the performances I either cut or burned myself. I suffered!
But I had to man up because the show must go on and I was a culinary performer. An artist armed with an array of foods bearing different colors, shapes, textures, and tastes at my fingertips and they all required individual attention. Vegetables that need peeling or cutting, with different cooking times, meats and seafood’s that needed fabrication and storage, some in marinades, and also with varied cooking times. I also had to make decisions as to which methods of cooking would achieve the beat results. After that I take into consideration the variety of flavors of those components and arrange them using the various shapes, sizes, textures, and present them in a way that is appealing to the eye. And that’s done over and over with different dishes in rapid succession, each dish going out perfect. That’s Art!
I still think and breath in abstract and my life is one big improvisation which may be my strongest trait. I don’t have a structured life plan I approach just about everything in an abstract manner. If an inspiration hits me its only a seed, and what develops s from that seed is often totally different from what I originally had in mind. That’s how I roll. I’ve reached my pinnacle in restaurants and have refocused my creative efforts to baking and now that I’ve reached as far as I desire in the culinary world I continue to create desserts but I put more focus than ever on my first abstract love, writing. I’m not reaching for the stars with my words but there is much that I want to share to any open minds that enter the arena. I found my writing voice which not surprisingly sounds sarcastic, slightly cynical and its woven in a loom of dry humor that quite often no one gets but me. That’s okay, at least I’ll get the last laugh and besides I believe I have been steadily improving and I constantly pushing my boundaries to expand my parameters and write things I’m not comfortable with. Well not comfortable at first, but I adapt quickly. I’m happier with my words than ever before and it is incredibly self rewarding. I’ve even attempted to delve back into poetry a bit, still adding my trademark dry and sarcastic humor, and I’m digging the hell out of it. It has allowed to me further explore my philosophy of existentialism. Not suffering!
So my advice to any who have the fortune, or misfortune if you’re a sufferer, to read my ramblings, especially if you’re young, is never believe your thinking in the abstract makes you different in a bad way, but unique in a glorious way. If you need to make a living while honing your art do it, your family and personal life come before everything. Life spins by at lightning quick speed and while were are on this tiny twirling orb we need to take care of each other and save our abstract guilty pleasures for those moments when we need therapeutic assistance but can’t afford a shrink. Just never quit, and never give it up. You’ve got something to say and it should be heard….PEACE