Discover Their Stories (Women’s History Month)

Today I wanted to write about some cool cats I know. Well not personally, but nonetheless, individuals who make great art and inspire all of us to be better human beings.

Memes aside, a moment for all of the ladies who make art despite facing incredible challenges every day, is not nearly enough.

I’m doing this in acknowledgement and praise of Women’s History Month. Which is a pretty big deal if you stop to think about it.

This is not going to be a post where I pretend to know the details of women’s history, because quite frankly, I’m not an expert on any kind of history, save maybe art history, and even then I’m not actively thinking about it often enough to claim mastery. No, this is a post for me in which I get to share with you some artists which I think need more attention and why I like them. Not “like” like them, just like them as professionals. Some of them are more known than others, but regardless of stature, these creatives are important and make great art.

Now I should address some hesitations my Canadian readers will likely have first. Yes I live in Canada, and technically that means I should be celebrating this event in October with the rest of my ilk, but quite frankly, I needed something to share this week and we share a border with Americans. And in case you didn’t know they’ve been running this event nationally since 1987, whereas we only picked it up in 1992. Shocking I know.

Insert Privilege Here

It’s a privilege for me to be able to write about these women, primarily because of the internet and a post-secondary education which taught me better. And that is a sad sad thing, so my hope is that you read these little snippets and take some time yourself to learn about these artists.


Marilyn Minter is an American artist who has been active since the 1980s. Her work often features sexuality and erotic imagery. Working in both photography and painting, Minter looks at the various roles of feminism, fashion and celebrity as they relate to idealizations of identity. Having published works in major American magazines and television she is known for being controversial and never loyal to one brand, medium or group. Minter has had exhibitions all over the world including Les Rencontres d’Arles festival in France, shows in Spain and Germany, being showcased in MoMa frequently. She teaches at the MFA department at the School of Visual Arts in New York and recently had a retrospective of her work in 2015. http://www.marilynminter.net/

Hazel Dickens & Alice Gerrard were musical re-pioneers of what was a defunct form of music now popular once more – folk. The genre was given a boost back in the 1950s, and the duo of Dickens & Gerrard were at the forefront making friends and breaking hearts. Dickens, focused on bluegrass and acted as double bass, while Gerrard, also a singer, played both banjo and guitar, making them rather successful as both solo recording artists and as a pair. Their varied singing styles made use of both Dicken’s high-pitch and Gerrard’s love for crooning and shouting. The pair performed late into their lives but Dickens passed on in April of 2011.

 

 

Julie Taymor is an American director of theater, opera and film. She is definitely best known for directing the stage, as she has been responsible for The Lion King musical, which netted her two Tony Awards, a first for a woman at the time. She has also directed broadway musicals for Spider-man and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Taymore has an Emmy Award, a Drama Desk Award and an Oscar nomination, which is how I got to know her work. Directing films like Titus, Frida, and Across The Universe, Taymor has a natural aptitude for theatre which has spread throughout the performance arts.  Taymors work on Frida was substantial and got the film two Academy Awards – one for makeup and the other for costume design.

 

 

This might seem like a small sampling of professional women to showcase for this post dear readers, but my hope here is to demonstrate that women permeate throughout the arts, and that this is merely a drop in the bucket of talented creatives out there. And these are some of my personal favourite artists too, I could’ve listed off Tracy Emin, Cindy Sherman, Sofia Coppola, Sarah Polley, Debra Granik, Taylor Swift, Ellie Goulding, Leslie Fiest, La Roux, Adele, and tons of others, but then I would just be making lists, and this is about celebrating women.

A privilege in and of itself.

theories Summarized

So where’s the wisdom you ask?  Well, I’ll leave you with this quote by Susan B. Anthony and see if you can glean something from it. And I hope for damn sure that it’s absorption rate is quick, thorough and positively altering, and not a wasted theory.

It was we, the people, not we, the white male citizens, nor yet we, the male citizens, but we, the whole people, who formed this Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people — women as well as men.
Susan B. Anthony
We’re only telling half a story in many cases, but a half does not make us whole.
Tim!

Empire State of Mind (Environment)

I have probably played way to much Magic: The Gathering and other fantasy based games growing up my friends, because I always want to equate myself with a particular element of nature and just run in the general direction of that thing to better equip myself for the stresses of life. According to astrology and palmistry fire seems like the natural choice, while other personality tests and chinese zodiac results lead to that of the earth. So I guess that means I’m geared for the life of the country AND the city, but not so much high up or near water.

Whatever that means.

To be honest I think that we should make decisions about our physical environment based upon our interests and what inspires us. So if you need to be out in nature in order to be creative, do so, and what that natural environment looks like to you is also relevant, then seek it out.

Today, we go over the importance of your habitat, climate, scenery, terrain or surroundings.

Your Friendly Neighbourhood

That’s right friends, a new month,  a new post inspired by the OECD index which I was initially led to in the first place by the folks at Post Consumers. But this time dear readers, I have decided to focus on the importance of environment for artists and give you some options to consider in your quest towards health, wealth, and happiness. Because while frugality and conservation of resources are important for the planet, your mental space needs to be taken into account too.

Yes, believe it or not, if you look out for yourself and a lot of other things begin to fall into place.

i5tvtvm

But what does that look like, you ask?

Well, like anything in life that depends on what you are about. So why don’t I give you the rundown of some things to consider, via a handy list, and you can decide for yourself if you’re on the right track to health, wealth, and happiness.

Welcome To New York, It’s Been Waiting For You

Before we get too far along, I need to clarify something. While I do think that New York city is a great place to live, and while my subject headings in this post so far are really hinting at NYC as a one stop shop, that’s just not true. And no, I’m not leading you towards Los Angeles either.

Instead I want you to look over some questions and the corresponding key words, and think on what kind of creative professional you need to be. All of these factors will help lead you towards an answer, and lead you towards creating a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Is it important to you to attend parties? Think street parties, exhibitions, murals, fairs, and citywide events.
  2. What about a structured living situation? This could include open-concept loft apartments, industrial towns, and attending art museums as well as galleries.
  3. Does the place you live in need to be warm all the time? A daily does of street performers, dancing, food eaten outdoors, curbside coffee shops, and urban graffiti go a long way.
  4. Could you experience a wide variety of activities and room for contemplation? Where does live music, onsite food trucks, post-secondary education, libraries or urban sprawl fit in?
  5. Would economic stability be essential? If you like quirky shops, breweries, cheap rent, and post-grad couture.
  6. How organic is your palette? Farm-to-table, organic groceries, yoga, countryside views… Do those terms grab your attention?
  7. Are you inspired by other mediums? If film, audio recording, performance, and site specific works are your thing, consider your location.
  8. Does interacting with your immediate space matter? For when you need to make guerilla art, partake in festivals, induce public art participation, and convert odd spaces.
  9. When do you choose to collaborate? Artist run centres, art collectives, creative clubs, and meet-ups are all options.
  10. Who do you collaborate with? Whether musicians, hippies, hipsters, scensters, hip-hop lovers, electronic record spinners, cowpokes , entrepreneurs, writers, theatre artists, photographers, and techies all have their homes too…

While not comprehensive, these are all great factors to consider in the much larger picture that is the artistic environment which you call home. I can dedicate a lot of time to any number of these aspects, but you need to start somewhere after all.

theories Summarized

Well creative cuties, have you got your terrain locked down yet? I hope you spend some time with this one because we all need to work in spaces which are inspiring, comfortable and accessible. Like so many of these themes that tie into the OECD, environment has value. It may be my theory, but it should be yours too. That’s it for now, I’ll see you tomorrow with a timely update.

Tim!

 

Take A Look, It’s In A Book… (Learn to Love Learning)

You want to be successful at your art, dear readers? And to be successful, the first step is recognizing what is required of you. For instance, do you have the right attitude (or have you developed a strategy if it’s out of your control)? Because you need to stop making excuses and take advantage of free resources available to you. The environment you have set up for yourself can definitely factor into the equation too… But don’t fret because happiness is within reach!

You really have to start forming excellent habits though.

One of the ways to best accomplish your goals is to create lists and break those lists down into manageable tasks, but to be honest, that’s only going to take you so far. Once you accept that life is not something which you can complete and then coast through, that it goes on and on, you will change your expectations and invest in processes which allow you to live a good lifestyle. Look at last weeks Wisdom Wednesday on timotheories if you need more information on how to get started.

Once you start setting those habits, goals will naturally get completed, but an interesting occurrence can also happen, and if you aren’t ready for it, you’ll fall right off the horse.

swift-horse

Boredom can set in.

And one of the surest ways to combat boredom is through discipline. But here is the secret dear readers, and it’s a theory I have found is very likely to be true. Very rarely do teachers, coaches, gurus or whatever they want to be called tell this. I hope it becomes common knowledge at some point soon – you need to be in good spirits in order to maintain discipline. That means diet, exercise, and sleep.

Okay timotheories, but those are kinda obvious habits to keep up, we already knew that! 

Touche, my friends, touche. But you see, I haven’t quite gotten to my point just yet. If you would just give me another minute to build up the anticipation, I promise the payoff should be worth it…

Diet and sleep are straightforward, eat healthy food that is unprocessed and do your best to limit carbohydrates as well as most sugars. Next, get somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep every night and commit to a routine to ensure your circadian rhythms get lined up correctly (slow to start, ramping up into the middle of the day, and winding down in the evening). Now talk to your doctor and also a certified professional about a workout which suits your current body type, and ease into it.

The problem is that we are forgetting something, and I just don’t know what… Oh right, the boredom. Those activities are boring if you aren’t also exercising your mind.

Your brain automates a lot of the daily processes you use, and your mind is integral to your mood. If you aren’t in a good mood, new routines become a lot more difficult to set up. That means reading books which stimulate your mind in positive ways. From classical literature, to self-improvement, to education in the arts and sciences, to philosophy, to biography, there are a number of genres that you can and should be reading to keep your mind sharp.

You need to read if you are going to stay the course, because just like with exercising the body, if you don’t use it, you will inevitably lose it and suffer from health problems.

Now timotheories, that’s all well and good, but a lot of us don’t have TIME for reading, we work 40+ hours a week, have to fit in meals, exercise, sleep, and spending time with loved ones, AND find time to obsess over our art. How the heck are we going to fit reading into the mix?

Well, the question has been asked before, but never has it sounded so sweet to the ears.

Should you consider listening to audio books as reading? And if you do, is it a viable alternative? Yes! The answer is a resounding yes! If you can’t make the time to sit down and read, do it while you work on routine tasks, on your commute or in down time before falling asleep.

You might not be able to absorb the information as readily, but the truth of the matter is that there are a number of ways to get a hold of audio books – look here at overdrive.com for starters. This website is what a lot of libraries use to store digital copies of their books. And if you have the technology (you should), you can put the content on your phone or mp3 player for convenience.

So do yourself a favour, develop your mind, bolster your imagination, and discover new things in the process. That’s all of theories I’ve got for a today my friends, so I’ll catch you tomorrow with a timely update.

Tim!

Lollipop (Grimes Art Angels review)

I’m gonna tell you a little secret dear readers, while I don’t own any of their albums, I’m a pretty big fan of CSS.

This is probably because when I was in my early 20’s they were “cool” and “weird” and something hipsters were into, but I think my favourite thing about them was that they had a song called Art Bitch and another called Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death From Above.

I’ve always been a fan of pop music, and if the music and lyrics were engaging, you had my money.

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

Which is why today’s review is kind of awesome, because this feels like a throwback and something completely original at the same time. Also, anything with the word art in the title has to be good, right?

 

 

 

Grimes – Art Angels
released December 11, 2015
********* 9/10

43091-art-angels

Claire Elise Boucher, better known as Grimes, is a Canadian singer/songwriter, music video director and record producer. This is her 4th studio album release and the most chart-topping example of her unique vision to date.

I have had a lot of fun listening to this album. It changes dramatically throughout, and even varies inside of specific tracks. I think some the most euphoric experiences with it have been listening to the CD in the car on my way to and fro.

But while this album is incredibly well crafted, I’m not entirely sure it qualifies as easy-listening for the more timid listener.

For instance, while I gravitated to the content almost immediately, both my girlfriend and one of my brothers couldn’t quite place the music the first time listening through themselves and as a consequence they both wanted to move on quickly.

It’s the kind of album that perfectly encapsulates the era we are living in, it pulls from a plethora of influences and captures them in fantastical and dreamlike ways. There are celtic parts, dreampop moments, psychobilly screams, spoken word in other languages, horror-movie inspired progressions, and audio samples that I’d swear came out of a video game from the 64 bit days or earlier.

Wikipedia has tried to summarize her identity by taking other summaries and mashing them together, which I find hilarious, by the way. And oh so relevant to what Grimes represents.

This quote from The Guardian says it well –

By sounding a little like everything you’ve ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you’ve ever heard.

I’m gonna tell you something that might seem crazy, but really shouldn’t be. The reason why Grimes’ music is so awesome is not because she is a trendsetter in a sea of pop music, and as a result her music is as high of a caliber as the likes of Lorde, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Adele, and Ellie Goulding, among others, but because she sets trends by controlling her oeuvre and making music that is interesting and has intent. This is what pop music should sound like. Authentic music by artists that suit their personalities and tastes.

Claire Elise Boucher is inviting us into her reality, as opposed to trying to work in the reverse.

Kill V. Maim is a song from the perspective of Al Pacino in The Godfather pt II, California addresses her new hometown (a play off of Taylor Swift’s Welcome to New York?), REALiTi a love song that features insanity, and Butterfly is a send-up to Mariah Carrey and environmentalism.

If you don’t believe she is electic, and seeing is your truth, check out these music videos for Flesh without Blood/ Life in the Vivid Dream and REALiTi for a visual treat and a sample of her music directing skillz.

It is an incredibly rich and diverse offering, and I like it. But my major complaint is that it doesn’t dovetail with the same explosive and powerful quality that it opens with in the first track, laughing and not being normal. But if you are looking to shake up your pop roots, this is the one for you.

 

 

 

Art Angels is a fantastic entry from a really great artist who is embracing her weirdness and producing something original. Like CSS, she has made a fan of me, but unlike CSS, I’m gonna keep to my word and continue to buy her records. You should too.

See you tomorrow for a movie review, have a good night folks!

Tim!

Licensed To Steal (Artist As Collector)

I’ve been thinking about what I should write for today pretty much all of my waking hours this past week.

Sometimes I chew on a theory for months (anticipating the date to share it with you), other times the theory appears in a flash of light. And sometimes theories just work themselves out naturally in the moment and I kind of surprise myself with the results.

It’s a similar experience that many artists have when they create work. Nothing happens perfectly, but relying on moments of inspiration is incredibly draining and risky in terms of output. That is why it is so incredibly important to set up a routine and a space that works for the individual, so that bursts of creativity can happen naturally and “seemingly” spontaneously and the disciplined efforts can cover of those moments of creative silence.

It really is amazing that our unconscious minds are working in our favour though when you stop to think about it.

We organize information, experience, and our interests to produce something special, and if we do it correctly, we create a work of art which looks and feels unique, whatever the source of inspiration.

The reason why I’ve been thinking about this process today is because I have this theory that all good artists steal ideas (not an original idea either), but the best ones steal from everyone and everything in their lives. They do this because of an honest appreciation for life and an attachment for what already exists in the world.

To put it simply, every artist is a collector. On the surface it could appear that they store objects, but the reality is that they have enduring love for the object(s) which house much more than the literal contents we observe in passing.

This TED Talk by Austin Kleon details the point quite well.

Nothing is original. All art, from the bad to the great, references what came before it.

So why do critics sometimes comment as if we should operate in a vacuum? I’m not entirely sure. I think it is likely that nuanced truths are harder to swallow than obvious ones, if I am being perfectly honest. Which can be a full blown topic for another Stimulating Sunday.

But that is not what today is about.

Today is about the theory of artist as collector. And the inspiration for today’s post is from a very talented artist who I am sure you have heard of at one point or another, whether you like their work or not.

Here is a sample of my favourite song from the record.

Walking through a crowd
The village is aglow
Kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats
Under coats
Everybody here wanted something more
Searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before
And it said

Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

It’s a new soundtrack I could dance to this beat, beat
Forevermore
The lights are so bright
But they never blind me, me
Welcome to New York
It’s been waiting for you
Welcome to New York
Welcome to New York

I’ve highlighted particular lines because I think they are especially relevant for the topic at hand.

This song is from the album 1989 by Taylor Swift. Yes, that’s right.

But that’s not what I was listening to on the drive home to Edmonton from my girlfriend’s parents home in Lacombe today. I was listening to Ryan Adam’s cover album, also titled 1989, with the exact same number of tracks, with almost identical lyrics, in the same song order.

Let’s break this thing down for a minute.

3F70F73E42A17886E4E31E44764B96FB201410916283289

Taylor Swift, who is incredibly talented, let Ryan Adams, who is also incredibly talented, “steal” her work and create his own version of it.

In fact, she gave her instant approval, when he asked. She is a genius.

If you think about it for a second, there have been reviews claiming he did a better version of her work, and that he made it more meaningful.

I call bullshit on that. But not for the reasons that lots of people are.

He was a vehicle that proved how powerful her lyrics really are to everyone, whether people choose to see it or not, is a completely different matter.

This is especially important to note for those who don’t listen to her music and pass if off for cookie cutter pop. Taylor Swift is an incredibly talented songwriter. Period.

And, she gracefully pointed that out with her title track, without being a jerk about it.  Let me illustrate – while we might all be “searching for a sound we hadn’t heard before,” 99% of the time, the sound already exists. It’s because someone loved it, and made art about it, that we can appreciate it the new art. 1989 by Ryan Adams is a great album, but it wouldn’t exist without 1989 by Taylor Swift, and Taylor’s is definitely the better album because she made something “original” without making it obvious what she “stole” from to get inspiration.

And she understands that sharing is caring.

My girlfriend, who is a super fan of Taylor Swift, realized this brilliance of TSwift years ago, I’m finally starting to see it myself. I hope that other creative types make that leap sooner than later, and I also hope that everything I just stole from makes this post worthwhile. And that’s all of the theories I’ve got for tonight.

What do you think? Leave comments!

Tim!