2016 was a damnable year; an emotional, experiential pendulum. A cosmic bungee jump.
The first punch in the face was the death of David Bowie in January, which was followed by dozens of other stunning deaths that collectively made us question mortality and purpose. I’m not going to even mention the punch in the heart and soul that’s been hemorrhaging since November.
Mysteriously for me, the loss of Bowie stimulated a sort of psychic epiphany. I found myself consumed for months by a firestorm of brilliant and thoughtful journalism and as I explored his history, struggle, work and ethic I emerged a latter-day Superfan. I was inspired and motivated by Bowie’s commitment to his art/istry/fullness; how he marched and strutted through his life with utter fearlessness. He was a pure artist, compelled to create without holding back. I was forced me to address my own fears. What was keeping me from being a hero, if just for one day?
I had already been fomenting, feeling imminence, a stirring that demanded cultivation. I needed to get busy and really be an artist.
I adopted a motto:“Live a Large and Brave Life.”
Studying Bowie’s life and work showed me the immeasurable influence it had on culture as a whole and on countless ordinary people. If he’d been coy about his talent, stingy with his ideas, reticent about trying or fearful about failing (as most of us are, especially creatives) I think the world would be a different place. Somehow he became a lighthouse for the left-out and while on his own way to becoming an icon of class and scholarly elegance. (His personal art collection recently sold for $41 million dollars). By following his vision, he built a ladder for others to climb, giving all of us a better view of possibility.
Yes, he had extraordinary talent but it was his openness to pursuing his vision that made his work expand and morph right up to the end.
Well, I do not have illusions nor delusions of grandeur or desire for fame. At all. But in about March, I adopted a motto: Live a Large and Brave Life.
The magical cool thing about my motto is that I can rely on it when I go to a familiar anxious place like “oh shit, I’ll be over my head if..”, “what if I screw up?”, “I’m not really that good”. That anxious feeling now triggers the question – Wait. What was that thing I said I’d do after Bowie died? Right! Be Brave. Oh, yeah, I forgot I had bravery!
I’m not kidding. I can change my anxiety into impetus just like that.
As a result, I’ve morphed, myself! This year I’ve exhibited in three group shows in Austin and San Antonio, created an installation in Angers, France with a sister city creative collective, and have just been invited to do an installation in Denver in April on artists’ response to climate change. I got a small grant that allowed me to indulge in a studio practice so I could make work for the East Austin Studio Tour for the first time, a dream come true.
I completely uprooted myself from an easy, over-paying very part-time job and a cushy place to live with extremely low expenses to move to a bona fide live/work studio and within a month, received a commission for a permanent public artwork through the City of Austin, right in my new community!
Seems I’m on fire! (which is what people say about my Man Who Fell to Earth haircolor) THANK YOU AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STARMAN