November 30, 2007

First Person:


By Al Carlos Hernandez

Deep down inside everyone has a hidden artistic talent and or proclivity for the esoteric. Some of us play musical instruments; others act, paint, write, sing, cook, decorate, design, insult, spoken word, dance, tell wonderful stories, and or hold public office…

I realized that while exercising my artistic chops it feels like I am functioning at the highest level of productivity and bliss. It seems the heart mind and soul is firing on all cylinders when creating something new that can hopefully inspire some kind of emotional rejoinder for the affirmation or alienation of those around us.

Art happens.

Mentors have told me that eminence art occurs when the focus of the effort is centered on the quality of the work itself, rather than a commercial or narcissistic outcome. A true artist needs to devoid themselves what others think and concentrate on what they have to say through their medium. That being said, most artists seem to be ego maniacs.

Carlos Santana once told me that when he plays his guitar he doesn’t feel his fingers playing the notes, all he feels is the music transferring from his soul and going out through the amps. Consistent with that theme, my suspicion is he has direct deposit so the fat checks go right to the bank as well.

No doubt the majority of artists, not just the starving ones, have day jobs. Those fortunate enough to do art for a living are considered foolish, unless they are rich, then they are considered eccentric.

I truly admire those who can play music and write songs. C.P Fuller said, All art aspires to the condition of music. Many of those troubadours will never make it big, be on TV, or release a CD, but are authentic accomplished artists, often times with better ability then people who find themselves Brittney/ Bradgelina famous.

Most expensive pro quality musical, photography, and painting paraphernalia are sold to non-professionals. Pro’s often get endorsement deal hook- ups and play for pay.

The engaging in Art expresses an outward expression of what is really going on in the soul. This works well when a hair designer comes up with a new color and cut, giving someone a new hipper identity. It can work to the determent when you experience some junk sculpture that reflects an urban blight, or the ravages of future shock tasered society.

We really have to give it up to the weekend musicians who have full time day jobs yet take their bands up and down the state playing no money dive gigs, just for the joy of entertaining people, laying it all out there, on the hope that the music will get them somewhere. Someday they may find that the joy of doing the music was its greatest reward in itself, some may be embittered and rebuke the effort as a pitiful waste of time, if the motivation was fame and fortune.

As a writer I am glad that I don’t have to take my show on the road and play dives across the country to display my chops. The downside is that the feedback good or bad is few and far between. If I had a band and took the show on the road, I could know immediately if people laughed or completely bombed. Ironically because of email, the feedback comes sometimes quicker than a beer bottled tossed at the stage.

My wife and I have found that in our midlife, that the expression of the artist muse vastly improves the quality of life and keeps us vital, inspired and in the mix. She takes flute, piano and occasional voice lessons. I have taken up the electric bass, and have been called on to paint the house. All talents being equal I should be a ceiling painting soloist on the roller.

We have found that if you want to improve the quality of life, make an effort to let your creative juices flow. Aspiring scribes have given me their work to critique; it is always encouraging to find normal folks who have real hidden talent.

My Dad was a weekend musician; being a guitar player defined his identity. He was at his happiest when playing for a house party or rehearsing every afternoon for a pizza parlor gig two weeks off in the distance. Music helped him transcend the mundane life 9 to 5 life of a warehouseman and transported him into a world, were he was a special somebody with skill. His gravestone has a guitar etched on it; maybe mine will have a PC, or a yellow pad with broken pencils.

“The opposite of bravery is not cowardice, but conformity”.
-Robert Anthony

Al Carlos Hernandez writes from Hollywood.

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