Patron of the Arts

1798866_10152304887902755_1072442248_nAs my one year blog anniversary draws nigh, I will confess to you, today, why I started this thing.  I used to take an acting class. I’ve talked about the teacher at times on stage.  He figures into a story I often share about my struggles working on Uncle Vanya.  My feelings for this teacher, whom I’ll call Professor, are complicated.  At times, he could be overwhelmingly nurturing and other times he could be mercilessly cruel.

I left his class several years ago, then after a two year absence, I returned.  I think he was disappointed and hurt that I left class initially and when I returned, I never felt like he liked me.  I hope that you are different than me, but I am one of those insecure types that likes for people to like him.  When I returned to class, our every conversation was adversarial or dismissive or academic.  In my early days of class, he had told me how unique and special my instrument was, but after my flight and return, he never said things like that to me.

After I left class the second time, he told a story to his New York class about a student in the LA class who was nothing more than a patron of the arts.  “This student is in his 40s, he calls himself an actor, but he is nothing more than a patron of the arts.  He goes to plays and read books and goes to museums.  He can talk at length about what he reads or sees, but he, himself, is not an artist.  He does not dig deep the way an artist digs.”  And of course, I was that LA student he was talking about.  When I first heard about it, obviously, it hurt my feelings.  Professor often talks about his students, usually derisivlely, in class, often in the victim’s presence, but more often, behind their back.  As perceptive as he is about humanity, he chooses to build his class around his own antagonistic pathology.

But, back to me, this is my story, after all.  What I did love about Professor is that when he said something about me, usually something negative, I was able to look at it and ask myself, if there was truth there.  And of course, always, there was something true, maybe not 100% true, but somehow, as ugly as it was, there was at least a part of it that resonated.  

I am a patron of the arts.  I read books, but don’t write them.  I see plays, but don’t act in them.  I go to art museums, but I don’t paint.  But I am an artist, and that’s not to say that I am a good artist.  This blog is my art, over which I toil.  And I am not attempting histrionics by saying that it’s been mostly failure.  Not one of my posts has “gone viral.”  Most of my posts receive startling few hits.  Many friends have openly told me that they don’t understand why I am doing this.  And, Amy Grant has not retweeted even ONE of my beautiful, complimentary, open-hearted posts that I’ve written about her and repeatedly tweeted to her.   But still, I keep going.

There have been some successes.  I’ve received nice compliments.  I’ve made a couple people laugh, a couple people cry and of course, my holy grail, a couple people laugh through tears. My favorite emotion!  What’s more, I feel I’ve gained something as an artist.  It’s helped my onstage ventures. I am better at writing than when I started.  I think I understand story a little better.   

So, I am glad a low moment inspired me to create Easily Crestfallen.  It’s kind of thrilling to think that hearing something unfavorable about yourself, can open you up to the possibilities.

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6 thoughts on “Patron of the Arts

  1. I’m not sure if my comment posted or not. Wasn’t ready to send it.
    Professor reminds me of Mr. Carp, that Diana Morales sings about I’m A Chorus Line. I felt nothing…

    • You are not the first to make that apt comparison. And just like Carp, these teachers have enduring effects on us, some negative, probably, but hopefully, something good. Diana wouldn’t have had that song to sing, had she not had that experience. And think of the ways that song has touched so many lives.

  2. When I stumbled upon your blog, I knew I had come across a work of art. Some of your posts move me the way symphonies do, in which–like musical notes–words come together in such a way that they bring out emotions in me. Only true works of art can communicate emotion and this is why I keep returning to your blog eagerly awaiting another well-crafted post. This post in particular brought to mind Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony. At the time of its premiere, it was poorly received. So much so, that even Tchaikovsky himself said, “I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure”. I’d highly encourage you to listen to this “failure” whenever you have the chance. It helps me put things into perspective when I need encouragement.

    • I had never heard that about Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony and it’s certainly the kind of information that encourages us to keep toiling. So thank you for sharing the story (and YOUR story, too, btw).

  3. I guess it is sometimes hard to realize that we often are only patrons and not artist. Maybe the professor was guiding you to do what you are doing now. Maybe he could see that you were something other than what you thought. It’s hard when were in it to see that. We often think others are being negative to us. That just what I think.

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