TRANSCRIPT from Story Hour: Are We Making Art? Recorded uncut on February 23, 2018:
Hello! Evelyn Wallace signing in for story hour. I apologize, sort of, about the lighting, which I am now aware of because I met a person [in LA] who does lighting. So you know how things enter your field of awareness and then you realize how many things you’ve been filtering out of your field of perception? For example, lighting. (Chuckles.) In any case, I can’t really change the sun. I can’t really change… I mean I COULD change the direction I was going if that were important enough to me. If the lighting were more important than the direction I was headed… THAT’S value pyramid. That’s what I mean when I say value pyramid.
So I’m on the road. I’m headed home [to Oregon from LA], dealing with, as you may have in your life, dealing with pangs [of doubt], of wondering, “am I on the right path? Am I doing the right thing?” Maestro is so good at reminding me, “yes, of course baby girl. Of course you are. And when you aren’t, you’ll know.” And plenty of other people have told me that [we are on the right path], directly and indirectly, as well. Strangers, friends, lovers. And yet when one tears open the fabric of one’s experience, or continues to rip that hole wider and wider apart, you know, there’s no map. Even the institutions we have in place in our normal lives to survive, I’m not following that map anymore. I’m not following that map in regards to earning a living, in regards to making money. I’m not following that map in terms of romantic relationships. I just started listening to The Ethical Slut, book on tape, and HALLELUJAH. I feel like they are speaking all the things I’ve been feeling, but with more data to support their claims.
I’ve been thinking a lot about spirituality, sexuality, money, private property, selfishness, gratitude, temporary-ness, spectrums, infinity, cycles, (that goes with spectrums, I guess?). Our senses, the mechanisms we were given to perceive this world around us, which by no means is a comprehensive [collection of mechanisms]…. I remember learning in junior high about wavelengths, and how some wavelengths we hear as sound and some wavelengths we see as color. But of course there are wavelengths that we can’t perceive [with the naked eye] but that we have access to, like microwaves, that we know exist and understand how to manipulate, but.. guys... clearly there are waves we CAN’T perceive or haven’t learned to. (Laughs.) It’s hilariously, humanly cocky… just because we haven’t developed the tools to perceive something, [we think] “science can’t prove that. Science can’t prove that we have a soul.” Or whatever. Alright. Fair enough. And if science disproves something, I’m all about it. This is not an anti-science [rant]. That’s not my argument. My argument is that we have licked at a lollipop the size of a mountain, and then if someone feels or senses that something exists on the other side of the mountain, scientists be all like “grrrrr” [skeptical]. Actually, that’s not true. That’s not scientists. Scientists are like, “oh, interesting question. Let’s explore that! Let’s see how we can measure it!” Ugh! Where was I? This is tangential. But you know what? Tangents are cool, too.
Oh, so, the things I’ve been thinking about. These cycles. These big ticket items. And one of the tools in my tool kit is describing to people what we do as ART. As walking art. As temporary art. We walk through space. We affect people as we go, hopefully for the better. Our intention is for the better. If someone perceives our presence as damaging to them in some way, I SORT OF apologize. I also can’t take credit for something you’re choosing to interpret. If we are just walking/ existing, we are not hurting you. We’re not inviting ourselves to talk to you if you haven’t engaged [initiated]. Even these videos, you know…. Your free will indicates whether or not you push play on this YouTube channel. But the art component feels like maybe… Like as we’ve been asking ourselves about community. Community is another big ticket item that’s on our list of things we’ve thought about. Maybe the artist community are the folks who will help our message be more widely heard by those who WANT to hear it.
The message of course, (chuckles), in case this is your first episode of Story Time, the message of course is that death will come. Death will come for you. Death will come for me. Death comes for all living things. The planet will die someday. Someday, right? Like within the lifetime of the sun. Which is a star. Which has a lifetime [lifespan]. In fact, I had a good idea for a premise. Did I already say? Did we already talk about this? I’m sorry if we did. I had a good idea for a premise for a movie or a story, which is that scientists have vastly and inaccurately guessed the lifespan of the sun, and it’s actually going to go out in six months. And the premise would lend itself to infinite varieties of human reaction. Which people would choose to have a BBQ? And invite everyone who can access their neighborhoods? Who would turn into villages? And what systems would collapse, right? Who… would we turn into thugs? And different communities would turn into different things so you could retell the story… Yeah, franchise! You’re welcome, Hollywood (Laughs).
[The message on death, of course, is that we are all 'about' to die. As soon as we were born we were 'about' to die. And I don't want to wait until I get hit by a car or get diagnosed with cancer, neither of which I'm INVITING to happen, but which I am aware EXIST on the spectrum of possibility, before I choose to live FULLY, steeping in as much joy and gratitude and connection as possible. I choose that NOW and always and all ways.]
I’ve been singing loudly, in a head voice, along with songs that I would not sing behind the microphone, and I think (clears throat) it is having an effect on my voice.
So the art. The artist. The artist’s argument. That what we’re doing is… (pauses)... Ha. Well. How does one define art? Ok so that question… Ok, so… Ok (flustered)... Ok so I’ll catch you up with what’s happening in my brain. So I’m thinking, “this is art, this is moving art. And when we speak, that’s audio art [poetry].” And then I hear the [counter] argument [in my own head that says], “that’s not art. What are you? Stupid? That’s not art. That’s just walking around with a skull.”
I’ve heard… some people say, ‘I could to that” [i.e. walk around with a giant sugar skull]. And I think, “great! Word! That would be neat! Wouldn’t that be neat?! If we just… if people just started walking around with giant sugar skulls?” I think that would be so cool. But because they haven’t and because I have, and because it takes a little bit of bravery every day, when I put him on my shoulder and I walk out into the world, because I know I’m cutting through the fabric of convention, and that everybody LOOKS. I mean… that’s not like an ego thing. Like (flips hair), “oh, everybody looks at me,” it’s out of the… it’s unusual. And that is what’s been said to me that feels most accurate: “well, that’s not something you see every day!” And that is true. This is not something you see every day. For a woman with impossibly long, wildly red hair… [tangent about hair]... [carrying around a GIANT SKULL. Not something you see every day, indeed. And because they haven't and I have carried around a giant skull, I am getting more comfortable with the idea that we maybe, just maybe ARE making art.]
So as I defend myself against this imaginary argument that what we are doing is not art, I find myself having the conversation, “well, then what IS art?” And OF COURSE you’re welcome to answer that question in whatever way feels right to you. What is art? Some people think Thomas Kinkade is art. Is it Thomas? Is that the guy who paints, like, the cottages and the… fog and stuff? In the forest? I hope that’s him. I’m sorry if I used the wrong name. Names and places: not my forte. (Laughs.)
So then I started thinking that the art that I am most drawn to is the art that… Well, you know of course, the visually striking compositions, in a museum or… I mean, art can be compelling for a million different reasons. I cried in front of a Matisse in London. I CRIED. Which, as you know, I do sometimes. But not all the time. I don’t just cry all the time for no reason. That’s not.. That’s a little TOO much.
Get out of the way, raven! (Honks) I don’t want to hit you! (Honks)
So I find the art that jolts me out of my own… That sort of reaches out of its frame (laughs) and touches me in some way [is the art I’m most drawn to]. Like my heart. So this Matisse piece at the Tate Modern in London was huge. It was bigger than… It was probably as wide as this car [is long], and as tall as it was wide. It was done in Matisse’s later life when his vision was bad. He couldn’t see what he was painting. So he would design these huge canvases, and his assistants would, or maybe he would tear up big pieces of colored paper, and the assistants would arrange the colors while Matisse would stand back, looking and directing them how to move it and where. And I thought, “If we could just warp time, I’m standing in the space relative to this canvas that Matisse stood in and did those things.” I felt like I could feel Matisse’s joy in my own heart as we shared this moment in space but not time. Or time but not space. Yeah, time but not space. (Pauses.) No. (Laughs.) Hmmm. This sounds like a problem for Neil de Grasse Tyson. (Laughs.) I was brought to tears. Because here is a man who knows the thing that brings him joy to such a degree that he does it through infirmity. He struggles through impaired eyesight so that he can continue [to experience his joy.] [Tangent about museum placcards.]
So what IS art? And what kind of art are we making? Well, I like to think, and have been somewhat confirmed in thinking, that we are making the art that reaches through the canvas. [Or art] that doesn’t even have a canvas to begin with! And [it] sort of shakes people. For just a second. If they want to be shaken. And if they are, then they ask, “wait a second… what IS that?” I get that a lot. And at first I said, “look, I’m happy to answer questions that you can’t answer yourself, but please don’t ask me a question that you can answer yourself.” But that was a little snooty [of me], and that’s not what I meant. So when people ask me [now] “what is that?” I say, ‘it’s a giant skull.” (Laughs.) “It’s a giant skull.” That’s accurate. And once we engage, once I engage with a person who is curious to know more, that feels like successful art. To me. In the capacity in which I’m trying to make this art, I guess, that feels like mission accomplished. Someone who was just living their life, which is totally fine, took a moment to just experience curiosity. And that to me feels like confirmation that we are doing the right thing. Even if we haven’t answered the questions yet about how we’re going to make money, or where we’re going to sleep all the time. And you know, when those problems become [closer to] emergency-level problems, they’ll re-slot themselves on my value pyramid to take precedent over what I give my energy to. The value pyramid is just saying “what do I give my energy to first?” Then what’s after that? And what’s after that? Because we have to. [Every choice] is an opportunity cost. But we’ll talk about that another time!
So after I had decided that my art was successful if it reached out of the frame/ not-frame and touched people, consensually (giggles), I thought, “jeez, the artist I know who does that most successfully is Bansky.” And then I thought, ‘NEAT! Am I doing something similar to BANKSY?” And of course, guys, gentle reader, please know I don’t have an inflated sense of self. I [am fully aware that] my impact on the world is not as prolific or even… well… I was going to say ‘or as important as Banksy’s,’ but I DO think I have something important to share, so I’m not going to devalue what I bring to the table just because I’m not as famous. But I totally understand. He’s like, a big deal. And I’m not. YET. (Chuckles.)
(Notices street sign.) I hope I’m driving on the right path. I think I’m on the right road? (Pauses.) Yes! Got it. Whew! Confirmation! Alright. I could have problem-solved around it because everything is problem-solvable, but there was a split in the highway [about an hour back], these two little rural highways, and I was sure I took the right one, or thought I was sure, but now an hour into the drive, I just had to wonder, “uh oh… did I take the right one?” And if I hadn’t, I could have fixed it. You just turn around and drive some more. And that’s okay. I’m thankful I have a car. That works. But I’m even MORE thankful that I DIDN’T take the wrong turn the first time.
What I’m trying to say is: thank you Banksy, for doing what you do, so that when I’m feeling doubt that what I’m doing is important, or right for me, for my path, there are people like you, who exist in my framework of understanding of the world. I know you exist, so I have Bansky in my [mental] library somewhere, so when I’m experiencing doubt, my mind involuntarily [subconsciously] goes to that shelf, pulls out the Banksy book and says, “HE did it. He’s doing a thing that’s ripping open the fabric of human experience all the time.” And people love it. He’s reaching through the canvas/ not-canvas, making people ask their own selves “how am I spending MY life? What choices am I making?” Maybe! He does that to me! Sorry. Far be it from me to tell you how you experience Banksy’s work.
I think that’s maybe enough today! Thanks for watching. Or not. Maybe this is the part that feels most disorienting. When I’m just here in a car. Me and Maestro. On the good foot. But still alone in a car. And that’s okay. [But disorienting sometimes.]
Oh! I want to say one more thing. To you, stranger. Who may or may not have watched this far, or just skipped ahead or whatever, I want to say that you are loved. You are worthy of love. Because the light that animates you is perfect love. And you might make some bad choices sometimes, or you know what? Not even bad choices. You might make choices that end up not feeling good in your own heart or that hurt other people. And those are what I’m qualifying as bad choices. But that doesn’t mean that you are not worthy of love. I think that’s the most radical political thing I can do. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed or doubtful, I just remember that thing that Marshall showed me the Tuesday before he died [and I remember that we are ALL perfect love. We are all the same perfect glowing golden god love. ALL worthy of love because we are ALL LOVE.]