Maybe this is confusing the art form, with the art function.

I’ve been thinking on this essay a lot:

It made the rounds on a lot of people’s walls this last week.

That same day I was in a short meeting. At the end, as we closed out with Gossip about colleagues, someone said that “[so and so] should talk to you about collaboration… we have a lot of meetings about how to collaborate, but that’s just kinda what you do.”

I was flattered, but more so it made me think that, yeah, I know more collaborators than I do exclusively theatre artists. I think about the expanded field of live performance where what’s true for good theatre and knowing how to make it, has led a lot of people I know to be snapped up my many different fields… video game Design, themed environments, technology project management. And I think about what made me so attracted to the the creative community of Houston, and the fluidity of artists, the creatively self-employed and start-up entrepreneurs, technology, and design practitioners constantly intermingled there… perhaps because the cost of living is low, so the stratification of the commercialization of those differently valued types of creative output isn’t as pronounced as the coasts.

So it wasn’t about THEATRE, or FINE ART, or WEB SITES but it was a really diverse pool of creativity with each person representative of a sort of critical mass of particular skills and talents… working together.

Last night, I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. And I left thinking that it was a piece of art… it maintained an artistic point of view/sensibility and held to the integrity of the world view it presented beyond simple entertainment value. So even if another movie, let’s say the new Captain America, is good and well told, Grand Budapest is more arguably the creation of a single artistic vision. Some may think Wes Anderson’s style to be precious or overly affected… I think he countered this in this film with the inherent darkness of the story.

Anyway… I read this essay at one point, and though I felt like maybe I agreed with it, I’ve now come to strongly disagree with it. As much as I would agree that’s it points to valid truths about institutions in the United States. As much as I would agree that the arts should be better funded. I think that, as evidenced by all of the similar chronology of its examples highlighting past success, this essay really is only saying that the arts of the 1960s and 1970s is no longer supportable. I think the world and creativity (defined as art or not) is different… things operate… differently. Not better, not that there is nothing to worry about, not that things are fine and well and good, but different. There may have been more art in New York in 1966 because of the Mayor’s investment, but it was also more stabby, so it was cheaper to do things, because people avoid stabby places. Anyway, hindsight is great. Listing off artists that were successful at a time is great, be not indicative of a whole… and likely a whole lot of failure.

I might agree that the theatre that the author Steppling is focused on, used to/does/wants to/thinks is valid to create is a Museum piece… that it is dead… under funded… weighted down by the bloat of institutions. Maybe. Probably. I know I feel like that about the Wooster Group… seems more historical record than vitally relevant to anything.

Maybe it’s not that Theatre is dead or irrelevant. Maybe it is, but maybe that’s not important. Plenty of art isn’t important. Post-impressionist painting isn’t shocking anymore either.

Maybe this is confusing the art form, with the art function.