The title of this blog post is a misnomer: I’m actually not an artist at all. I can’t paint, draw, act, sing, dance, or play an instrument. Besides my dabbles in writing and knitting, I have very little artistic ability. I spent years as a child attempting to play different musical instruments: piano, violin, saxophone, guitar. While I can appreciate wonderful music (I’m listening to a live streaming Wilco concert as I type this), I failed to play any of these aforementioned instruments successfully. As a little girl, the Roomie insisted we spend copious amounts of time in her parents’ basement playroom, making craft projects, either from a kit or from Roomie’s artistic imagination. As always, my project, let’s say it was a beaded bracelet, ended up half-finished and kind of demented-looking. At the age of eight, my mother decided I was ready to try out for the Joffrey Ballet School, one of the most prestigious ballet companies in New York. That was an epic failure of an audition when they asked me to plié and I stared blankly into space, as I had no idea what a plié was. When I was thirteen, I auditioned for a Monster.com commercial, got a call-back, and then was rejected, even after perfectly memorizing and enthusiastically reciting the line “When I grow up, I want to be a brown nose” about eight times. I tried my hand at theater as a senior in high school, pushing myself to audition for a role in “Into the Woods,” but then chickening out at the last minute and decided to take on the backstage role of prop mistress instead.
Clearly, I lack in artistic ability. I like to work with what I’ve got that is semi-artistic, though: a knack for words and a love of food. Writing is my mode of artistic expression while cooking is the tangible (or edible) creation that stems from these artistic cravings. Take (part of) tonight’s dinner, for example:
I tried to artfully arrange toasted whole wheat sourdough around mom’s lentil soup… and failed. This ain’t cute. I’m not a food stylist, so it’s not important at the end of the day – but still. I at least want my food to look pretty so I can feel like my cooking is a somewhat artistic endeavor. But maybe it’s more about the process, the getting there, rather than the actual end product? Sigh. Now I’m getting philosophical about cooking? I think it’s past my bed time.
Anyway, the best artist out there, the inspiration behind the title of this post, is René – a graffiti artist who decorated the streets of SoHo in the nineties with this sweeping statement:
I remember seeing this proclamation everywhere: on sides of buildings, sidewalks, posters – this guy René got around. I always thought this was a silly waste of words and spray paint, to share with everyone your thoughts on your superb qualities and holier-than-thou achievements. But you know what? We all need to pat ourselves on the back every once in awhile – I tell my own clients this. And though I don’t see his work in many places (or anywhere, really) anymore, René left some kind of mark, at least in the memories of SoHo residents.
I’d like to believe, though, that we’re all artists in our own right. And the best damn artists at that, according to our moms, at least. And if that belief helps me sleep at night, I’m gonna go with it. Keep on keepin’ on, artsy friends.