I Am The Best Artist

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.


Filed under new york city, random musings, soho

9 responses to “I Am The Best Artist

  1. Unfortunately, some people don’t appreciate art! These two American teens did some graffiti “art” in singapore, and they ended up getting caned publicly. Sigh.

    Great post though. I just got distracted momentarily by the graffiti. Funny, I just wrote a post about the beauty of the PROCESS, too! Haha! :-)

    • BT

      As much as you may appreciate the graffiti, a crime is a crime. No one’s stopping these people from creating the graffiti on their own property or as part of a public mural or as a private commission. You go out there and deface someone’s property, you’re gonna be subject to the law.

      Doing it in a place where you get caned for chewing gum is just flat out foolish. They’re lucky they weren’t subjected to the full extent of the law. When you travel to a foreign country, you need to respect their laws and customs. What they did wasn’t art, it was crime and flat out disrespectful to the Singaporean people.

      Furthermore, although graffiti might seem like something small that shouldn’t be punished, it’s extremely highly correlated with violent crime. When you have graffiti and broken windows all over the place, people feel emboldened to commit larger crimes. It’s been proven time and time again that cleaning up small crime all but eradicates large crime. Perfect case study, New York City. No more graffiti on the subway cars, hopping the turnstile is actually punished now, and guess what? No one gets assaulted on the subways anymore. You can even hop on the JMZ without having to worry about getting mugged.

  2. I also completely lack artistic talent (although you’re right, my daddy begs to differ) but appreciate whatever I am lucky enough to see or hear!

  3. your mother made you try out for the joffrey ballet!? i need full details on this on our next outing.

    obviously i am a complete artsy nerd and proud of it – i can’t really imagine life without that artistic perspective. one of my hundred favorite things about this city is how art is everywhere – you can be in soho with high fashion art on one block and graffiti art on another.

    also, getting philosophical about cooking is basically why i have a blog. i’m all about it.

    this was almost a serious comment. what’s happening?

  4. I am quite un-artsy as well, but totally agree that cooking, writing, photographing, etc can be a great artistic outlet! It feels good to create something, even if it’s just a pretty looking dinner, or a post on my little blog.

    Side note, from what site(s) do you stream music? I am desperately seeking an alternative to the stupid MusicChoice channels on cable for background music during the day!

    • BT

      “Just a pretty looking dinner, or a post on my little blog”?

      I’d say these are just as true a form of art as the more traditional “arts”. Food is ephemeral, but so is a performance. Blog posts may be whimsical and unrefined, but so is improv. At the end of the day, I think you can draw a parallel between modern creative outlets and traditional arts that more or less equates the two.

  5. sarah

    I remember that Monster commercial! I thought it was funny. Except for the girl who said “I want to be a brown nose.” She sucked. Someone should have replaced her.

    I also agree we are all artists in our own right. But even Renoir couldn’t make a plop of lentil soup look beautiful. Just saying.

  6. Ellen

    Food styling is HARD—you did good, girl! I am so unartistic, it’s ridiculous. Ri.dic.


  7. Pingback: Creative Juices « Crunchy Granola Gal

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