Eccentrics in Society~ Mystery vs. Manquée


A predictable artist is a comfort to society. It portrays a static character, a “rock” for people in a dynamic world. But to make great art, one has to go to a place that is completely unpredictable….

A mate recently said to me, “It’s good to hear you’re out there,” after I reminded him to watch the meteor shower last week. I replied, “I’m out, in, below, around, above, and in between.” But it occurred to me that I may not be showing my face to the society of good people who, in some ways, expect my appearance either as a performer, or as a friendly creative of the many communities I frequent. Artists must be on the one hand,  manufacturers of consumer products and events while maintaining happy listeners; and on the other hand, remain a fearless explorer of aesthetics and spiritual relationships.  A challenging part of being an artist is learning where on that spectrum you are willing to be. Especially when the transformative season of the artistic heart is different then that of the holiday parties collectives are hoping you will attend. I do love a grand party filled with music, don’t get me wrong! But as a child of the world,there are so many kinds of communities, traditions and rhythms……to BE in one place doing one thing may look as if you are not being in another, at least while you are out there tying the mystery all up for them with your endeavors and your truths.

Recently, I have very literally been 850 feet below the Earth’s surface, caving in an environment not fit for humans, exploring the unpredictable. I’ve sang in a few different hot springs in this large state of Texas, under the stars… I saw for the first time, 2 shooting stars at once, explode in opposite directions, and a fireball split and burst into 3 pieces. I played piano out of the back of my transportive vehicular, and jammed on St. Martin, Joan of Art, with some inspired musicians on the banks of the Rio Grande, at the Mexican border, where we were applauded by an international audience of Mexican villagers, who lined up to listen on the other side of the river. It was a dream of a performance, where music was the language that brought people together. I had a humbling motorcycle ride, going 70mph through the Colorado Rockies.

The pressures of societies’ expectations melt away in that healthy vulnerability. Sometimes writing a newsletter / tweet / text / updating the world is the last thing on my mind when I’m push-starting my car in the desert sun, because I drained the battery plating Beethoven’s 7th in the wilderness! Or when I am studying a subject so intensely, that I must paint the picture, then write the story of that painting, just to see a character, so I can hear its perspective , so I can write it into a song that has a meaning filtered through the mediums and see the subject of interest in that unpredictable way.

Sometimes one just prefers the night sky over the computer screen; and the land of creative material is in the natural world in great abundance.  I have entered into my writing, painting, making season. (More on “Creative Seasons” coming up: Show Season TBA) But what a fun performing season it was! I will look forward to it again in the New Year.  Thanks to all of you who came out and marched with us, and the Krewe du Coeur Maudit. We’ve added some pics of the March and the Art Outside performance on and facebook.

A quote that comes to me often, and speaks directly to my soul… especially at times when my eccentricities do not set me at ease, but conflict with society’s expectations, is “Be in the world, but not of it.” I take its meaning as, tuning into your own rhythms, knowing your inner season, and honoring it.

“To be or not to be…?” “Live and let live..”  Manquée is the subject that has me philosophizing.. it means: That which has missed being. That which might have been, but is not. I have a very special friend who lives in a completely empty, single room, and comes out once a month so people knows he is still around! “Good to hear you are out there..” sort of thing. He spends his time writing a book completely in his mind. It seems very coherent to me.  He says it’s coming along splendidly. His enthusiasm and utter joy for his life and his work, although there is literally nothing to show for his last 20 years, has me completely convinced that he is just one extreme artist and that whether or not anyone ever hears his book, it does exist and has changed lives. His and mine. So is it a book manquée? Is he a writer manquée? To society maybe, however that does not make him a nothing or a non-artist. Does it?

In the dictionary, examples of manquée are used to describe great artists that could have been but never achieved society’s acclaim. Marta Becket is another extreme example. She left society completely; the fame and bustle of the New York ballet scene, to dance isolated in an old opera house in Death Valley. There, she painted every inch of the old theatre with a historical audience. She danced three performances a week, whether or not a live audience attended. This made her happy, and she eventually was featured in National Geographic, prompting people from many cities to travel to see her paintings and watch her dance.

Who is one to say… that the mystery of a free artist is manquée?

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