I have no sympathy with the belief that art is the restricted province of those who paint, sculpt, make music and verse. I hope we will come to an understanding that the material used is only incidental, that there is artist in every man; and that to him the possibility of development and of expression and the happines of creation is as much a right and as much a duty to himself, as to any of those who work in the espeically ticketed ways.
After all, the object is not to make art, but to be in the wonderful state which makes art inevitable.
Robert Henri, The Art Spirit
I awoke at 6:51 this morning, without an alarm, and I had to rise from my bed, because I had Robert Henri on my mind, and felt that I needed to keep an appointment with him. Long ago, I had developed a daily habit of keeping some kind of a “morning watch,” a time in which I read from my Bible, kept a journal, and tried to prepare myself to live the day to the fullest. I still maintain that “watch” much in the same way Immanuel Kant devoted the first hour of his morning to sitting in his chair and contemplating. I always have the journal out, and something significant to read. And Henri has been my muse of late, stirring me in the same manner that he did “The Eight” when they gathered in his studio apartment at 806 Walnut St. in downtown Philadelphia at the close of the nineteenth century. He read to them from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, from Emerson, from any creative spirit he thought could ignite the artistic fires in his disciples. And now, as I read this collection of his letters, addresses and private musings, I feel my own fires rekindling.
It did not take me long to lay the Henri volume down, pick up the brush, and return to this ghost sign that I found and photographed day before yesterday. The quiet and sweetness of the morning has provided the perfect sanctuary for me to pore over this composition, think thoughts of art, philosophy, literature, life, and wonder what exactly this new day, this new gift, could reveal. I so love the summer holiday from school (though I will resume teaching summer school very quickly). Time evaporated yesterday, as I stood with my fly rod, looking into those waters, and recalling the words of Thoreau: “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”
I am indeed on the same page as Henri, concerning the artist. I believe everyone has that potential to live the artful life, to think the artful thoughts, and make constructions that are unique to his/her inner life, and to express them, whether in visual art, music, journaling, blogging, or conversing artfully with the friends around. I believe everyone has the artist within, and that that artist deserves feeding, nurturing. This blog is part of my outlet. But my intake today has been the words of Henri, and the visual stimulation of this commercial building standing mute with its layers of memories enfolded.
Thanks for reading.
I paint in order to remember.
I journal because I feel alone.
I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.