Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Vocal Fry Up Talk

I love language, learning new words and communicating effectively, in whatever form it takes.

In University, I even, though somewhat grudgingly, took a linguistics class and could have easily become jaded had I taken any more classes. I quickly found out the hard way, that I didn't have the mind or thinking pattern of a linguist. In spite of this fact, I did learn some important factual information about language. Language is a living, cultural, ever changing entity.

My mother was a bit of a grammar and language cop. She would annoyingly correct me if I wasn't using proper English. I inherited her love of language and the certain bugaboos that often go along with this. Like getting my drawers in a knot when I'd hear the non existent word, unthawed. It's a kind of somewhat anal retentive reaction you have when people make certain mispronunciations or have a particular way of speaking or even singing that can get really under your skin. Too many 'likes' and 'you knows' are enough to drive a person bat shit.

As it is said opinions are like assholes, we all have one. That's our right and perfectly acceptable. Live and let live I say. I recently expressed my opinion when I made a comment on a site, that presented a video on the topic of what to do when people don't take you seriously. There were a number of what I considered helpful suggestions. My comment referred to using an particular tone inflection that goes up at the end of a sentence when making a statement that sounds more like a question, and prefacing ideas with the word, just, as in, 'I just thought it would be a good idea too'...fill in the blank. The combination of these two ways of speaking in my opinion, does not instill confidence in the ideas being presented and was really annoying to listen to.

Well maybe it's just me, and perhaps this is my own personal language bugaboo but I still find it very annoying to listen to by times.

 As I mentioned I love language and communication. If a person has a command of whatever language they are speaking, and if you can communicate well, then all the better in my opinion. I believe we'll express ourselves more effectively and people want to listen.

It's a good thing to keep your sense of humour, and I think it's all relative, we have to go with the flow, not take things so seriously regarding language and how it is used, because language is a living, ever changing thing, and it is a reflection of our culture, good or bad.

I learned two new words today, vocal fry and up talk. Here is a very interesting commentary I listened to on CBC The Current today that explores contrasting views about present day language and communication.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Amy - Asif Kapadra - FiIm Maker

When I heard Amy Winehouse tragically died four years ago, it really bothered and saddened me very much. The fact that she was a fellow addict, I could almost see where this all was going to end, particularly when she recorded Rehab.

 She was such a special soul. A beautiful young woman with an incredible gift and passion for music, which made the loss even more acute. Her singing and song writing ability was powerful and seemed to be coming from a mysterious unknown place. It has been said that she was the most gifted lyricist of this generation, and I have no doubt about that.

 The documentary film Amy recently released,  producer Asif Kapadra's says, his desire to make people think, is an objective that has certainly been achieved.

In an interview I listened to today about Amy Winehouse, musicologist Robert Harris  stated that no one really knew much about her until her last performance and then knew more, following her death.

It's been said that ten other people are directly affected by someone else's addiction, and Father Martin said for every alcoholic that dies, another alcoholic's life is saved.

 I am certain Amy Winehouse's death is not in vain when people like Asif Kapadra is making a difference by telling her story. As well, shortly after Amy died, her family started the Amy Winehouse Foundation  whose primary goal is to help young people by preventing the effects of drug and alcohol misuse and abuse, to educate, inform and inspire vulnerable, disadvantaged youth, and to enable them to reach their full capabilities and potential, particularly through music.

"Being a Cynical Asshole"

 Have we all become a bunch of cynical assholes?

I was sent this article I've highlighted for you that explores the topic of cynicism.

 The world needs cynics to cut through the crap of elitism, and it's necessary fodder for comedians. There will always be those who become cynical to the point of being jaded, and that's not helpful, healthy nor is it funny. We have to find an inner resource to rise above of the horse shit, and not get stuck in it. Integrity within the world is hard to find by times.

I don't see cynicism as a negative thing in and of itself, but normal and healthy. I am of the opinion that what is really at the heart of the situation being discussed in this article, in relation to the present generation, is a pervasive sense of hopelessness. I don't believe it is only present within the younger generation, and may very well be increasingly prevalent throughout the world.

 As a 62 year old artist who attended two Universities to study art, during very different periods of time, first as a young somewhat naive 22 year old art student in the early 70s, and then a mature art student in 2008, I got to see two unique perspectives.

I have to say I didn't find the level of cynicism so much different then, from now. Though perhaps because there is more of a wake up call for so many younger students today, who can be naive, and are a rather privileged group. Once they are out of University, reality comes crashing in, upon realizing they have no employable skills, are saddled with an overwhelming debt, and after having some very high unrealistic expectations.

Returning to University as a mature student, I met some younger students who were astute, intelligent, insightful, and wise beyond there years. The smart ones could see through the way things are, as opposed to illusion and hype.  Those students that were not so smart, often came from very privileged backgrounds that fostered a sense of selfish entitlement.

The world in general, and it is no different within the art world, there is a division between two socioeconomic camps. This can result understandably, in resentment toward those who hold the power and control.

A sense of hopelessness is proportional to the ever increasing gap between rich and poor. It is a affront on generousity, abundant joy, and gratitude on both sides.

Each individual has to find a way to rise above the hopelessness. I believe and know there is always hope for the hopeless regardless of what camp you are in.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Student Debt Crisis - Consumers Vs Citizens

The crushing  tyranny of student debt in North America is crippling. It is leaving young people with little hope for a future, that includes purchasing a home, or the likelihood of having a stable relationship, that might mean having a family, which statistically will be more difficult, considering the high rate of divorce due to to financial conflict.

Citizens are now referred to as consumers, as are students. Citizens are constantly bombarded with the idea that credit is a good thing. Credit equals debt, and debt is a bad thing. It's hard to see where this crisis will end.

When my grandparents were alive, you paid with cash, never credit. If you didn't have the cash, you didn't buy it. And if something was on sale, and you didn't have the cash it wasn't a bargain.
Times have changed, and so have our ideas about debt, not for the better.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Book of Debt - Alinah Azadeh - Burning The Books

Burning The Books - Alinah Azadeh - Collaborative Performance

Credit rich, and cash poor is a term I heard many years ago that very aptly describes our consumer world, and those of us if not the majority, carry a load of debt and we fit precisely into this description.

We can find ourselves in a serious predicament, up against the wall of debt, we can no longer maintain, pay our bills or even survive. We can't sleep, maybe can't eat, and are in a constant state of anxiety and stress.

This state is usually accompanied with a heavy burden of moral judgment. An unspoken shaming judgment, that says you are a failure, and you are some how morally defective. It's very similar to the same kind of shame and blame that comes out of the industrial revolution in the days of poor houses, were the poor were seen in the same light. 

In my early adulthood I read all the books about managing money, The Wealthy Barber, Head and Heart Financial Strategies for Smart Women, and all of Brian Costello's books as well; How To Beat The Tax Man and Your Money and How To Keep It. They all helped me, up to a point. The problem was, I never seemed to have enough money to keep, and whenever I did, I didn't have a clue how to keep it. I attribute the reasons for this to be numerous. Recovery issues within my own personality, which I take responsibility for, what I was and wasn't taught about handling money in and out of school. One thing was for sure, I did feel a level of shame and guilt because of my financial circumstance and blamed myself.

Now I see debt in the grander scheme of things, after my life experiences and when listened to Canadian Writer Margret Atwood's lecture about debt in 2008, on Ideas,  CBC Massey Lectures, "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. "

Margret Atwood helped to clarify things for me. Mind you I still have no money, I do have some debt, and through hard work and the Grace of God, managed to pay off a 20 year mortgage. As an artist I never studied art to make money. Today I do have a much better understanding of my relationship with money as an woman  who is not a "starving artist".

 As I've heard it said by Ann Rea, artists are entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are artists. I like that. I'm not sure if all entrepreneurs are artists, but I do believe artists need to be entrepreneurs.

Today I listened to an interview with artist Alinah Azadeh. Years ago she also also heard Margret Atwood's Massey Lecture, and this greatly influenced her art work. The Book of Debt and her Burning The Books, is Alinah Azadeh's powerful collaborative and poignant performance piece.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Eminem M&M's or MM?

There's Eminem, M&M's and then there is MM. ( Making Art Making Money). The latter, this is the one I want to talk about.

 The business of art requires having an online presence as an artist. It is a good thing and essential. It gives you great opportunity to network, to get your work and your name out there into cyberspace exposure, and to hopefully make some serious scratch.

 Ok I confess I haven't been one to sell my work on line, with the exception of one occasion. I met up with the client, and it all worked out very amicably. If it works, great, but it's not for everyone. There are advantages and disadvantages. It light of all that, it's still important to have an online presence.

I am a person who'd rather interact face to face and often many who purchase my work are actually friends, which is really very satisfying. I still have lots of room for improving my business skills and there is loads of information on the web to learn how to do this and I love that.

I shy away from physically commercial gallery settings. I find them somewhat elitist, and I'd much rather avoid the middle person who can often be the one who financially benefits or decides what they will or won't accept when it comes to exhibiting your work, and I don't like that.

The internet can level the playing field, and generally is the great equalizer. It can remove the intimidation and competitive factor. As well, you don't have to have a lot of money in order to get exposure. The online art community I have found to be welcoming, supportive and so informative, which is extremely beneficial and encouraging.

As an artist I love it when I can share what has helped me and when others return the same. To me that's what makes the world go round, helping each other. And so I want to share with you today a great link, 25 resources for artists that I think you will find helpful to your business of being an artist, if you are so inclined.

Artist/Entrepreneur Ann Rea, whom I LOVE,  has recently, and very generously offered some wonderful videos from her site Artists Who Thrive entitled MM ( Making Art Making Money). These are fantastico! I made that word up. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

What's Up With Adult Colouring Books?

                                                 Why Are Adults Buying Colouring Books?

 As a kid I don't ever recall seeing a colouring book in our house. I may have been introduced to them in school perhaps. Or maybe I don't remember, because I was never impressed by them.  They actually really made me feel very uncomfortable even then. I was encouraged to create from my own imagination, and I am very grateful for that.

Colouring books only produced anxiety within me, because I felt restricted, having to colour within the lines. I deeply sensed whatever I did, wasn't going to measure up to this already determined, sterotypical, image. The underling unspoken message I received from these colouring books was, whatever I drew or coloured from my own imagination, wasn't good enough, and never would be.

Lately adult colouring books are being talked about in the media. I could attribute my extreme annoyance around this fact to my high blood pressure, but it's not. I find it to be an insult to creative intelligence, a real undermining and an undervaluing of creativity and imagination.

 As an young artist studying art education in University, at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, I learned first thing, about Viktor Lowenfeld, often referred to, as the 'father of art education.' The required reading was Lowenfeld's book, Creative and Mental Growth.

The research of Viktor Lowenfeld, indicates that coloring books decrease creativity from 50-60% of
children. The other 40% may be effected as well. If children continually use pre-made images, they may never be satisfied with anything they draw, because their drawings look childish, and not at all like the drawings in coloring books.

 One of Viktor Lowenfeld's  known activities, that reflected his disdain toward colouring books for children, was to pull them from store shelves, and promptly throw them on the floor, and then left the store premises. It apparently infuriated him, seeing colouring books. I empathize with his reaction and response. I haven't taken to this kind of protest...yet.

And now we have colouring books for adults. Oh ya, brilliant.
 I've read a few articles about this recent phenomenon. Mostly are positive commentaries regarding the so called wonderfully therapeutic benefits of adult colouring books.

The most recent article I read from the New Yorker is the only editorial piece I have seen that clarifies the other side of the argument very succinctly, with relevant points made by Harvard Psychologist Susan Linn, and Susan Jacoby, author of "The Age of American Unreason."

Colouring books for adults are simply a money making grab by certain parties and individuals, that has become a "new mass industry", under the guise of therapy that purports to provide the benevolent service of "inspiration and artistic fulfillment". Wow! Really? In my opinion this is simply a very ill informed, distorted, and perverse view of creativity.

This is a regressive development, and only constitutes and contributes to less creative thought, and does nothing to enable, foster or nurture imagination, and certainly is not my idea of therapy, inspiration or artistic fulfillment!

 Psychologist Susan Linn states this is a "cultural shift", a reflection of a society that is "not wanting to do things that require effort".

 Susan Jacoby states we are "experiencing psychological retreat instead of developing as mature adults."