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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Art is a Love Supreme

Sequins just suit some people. Like living legends. Like Diana Ross.

I recently got to see Diana Ross in concert. She was decked out in sequins and beading. I’d never liked sequins. But when she stepped out, they made perfect sense. What else would befit a woman such as her? A glowing living legend. She started with "Where Did Our Love Go?" sounding just like she did nearly 50 years ago. Just like the records we’ve all heard on the radio so many times over the course of our lives. By the third song, I felt overwhelmed. And for the rest of the show I just wanted to weep. At the sheer magnitude of the impression this woman has made on so many lives. At feeling something I didn't know I would feel. A woman who doesn’t know me and doesn’t know anyone in the audience. Who's not acquainted with the people shouting out "I love you, Diana" as if she's been a lifelong friend. Ms. Ross has her own story. 50 years ago she wanted to sing. And now her story touches others around the world. Through space and time. Her music lives. Her spirit continues to reach.

Photo by Harry Wad
Nobel Concert | 2008
Sequins are impressionistic. They need to be seen from a distance under bright light. Ms. Ross is a woman who was meant to be in the light.

With the closer "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" I couldn’t hold it in anymore. The person next to me handed me a tissue without pause, as if there was nothing out of place about crying at a Diana Ross concert. As if she shared my sentiment.

And that is the power of art. To touch that continuum through history, that thread within and amongst humans, of all backgrounds and ages and stories, and relate. We all relate.

"Before my time"? No, I don't believe in that. I believe in Timeless.

Sometimes people say that film or art doesn't have to say anything. In "defense" of some film/art. "Sometimes films just are." "Not all films have a 'moral.'" As I see it, the point of art is to say something, something about the human condition. To incite something. Be it horror, which touches on a primal instinctive level: live or die? Be it perceptual or experimental, à la Un Chien Andalou. Be it a song that makes you want to dance, laugh, cry. Reducing art to or expecting nothing more of it than simple event presentations takes the art out of art. Removes the story from story. That is the definition of history: a presentation of "facts" as they are, with no interpretation.

Anise takes Mondrian
Art Institute of Chicago | 2010
Art is about Representation—about perception of some event or moment. Even documentaries have as a goal the presentation of some subject to open your eyes to something.

The best of art affects you. I often marvel during films at just how good they are. Sunset Blvd. incites this in me every time. Gods and Monsters as well. Chinese Roulette’s dance of blocking & camera movement continually blows my mind. And by the ends of both Tony Kushner's Angels and America and The Wire I thought, "If I had written this, I could just die."--My contribution to humanity would be complete. These moments are electrifying. Someone’s art going beyond, making me stir, making me shudder.

Few films have made me truly breakdown. Not just tears at an emotionally effective scene but an uncontrollable outpour. A full-on destruction (and rebirth) at a personal core level. Rabbit Proof Fence destroyed me in the last 10 minutes. 3 Women rendered me catatonic for nearly half a day. Les Misèrables (du XXeme siècle) left me in a daze upon walking out of the theater, transported to another world where "Cheek to Cheek" had become a lullaby.

These moments of feeling something greater and unifying in the universe are the peak of what art is.

This is the magic of film. The magic of music. The magic of poetry and painting. This is the beauty and the role of the artist.

It is not romanticism or impracticality or silliness; it is a necessity to the human spirit. It is like the food we eat. Expressing, sharing, communing, empathizing--that is the human experience.

So, my friends who create, you are doing something sublime, not trivial. --Do not ever be swayed to think otherwise.

Art is a Love Supreme. Incite. Evoke. Art=Voice.

Diana Ross | 2011

Your Voice.


  1. I'm trying to find my artistic medium. I don't know what it is exactly just yet. Hell, maybe its all of them.

  2. And why not? There's no cap on how many avenues you can explore or how much time you have to explore them.