Linda edits on the fly is the title of my grant and in a way, a subtitle for my life. This week I will travel from Chattanooga to Arizona to Portland, Oregon up to Alaska and then back home again - all in a span of five days. It’s a long and winding road and as I travel it, I will try to complete my first blog by answering the question “why art matters to a community.” It’s interesting to ponder such philosophical thoughts as my own world and work whirl around the fringe of so many different communities. On the road, my days often begin and end either in airports or on highways. Art is present in both. Found in display cases on terminal E or as the landscape wheezes by at 75 miles an hour.
Art is all around us, it is there for the taking…but does it matter? Is a community less without it or are we less without it? Everything in me screams yes! But the reality staring me in the face is hard to ignore. I must look at the work that consumes all of my energy at the moment. It’s good work by most standards. Certainly the type of “TV” job that people want to hear more about - a “true crime” television series that takes well-known stories of serial killers and sensationalized crimes and tells them again, with a “new” spin. I have no illusions about the task at hand. I am creating TV not art. A widget, like any other, that comes off the assembly line.
But I am lucky to be working with competent, highly educated professionals from all corners of the country. On this one episode, which began last Thursday in Georgia, the production crew has consisted of two different cameramen, one from Los Angles, the other from Sacramento, a sound capturist from Seattle, an associate producer from Washington DC, a sound recordist from Atlanta and two production assistants from Cleveland Tennessee. It is an ad hoc group of professionals that at the end of the day will deliver what is expected of them.
Tonight at dinner, my blog deadline loomed ahead of me. Desperately hoping for inspiration or possibly a volunteer ghostwriter, I posed the question of art and community to the crew. Knowing the caliber of talent at hand, I thought they might give me the insight I needed to complete my task. There was a brief flurry of chatter on the topic but no clear vision emerged. So I walked back to my hotel, exhausted and empty of ideas.
But then I realized that in the course of our work day on a yet another TV show that the world does not really need, we had shared photos taken from the road and listened to obscure Cambodian music, we discussed the art of food and films, of community art projects in Seattle and their impact on a city. We talked about how art appreciation must be nurtured by family and community. Someone suggested that maybe I should make the argument that art did not matter to community but that it should matter a great deal. But, in the end we never seemed to answer my big question, more interesting topics intervened. It’s tricky to articulate and even tougher to measure art’s impact and importance in our daily lives. All I really know is that tomorrow I will wake and do my job and somewhere in the mix art will creep into my day. Traversing another airport terminal or inspiring conversation, art will make the day more than routine, more bearable, more than it is…forever and sometimes even painfully putting into perspective what matters most.