In April of 2020, amid the global pandemic shutdown, Jeremy Mann sent the following newsletter with an image of this new, now available, painting.
Morning Shut-in buddies,
Here’s hoping you’re finding the best way to handle your situation, because no matter who or what you are, we’re each and all affected by this. Even million dollar CEO’s have cute little grandmas on the brink, and struggling barista actresses have lost everything. If anything, we all sure share something now, huh? From our best friends to our worst enemies, everyone is all in a fluster, covering it with smiles or freakin’ loosing their shit.. often, oscillating between both faster than you can mitigate. If ever a time for understanding and forgiveness, now would be it for those who wish to rise above.
It’s not what happens TO you, its how you deal with it.
All I can say about it with what knowledge I have is about the arts. I know nothing of finance, I know nothing of politics, but I do know people, and life, and a little bit of art… which as you know I believe the to be the untouchable link between those two things.. life and our place in it.
Right now, every single aspect of the arts is flailing and failing against their will. The arts require people, the public, to participate with the most simple of effort, none, to be lifted to the highest of places. But without people, the arts are lost. No theaters to see plays, no concert halls to hear orchestras or a rock band’s wail, no open cafes for poetry and singer-songwriters, no bookstores for undiscovered novels, no museums to honor the arts, and no galleries to experience them outside the horrors of digital only experiences and exhibitions.
And believe me, absolutely ZERO attempts to digitize such experiences will ever attain the full power of them in person. And while its the only option left that many are turning to, remember not to lean on it… just because something becomes commonplace does not justify it as right.
The true sign of an artist is one who continues through this, without bending, without sacrificing their moral values, without sacrificing their self respect to create something simply for cash, without gimmick. You’d be asking the majority of the world who could loose their home to spend money on your art instead of money on their survival. WE will be fine. ARTISTS will be fine.. true artists are the only people who could still lose everything around them, and retain their most precious of untouchable abilities, to create. A burnt stick and a wall would be all you need, although, yes, it would be nice to still have 4 walls, maybe with some heat, and a range of sticks from 6B to HB… but still.. not necessary. You can make a masterpiece with mud if your mind is strong.
Its something that’s helping me get through this, just remember that you cannot be stricken of your abilities as a creative mind. You could lose everything, be poor and struggle on the streets for years, but you can still draw a masterpiece with a burnt stick at any moment. That’s a worthy investment if you ask me. Every investment I’ve ever made is toward understanding that ability as best I can.
Honesty is the only key. Can pretty much apply to anything and be right. Think about how honest you are to YOURSELF? Sit in a room and ask yourself, “what is it that my soul is screaming to do right now?” and that should pretty much lead you to where you need to be, if you only have the wisdom and courage to do it. That is all any artist does all the time anyway. It doesn’t take debating with yourself, that is only a sign that you’re fighting the desire. Doubt is a lack of courage.
Debate in your mind HOW to do it, not whether or not you SHOULD.
“I want to create an opera, always have.” Cool… so do it. “but I’m not an opera singer.. and it’ll be a waste of time, and it’s not going to help pay my rent this month!”
“Yeah, no shit, stupid. You think anyone’s first attempts at anything were worth anything to anyone else but themselves? No. This is for you. And now’s your best chance to take your first step to really knowing yourself.”
Creating ANYTHING right now with the desire and hope that it will bring you some income is the stupidest thought floating around artist’s heads right now (and forever if you ask me… but that’s part of the test). The entire world isn’t thinking about buying art, whether its paintings or tickets to shows or even that dollar for a song they love, they’re afraid. It’s the job.. wait, sorry.. its the responsibility of all artists, in these situations, to carry through regardless.. as they always have, to be there for the souls of people when this is over. This is why art is a pillar of culture, always has been, always will be, cannot be defeated.
That’s why true artists persevere in heart and mind, because they’ve trained for struggle since the moment they picked up a pencil and thought about making a squiggle to communicate more strongly with their neighbor than they could with mere conversation.
To try and keep your head on straight during these times is perhaps the most difficult thing for all of us to do.
If I can offer anything of advice or suggestion, to any and all people reading this, no matter what your profession, is to spend half of your time dealing with the shit that surrounds you and barks down your doors (and hoooof… have we all had some tough shit stacked on our plates) but you MUST, you absolutely MUST set aside some time to “let it out.”
Creating is the best way to sooth your worried soul. Hell, even screaming and crying into a pillow is a good idea, really letting go of your rational mind to emote some deep-rooted energy… same thing happens in every artist. We cry through our brushes and pens, with our hands and our lungs, in the same way we sing from the same source. Or just dance. I find that filling a room with a change of music is the easiest way to guide you into a different mind-state than the one you’re currently in, and it doesn’t always have to be happy music. It will help you understand yourself, and therefor the people around you. Its a guide for living a good life. (Just don’t dance too hard, remember I spent $3000 and a day in the hospital for what turned out to just be a pulled muscle because I didn’t realize I was too old for my air-guitar moves 🙂 )
You’ve got plenty of time to learn about yourself now, don’t try and cover it up distractions.
Art opens the soul,
We should do our best to open up ours, and the souls of those around us.