A personal, curatorial & bilingual Blog about: Artistic Movements, my Art, Creativity, Innovation, Design, Leadership, Empowerment, Sustainability, Science, Jazz, Movies and other cool pursuits - Blog personal y curatorial bilingüe sobre: Movimentos Artísticos, mi Arte, Creatividad, Innovación, Diseño, Liderazgo, Empoderamiento, Sustentabilidad, Ciencia, Jazz, Películas y otros temas.
The whole concept behind every one of my short lectures, seminars and curses on creative and innovative thinking, working productively in groups, art and other connected subjects, is to engage the imagination and the interest of newcomers to the subject and knowledgeable individuals alike.
It is very common to hear these days about people feeling unhappy with work, and very often with their life choices as well. The end result is an evident tension at home and at the work place, few new ideas, lack of energy to pursue other options, and a general feeling that things are not flowing for them.
Sometimes this has to do with family pressures, sometimes with limitations we set ourselves. Most of the time there is a feeling that we have been given a series of talents and “gifts”, as I call them, and we are not taking advantage of them. There is this numb sensation that life goes on without us doing anything to change our reality and that one day we may realize, maybe even too late, that we did not follow our dreams and that opportunity has knocked on our door, and left forever.
The idea is to deconstruct many of these preconceptions about being creative members of society, resolve common perceptions based on fears, disinformation or social pressures, and open hearts and minds to the immense possibilities of freeing our creative juices, be it for our own benefit, the people we work with, and our community in general.
Attendees should leave these lectures armed with “tools”, concepts (and concrete ways to put them into use) that will help them to be more effective, work better with others, and be more productive in general.
Finally, these lectures and seminars are not about “self-help”. Quite the contrary, they are about recognizing that to be happy and active members of society, things must be less about “me” and a lot more about “us”.
Depending on what is required, and the level of detail, they all can range from 30 minutes + Q&A to 2 hours + Q&A each.
Aimed specially (but not exclusively) at: Students, creative professionals, artists, CEOs/Managers of creative enterprises or corporate areas, and anyone interested in creative activities.
These are single lectures, but they can also be mixed and matched in terms of contents, or converted into full seminars. Any company, group, NGO, or government office interested in any one of these lectures can contact Luz at email@example.com for more information.
Everyone who has explored his or her creative gifts has found that inspiration cannot be kept tied to one single form of expression. The fact is that many painters sing or act, some actors cook or paint, even some dancers are singers or sculptors. The choices and variations are almost limitless.
As you all know, I paint. It is my preferred expressive outlet. I love what I do, I feel I am constantly growing and I love exploring my artistic leanings through color and form. I know that I also have other God given talents. For example, I sing, although my shyness has gotten the best of me. My baritone voice is today a rough expression of a natural gift and it will probably remain so for the foreseeable future; I have also studied acting and I love it. But yet again, I never managed to get that “break” that seems to be necessary to make something of it and that has been that, at least until now.
For a lateral thinker like me, creativity can take on many guises. Cooking was one of the earlier ones, together with painting. My old school buddies still remember me in the kitchen “creating” grape sorbets and crazy cookies when we were just 10 or 12. Today, I probably cook as much as I paint, and I know my friends enjoy coming to visit, see what I’m working on a canvas, and later enjoy a full meal prepared by me while we chat.
For those who are afraid of cooking, let me tell you, it is one of the most creative and freeing exercises you can find. It is quite simple to grasp once you know some of the basic concepts (ALL of them so obviously logical and sensible that you will wonder why you didn’t learn them before).
Food is something to be shared. Both at the preparation stage (with your family, your kids, your wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend or just with friends) and obviously as you all enjoy the end result. It is also a great way to become even more creative.
So, my recommendation would be: Let´s go cooking!
And as long as we are talking about cooking, how about if we look now at some cooking of mine, but of a different kind.
This is Cooking with Art´s Chili Pepper (and a taste of Art Pepper´s Chili Peppers right after it).
Originally released in early 1963, Monk’s Dream was the first Thelonious Monk album for Columbia Records.
Far from his late 40s early days of play, bop, and boomerang like throws of tempo and melody, by late 1962 his spirit had been broken.
Gone were also the days of his 50s Prestige Albums for which he felt he had had little recognition. Only in the period spanning 1958 to 1962 he was finally received as he felt he should. He was finally considered one of the preeminent figures in contemporary Jazz.
As a matter of fact, he also began recording this album in 1962, and it was released months later in 1963.
Columbia was then the home of Brubeck and Davis, and Monk filled the spot for this trio of sorts for a label building a mark around what was new with jazz.
Monk´s dream is also my panting.
50cmx50cm, acrylic, inks and oil based paints on canvas. Painted in 2015, it expresses the volatility of Monk´s playing, his hot a cold moments, his ups and downs like some cartoon mountain range, his almost mad cap presence, and the difficulty of those around him to keep up with his inventive as well as happy, almost exuberant, playing.
Monk´s Dream was the last of the great Monk, and it became also the best selling album of his career. He topped it only in 1964 when he was in the prestigious cover of Time Magazine with an article called “The loneliest Man”.
Even though he kept playing and releasing albums until 1971, he was no longer the same that had dazzled beatnicks and jazz lovers alike for almost two decades. His unclearly diagnosed mental illness was becoming more of an issue in his life, causing paying and anguish to everyone around him.
He sadly passed away in 1982, at the relatively young age of 64.
There is an old movie called Galaxy Quest, about a group of actors who, having enjoyed better days (professionally and in their personal lives), still perform together occasionally at Mall Openings and conventions. Their common bond is the fact that, long ago, they all starred in a successful TV Sci-fi show (of the same name as the title).
The movie has its moments, particularly at the start when they are kidnapped by an alien race and get embroiled in the middle of a war with a planet of lizards. It is a simple case of mistaken identity.
It seems that the aliens picked-up the TV signals in space and thought that the crappy TV show episodes were in fact historical documents about a group of invincible warriors who saved planets from extinction, while in fact we know they were a bunch of semi-retired second rate actors doing weekly shows in front of cardboard sets.
This movie always comes to mind, not because it is anything outstanding, but because almost every time I give a lecture about creativity or art I get asked by professionals, artists and university students alike, about what are in my mind the most important aspects that help in building a successful career.
Success is many things to many people, and I am not going to try to define it here. Suffice to say that I am assuming that we are talking about attaining some of what we search in life (it may be recognition, love, a family, money, power, a career, and so on).
Furthermore, I am in favor of defining success and failure in every aspect of our lives if we wish, and as we wish. In my case, I let others run races set by someone else. I run my own.
And that may be the first point. You are the master of your own life. You set your destination, and it is up to you to decide how you wish to go about it. I am a great believer that the power of “we” is far superior to the power of “me”, but I have to know where I am going before I can invite others to tag along, or join up with others in their journey.
Many concepts can be added on from there – creativity, solidarity, positive thinking, conscience, ethics, hard work, intelligence, responsibility, self-discipline, clairvoyance of sorts, and so on -, but there is one that is a must. One which to me is so important that it may help to bring you over the other side even when you lack some of those qualities.
In “Galaxy Quest” they keep repeating the catch phrase of the show, which happens to be “Never give up! Never surrender!”. In fact the whole movie is based on this very premise. Not giving up and not surrendering (no matter how ridiculous, scary, or ridiculously scary the situation may be). What they are talking about is nothing more than “resilience”.
Merrian-Webster defines the concept of resilience in general as “the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress”.
That, translated to a human capacity, refers to a quality that allows some people to absorb pressure and failure, and convert it into something positive. The old fashion “taking on the knocks and coming back stronger than ever” attitude.
Some people innately have this quality. Yet for others, it is a matter of learning. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that will categorize someone as resilient.
The most common seems to be optimism. It does not mean blindness to reality. It just means having a positive attitude even after being burned down. It means doing a Phoenix like flip and rising from the ashes. It means taking on apparent failure and turning it into a lesson on the way to success. It makes people capable of adapting intelligently and quickly to change, adjusting their outlook promptly and soldiering on.
Resilience is at the essence of very successful people (whether they are at the top of the corporate heap or are just a great mum or dad). It is what keeps us going our way when everyone else is also telling us to go, but away.
Sometimes, hitting the proverbial wall has to do with schemas, pre-formatted ideas people have about how things “should” be (many companies also have them and they show up, for example, when seeking new personnel). Sometimes there are other issues and we should always revise our own attitudes as well (it is not a matter of simply placing blame somewhere else either).
But that adaptability, resistance, aptitude and attitude is what allows us to take in responses from others that feel, very often, like a slap in the face and comeback with the best scorecard we have ever done. It means jumping over, letting go by, or simply ignoring the negatives along the way so we can make it to where we want to go.
One great example of this was recently given by Jack Ma. He said: “I failed 3 times in college. I applied 30 times to get a job but I have always been rejected. When KFC came to China for the first time, we were 24 to apply and I was the only one to be dismissed. I wanted to go into the police and out of 5 postulants, I was the only one not to be accepted. I applied 10 times to return to Harvard and I was rejected. Never give up because you failed once, twice…just understand that failure is only how we are shown another way to reach our intended route”.
Just in case you don´t know, Jack Ma is the founder of Alibaba, which together with Amazon are the two largest e-commerce websites in the world. He is also the 22nd richest person in the world with $29.8 billion dollars, according to Forbes.
So…just never give up, never surrender. Learn, adapt, spring back, and find your way to your own kind of success.
Formas (pronounced for-mass) in Spanish means “shapes”, but it can also mean “manners” in the way our parents kept telling us to have better manners, and it can also mean “ways”, as in different ways of doing something.
My art encompasses the three.
I solidly work on shapes, I try to find good manners of executing and presenting my art to others, and I am always searching for new ways to do what I do.
The end result…well, the opinion on the end result I leave up to you.
In this case, it has to do with the music of Argentine “Bandoneon” maestro Dino Saluzzi.
In his 2006 album “Senderos” (ECM) with Jon Christensen, Formas is de second last song.
Written by Saluzzi and Christensen, it reminds us more and more of the great Astor Piazzola. Less jazzy in its context, but still investigative and climatic, his music transcends tango into other frontiers of sound.
So here is this brilliant álbum, and the painting inspired by “Formas”. Almost 10 years after the song saw the light of day as an important part of this inspired album.
In a world where information is being sent to us at incredible speed and with unconceivable depths; where we are also producing, inadvertently, data beyond our understanding; in a civilization that is advancing technologically beyond what the educational system can cope with; at a time when the knowledge of how things work is in more and more hands; and the technology which allows us to make them is in less and less hands; the role of the creative mind must evolve as well.
Now, evolving does not necessarily mean going freaky! It does not inevitably mean developing at the same speed the ability to digest all that is thrown to us, as well as rehashing it in new ways.
In fact, it may mean something completely different.
One of the biggest misconceptions on the theory of evolution, just to bring this point forward, is that the mechanism of natural selection – central to the theory – and which may result in improved abilities to survive and reproduce, should necessarily mean that the outcome is progressive.
As it happens, this is clearly not so.
What is called natural selection under the theory, does not produce organisms perfectly suited to their environments, as it is commonly misinterpreted. What it means, really, is that these organisms through different traits and skills are “good enough” to survive.
So evolving may mean, in simple terms, adapting survival characteristics which may be new, or even reacquiring qualities and attributes that were useful before, were lost for one or more generations due to environmental or social changes, and now have become of importance once again.
So how does this translate to the information age?
Well, it means for a start that the role of a creative professional is not to keep up with the speed of change but with change itself. In sporting terms, the creative thinker may be more like a long distance runner than a sprinter.
Secondly, being creative means being open to novelty and interested in everything. I always call myself “an encyclopedia of useless information”, this said with a glint in my eye, as I know very well that I gather information that most will discard for a good reason. To me, it is never useless.
But I must learn to choose what I digest. So the other evolutive step for a XXIst Century creative mind, may be then going back rather than forward. Specifically, to XIXth Century London and perhaps pay a visit to a certain sleuth who lived at 221b Baker Street.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the great detective, Sherlock Holmes, based on a doctor named Joseph Bell whom Doyle admired for his quick logical interpretation as a physician, as well as for his “Method” of deductive reasoning (“Observe carefully, deduce shrewdly, and confirm with evidence”).
Bell turned detective became, in late 1886 and thanks to the pen of Conan Doyle, none other than the great Sherlock.
The role of the creative individual is very similar to the role of the detective. It involves keen observation, careful deduction, asking the right questions, having the correct basic knowledge, and above all, connecting all the dots (coming up with a hypothesis that is not necessarily constricted by a traditional structure).
In a world where information surpasses us, while technology seems to be speeding up way ahead, becoming like the road runner may be the wrong approach.
It may be that I enjoy going against the wave, but if everything speeds up, I usually slow down (and vice versa). Creative reasoning and creative thinking in a slow moving environment allows for swiftness. While if everybody rushes, our role is to slow down.
Like Neo in the Matrix, our advantage is that of being capable of decelerating everything down to the point where we are actually so cognitively enhanced that, in reality and for everyone else for that matter, we are indeed ahead of the curve.
And to do that, a bit of XIXth Century deductive reasoning may be the thing. Evolution may mean in this case, for example, simply slowing down; perhaps taking on a musical instrument – and not necessarily a violin -; or being involved in long periods of apparent daydreaming. In that mental estate, your mind will be doing its best detective work, and your deductive skills will allow you to see and connect the dots that no one else has managed to yet perceive.