Entries Tagged as 'artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo'

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

A farewell: The joy of doing

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Well, this is it, friends:  the final edition of “Artistic Unknowns.”  It’s time to wrap it up, I think.  I’ve said the things I wanted to say.  Some readers, I’m sure, will receive this news with a small sigh of relief  — others might even miss participating in the  hashing-out of various problems of art, including the main focus of the column:  challenges and philosophical questions raised by the recurring, situational theme of these articles — living life as an “artistic unknown.”

Despite all that I have talked about here, both in my articles and in the comments with readers, for me, it all really boils down to one conclusion: in order to be happy as an artist, one has to enjoy “the doing” more than the “having done.” “The doing” is elemental; “the having done” is a nebulous collection of questions, in the end. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzoreligion & philosophy

Holding the line: Putting happiness before art

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I’ve been writing this column for over a year now.  The reason it is called “Artistic Unknowns” is because my original idea was to focus on the issues surrounding being an unknown artist, yet one who soldiers on in art despite obscurity — an artist like yours truly: busy in a professional and personal artistic context, despite the realities and responsibilities of living everyday life. Sure, the column has branched off into my opinions about the nature of art (some which have been well-received, some, not so much) but the recurring theme has always been folks like me — the busy, if publically unknown, artist. I’ve tried to “write what I know.” [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomovies

Bruce versus Hal: Technology and art

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Shark Night, 3D came out a few months ago, you know. I saw in a preview commercial — just one time. Didn’t go out to see it. What I gathered is this: it is a movie about a night with lots and lots of sharks who come at you in 3D. Oh, and there are girls in bikinis — who, I imagine, come at you in 3D as well, but that is neither here nor there. 

It might have been a great movie (though I doubt it).  [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

A song in the woods: Expectations and a first release

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As a teacher and as a writer and musician, I often find myself in the precarious position of knowing that lessons can be extracted from my life and that those lessons can be shared with some benefit to either students or my audience. The danger is that talking about one’s self can be seen as vanity.  Well, I hope you will see this as I truly intend it: a chance for some readers to learn from an artistic life in progress.  I’m an old-hand in the music game at this point, but I sill keep getting pestered by those pesky life-lessons.

So, more of a meditation than an essay this week . . . [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzoeducation

Sand and sense: On being an artistic diversion

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Have any of my currently unknown artistic brethren and sistren out there noticed what nifty little curiosities we seem, to our  acquaintances? I mean, if we won big fat awards or sold something for hard cash, we would be seriously interesting — legitimate, even. But until then, we are breathing diversions; we are, at best, refreshing company, because if we are, indeed, forced to cut the grass to make ends meet, we still refuse to stray far from playing in the backyard sandbox.  And, oh, the little castles we can make! Such delights! Such fun! [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomusic

Pretty popular for a dead guy: Thoughts on running out of milestones

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I was watching Paul McCartney in concert on TV the other day. He was playing to a festival crowd — maybe eighty-thousand strong. (It was at the Isle of Wight or the Isle of Lucy or something like that.) As he got the end of “Hey Jude,” the crowd, many of whom had been years away from being born when “Hey Jude” was written, joined in, singing the “Na-naaa-na-nanana-naaaah,” part and it occurred to me that success is a bizarre thing. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Daily creative acts: A dulling of the edge?

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Being creative, most will agree, is an activity that, simplistically-put, satisfies the creative urge. It satisfies that urge both during the process and after the work is complete: satisfaction through the act and through admiration of the act. This urge drives artists to create. What I wonder is whether that urge is dulled by little “creative” accomplishments in daily life. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Why unknown artists keep creating

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Part of the description of this column includes the idea that it is geared toward the everyday artist — the artists who keep on doing their thing regardless of relative anonymity. I’m one of them. We walk this world from top to bottom and we keep at it even though nothing seems to be coming of it, especially financially. Still, there must be a reward of some kind, or we would just give up. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomusic

The sheepdog’s eyes: Lady Gaga’s empty theatrics

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If it weren’t for Lady Gaga, many of the points I have tried to make in this column would have been so hard to illustrate. She consistently delivers. She constantly examplifies the things that, in my opinion, are the unnecessary and even damaging trappings of art, from the element that I have called “artistic weirdness” to plain-old insincerity. At the recent MTV video awards, dressed up and acting like a dude, as “Jo Calderone,” Gaga physically illustrated the pitfalls of insincerity in art — the problems that are caused when “show” overshadows art. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Thresholds: The essence of artistic opinion?

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My seven-year-old son, who has once been immortalized in this column for his masterful rendition of a the Jaws poster, informed me last Friday morning that he was planning a puppet show: “Mario Brothers.”

This meant I had work to do.

We went to the computer and printed pictures of the characters (no drawing this time; he wanted precision) and then we went out back to find sufficiently straight sticks to use to hold the cut-out characters. After an hour of box-cutting, stick-taping and theatrical logistics, the play was ready to begin. No script. This was to be improvisational puppet theater. Puppeteering without a net. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

The heartbeat of art: three approaches to creativity

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A friend recently satirized my music in a mock-review.  I won’t reprint it here, because, although it is funny if you know me personally, it would be kind a yawn, otherwise. One thing in it got me thinking, though. The “reviewer” mentioned the tedium of a “forty-minute drum solo” that he imagined my music would contain, owing to the fact that I am a drummer. Forty-minute drum solos — or drums solos at all — are the farthest thing from my mind, these days; however, it occurred to me that in drum solos, we might be able to see, pretty clearly, three distinct types of artistic approaches: 1) unsubstantial  crowd-pleasing popular art; 2) excellent, competent, yet still popularly accessible art and 3) experimental, outstandingly skilled art that leaves the general audience behind in its brilliance. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomovies

Leave George Lucas alone, for the love of Yoda!

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You know what I am sick of? George Lucas bashing. That’s what I am sick of. That said, I don’t think George Lucas is the Jesus of movie makers. I like Star Wars well enough. I really like Indiana Jones. The guy is great, but I’m not going to declare him the Shakespeare of Hollywood. He makes good, entertaining films with enough depth that they hold up for numerous viewings. What more can you ask?

But can we admit something, please? The original Star Wars trilogy is not the apex of film-making. Are those films the equals of Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia or, heck — Schindler’s List? No. Of course they are not. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

The chameleon’s dish: Making art happen, again

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Well, I’m there.  I’m at that place a lot of artists dread — that place at which a big project has just been completed.  I am looking at the Herculean effort that is sometimes required to get another one going.  For a little more than two years, I have been writing, arranging and recording. The project is on the presses as we speak.

All of us creative types have been in this position. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

Lounge lizards, literati and napkin scrawlers: The irrelevance of artistic venue

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Once, I had a music teacher.  I will not name him, but, let it suffice to say that he disliked me. There are a few good reasons for this. The first is that when he came, during my eighth grade year, to “recruit” me to play trumpet in the high school band, I asked if I could just be in the “stage band” instead of marching. He said no; so, so did I, informing him that I refused to walk around wearing those ridiculous outfits.  Then, when I had him as a teacher in high school in music theory, I would often enrage him by changing his questions which, in my teenaged opinion, often amounted to strictly academic musical possibilities, not ones which would appear in “real” music. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzomusic

Ditch the Shuffle: Albums in the iPod age

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I’ve been going back in time. As I have said before, I’m a real believer in the potential of pop music, though I’m a lover of modern orchestral music and classical. I think pop is the music with the most creative potential, even if it is the area in which the least creative potential is realized, as things stand. Anyway, I have been going back in time to check out the the particular tunes of the pop greats that we don’t usually hear.

My latest purchase is Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection. (It’s really, really good. But this isn’t a music review. I hate music reviews.) [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzoreligion & philosophy

“The stories I tell”: Sharing one’s self with the universe

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“And I wasn’t looking for heaven or Hell

Just someone to listen to stories I tell.” 

~ Glen Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket)

My wife meditates and she does Yoga. I think it is pretty interesting stuff, but I haven’t tried either activity for myself. She is always telling me how good it feels to meditate and to have meditated. I believe it. But I think I already do that, with music. I wonder if artists of every kind aren’t doing their own kind of meditation, after all. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzotelevision

Slicker isn’t necessarily smarter: TV writing, then and now

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If, say, Descartes were to come back from the grave and host a talk show, I would watch it, daily. I would also occasionally watch an episode of Jerry Springer, but I would never watch Oprah, may her show rest in peace.

I have nothing against Oprah as a person. I have plenty against Jerry Springer as a person and, aside from the annoyingly mathematical miseries he caused for me in my younger days, I have no opinion whatever about Descartes as a dude.  But here’s my problem: If I watch TV, I want either brilliance or absolute melt-into-the-couch drivel — Cops, or World’s Dumbest, for instance. I can’t be bothered with middle-of-the-road quality in a TV show. Oprah is arguably a genius, in a lot of ways, but her show is pretty run-of-the-mill, on the intellectual scale. Not delightfully bad, not intellectually stimulating . . . just . . . there. [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

From the toilet to the stage

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I have known some stinky, sweaty, rude, intolerable, brutish, self-absorbed, pimple-faced, neurosis-addled musicians in my time and out of all of those cats, not one of them ever had a problem getting a date. Why? Because they are musicians. Because they close their eyes and soar over a fretboard and pour their souls into microphones. Because they do what everyone else in the room wishes they could do. (It works for girls, too, but my gentlemanly mien prohibits such arguably critical assessments, lest my readers begin suspect me of being both judgmental and rude.) [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzogetting older

Back to honesty: Unaffected self-portraits

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In discussions about art, we babble constantly about “quality” as if it is the determining factor in terms of what is “good” or “bad”. Some say that, for instance, Mozart was a better composer than John Williams could ever be. Or, we might dismiss Norman Rockwell (a mere illustrator) in comparison to, say, a VanGogh. We read a novel, and we nit-pick, saying: Steinbeck is sentimental; Dickens’s plots are too neat. A ballet choreographer might look at kids dancing for change on the street and he might say, “Unsophisticated. That’s not art. It’s ‘pop’ dancing.” But, in the end, what does all of this mean? As I have suggested lots of times, isn’t the measure of art in the way it directly affects us? How important is the “quality” of the work? One can (and I certainly do sometimes) marvel at an artist’s craft, but is great skill necessary for great art? Is skill necessary at all? [Read more →]

artistic unknowns by Chris Matarazzo

The authenticity myth: Art without boundaries

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I don’t know why I get so annoyed by clichés. Maybe it is my fiction-writing background. Maybe I’m just an early-onset curmudgeon. But one time, at a party, someone referenced the idea that you can’t play the blues well unless you lived the blues — whatever the hell that means.  Does he mean you need to be short of cash for the rent? A heavy drinker? Does he mean you have to be from a certain town? Do you have to be African-American? If that is what he means, I think he is simply buying-in to a tired cliché. Worse, he may be treading on prejudiced racial ground, just when he thinks he is being complimentary. [Read more →]

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