Nature of the Beat

by Joseph Futral

Artist, post-modern wannabe, conversationalist, provocateur, introverted extravert… or is that extraverted introvert? A personal blog to share thoughts on faith and art.

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WWJD?

I was listening to Theatrical Outfit’s artistic director and actor Tom Key speak at a Q&A after a performance (a one man play on C. S. Lewis) he gave for RZIM’s Summer Institute gathering, Believing Again and Again: Story telling and the Gospel, this year in Atlanta. (That was a mouth full!)

Mr. Key points out that it never seemed to bother Jesus when his chosen art form was misunderstood and no one “got it”. He didn’t think “Wow. I should find another way to speak so people understand me better, just get to the point”. He continued, even chastising the disciples for not understanding.

Does that ring true with any of you artists out there? I thought so.

Does that point a finger to those who seem to dislike any art they “don’t get”? It better.

Hopefully just some encouraging words to my artist friends out there who seem to have difficulty being understood. What would Jesus do

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How to change the world

Something hit me very hard once, thinking about what one little man could do. Think of the Queen Mary—the whole ship goes by and then comes the rudder. And there’s a tiny thing at the edge of the rudder called a trim tab.

It’s a miniature rudder. Just moving the little trim tab builds a low pressure that pulls the rudder around. Takes almost no effort at all. So I said that the little individual can be a trim tab. Society thinks it’s going right by you, that it’s left you altogether. But if you’re doing dynamic things mentally, the fact is that you can just put your foot out like that and the whole big ship of state is going to go.

So I said, call me Trim Tab.
— Buckminster Fuller

A very thoughtful person I once met could convincingly and rationally argue that everything we do, think, and decide is predetermined by either nature or nurture, that free-will is at best an illusion, at

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What not to write about

I won’t lie. Sometimes writing about art and creativity, and especially faith and art, can be frustrating. One is never sure of making a difference or that anyone cares. Indifference is the artist’s worst enemy. You would think it would be detractors. It isn’t.

Although, when people activley, even aggressively, DON’T care, that (for me) creates a different set of problems. It’s frustrating enough when people seem to miss the point, but some aggressively miss the point. I don’t mind that, but it puts me in a spiral of getting stuck with how well I may or may not be communicating. All the same I do love hearing from people, whether or not they agree with me or like what I have to say.

I also hate repeating myself. I hate writing about the same topic without at least some new perspective or information (or using the buzzword du jour, “data”). A lot of people make a pretty good living

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Dance, art, artists, beauty, and faith

 although, not necessarily all together, but in order of importance to me… or not

(TL;DR, Everything and everyone needs a context. Remove the context and you simply have a bunch of things without meaning. This is likely several posts. But read what you want, come back to read more. The title is also the table of contents.)

I thoroughly love my career in the performing arts and being mostly involved with dance, dancers, choreographers, and artists working with dance—the musicians, composers, designers, visual artists, et. al. For me dance is this perfect triangulation of visual art, sculpture, and music that is also its own thing. As a lighting designer dance always makes me rethink what I mean by lighting design. As a production manager I love to help choreographers realize their vision, even finding echoes of my own voice in their creations as we collaborate.

All art is an act of

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What is lost

I am blessed to know a lot of artists, many I call friends, and travel among many artist circles across many genres and disciplines. As someone who works in the arts industry and is an artist as well, I participate in and am part of many discussions about art, arts advocacy, the market in general, and the market for specific genres and disciplines.

What is most heart wrenching for me is when I know talented, gifted, and committed artists struggle with making a living and their efforts to understand why they struggle. The winds just aren’t blowing their direction for the voice they have refined and honed to express their thoughts, emotions, ideas, and questions.

If you don’t struggle with this in some way yourself, you cannot comprehend the frustration, anxiety, and self-doubt this can create. Why is “my” voice less valued than “their’s”? It’s a tough question. Even if one answers the

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Outside the outsiders

It’s tough. There is a lot of talk about artists being on the margins. There is a lot of talk about artists being the prophets of today. Artists struggle for support. Artists are seen as the outcasts, the misfits, the iconoclasts. And those names are usually the kinder ones thrown in the direction of artists.

There is progress being made. Community based art and art initiatives are more common than ever. Churches and seminaries are incorporating serious and contemporary consideration for the arts, from hiring artists as directors to new arts and culture focused curricula. The best endeavors, in my not-so-humble-opinion, are the efforts that seek to make art simply a part of everyday life without aggrandizing the art or the artists.

This was not an easy path to find to reconciling our creative natures with our intellects. But it is happening slowly but surely.

Through it all, though

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Being a better consumer of art

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The question asked of me still rattles around in my brain. How do we become better consumers of art? I guess this was a good question to ask me because I can’t stop thinking about it and I don’t feel I have done a great job answering it.

Something has always bothered me about this question, even though it was asked in the sincerest way possible, about looking for solutions to interacting with art.

Then I read this article, Disturbing, not pleasing, should be art’s role, about the closing keynote address Frie Layson gave at the 2015 Australian Theatre Forum. She was addressing theatre, but I firmly believe this is an art issue in general.

‘How can we make the audience a partner in adventure instead of a consumer?

‘How can we communicate with audiences that theatre is a living art form, every night created again and again. And fragile. That even the biggest artists also make work

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Musings and excellence revisited

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We all carry baggage to some degree. Some more than others.

I’ve posted a couple new articles over at Medium. One on, yet again, “excellence”, whatever that means. And another is just a string of observations and musings I have on art and the art world:

Art ironies, dichotomies, and hypocrisies

and

Excellence is about… what?

I do hope you’ll click through to check them out.

Thanks and let me know your thoughts either there in the comments section or email me directly at:

blogATnatureofthebeatDOTorg

Joe

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Art is a conversation, then why is no one listening to each other?

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 What is a rose by another name? And would it really smell as sweet?

While I appreciate my friends and colleagues, fellow artists and art supporters who also write and talk about arts issues, I feel what is lost in their efforts is the conversation. Many are writing and speaking artistically, beautifully even, poetic. But when art itself is part of the problem, or at least seen as the problem, I am concerned about furthering a dialogue that can change culture when it is couched in an overt artistic form.

At some level this style is preaching to the choir. To be fair, often times this is necessary. Sometimes the choir needs to be encouraged, needs affirmation that our efforts are not in vain. But if we are going to preach to the choir, don’t expect change. At some point we need to speak to people who don’t already operate, even live, in our language. They don’t use the words we use to

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Not just clickbait

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 Being argumentative and obnoxious in response to being ignored and invisible

In response to a response to her response to yet another response to a “story” (Confused yet? You’re not alone. It took quite a few clicks to get to the root of the tree.) on Medium, Jackie Lea Shelley said this:

“If I’m going to continue to enjoy being obnoxious on the internet, I might as well get used to being disliked. It’s still a step above invisible, or ignored”

This may seem like a “duh” to a lot of people, but it did make a few things click. A lot of people spend a lot of time (and by that I mean, any amount of time, and I am as guilty as anyone else) arguing and being outraged on the internet.

Case in point the recent Starbucks minimalist holiday cup. The outrage to the outrage quickly over took the original outrage, which was in all likelihood a marketing scheme, even if not for or about

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