This week's word instantly had me singing "Come on babe, why don't we paint the town? And all that jazz." I've been known to burst into musicals when circumstances require it. There's a lyric for every human experience or weather condition. "Oh, what a beautiful morning!" "Soon it's gonna rain. I can feel it." I fondly remember sitting on a fence with Beth having a boisterous musicals sing-off while her future husband shook his head and laughed. Hey, he knew what he was getting into.
I produced musicals and other entertainments at a community theater. I hired directors, put in my 2¢ during auditions, sold advertising, begged donations, wrote PSAs, researched lighting and sound upgrades, maintained databases, corralled volunteers, and handed out drinks backstage. That's just the surface tasks. There were a lot more things to do. I never wanted to be a producer, but I loved it.
Art is a poor career for anyone who likes big paychecks and steady employment, but it was the only career I wanted. I've been laid off numerous times, and I've done whatever I had to do when I had to do it. Sometimes I've been happily surprised that I liked the other jobs. Some sucked and I sang "Working in the chain gang" (Jim Croce version).
This week, I watched a PBS show about Tyrus Wong, the artist behind "Bambi". His influence was especially unusual since he was a Chinese immigrant, and the movie was released in 1942. That was a hard time to be Chinese in America.
He was an awesome artist. Think of all those beautiful backgrounds and emotional colors in Bambi. He got screwed out of full credit for his work on the film. He lost his job and picked asparagus to feed his family, which I have to imagine is right up there with my shoveling horse manure in unpleasantness. Maybe worse? At least I wasn't hunched over in a field all day every day in the blazing sun, but he didn't have to smell manure and listen to opera. Tyrus got a job at another studio and set the visual tone for many famous movies. He painted dishes. He made kites. He lived a very long and fulfilling life.
There comes a time when many of us find ourselves wondering why life is hard. Why isn't it going the way I thought it would, or why don't I get the rewards I've earned?
Many notables through history had their own asparagus or manure periods. Sometimes the side paths we take are unexpectedly fun like managing a theater. Whatever we do, we take those experiences with us into our future adventures, and I think they make us better, stronger in the end. At the very least, they can make us more humble and interesting.
I spent a stupid amount of time painting 3 large backgrounds yesterday. At least, the plan was for them to be backgrounds. I keep contemplating my choices. I think I've been influenced by Tyrus Wong's less is more style and keep wondering if maybe I should let the paintings be what they are without embellishments? I also considered putting a trumpet on one of them to fit "jazz" better, but that's just silly -- but no less silly that the paw print my puppy added at the bottom.