The State of the Artist # 2

by Marvin Kanarek

I just had an epiphany, maybe it’s The Muse, I don’t know. So I guess I’m fated to continue at least ‘til the end of this little story.

I’m a true “dyed in the T-shirt” Hippy way back when during the Yorkville days in Toronto. Living the life of music, free love, lots of stimulants, crash pads, communal living and all the other appendages of peace. love, tuning in, grooving, dropping out and just plain dropping anything that’s put in your hand or mouth or both.

I’m sharing a house with I don’t remember how many other hippies and their “old ladies”. Typical night. No gig, so stay home at the pad and wait for the drop ins that are sure to arrive during the evening… The usual joint is passed around the table. Hendrix or the Doors or CSNY or anyone that played at Woodstock is screaming from the turntable.

The music is our constant backdrop. I go to my usual safe spot at the end of the table and withdraw as I do almost every night, unless I’m out playing at a club. I grab my ink pens, my pencils, my paper and start sketching. In those days it was all about Celtic designs, psychedelic imagery, dharma, karma and anything “trippy”. I would fly around my universe while the music carried me from one frame of consciousness to another. After time, I would snap out of my “trance”, realizing that I had an audience to the left, right and behind me. Sitting in silence, they would be transfixed on whatever image I created. Sometimes they would come out of me in minutes, sometimes hours. All the while I was aware of other presences but never dared to look up for fear of losing “the groove”. I only acknowledged them when the graphic trip was over.

This was a frequent activity in the pad or many other places I crashed during the Hippy Days. I usurped Hendrix, The Jefferson Starship, The Doors. They all became my back up band as I sketched away freestyle.

Many of the regulars at the many tables or corners I free form sketched at, would also follow me at my gigs. There were many clubs that I played in during those fertile years in Toronto.

All sounds great to me. What’s the point of the story? Nice as it is getting all nostalgic I do have a point don’t I?

Well I’m guessing that I’m writing about denial and then acceptance. See, as I warned you and myself in the first post, I will only write if The Muse is here. It is,and I can’t stop to ask questions. So, I’m not sure where this going. I just have to follow. I’m sure there will be clarification at the end. I hope so!

Denial and acceptance? Think about what’s just been thrown at you Kanarek. Don’t think to hard, or you’re gonna lose you know who, and then it just becomes bullshit. Okay. So something is bothering me about those days and those tables and those clubs. Yeah, I think I get it. I was getting freaked out by being the source of entertainment. Like some trained animal ready to perform on demand! Is that’s what’s so bothersome? Yeah, that and the fact that I was feeling like freak. I wanted to be like everybody else. I already stood out because of my height. Now I’ve got this “sketching, playing” that sticks out like a huge wart! I’m not saying that I didn’t love the attention. It’s just that I wished someone else could have taken over the helm for a little breathing time. So I get it. I wore my talent like a huge coil of chains. Maybe someone else could of dealt with it more intelligently or with more grace. I didn’t. I wanted to speak, act and be like everyone else / I’m realizing that I still hadn’t accepted who I was back then. It was a great ride, but it would be years until I realized that I could have saved myself much agony if I was just a little brighter back then. Wow, the memory of me constantly dumbing myself down just hit me really hard.

There’s a ton of gifted people out there who are, or are not dealing with who they are. I am not embarrassed, nor do I feel arrogant admitting to myself that I am talented. That was an important step for me. You wear it with grace and thankfulness. If you keep it to yourself that’s fine. It’s one way to protect yourself from close contact. As soon as you put it out there, you are performing. At that point you will be judged, admired, hated, misunderstood, abused, heralded, despised, idolized and all other emotions and acts that happen when put under close scrutiny by the audience. It happens in galleries,book signings, concerts, photo shoots, recitals and any other venue that an iron willed artist puts himself or herself in.

So I wasted so many years not having the balls or nerve to admit I am talented! Multi-talented actually. There I said it! I felt different. I sunk into the miasma of compensating for my inability to accept who I was. Sometimes I’d counter by lack of self-confidence with obnoxious displays of over the top arrogance. Very bad! I’m not a psychologist, but I’m sure there was a whole lot of much deeper demons lurking behind a lot of cerebral real estate! I know most of them intimately now. I even have names for each of them.

So,what am I learning on this trip that the Muse has been so kind to take me on? I swear, I probably won’t know til this particular stream is spent and I finally read it. I know that I tried to downplay my talents so that I didn’t stand out. That’s more than denial. It’s even worse. I’d call it self inflicted repression! As I got older, I seemed to get more of a handle on this possible psychosis. I always enjoyed the performing. The galleries, the concert stages,unrolling a design for a client. It’s all performance. I still felt awkward. The cliché is, I felt that I didn’t deserve the attention. Isn’t that interesting Kanarek? So, it was part repression and part denial. Denial of what? Talent? The fact that I was repressing the talent? Denial that I was an artist? So besides denial and acceptance, there is now repression? Complicated path. The Muse just left. Seriously. I’m stopping.

The State of the Artist

Part 1

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

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