Artist: Ron Scott (writer) aka Ron Teachworth (painter)
Location: Great Lakes Coffee
RS(T) – Looked like green tea with a LOT of honey at the bottom (“The lid came off, there is way too much honey in here.”)
SRS – Brazilian pour-over (black)
I had a nice meeting with Ron–one of the first to take me up on my open call for BWTA (you can do it too! don’t be scared!)–and we covered a lot of ground. For one thing, he is yet another multi-channel creative type–first and foremost a painter, but also an arts and fiction writer, and also has some musical gifts as well. I’d be exhausted hearing about it, if I didn’t relate so much. We talked about how to reconcile diverse interests–I think about this a lot, whether I would do better to narrow my focus somewhat. If Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed, it takes 10K hours of time to master something. If I’m working on three things at once, then it will be 30K hours before I break through to that level…but when I do, I will have broken through in a couple of directions.
Of course, my internal debate about narrowing my focus sort of implies that I am In Charge of my brain, which I am definitely not. So it’s fine for me to “decide” to focus on something, but I may waste about 20K extra hours procrastinating, because what I’ve learned about myself so far is that I focus on things when I’m good and ready. Not before.
But speaking of being In Charge of our brains, Ron and I also had a nice talk about critical thinking, and what it takes to escape one’s mental comfort zone. Short answer: it takes the ability to withstand discomfort. Longer answer: it means you have to question everything. In the case of art – why is a given piece of art more important than some other art? Who says so? What is it doing in this gallery/public space/museum? Who made it, who decided it goes there and who does it benefit? Who owns it? What is it about?
I think it is a crucially important life skill to learn to move in the direction of things that confuse and alienate you. That feeling of disorientation is your brain trying to break new ground. Of course it is uncomfortable. It’s like hacking your way down a path in the jungle. But how else are you going to find the Lost Temple (Who built that? What is its purpose? Who has a right to enter it?) As long as you remain uncomfortable with the sensation of not-knowing something, you will literally never know anything more than you already know today, right this minute. And, in my non-scientific opinion, the less work you do to forge new trails in your brain, the more ossified, unused, and overgrown your brain becomes. Use it or lose it, people.
We talked about attention span, as well, connected to this idea that society is collectively losing its capacity for complex or nuanced thought. I blame Twitter (and also use and love Twitter). There is not always a call for long-form, academic writing/reading/thinking, but for me, it’s always been important to make sure I can do something, before I decide not to do that thing. In this case, making sure I can build cogent, sustained thoughts using language, before I revert to “OMG I luv u gurl!!” emoji emoji emoji.
To that end, I’ll be throwing down a couple pieces of criticism over at Ron’s place: Detroit Art Review, starting in September. I’m looking forward to having another venue to share some of the exciting happenings all around Detroit and beyond! I’ll keep you posted as pieces go live; in the meantime, you might want to check out what Ron’s already got going on there!