December 2, 2015

12/1/15 – Every Which Way w/ Tom Laverty

Artist: Thomas Laverty

Location: Trinosophes


TL – Coffee drink of some kind, biscuit breakfast sandwich (pickles on the side)

SRS – Coffee (black), biscuit breakfast sandwich (pickles in the mix)

You know how I’m always struggling with being a multi-channel creative type? Tom Laverty gets this. He’s a recording artist, whose first job was a weekly gig in his teens as a lounge pianist in his native Upper Peninsula town of Marquette. He’s a writer and published poet, with multiple creative writing degrees. And because of his depth of qualification in these areas, he refuses to consider his more recent film photography practice as more than him being an “obsessed shutterbug” (SPOILER ALERT: he is also a great photographer).

None of this is how I know Tom. I know Tom because he also does work for hire, including a series of interviews and portraits for Live in Woodbridge (like this one he did about me, last summer, for Workers of Woodbridge), as well as website design and management. He’s a good interviewer and a good chronicler of Detroit, and a good guy. He helped me build this very website and supports me in my constant uninformed attempts to troubleshoot it; I recommend him highly.

How he manages all these things without going insane, well, that’s the challenge of every polymath or creative generalist. As a younger creative person, it used to really freak me out when something that had been a daily practice–whether writing, photography, or fiber arts, which are my mainstays–would just sort of…disappear. I wrote a novel when I lived in New York, and promptly stopped writing fiction for years. I have gone through three prolific poetry phases in life, and spend some time being devastated whenever one ends, convinced I will never write poetry again because I’m not doing it right now. I took literally 10,000+ candid digital images during my time in New York; I’ve taken perhaps 5% of that volume in the same amount of time in Detroit, aside from chronicling art and art events. My point is that creative outcomes can vacillate wildly when you are not devoted to a single discipline (or even when you are!) and that those of us who are going to embrace creative generalism as a lifelong art practice would do well to develop a sense of comfort around the ebbs and flows of our output. Love all our children equally, as it were.

There’s that saying: When God shuts a door, he opens a window. I think living a diversified creative existence is a lot like that. We can spend our time hammering at the door that just closed, banging our heads against it, bemoaning the state of being trapped in the room…or we can rattle the handle a couple of times, take a deep breath, and look around for the window. If one does not immediately present itself, it might be time to restock your brain juice–I do this by looking at other people’s creative output. If you’d like a rich trove of various starting points–visual, written, or even radio (apparently from 10:00 pm-12:00 pm Tom’s personal radio station presents live comedy audio, sketches and things that he created over years of being an insane person)–I suggest you check out some of Tom’s ouevre. It is impressive and inspiring.

And if you’d like to talk to him directly, he is piloting his own version of BWTA – Beer (and a shot) with the artist. Like breakfast, but more drinking! Hit him up!

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