I went to a social gathering for artists of all media this past Wednesday. It came about because I saw an article this summer about “Creative Portland” (CP.) A meeting was being held in the Old Port section, public invited. Portland is supportive of artists, and smart enough to understand that for it to be vibrant, a city needs new ideas, needs always to be reimagining itself, to keep challenging itself.
And Portland does that through programs to support the arts. At this particular meeting the topic was on artists’ work spaces and financing. The mayor spoke, a congresswoman, a few folks made presentations, artists asked questions, offered solutions.
Manhattan had been like that at one time. My friend Kate Millett had a fabulous loft, heated, in the Bowery, from the city for a monthly pittance because she was an artist. All of the East Side was a lively artists’ community. In my building, everyone was an artist of one sort or another; I remember an actress, two dancers, a rock musician, in the group. But more and more, Manhattan was moving toward the big money, and property being one of its assets, the days of rent parties, and impromptu street performances were replaced by venues.
I left the Creative Portland meeting early. It had nothing to do with me and seeing artists hustle for money, for perks, whatever the city was handing out was no longer part of my reality. I have come to realize that this is not how it works. To the degree that one has to sell oneself, note I didn’t say one’s art, then the work is affected by this bargain. There truly is no free lunch. The price may be hidden, but it will make its presence felt at some inconvenient point.
Having signed up for the CP meeting I was now on a list and was invited to attend “2 Degrees Portland” a social networking get-together in early evening for drinks and munchies. I have been away from that sort of thing for a few years now so was questioning up to the day of the get-together if I really wanted to do this. There was a part of me that just kept moving forward on it in spite of the stumbling blocks along the way. I couldn’t find the place at first, which as I moved closer to it was beginning to look like the Lower East Side with shady characters on the street. I walked up to one guy, a black Brad Pitt in a leather jacket, who looked surprised when I stopped to ask direction. Was I a real person, his assessing look was asking itself. Yes, I was, and he proceeded to give me copious instructions on how to get to my destination.
I got there early, filled out cards and had an hour on my hands till the get-together got together. Brad Pitt thought I hadn’t found the place, but I gave him the high sign. I was now in business. He of course, had played the role of the hierophant, the one who initiates one into the new world. The first persons I met and spoke with at the gathering was a website designer and his wife. I thought that a good omen. I could see interest in others, but this being my first outing, I decide to follow the law of natural development and leave early. No rush.
The favorite essay this month has been, The Queen of Hearts