29 May 2012

an artist of your city, of your country, or of the world?

Video Artist Kalum Linzy wrote an interesting piece on HuffPo about whether of not New York City is still a legitimate home to artists. You can check it out here.  Linzy argues in his piece that NYC is indeed a home for artists both young and mature, with enough excitement to attract younger artists (and their penchant for mirth and excess) and enough sophistication to retain more mature artists, who are interested in maintaining significant relationships (Linzy lists "husband, wife, friend, partner, boyfriend, girlfriend, sister, brother, family members" - and I noticed that 'father' and 'mother' were conspicuously absent - but that's another topic).

Linzy's column got me thinking a bit about my own life as an artist in my own city - Los Angeles. I have lived in LA for five years now, but my career has yet to put down roots in LA. I teach down in Irvine and I do a fair amount of work in Orange County (South Coast Repertory has been a great artistic home to me), but LA and I have yet to hit it off.  I've got friends who work all around town, but in my five years, I have done just one production in Los Angeles proper (thank you, Geffen Playhouse!). I've got two more coming up, but those are both notable exceptions - one (Pasadena Playhouse) is receiving a co-production from SCR, and the other (another show at The Geffen), is with a director of mine for over ten years - who lives in New York.  It was he who recommended me, not The Geffen. LA continues to not notice me.

Maybe I should wear taller heels.

It's pretty clear that regardless of where I pay rent and taxes, Los Angeles is not my artistic home. So, if not LA, then where? Or, more fundamentally, do I need to have a cosmopolitan area that I can call home? My career is truly bicoastal - In the last 12 months, I opened shows in Boston, Florida, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Costa Mesa, Cincinnati, Long Beach... so do I even want to be bound by one city? Or even one country? Last summer, I had an event in Prague. On Thursday, I take a flight to Romania for a show.

For me, the answer is clear: YES. YES, I long to be part of a larger community of local artists. YES, I want that support structure, that social structure. YES, I want to develop relationships that can be maintained without hopping on a plane to a different time zone. YES, I want to do good work with valued colleagues, to make a living doing so, and to sleep in my own bed at night. And for the past five years, living in LA, I have not done that.  In fact, thinking back, the last time I felt like I was part of the artistic community in my own city was when I lived in... New York.

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