KEEPING ART IN YOUR LIFE
Art shows up in our lives over and over again. For some of us the arts are essential to having a happy life. We like to have things around us that are pleasant and make us smile, things that please our personal aesthetic. We prefer certain colors or notes and are particular about how they are combined and arranged. Art and music fill the voids and dark places with hope.
Art is there for us to see, hear and feel. When we see something that just seems right to us it lifts our spirits. It is something we can own, and no one can take it away.
JOHN OSLER ( my dad)
My father JOHN OSLER’s painting of my mother GENEVIEVE WEBSTER OSLER
I grew up with two artists as parents. Things in our house were carefully placed to look their very best. Furniture and eating utensils were moved around until they looked just right. I lived in a well designed world. It was important to my parents how things related to the space and objects around them. Snowy goulashes were not invited into the house and metal toys were not allowed onto the wood floors. This wasn’t always the easiest place for a naturally messy boy to grow up. Also in our home there was controlled clutter. My world included bookcases filled with art books and I could spend time in my father’s areas in the house reserved for working on both his sensible and his silly creations. There was both good design and a little chaos in my dad’s studio, his darkroom and his basement work room. These were my favorite places and I am still happiest when I am in the midst of a creative project. Being surrounded by art as a child was a gift.
KEEPING ART IN OUR LIVES
My dad was given commissions because of his unique gifts and his ability to come up with a creative solution. He had a friendly group of ad agency clients who felt fortunate to have him accept a project. They were thrilled that a highly skilled artist would accept their assignment. Artists and the arts were looked up to as something special. It was accepted that art added value to lives.
When I was in my teens something happened in our house. My father whistled less and his humor took a little longer to appear at the dinner table. I began to notice that my dad was becoming less and less satisfied with his assignments. His time at his drawing board was becoming more and more just a task. I realized that he was often being told what the art should look like, and he was no longer part of the solution, only the execution.
My dad’s practice sketches. He made these up out of his head and experiences.
I wasn’t aware of it but being surrounded by good design and art became something I took for granted. At times later in life I would come to miss this luxury. I neglected including art in my daily life. I continued to find art and design in pockets of our city like Plum St, the DIA, the Cass Corridor and jazz joints around the city. Seeing these I would promise myself that I would someday throw myself back into the soft strong arms of the creative process, a place where my opinion was the only opinion that counted.
WHEN ART BECOMES WORK
I worked in the business of advertising art. Many of us believed that part of our responsibility was to include art in everything we did. We didn’t want to contribute to the visual pollution that was creeping into our environment. This became an uphill battle. As good art became secondary to good business many of the best commercial artists, designers, photographers and directors found themselves unnecessary. The best left first, and the rest of us hung on as long as we could. Most of these very talented people were at the height of their demand when they escaped.. The ones that left first were also usually the most successful and had the deepest love for their craft. Like my father they found that without the client’s respect for art, their assignments were becoming just grueling tasks. Their example wasn’t lost on me.
I finally quit in order to recapture my purpose to make my art. I rediscovered painting. Painting is a lonely endeavor and is best done without anyone looking over your shoulder. It wasn’t as easy at first as I had thought. Once I embraced failure as part of the process I was hooked.
MY GOOD LUCK FINDING THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
A few years ago when I was looking for reference on one of my favorite subjects, jazz musicians, I wandered into the Dirty Dog. What I discovered was that I was coming into an art oasis. Respect for art hung on the walls and could be found in the words and deeds of the club’s proprietor, Gretchen Valade. Gretchen favors those who create. Her value for art and design shows up everywhere. She is a musical artist and has a family full of visual artists, which could explain why she is so dedicated to doing things well. She is constantly showing us how to stay involved in the arts. Maybe being surrounded by creative types has kept Gretchen so young.
Detroit has a dynamic creative community that is ready to contribute when given the opportunity. All we have to do is look around us and see unused walls becoming art spaces. In 2017, We will have the opportunity to bring art into our public and private lives as Detroit moves forward. We may become a pretty good looking city when we grow up.
COMING THIS WEEK TO THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ November 8 – November 11
DETROIT JAZZ FESTIVAL ALL-STARS GENERATION BAND
Fresh from their recent performances in Japan at the Yokohama Jazz Festival this all star multi-generational lineup of artists will unpack and make their debut at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe this week. Traveling well is also an art.
FESTIVAL DIRECTOR/SAX: CHRIS COLLINS
BASS: MARION HAYDEN
SAX: RAFAEL STATIN
PIANO: MICHAEL MALIS
TROMBONE: VINCENT CHANDLER
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