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  • Writer's pictureJOHN OSLER'S UPBEAT Admin


There must be a new way to look at this

Taking the usual and making it interesting is the artist’s task, adding  a dab of paint or a note in an unexpected place. That something that grabs our attention and makes us take a look is what we call art.

In the glorious month of June everything around us is getting into shape. This will be the form it will take for the summer. We get an explosion of color and eager growth. This is a good time to talk about the fourth stage of the creative process, interpreting.


SKETCH #4    SPRING 2017

In my thoughts on the four stages of the creative process the final stage is where the fun lies.


After artists (1) find a subject (2) use all their senses looking at or listening to all the possibilities, (3) edit to clarify, (4) they get to put their stamp on the creation and it becomes uniquely theirs. They can go wild and add dabs of color or twist a phrase. No one can come into a room and hear Louis Armstrong or Frank Sinatra and have to ask who it is.

A Woody Allen or Coen Brothers movie is pretty easy to spot, and a Van Gogh shouts Van Gogh, while a Mark Rothko is sublimely a Rothko.

This act of interpreting is when craft becomes art.

Artists don’t always set out to  insert their individual stamp on their creations. It is just that creating freely is generally allowed, usually encouraged and often liberating.  When you create for yourself you get to do anything you want. My greatest enjoyment comes during this time when I feel free to express my thoughts. I enjoy other folks’ art most when I see what the artist wanted to say in his/her work.


Detroit surrounds you with liberating examples of artists who feel comfortable about revealing themselves.

Detroiter Judy Bowman

Judy Bowman, is a Detroiter. She is as strong, gentle and kind as a person can get. She seldom seems uncomfortable with her life. I have never seen a photo of her when she isn’t smiling. Yet Judy understands all emotions and feels free to show them. She was principal of Detroit Academy of Arts & Sciences at the same time she raised her family. All her life Judy has had something to say and on retirement she threw herself completely into her paintings. This was good for us. We get to see how Judy sees. All of Judy’s work has a force and energy that inspires those around her, including her friends in Detroit’s Fine Art Breakfast Club.

The Detroit Fine Arts Breakfast Club is a place where artists gather to encourage and inspire other artists to let fly and show who they are. It works. This ad hoc seat of the pants organization started as a breakfast confab among a few friends who were artists and art patrons. There are now more than 100 friends who meet at a neighborhood restaurant. Everyone gets a chance to be seen and heard, and no two are alike.


France 07 Panosonic 020_edited-1

When  I am in France I will always spend some time with a friend of many years, Pascal Balay.


Pascal has supported herself and successfully raised three children just with her skill as a potter. Pascal is more than a potter, she is an artist. Her work is uniquely hers and each piece stands on its own as a work of art. Her spirit is included with the purchase of anything she produces.

She was trained in England and thankfully for me can communicate in English about her art. She makes it clear that her art is always going to be her very own art. Even though the potter’s wheel goes round and round in exact circles it is her hands that will create a Pascal Balay piece. There will be no perfect circles nor repetitive color glazes. It will be easy to know whose hands did the work. For Pascal each pot, bowl, plate or platter is a new adventure.

Pascal, like many artists I know, will probably never be wealthy. They will be satisfied with rich lives, lives that they define. The decision not to produce products but to follow your vision has benefits. Among the benefits are the  respect of other artists, users, listeners and viewers. Pascal Balay has always willingly shared her passion with students. Watching her with eager young potters reminds me of Detroit’s master teachers working with up coming jazz artists.


I have spent some time rummaging around her workshop. She has any number of discarded pieces thrown into the bushes and along the studio wall. I would love to own most of her rejects. They are Pascal’s and they are unique, and they are special. Pascal has not had an easy life. Like many artists I know she is quick to smile and quick to show her disapproval when she falls short. I leave Pascal’s studio feeling that this is OK and is all part of the process.

France Spring 2006 -3 071

Being around highly skilled but wildly creative artists like Judy, the Breakfast Clubbers, Pascal and the jazz musicians at the Dirty Dog I am able to detect a playful attitude, a freedom to express themselves that borders on bravery. They lack a fear of failure. They are very fortunate. We are always very fortunate when we bring these creative people into our lives and get to see what is possible.

There are places where individual expression is not only accepted, but is expected. Fortunately Detroit is one of those places. Every artist who shows up at the Dirty Dog  comes with a style and an attitude that is his/her own. I usually leave the club inspired.

John Osler


JUNE 19 – JUNE 20


Here are the opening  notes from Esperanza’s website that say it all about hearing live jazz.

“Today’s world has a way of teaching us that who we are is not good enough as it is. It tells us that we’re better when we look our best. And that as artists, our work requires polish before it can be seen.

But the truth is, the creations that come from us are at their most powerful, at their most potent, the moment they surface.

Part of the theory comes from the idea that everything we’ve ever seen as people – anything we’ve ever seen, studied, heard, wished, read or thought – has been permanently captured by the mind.   Esperanza will aim to open this cache in her mind, allowing songs, lyrics, music and themes to develop spontaneously from the depths of her imagination and experience.”

Esperanza says, “I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy.  Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of “can’t fail” energy, the necessity to keep going because it’s live draws up another depth of creative facility that can’t be reached when you know you can try again tomorrow.”

JUNE 21 – JUNE 23


Charles is a treasure that keeps being discovered. Each time we hear Charles play piano jazz, what comes through is a freshness and his joy at having a chance to do what he does.

What a treat to have three days with Charles and his friends.

#Detroit #MarkStryker #DirtyDog #EsperanzaSpalding #DetroitJazzFestival #RodneyWhitaker #CharlesBoles #Music #DetroitJazz #DirtyDogJazzCafé #RalpheArmstrong #GretchenValade #SeanDobbinsQuintet #musicDirtyDogJazzCafe

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