Monday, February 27, 2006

I ain't no stinking artist

A couple years ago, I went to the Stop and Shop for some pears and blueberries for a pie I was baking. In the lobby (foyer? vestibule?) some charity had set up a card table to sell t-shirts and stuffed animals for whatever cause they were promoting. Apparently I deemed it a worthy cause, and since I'm morally opposed to t-shirts with print on them, I bought a bear.

I like to tell myself that I intended to give the bear later to some kid who would really appreciate it, but the fact is I don't know any kids in the city, and at the time I was going through a period of semi-isolation and loneliness, so I enjoyed the company of a bear while I forged my pastries. I called him Pie Bear. Yeah. Really creative, eh?

Well, the pie turned out to be a success both culinarily and socially, so the whole I'm-keeping-this-bear idea stuck. There were more pies, recipes, experimentations, improvisations, mistakes, triumphs, calories--and Pie Bear never left the kitchen. When I moved to a new apartment, he made himself right at home without much fuss.

In time, my photographic horizons expanded, and models became my subjects of choice. Through them, I reached a level of creative inspiration and drive I had never experienced. Since the 6th grade--right up until a degree in the subject was imminent--I "knew" I was going to be a novelist, but no sense of passion and need to write pushed me at all like what I felt for photographing models, and I think Pie Bear is the difference.

In a moment of silliness with a model one shoot, I asked her to don a punky graphic tee and pose with Pie Bear. We had a good laugh and contrasted his fuzzy cutenes with her feigned attitude, and although the resultant photos didn't exhibit my best technical skills, they were among my favorite shots of the night. From then on, shooting a model meant shooting a model with Pie Bear. (If you've never implemented a tradition on the spot, I recommend it.)

Well, because I tend to overthink things (particularly those things that may be repressed regrets), I was considering why I felt the drive to photograph but not to write, and the conclusion to which I came was that I don't care as much about photography. And because I don't care so much about it, I'm more willing to do silly things--like make every model I shoot pose with a stuffed bear. I would never do that with writing; that would be to disrespect myself as an artist.

But in photography, I feel not like an artist but like an entertainer. In entertainment, the goal is to make people smile and feel a little better for a few seconds. In art, the goal is to make people think and grow and change the world for the better. That's more pressure than my writing mind could bear, so it shut down.

I don't want to be an artist. I just want to make some creative and interesting photographs--and have a good time while doing it. Pie Bear is a good moderator for when I'm leaning to the overly-serious side. He reminds me that being amusing is my ultimate goal, and any greater meaning derived from my work is nice, but it's definitely secondary.


At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it me, or is Pie Bear naked in the crotch area? That makes Pie Bear a filthy dirty slut.
And while I'm all for a good ol' fashioned naked crotch, I don't approve of it around experimental pie creations. It's just not right.

At 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When will Pie Bear have his own reality show?? That Janice bitch is so last month! ANTM is so predictable. It's time for Pie Bear: The World's First Supermodel Plush Toy! I'd watch it. Really.

And why doesn't Pie Bear have a portfolio on modellaunch? It's time. Pie Bear can be an even BIGGER star!


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