Tumbleweed

Aritzenship, part 11: Cuz I’m Bad

Jul. 08, 2015 | Jeremy Benson

I must confess I’m writing this at the last possible moment; at a time when I’m not at my most functional: it’s well past this farmer-writer-artist’s bedtime. But! I’m interested in keeping my reputation as a person who sticks to their promises and expectations, who comes through, even in a pinch. I told the staff at the Arts Council that I’d have a column for them to publish. So: I put a pot of tea on; I put my nose to the grinder.

Dashboard Confessional

I must confess, more, that I have not always been so righteous. I’ve let a deadline or two roll on by like a tumbleweed across 29, without so much as a note to my editor to let them know. It is in this small way that I have contributed to the pestilence that is down-sitting artistic citizenship (you know, as opposed to upstanding). 

Don’t Bug Out

Let me be clear: I don’t believe there’s an infestation of down-sitters within Napa Valley’s artist fields. But, I’d like to describe some of the more prevalent pests that can cause disruptions within a creative ecosystem, so we may be aware and take necessary actions when we catch them—especially when we, as individuals, are exhibiting these habits, and need to be responsible for our own behaviors.

Cornflakes: A cornflake is an artizen who has made a commitment to others in the community but who fails to follow-through and deliver. As an occasional cornflake, I try to give second, third, fourth chances when possible: but after collecting entire bowlful of flakes, my patience grows soggy.

Blindsiders: Blindsiders don’t bother to find the value in supporting the local art scene, if they’re aware of it at all. This could be because they’re absorbed by their own work, which they’ve given a greater import than is appropriate; or it could be because they’re hung up on the scenes of New York or Los Angeles.

Eeyores: they see the tube of paint as half-empty. While aware of the creative work happening around them, an eeyore might believe it ultimately serves little purpose. Or, they don’t believe their role in the community is as vital as everyone else.

Dramatists: Perhaps the most prevalent in any creative ecosystem, this pest can be identified by their eagerness to cause or enjoy interpersonal difficulty resulting in anger or emotional distress.

Treatment

For any of these pests, I first recommend a self-administered dose of honesty and humility. Are you taking on too much responsibility, and should say no until you’re caught up? Do you have difficulty in recognizing the greatness and importance of the creative work being done right in our neck of the woods? Are you gossiping about your studiomates? Take it upon yourself to make a change. 

When you’ve done what you can to adjust your own attitude and there is still a problem, then what? I think then you can politely but firmly bring the difficulty to the attention of the perpetrator. But, do it gracefully, because we’ve all let each other down at some point.

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Arts Council Napa Valley 501(c)3 is funded in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

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