Friday, March 28, 2014
30x30: La Vie Boheme, Redux
Rent might've made being a so-called starving artist look like fun and shabby-chic games, but I don't imagine that there's too much that's fun about living in squalor and being chronically broke, cold, and hungry.
The friends that have populated my life for the last ten years are artists of every sort sort - actors, musicians, poets, illustrators - and lots of us are the total Boho type. Still, my best guess is that most of us do alright. Sure a bunch of us steal wifi; we have roommates and keep strange hours and shop thrift and laugh (to keep from crying) at the prospect of ever saving for retirement.
But most of us are pretty damn serious about what we do. A lot of us have got degrees in our art. Some of us have families. And all of us are working our butts off, making our art, teaching, working flex jobs for which we are often overqualified that subsidize our commitment to our mediums.
We make your lattes, we transfer your phone calls, we nanny your kids, we attend to your customer service needs, we work thankless adjunct faculty positions at the universities and community colleges. Some of the most devastatingly talented people I've ever met are the ones quietly slinging grande soy caramel macchiatos with an extra shot, and most people would never ever know it.
When we're not working to make ends meet, we're working to make something that means something. We're curating a multimedia installation; we're choreographing a site-specific performance; we're writing the thing that, two years from now, will be sold out Off-Broadway. All the time we're hustling and grinding, hustling and grinding.
The New Bohemia is about the work. It isn't about a low-rent milieu, dilettantes, and starvation. It isn't about "the scene." The New Bohemia is about vision, and the fearless, self-sacrificing work undertaken towards its realization.
It's the work. No one's breaking into choreographed song and dance. Well, sometimes we are, but it's usually part of the show, and we've worked for countless hours to execute it perfectly.
It's about the work. The rest of "la vie" comes, and is true, whatever its trappings. It doesn't matter whether he's wearing plaid, leather, or khaki, whether she lives in a condo, bungalow, or above a nail salon; the work's getting done, it's valid.
It's about the hustle and the grind and the hustle and the grind.
And occasionally, the glory.
And then right back to the grind.
Original illustration by Isabella Rotman