Category Archives: Therioes of Art

themes on the theory of art.

The Creative Path Less Followed

It seems far easier to be creative then it is to actually market or sell your creativity. This is becoming the lesson of this week. This is the greatest leap in my creative endeavor so far since this project began. I think back to the beginning of when I was first getting into photography and the greatest hurdle was just getting my self to the creative table. The beginning of a creative existence is filled with self-doubt and anxieties surrounding whether we are good enough or even talented enough to create. It happens in baby steps. For me doing “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” a 12-week program by Julia Cameron which created that leap in my head that said it was OK to be an artist and the acceptance of myself as a creative being. With each success your confidence grows. The consistence of creating good stuff begins to outweigh the mistakes and, believe me there are lots of mistakes, you reach a tipping point where you become a master of your craft and nearly everything you work on is at least interesting. But it is a long voyage of forcing yourself to the creative process that continually nudged your way to that point of this clarity. The next hurdle seems to be exposing what you create and putting yourself out there for judgment and criticism. Of course this has been my greatest obstacle because of what it is I want to do and the acceptability of it in the culture I live. The first Friday evening of every month all the galleries in Missoula have a gallery walk where everyone is open late and you can wander from shop to shop and see all the new work that is up for the month. It has been a huge success in Missoula because they typically entice you in with wine, beer or some sort of edible treat. But these shows mostly only contain images of western themes or landscapes, the usual sort of paint pealing off the old barn sort of work. If I where to display my sort of imagery I am afraid I would create a scandal sort of thing and my studio would possibly be fire bombed. So this has become a huge leap in my own creative acceptance. The next phase that I feel I am on the verge of overcoming is creating a presence. This is the culmination of the process of this year and the process of search for a place. This phase has been far more creative and certainly more work then the process of creating art where the process of art began. Along each step there is a huge growth and a better understanding of myself and the things that seemed insurmountable in the beginning are now trivial in the end. Why does it take most of us our entire lives to become what it is we desire or aspire to become? Is it that we just don’t know the pathway? Does it become a battle with our own self-doubt? I began this year asking the question from many of my artist friends “Are we born to be artists or is it something we learn?” I now see what a tremendous amount of time and perseverance it takes to create anything. But so many of us put that amount of time and effect into things we are apathetic toward as a means to an end, just to make a living. When the real question becomes what is it that really satisfies and makes us happy. I know most of my life has been lived in uncertainty. But I have had this impulse all of my remembered existence and somehow at this stage it all seems worthwhile.

Illegal Exposure on the Field

Another game day in Montana, today we play Eastern Washington and it should be one of the best games of the season. Last week there was a young man who jumped down to the field in the 2nd quarter in just his shorts, ran out into the middle of south end of the field, dropped his shorts and began to run around naked. Of course it brought the game to a halt as the 35,000 fans watched this man run around nude. We have had streakier before and typically security is all over them and has them off the field before you even realize what’s happening. But for some reason security just let him go, it was like they couldn’t enter the field and had to wait for him to come off. I think this naked man was as surprised as the crowd and he grabbed a megaphone and began to dance around the field taunting his now captive audience. After some time he did go off the field, was cuffed and then paraded completely around the field, still naked, to be escorted to the team locker rooms.

Later in the week, when the whole incident began to die down I contacted this kid on Facebook and began a conversation with him to see if he would be interested in coming to the studio for a session and become a feature on the one of my posts: “Daniel. My name is Terry and I do a daily blog here in Missoula called The Naked Man Project. It’s not really known in Montana but has more of an international following, I would love to photograph and feature you in my blog. You can find links on my Facebook if you are interested. You will get free images from the shoot. I have to say you were hysterical at the football game on Saturday. Very nicely done.” His first response was: “ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww wwwwwwwww” but then he come back with “what is the basis of this website?”

This kind of set me back a bit as I really had to think about, what actually am I doing here and what is this process about and how do I convey this to a stranger I am asking to possibly photograph naked who knows nothing about what I am doing. So I explained “I am a lighting designer who spent years working in professional theater. I am most interested in creating images of the male and masculine figure as an art form. I don’t just photograph men, but also women, men are just more secure about allowing me to show them, where as women are quite reluctant. The concept behind it is to deconstruct classic art; painters like Caravaggio, and recreate them for the modern man, in a modern era. The Naked Man Project has been a year of searching for my place amongst other artist that work in this style. I just returned from a trip to Paris and Berlin where I met with gallery owners and publishers who are interested in showing or creating some sort of publication. The journal is my life as a creative artist and gay man growing up in a remote beautiful place like Montana.” Somehow I was suddenly embarrassed to have to explain the vision of my concept to this stranger outside my realm of existence and knew I was crossing into an unknown new territory. After all we are still in Montana here, where such things are either dismissed or ignored. But here was a man who had the courage of his convictions to stand before a crowd of strangers and expose himself for all to see. Something I have spent a year building up to do for myself. I had a great adoration and some sort of kinship and somehow just wanted to meet him.

His response back was quite interesting as the reality of both our worlds came to light: “I’m not comfortable being photographed by a man who may find me sexual attractive if you see what you do as art and beautiful more power to you cause I will agree the human form is a thing of beauty as it was crafted by the most prominent artist to ever create. to each his own but I’m gonna have to pass unless I am photographed with a woman or women as that is how I will be comfortable to be photographed and also I cannot take time for a venture for the sake of art right now as I am facing serious consequences for my actions including expulsion which would mean I now have $50,000 to pay off in student loans on top of thousands of dollars in fines so unless you can pay me and get female models to be photographed with me I cannot model for you sorry.” He had not thought about the consequences of his actions and what the price might be. This really made me begin to ponder the price I have paid as I began to question the consequences of my own actions in creating beautiful images of naked men.

I felt a bit stung by his response, because in my minds eye, the project has grown to become something extraordinary that defies some of the stereotypes of male nudity, and here I was being defied because I was gay, by someone else’s insecurity. Many of my subjects actually are straight and I have never really had issues in dealing with it in the past. Many are honored and grateful when they enter my studio. An unmistakable feeling I had just crossed a line I shouldn’t gripped me and I was reminded once more of where I am and where this project began and why it remained hidden for so many years. Suddenly I saw the ironic humor of it all and began to laugh.