Where have all the artists gone?

Posted by Lori | Posted in | Posted on 3:54 AM


"Where have all the artists gone?" I wondered out loud as the ending credits of Vicky Cristina Barcelona rolled on my laptop screen. I'm in Spain. People are supposed to be the ultimate free spirits. I should be surrounded by beat poets, painters, and romantic actresses. Where are they? Where is that smoky cafe where I go to philosophize about art and love?

I shook my head and laughed my stereotyping. But I'm sure they're here somewhere -- I guess I'll just give it time.

An answer came a few days later. Having come down with a bit of a cold*, I was trading in the exciting night life of Oviedo for a quiet evening with a movie and some music. I started chatting with a friend of a friend about a film festival happening in a few weeks.

"Si...pero mi primer amor es el teatro. Pero no puedo descubrir teatro aqui...donde estan los artistas?"** I asked him, hoping a native Spaniard would be able to help me in my search.***

He had a real answer.

He informed me that those who govern Oviedo don't really support the arts and have no inclination to foster and encourage new artists. The only successful arts-centered lobbyists are the rich and posh ones who ask for the opera. Therefore, the opera is a big deal in Oviedo, everything else, not so much.**** And that was that.

But, he informed me, there are artists in the area. They congregate in clubs and bars - like the one he works in - and I should come some time and he'll introduce me. He also gave me information on the campus theater group which he has been a part of and encouraged me to attend the casting in a couple weeks.***** Done and done.

As we settled in to watch the movie, my mind was still on the arts in Oviedo. I was excited to have new places to look, but distracted by the fact that the government could have such an effect on art. It is all political, isn't it?******

I began to think about Chapel Hill and Carborro and the comparatively thriving art scene there. How much of that is made possible by the government (and university) support, and how much of it is independent? Could it exist as it does without that support? If those in power didn't care, didn't want it, could they impede it?

I think so.

I started to get that nervous excited feeling when I find something to be passionate about. When I find something I am craving to learn more about. When I find something that I want to change.

Later, after watching Will Smith face continually terrible life situations and somehow come out on top*******, a friend picked up his guitar and started pick out notes. I grabbed a pen and drawing pad and threw out some sketches, pretending that I was an artist.

And I realized art is here. In this living room of this 3rd floor flat. The music played in the air and moved my pen to write. Hot tea, a hoody, and the late hour and I found myself composing beautiful things.

As I walked home I smiled. Yes, I've found some artists. And it's time to do some research in the smoky clubs and bars I've imagined.

*Don't worry, Mom, I'm not that sick.
**Yes...but my first love is the theater. But I can't find theater here...where are the artists?
***I didn't honestly expect him to have an answer. I threw out the comment with an overly-dramatic air as a sort of half joke, half serious comment. I'm working on my ability to tell jokes in Spanish.
****Nothing against the opera at all. I went to the opera this week and saw Tosca. It was beautiful. 6 euros. I plan to see them all.
*****Apparently all I have to do is show up and I'm in. This conveniently takes away the stress of having to improv a monologue in Spanish. Because improving monologues seems to be my ticket to getting a part.
******See Agustus Boal, Theatre of the Oppressed.
*******Seriously, that movie stresses me out.

Comments (1)

Individuals can feel free to support "the arts". If the individuals that are so interested in "the arts" don't have any money, then they can get a job, make some $ and support "the arts" on their own. What does "fostering and encouraging the artists" mean?
Why is government involvement the solution?? I'm so tired of a hand-out driven society.

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