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Peeks and Piques! A Nascent Creative Urge

By Raymond J. Steiner
ART TIMES May/ June 2012

IT IS THE sheer, unstoppable force of it that sometimes stops me in my tracks. No matter your personal tastes, beliefs or opinions, the creative urge simply cannot be halted. There are some who believe that we are “hard-wired”, that we’ve been “homo aestheticus”for as long as we’ve been “erectus” — and almost certainly before we became “sapient”. Maybe so — the facts seem to support that early man was scratching images on flat surfaces long before he learned to speak or write. And who know how much older the propensity to make “music” and “dancing movements” might be? I can be convinced that man first sang out and danced when he had a pants full of red ants — seems he surely didn’t draw pictures of them until much later. At this point in time the chronology is not so important — what matters is that all three activities — making music, dancing or image-making — are all products of a nascent creative urge, an urge that, come what may, is still with us today. Still with us in a technological age that seems more interested in hype, greed, silliness, and mayhem, more interested in turning that urge to what I recently heard a TV commentator refer to as “garbage culture”. I sometimes despair what I see on the artscene — quite often loudly and monotonously in this column — and I can hardly disagree with that commentator’s description. Yet, I take a few steps back and take that long look — yes, we can and do often create crap, but the urge itself seems to be ultimately incorruptible. It is society and peer pressure that turns the urge towards its will as artists have learned since forever. Who knows what “critical” pressure was put on those cave painters when they etched elephants on their walls? We do know from art history that the pressure on artists – artists of all stripes — to be politically or religiously or whatever‑ly correct has existed at least since the Renaissance. And how many parents have either gently or rigidly turned their offspring from such an anxiety and/or poverty-filled life? And still the urge presses on. Surely such an unstoppable, natural force ought — at the very least — be recognized by the powers of any and all cultures that be. Surely, we have to wonder at the artists in our midst!

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