In reality, there were a number of reasons why we were there: digital marketing, creative collaborations, and this funny thing called art were all partly responsible. Beneath these forces, however, there was something else magnetizing the project, call it fate, call it spirit, call it love. It’s the force that brings like minds together, that amplifies their connection with emotion, and that guides us into the unknown to make great new things. In this case, I was there for her. Who is she? Nadine Michelle, hair and makeup artist.
It’s the same reason people create theater: to explore and express the substance and nuance of the human experience. Some of us have this drive: to imagine and create fictions as a way of expressing something true. Artists in the United States have created amazing works despite the general character of our culture as being positivist, pragmatic and utilitarian. We are a culture that generally values athletic over artistic achievement. We are more concerned with the results that you can count, that you can bet on, that you can believe in. We have more guns than books of poetry. Nonetheless, or maybe all the more, we also have a voracious population of artists frothing at the mouth to make great art. Nadine is one of those souls hungry to create.
In the era of social media, however, creativity has become similar to a sport. The metrics of likes and engagement have given us the numbers, the proof, we seem to need to know that something is good or at least worth our time. We have become emotional gladiators fighting tigers in a digital coliseum barely aware of our own imprisoned status. The arena is no longer a physical space: it exists in many places at once and over time as various people interact online. This is why I value artists: for their courage and desire despite the circumstance, in spite of the fear of futility.
Santa Cruz is one helluva an artsy town, but it’s a horrible place for artists economically. We have too many of them, they are not good enough, and the market is rigged to keep it that way. While I hope to go into great depth to explain how this has come to be, I only mention it here now to highlight the courage it takes to be creative here. To call yourself an artist in Santa Cruz is to invite scorn if not shame. You don’t do it because it’s easy. You have to really really want it. Nadine is a person who really wants it.
I know this, because she took the time to dream up this concept and drew together the various actors and players necessary to make it a reality. She was the auteur, the visionary, and I was more than glad to lend her a creative hand. Having worked together once before, I was fully convinced that it would be worth my time. When I arrived and saw Mina Salome sitting in her chair looking like a mythical beauty I knew I was right.