Being an artist now -- a mood report on the eve of a new year


This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.

“What it means to be an artist today — where do we start on that one?” muses Ed Ruscha, almost nonplussed by a question with too many answers. Finally, the soft-spoken art veteran decides: “It means facing a lot of information that’s going to be very difficult to take in and swallow because there’s so much of it.”

Once the ramifications settle in, he slyly drawls, “to grasp the total picture would make you wish you could go back to 1960 when things were a bit slower, almost like the Dark Ages.”


That dizziness finds a counterpoint with fledgling film director Michael Mohan on a cold December night in Westwood. His youthful exuberance contrasts with Ruscha’s measured bemusement: “It’s not like it’s going to be crazy; it is crazy, right now.”

Mohan has reason to be excited. His first feature, “One Too Many Mornings,” about two 20- twentysomething guys who re-ignite their high school friendship, which he shot over two years’ worth of nights and weekends with a budget well under $50,000, will soon play the 2010 Sundance Film Festival in a new category dedicated to low-to-no-budget filmmakers.

Where Ruscha recoils at the opened floodgates of the Information Age, Mohan gushes: “There’s an audience for everything ... if you say I want to express myself and people will see it, yes, that’s what in 2010 you can do.”

So, even in the face of prolonged war and bitter recession, it seems 2010 is a pretty great time to be a young artist. Ubiquitous communication and cheap digital technologies are empowering the striving middle-class artist who steadily cultivates his or her craft, and challenging the cliché of the starving bohemian, or the superstar. At the same time, say many artists, an avalanche of output and constant accessibility might also push them to rediscover the merits of handcrafted work, the necessity of disconnected contemplation and the joys of face-to-face human contact.

To read the rest of John Lopez’ s Arts & Books section report, click here.