Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Letter to a Young Artist

 I  was spent a day with a friend  recently and we were discussing dreams, shamans, spirits and art. That night out of the blue I went to my book case and pulled out a book  called Dreamtime and Inner Space: The World of the Shaman. I hadn't looked at it probably since college.  Out dropped this letter from my former college professor and artist, Bob Watts.

 I don't remember giving him my journal but I do remember the journal being full of insecurity and doubts.  I also don't remember receiving this note from him but I love what he says:

 " I could help you realize that all or most sensitive artists struggle with the same problems, the fears, anxieties, frustrations of creating. It often takes many years to arrive at some confidence. Its a giving up of some values which have nothing to do with making or being. Our inner self knows this for a certainty. Have you read Zen and the Art of Archery? There are clues there."

It seems so right to have this letter right now for myself as an artist and a teacher.  The fact that it dropped out of this particular book is ironic. From dream time, inner space and from the after life, Bob is  still communicating.

Thanks, Doctor Bob




Robert Watts (artist) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Robert Watts was an American artist best known for his work as a member of the international Avant-garde art movement Fluxus. Born in Burlington, Iowa June 14th 1923[2][3], he became Professor of Art at Douglass College, Rutgers University, New Jersey in 1953, a post he kept until 1984. In the 1950s, he was in close contact with other teachers at Rutgers including Allan Kaprow, Geoffrey Hendricks and Roy Lichtenstein. This has led some critics to claim that pop art and conceptual art began at Rutgers [4][5].

He organised the proto-fluxus Yam Festival, May 1963 with George Brecht, and was one of the main protagonists, along with George Maciunas, in turning SoHo, New York, into an artist's quarter. He died Friday 2nd September 1988 of lung cancer in Martins Creek, Pennsylvania.[6]

He was also known as Bob Watts or Doctor Bob.


13 comments:

William Hall said...

What a treasure you stumbled upon that you didn't even know that you had. Things always seem to show up when you need them.

Mary Zeran said...

I thought this was a lovely post . What a treasure to have such a mentor and to have him keep giving in life and afterlife.

Now here is a funny thing. I am from Burlington, Iowa too. Who knew we could add Bob to our legacy of artists?

Thanks Lisa!

Jann Gougeon said...

Very moving and another opportunity for me to come in contact with this wisdom . . . as I hear this, I read this . . again and again . . in many different ways.

Jann Gougeon said...

. . as William (above) says "things seem to show up when you need them."

CMC said...

This is so wonderful, Lisa. What a wonderful gift to come to you at a time you feel is a most appropriate time. It seems that it appeared again to you at the moment you were really now "ready" to read it. Strange sometime how that happens.

rita maria said...

thank you for sharing this lisa. i think bob was trying to share his knowledge with others through you. he knew we needed it.

Patty Kay Mooney said...

I love how dog-eared, crumpled and stained the letter is.

Stuart Kirby said...

Such reassurance Lisa...amazing how these moments happen almost spooky...

Jacqui Dodds said...

What a great teacher to have and how thoughtful of him to have taken the time to write the letter to you.
Jacqui

Shawna Moore said...

Lisa, I stumbled upon your blogpost today and also got to share in Bob'x wisdom. I am reminded that my continual preaching on the internal process is SO important. As a technical teacher of encaustic I still try to guide my students to resources such as "Art and Fear" and Rilke's "Letters to a Young Poet." Thanks for sharing!

Rebecca Crowell said...

A great story! and now you are in the position to pass along to other artists some of that wisdom and confidence that comes with experience.

I bet this made a huge difference to you at the time even if you don't exactly remember it. Such a lovely reminder to us all, to be generous and reassuring to other artists who are struggling. Thanks for posting!!

Lynda said...

Hi Lisa,
Don't you just love when a gift like this shows up at the perfect time and place in your life?
Thanks for sharing this - I want to read "Zen and the Art of Archery"

<3
Lynda

Joanne Mattera said...

Not only a poignant letter, but a good reminder that there is so much in our history that has supported us, that could support us still. Thanks.