29/100 || Yesterday I was able to stop by the Museum Contemporary Art Denver to check-out the Basquiat Before Basquiat: East 12th Street, 1979-1980 exhibit that’s currently on display. And I am so very happy that I caught it before it closes on May 14th, because…WoW. What an interesting, complex, and creative soul Jean-Michel Basquiat was! His belief that art can encompass anything, resulted in works that ooze feelings of play and experimentation.
I had such an emotional response to this exhibit. It connected me back to many of the things that I adore about New York City – which is that it is a city that allows space for people to be innovative and wildly different. My fear is that that is changing somewhat, but 1979-80 was NYC at its prime! [Coincidently, I also finished watching The Get Down on Netflix this week, which takes place during these same years in NYC – so it was fresh on my mind].
Being able to see the pieces that were created while Basquiat was still forming his voice and art, was fascinating. He created just to create. You could sense the drug-induced creation binges and moments of mania that he was plagued with in the pieces – but, you also felt that art and creation were a vital part of his being. And – he did it everywhere – from building walls in lower Manhattan to turing his entire apartment into a living canvas.
One of my favorite parts of the exhibit were the sweatshirts that he painted and sold on the street to help pay for his rent and art supplies. They not only tapped into my inner-80s child, but reminded me that we never know how our simple creations will one day be valued. That the pieces that are a part of our process (i.e. sweatshirts and notebook musings) are valued and/or appreciated as much as the final product (i.e. paintings).
Sometimes our playful moments come out of being inspired by someone else’s playful moments. For me, this exhibit, was a beautiful example that we all start somewhere. The point is not in being perfect – but instead in playing and experimenting to build up our voice/art/message/work. Create – put it out there – and own your imperfect process with pride.