Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

If you weren’t a writer, would you still be in the book business? (bookseller, agent, editor, publisher) or would you do something completely different?

by Dietrich Kalteis

What I love about writing is that it’s a solo creative expression. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d likely be looking for something else artistic that I could do on my own. 

I’ve always had a passion for photography, and that could work. I was involved in a lot of photo sessions in my former livelihood, and I have a good understanding of cameras and related gear, both digital and film. And I get jazzed when I study the landscapes of Ansel Adams, the night shots of Brassa├», the surrealism of Man Ray, the photojournalism of Robert Capa, Dorothea Lange and Mary Ellen Mark, or the portraits of Karsh and Philippe Halsman. 

I’d likely shoot street scenes, looking for what’s below the surface, telling a story with images instead of words, and looking for that one in a million capture. I love the street images of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weegee, Robert Doisneau, Fred Herzog, Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz, and there are so many more.

I’ve been creating art since I was a kid wielding a crayon. I’ve drawn and painted landscapes, stills, figures, and while I’m interested in various styles and techniques, I would lean to a modernist/abstract approach if I lifted a brush today.

After a grade school trip to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, I became inspired by the works of the Group of Seven. I also discovered Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), an art movement that came about in Munich in the early 1900s. The works of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee are particularly moving. So is the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollack and Franz Kline. And there are the dark-humored illustrations of Ralph Steadman, or those of Bernie Fuchs. The sculptures of Henry Moore, the abstract creations of Jean Arp, the realism of Edward Hopper, the portraits of Modigliani.

Aside from playing with cameras and paints, there’s music. While I appreciate various musical styles and the talents of many performers, it turns out I’m better at the listening than the playing. And I’m okay with that. If you can’t sing, hum, right? And while there’s no illusion of playing like Doc Watson, I do enjoy playing my guitar for my own amusement.

It’s interesting how many artists have found other forms of creative expression. For example, Leonard Nimoy was an accomplished photographer, and so was Dennis Hopper, along with being a painter and sculptor. James Franco isn’t only a talented actor, but an accomplished artist as well.

David Bowie painted for most of his life, and so has Ronnie Wood of the Stones. And Miles Davis wasn’t just the Prince of Darkness, but a hell of a painter. Grace Slick, Ani DiFranco, John Mellencamp, Tony Bennett and Joni Mitchell paint, so does Patti Smith, and she’s a terrific writer too. Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and Frank Sinatra all painted as well. And of course, there are the amazing watercolors of Bob Dylan. 

Musicians and actors seem to like the switch from collaborative projects to working solo. And that can work the other way around too, like when a group of published writers including Stephen King, Scott Turow and Matt Groening formed a rock and roll band (along with a few professional musicians like Al Kooper and Roger McGuinn) and called themselves The Rock Bottom Remainders, playing mostly for fun and raising a couple million dollars for charity.

Another thing I like to do is cook, something I’ve been doing for years. It may seem a little ‘everyday,’ but I can get passionate about it, and to me there’s creativity and self expression in what I dish up. Like most of us, I’m drawn to different expressions and experiences. It’s the very nature of being creative, and whatever I might try, I want to be able to express myself in some way.


Susan C Shea said...

Sounds like you're creative on all fronts!

Cathy Ace said...

Super piece - creativity comes in many forms, and it seems so many are blessed in so many ways. Feeling creatively challenged now...though I'll agree that gardening is a truly creative undertaking :-)

Paul D. Marks said...

Dieter, it definitely sounds like you wouldn't be lacking for things to do if you weren't a writer :-) .

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks Susan, Cathy and Paul. And I agree, Cathy, there's something special about working in a garden — another thing to add to the list.