April 18, 2008

Living artfully

Producing in Hollywood is not easy. Its an ongoing test of will not to show weakness, to look for what the others you are negotiating with want and to help them get it in a way that moves your project forward, too. All of this has to be done with an eye not just on the bottom line, but also on creating artful content that others will enjoy.

Like everyone, I get so wrapped up in work that it becomes hard to remember that time is passing, except when I look at the bills. It seems like nothing but struggle and we all get so involved in each daily crisis it's easy to lose track of time. But the days keep rolling on, one after the next.

I got a call today that made me think of all this. Thirty-two years ago I lived in the country in a small rural town in Michigan. Then my worries were beginning of life issues. How will I get forward in my career? What do I do when people don't want to hire me? (Wait a minute, it seems sometimes that I'm still working on these same issues...)

At that time our close friends were the couple my first husband worked for. They were bohemians, artists from Kansas who grew up, moved to Michigan and had a business that designed and built museum exhibits. Their company was moderately successful, building interpretive designs -- which really meant once they were awarded a contract some delivery guy would walk into their offices with a cardboard box and ask "Where you want these artifacts put?" They would then research what those objects meant and build the displays that put the old objects into perspective.

In the days before computer graphics, creating designs and layouts and print pieces was a skill that took creativity and a lot of art. Vic had an extrordinary ability to visualize and draw things. But besides being extrordinary artists, they were the first grownups I knew who really lived the artful life daily. Not just a moment or two but every day. Vic's wife Patty could paint watercolors, sew, create displays and cook a mean ham.

Patty wrote about this time of all our lives in a very funny book. The first time I read it tears rolled down my face I laughed so hard.

When I got married to my first husband (of course, I'm still married to the same guy) Patty had promised "If you guys would only get married you can have my favorite cat!" She showed up at our wedding reception with a cat carrier -- but it just contained a couple of bricks wrapped in a towel. She loved George her cat too much to give him up!

Patty died today. I will miss her.

Allison and Patty 2002