Successful Obsession April 29 2009, 0 Comments

Now and again, we hear about some child protege who was born to play classical piano, or born to sing. They are playing Carnegie Hall by the time they are 10 years old. But for most that are successful in the arts, it is the obsession of the work that drives them, success follows, hopefully while one is still living! Vincent van Gogh painted all night, sometimes sleeping just a few hours at a time. He would work on variations of a theme for months at a time. He lived in poverty but would not give up his art. His brother supported him and paid for his paints and charcoals. Van Gogh never sold a single painting. Today they are treasured priceless works of art.

In 1968 an obsession of another kind was born. A wire walker in France, Philippe Petit learned of a construction project in New York City. The project was to build the tallest buildings in the world, the Twin Towers. With just a newspaper article in hand, one he stole from a his dentist’s office, he began his quest, rehearsals, and extensive planning to one day walk on a cable between the tops of the Twin Towers. This artist’s obsession that had began years before the towers were built, ended one magical morning on August 7, 1974 when Philippe Petit stepped out onto his wire some 110 stories from the ground and stunned the world as he graced us all with his seemingly effortless performance of wire walking between the Twin Towers.

While these two artists may seem extreme, the point for all artists is the same. We do what we do in the arts because we love the work. We do it because the idea of creating something truly unique is a gift to those in our lives. The arts have always been difficult and for those who can do it and make a living, it is the best. I don’t think most of us go into the arts thinking, “Wow! I’m going to make millions!” We do it because it is a part of our genetics, our existence depends on it. Even as budgets pause, the artist continues to create. There are no boundaries.