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Revelations: Art is not a choice

By Victoria Advocate
Dec. 6, 2013 at 6:06 a.m.


Post-impressionist painter, Vincent van Gogh, said this: "I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate."

It's a poetic verse; one that seems to rightly characterize van Gogh's complicated existence and passion for creation.

As a writer and songwriter, jewelry maker and dabbler of other artsy makings, I understand van Gogh's fate.

I, too, have long grappled with the same longing - the same need - to create externally the "thing" that you dream.

When you're an artist, the weirdness that separates you from others who perhaps dream in more linear forms, or not at all, can only be understood by other artists.

The artist's need to create is an inexplicable inertia. They see and hear the world in transcendency, which bleeds into canvas, a stage, a book, a dance, a song.

They're a slave to their imagination. They walk among us each day, their minds immersed in fantasy, sorting out how their next inception will be executed in reality.

While in Atlanta last week for Thanksgiving, I rendezvoused with one of Atlanta's most remarkable fusion artists, Poane.

I've known the photographer loosely in media circles for about six years, but he was not someone I would have referred to as "friend."

I always hoped our day would come, however. I always wanted to know more about the fedora-wearing photographer with the infectious laugh, and a "je ne sais quoi" New York City confidence.

I finally got my chance.

While gearing up to launch jenniferpreyss.com, I was thrilled to hear Poane wanted to photograph me for my website.

I was elated to get the invitation, especially when I learned he was re-launching his hair styling and makeup enterprise, and he wanted to use my entire body as a canvas for the photo shoot: haircut, makeup, the whole nine.

When I walked into his home studio, which is also an art gallery, I was stunned to learn that every canvas on the wall was an original Poane.

I stood in silence for several moments studying his work.

Poane lit up a smoke, flicked up the brim on his blackish-grayish fedora and adjusted his wire turquoise ring.

That's when he explained his van Gogh-like fate to me.

"I don't know where it all comes from it just pours out of me," he said, staring at his own works. "It's all God-given I know that. I never trained or studied anywhere."

Being inside Poane's studio is fascinating.

I felt like I had an exclusive invitation inside the mind of a multidimensional visual artist.

Often, artists are great at a single style of creation. Poane's artistic genius takes shape in many forms.

As he began cutting and styling my hair, he shared stories with me about his photographs and oil paintings hanging on the wall. The paintings varied in style, evolving from realism in his early years to surreal and abstract later in life.

Some of the portraits were bold pop art others offered religious undertones, like the 6-foot canvas that hangs in his hair salon portraying Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane.

We shared stories throughout the day of our life journeys and dreams for the future.

We laughed and drank coffee and philosophized the eternal.

He was no longer an acquaintance; he was my friend and a reminder that life without artists would be a dull, lifeless corpse.

There would be no beautiful photos to hang on our walls or songs to hold memories in our hearts. There would be no theater, no fashion, no music, dance or film.

There would be no Disney, Gatsby, "Harry Potter" or "Jane Eyre."

There would be no color.

When we hugged goodbye at the end of the shoot, he reminded me to continue nurturing my inner artist.

God designed these gifts in me on purpose, for His purpose, he said.

He also reminded me that, like van Gogh said, being an artist is not a choice.

It is a God-given gift.

It is an inevitable fate.

Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or jlpreyss@vicad.com or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.

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