Who is an artist?


I’m often asked the question, “What do you do for a living?”  Now I guess I could say that I’m a filmmaker, but that would only be half the truth.  The truth is, I’m an artist.  I cringe at that moniker for two reasons; one is that it as broad a word as saying, “I’m a humanist.”  The second, is that it pigeon-holes me as a government scamming, grant writing, guilt-tripping couch potato living off the hard earned wages of my fellow Canadians.  Actually, there’s some truth to that statement.  But for the purpose of this piece of art, I’m not.  Now who is an artist?  That is the big question filling my little space today.  To me, if you create, you are an artist.  Whether you’re bullshitting a tourist out of ten bucks, or painting the Sis-teen Chapel, you earn that right to call yourself an artist.  I remember overhearing Antoine Mountain tell a pretty German tourist once that he was a “neo classical modern traditionalist” painter.  So I try to throw that in when they ask me what type of art I do.  One of the best artists I know is a guy back home I’ll call Lonely.  He can lie straight-faced, on Sunday morning, to a priest, and not break a sweat.  I know, cause he’s lied to me more times that I care to remember.  But the fact is, he’s an artist.  A bullshit artist if you may, but still an artist.  Another old timer is Neil Colin.  Now if you’ve seen my film, CBQM, The Biggest Little Radio Station in the North, you’ll have seen Neil in action.  In my film, he tells the story of Donald Greenland, a legendary bullshit artist from whom all bullshit artist draw, in the Mackenzie Delta anyway.  I’ve heard Neil tell that story at least a dozen times.  And each time, he tells it exactly as he told it the last time.  Right down to the hand gestures, exact phrasing, precise timing, and delivery.  Now that takes practice and talent.  Every time I hear that story, I edge over my seat and wait for the punchline, like a kid waiting for a piece of toffee.  Now I’ve tried in vain to get Neil a NWT Arts Council Grant that would just allow him to tell stories.  Nothing fancy, just a few bucks to live on so he can saunter up town when ever the hell he feels like it and tell a good bullshit story or two along the way.  But that unfortunately is not in the “policy.”  What is in the policy though is “neo classical modern traditionalist” 


About inuvik61

Filmmaker, apprentice bluesman. columnist, father, husband, master, and champion to all those who missed their boats.
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1 Response to Who is an artist?

  1. I love this, I am addicted to these stories, keep them coming, …….yessss

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