Photograph by Andrew Waits
Just before this issue of City Arts went to press, the sun finally broke through the murky gray for a few days of unfettered brilliance. Then it receded yet again beneath a haze of clouds, just another tease. By the time this issue hits the streets, the sun should be out for good. It can’t come soon enough. I fancy myself a stubborn optimist, but even I am beginning to regard glimmers of hope with a cynical eye, looking upon good news as so much spin. I know it’s a bad reaction, a reductive one, and, as this city’s artists prove to me time and time again, a foolish one. Creation, I am constantly reminded, is the thing.
There is no single right way to respond creatively to the ills of the world. Some, like attorney and novelist Mark Lindquist, try to solve the problems they encounter through storytelling; others, like the songsmiths behind Carissa’s Wierd, turn their isolation into song and create a community. Others meanwhile, like novelist Ted Chiang, use these confusing times to philosophize on the meaning of life itself.
And then others, like Greg Boudreau, just look it straight in the face. As I write this, the Seattle artist’s large-scale painting of the Deepwater Horizon explosion illuminates Grey Gallery up on Capitol Hill. It is an awe-inspiring image, not only for its depiction of destruction, but for the beauty he has discovered in it. Last month, as I stared at the painting, a couple approached me and asked if I would take a photo of them in front of it. For a moment, as I snapped the photo of the couple kissing in front of that burning wreck, I felt strangely hopeful.