Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Broken heART

I work with entrepreneurs everyday. I love them. I really, passionately, love them. Why? They try. They don't try like tee-ballers and spelling bee participants try; they really try. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not. It is rarely clean. It is rarely easy. In fact, many of them are bombarded with opposition and cries to stop. But they don't. Sometimes they try to a fault, but there is something admirable about their tenacity.

Is it easier to buy a product off the shelf or build the proverbial better mouse trap (I guess that is more figurative and less proverbial, but proverbial sounds so smart. I guess using it incorrectly is actually pretty #55 of me)? Always easier to take something off the shelf.

That is the problem with things off a shelf...they lack risk and therefore often lack substance. The stuff is just good enough. From entrepreneurs to artists, progress was never achieved by settling for good enough. Progress was also rarely achieved by creating red tape and rules for creativity.

Back to the tee-ballers. Should a parent go to the trophy shop and buy a kid a trophy without trying? No. Where does a trophy come from? Trying and succeeding in completion of the process (not necessarily winning).

Entrepreneurs are told to stop before they fully finish. Seems like the community (at least a small, vocal subset) have a crystal ball and can predict the demise of the entrepreneur.

Well, now it is happening with public art in Fresno. Iron Bird Lofts have the gargoyles and Neighborhood Thrift has its mural. The gargoyles are going to bring the demons to the downtown area and the mural in the Tower is going to cause home prices to plummet (forget the impact poor credit decisions, unqualified home ownership and greed have had on the plummeting home prices). Unfounded claims by a FEW (even a handful) get the attention and detract from the mission or larger picture.

This breaks my heart. Let artists finish. Let the art sink in. Try, please try, to understand it. Be comfortable with not understanding it. It does not mean you are dumb (well, maybe you are). Do not catastrophize the outcome of "tasteless art."

I would like to share with you five numbers: 40, 30, 12, 10, 8

  • 40% of the things we worry about NEVER happen. That means we spend time fretting about nonessential matters.
  • 30% of the things we worry are issues of the past. We cannot change or control the past. Yet we still allow that to reside in our minds.
  • 12% of the things we worry about are things people say about us. In general, we these are not people who are in our inner circle. We care more about what they said than the person who said it. Whoa, criticism from someone who does not matter...
  • 10% of the things we worry about turn out okay. This will be bad...oh, it wasn't that bad after. Naturally we attribute the positive outcome to luck, right?
  • 8% of the things we worry about suck balls. Yep, the outcome is bad and not happy.

So here is my advice to those in the community with the all-knowing crystal balls: Look in the crystal ball to see if what you are worried about is part of the 8% or 92%...odds are it's not as bad as you imagine.


  1. As an alleged entrepreneur the one thing I am tremdously grateful for is spellcheck. Just that sentence alone would have had four misspelled words...

    The point of this comment is of the word "try". Yoda taught: "there is no try; you do or you do not." Great wisdom from a goofy looking puppet.

  2. Wait a sec!! People aren't actually arguing that those iron sculptures are attracting demons to Fresno are they?

    If they are, those people are idiots. One of the historical functions of chimeras and grotesques on buildings was to ward off evil spirits.

    C'mon people. They're on churches for cryin' out loud! Helloooooo, McFly.

  3. Great blog Travis. Thanks for making your case with such grace. (although you did indicate "they" may be stupid. Maybe people can listen better with this type of approach. So much fear, and I don't think this is a very conscious, open perspective to make decisions when considering the greater good. I don't understand why the city wants every part of Fresno to be judged by the same criteria as other parts. Downtown and Tower are supposed to be innovative, urban and different. That's what makes them interesting and unique. I don't want them to look like every other place in Fresno. What's so hard about appreciation and inclusion, even, especially when you don't particularly care for it? I appreciated your appeal to "try and understand". I guess I know how they feel, I'm having a hard time having compassion for how they are too....

    Lori P.

  4. Well said. I understand not "liking" art, or not "getting" it, but polarizing - especially claiming its effect on property value - is nothing shy of ignorance and NIMBYism. Oh, what I'd give to have pubic art in *my* neighborhood.

  5. Part of me wants to run away from the *FEW* nay-sayers that have difficulty dealing with art. I want to be in a place where people aren't so afraid... of art... of new ideas... of things that are "different".

    Part of why I live in the Tower is because I perceive the neighborhood to be more open-minded. I was so disappointed by the bruhaha over the mural. Do I think there could of been a better process? Sure. Do I think it's demonic? Uh, no.

    As for the sculptures at Iron Bird Lofts, why do people take them so literally? While a cherub does look like a small human, it has wings. I've only seen a baby with wings on the front of a Van Halen album. (Does that date me?)

    The point is that in art often you see you what you want to see. If you are scared and fearful of demonic beings and falling babies, then that is what you will see.

    I see love.

    Call me crazy. To me, a cherub is an icon of love. The precarious nature of love is what the art is about to me. We cannot take love for granted. And for that matter, we cannot take art for granted.

    Public art is a valuable asset to a neighborhood and community whether it is your specific taste or not.

    Part of me wants to fight for the art more than ever. Not because I love it or it's exactly what I would commission, but because if we don't fight for art now, when do we? If we don't fight for a more vibrant community now, then when do we?

    Are we ready to grow up? Are we ready to put on our big-boy city pants? If so, then let's make sure that public art is part of our community.

    Or are we ready to be grown up? Is it too much trouble? You tell me.