August 6 is Don Seiden’s birthday, and this year he turned 88. There’s always someone somewhere quick to celebrate Don when given a chance. Recently, a filmmaker asked me to share some thoughts about Don’s impact on others, and this prompted me to search online for some of the films people have made about him over the years.
Here’s a link to a short video filmed several years ago by some students from DePaul University, for instance. The art on display in the video includes not only some of Don’s pieces but also his wife Jackie’s installations and many other works of art that were gifts from friends, students, and colleagues. (You’ll have to guess whose work is whose.) This video isn’t the same as spending Don’s birthday with him, of course, but especially near the the 3:48 mark, you’ll get a quick sense of his spirit and the way he has lived his life. Those comments remind me of beautiful hours of conversation with Don, which we tried to encapsulate in Art Works.
To enjoy more of Don’s work, you can purchase the 2nd edition of Art Works from this website’s “Order” page. A limited number of signed copies with original artwork by Don are available.
When I was a child, art was already alive in my mind. I wandered here and there in my imagination, and I became what I wished to be.
As I grew older, I had less time to wander aimlessly in the world, let alone in my mind. School and chores came into my life, then work and other serious responsibilities. However, making art gave me an easily accessible place to meander. There I could focus on the discoveries and pleasures not always found on life’s mainstream paths. I changed the world with art. I transformed myself. I made magic. Making art served as a survival technique that reduced the stress of reality. I learned how to live with art in the most literal sense of that phrase, and now in my eighties, I still live with art today.
Every individual I have ever encountered has art living inside him or her, looking for a way to be acknowledged as a source of pleasure, learning, and expression. Maybe that person’s art gets a sleeping room in the attic, or has been relocated to the basement. Or maybe it has never been acknowledged at all. But it is there, inside each of us.
Art is also outside of us. We hear the sounds of traffic interrupted by the chatter of birds, and it is the beginning of music.We watch the leap of a cat and the walking harmony of a couple holding hands, and together they are incipient dance. We observe the sunlight as it burns the edges of a tree, and it is a future painting. We witness the seeds of art everywhere.
It is when we make something, however, that a more mature art emerges. The art completes itself when someone else sees, hears, or touches what you made. It is then not only art but also your art, and that is a crucial distinction.
It communicates; you communicate.
From Art Works: How Making Art Illuminates Your Life Ganesha Books, 2013