Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Starving Artist Special


The other day I got a craving for a bowl of ancho flavored chicken posole washed down with a cinnamon dusted horchata. In all of my “you can do this but not that” mental games, eating great spicy food trumps everything.

So I hurried over to my favorite Dunedin restaurant, Casa Tina on Main Street. Grabbing a vacant window seat, I mentally prepared myself for the feast to come. A waitress I hadn’t seen in a while came by, and, after the customary chit-chat, asked if I wanted my usual, “The Starving Artist Special.” Hearing those words again caught me off guard. Staring in silence, I finally shook my head no and looked down at the menu I knew by heart.

In my many years of eating there, I became known as the artist who likes “The Starving Artist Special.” OK, what’s not to like about a delicious plate of frijoles negras, salsa, and rice with a side of chunky guacamole. Right there you have your three basic food groups, plus complete proteins, carbs, and fats. And I could get all that great food for six bucks.

It was the clever title that annoyed me and no amount of friendly cajoling would get the owners to change it. My stories of eating three meals a day and sometimes not even cleaning my plate could not dissuade them. The Starving Artist Special remained on the menu.

If truth be known, it was most likely artists who began using the term “starving artist,” probably in an effort to drum up more sales at the world’s first outdoor art show. We are often our own worst enemies. It did not take long for an amused public to add “starving artist” to their lexicon of marginalizing expressions. “You bohemian, self-indulgent, unconventional hippie! You starving artist!”

In a culture that considers art a luxury or does not take its creative class seriously, making a decent living will always be difficult. That does not mean artists are starving. Like many people, artists have learned to live within their means and use their creativity to fashion a rich and satisfying life.

Artists, who live life out of their own center, and have a vision they are able to create every day, could be said to be the most well fed of people.

3 comments:

Amos said...

I did a talk on Money and Artists. I think we should be calling Thriving Artists. The thing I have learned is, we are thriving when we get a chance to create, present, sell and stay healthy at the same time. Most of us have other jobs to pay the bills anyway. This past year I wasn't feeling so well and I realized that whether I became famous or not, really doesn't matter. I create my art, yes it sells, but I have found other ways to thrive without killing completely my artistic spirit. But most importantly I have learned about thriving in my life (i.e. not starving) and that is a good thing. I wrote a book about it :)
"I'm Here, Now What?! An Artist's Survival Guide for NYC!" do check it out.

kaya said...

what did u end up eating? :-o

Denis Gaston said...

Ancho flavored chicken posole and a cool glass of cinnamon dusted horchata.