Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

touring MarsTokyo

"Some day people will travel to Mars. It will be a long trip, but fun. This will be a big step for mankind. We would be able to find out if there was life on this planet. It probably will look like a red desert. - J. Stephen Hartsfield, Seventh Grader, 1984

I'd like to try a different sort of post this morning, to accompany my earlier predictably gurdonark "what I did between raisin bran and sleep, told self-aggrandizingly" form of post. I think it would be fun to write a post about a single LiveJournal user, to put out a call about a friend's creative work.

I'm going to do a post about a fascinating artist who became one of my very first LiveJournal friends. I'd like to introduce you all to the creative world of marstokyo, and, in particular, her teeny_theaters.

I'm always interested in people who make art "outside the lines". I don't mean, necessarily, people who end up with sobriquets like "The Collin County Grandma Moses" (although I personally would be delighted to receive such an accolade) nor the odd "I collect troubled people's stories" art brut obsession. I mean instead people whose creativity shoots out like lightning, in unexpected ways. When you drive a freeway in eastern Arizona at two in the morning, you often see cascades of heat lightning, rainless, appropos of nothing, illuminating everything. I like artists who serve as the distant heat lightning for my own quirky creativity, less a direct inspiration than a kind of wonderful atmospheric electricity, keeping the entire planet alive and charged.

MarsTokyo serves as one of those heat lightning artists for me. She's
one of those people who has the chops to draw and paint "real" representational art, just like the artists in mystery novels, who sketch visual diaries just before being victimized, acquitted, or found out in the course of over-picturesque puzzle crimes. She's can charm with a photograph which is a delight of color and a celebration of the right eye (which, I've noticed, often resides in the left eye).

Although she's quite subtle, she's not wedded to mere obscurity. Some people, like me, show their appreciation for a favorite band by writing a kind review on MarsTokyo showed her appreciation for a band which fascinated her with an incredible pictorial set of U2 Devotions.She's entirely willing to create art about the here and the now, and to make an art unaffected by the need to impress the viewer with her erudition. Although she's an intellectual, I think she'd be the first to tell you that she is an artist of the idea rather than an ideologue or someone who merely wants to make a point.

So many things about marstokyo impress me. I'm always intrigued by the mail art movement, in which artists send to one another individual works of art in a "no money, no galleries" fashion. She participated in this movement for some years. She used to run her Mars Tokyo Rubber Stamp Company, long before everyone was peddling things on I believe that the current owners of her now-sold company still offer her fascinating stamps on eBay. Any way you slice it, marstokyo brims with talent, vim, and a curious and, yes, curiously appealing artistic eye (not, of course, that I have any Bunuel desire to slice eyes). I'd spend time telling you about her virtually flawless courtesy and kindness to me, but I want to tell you about her life's work instead.

Not all of us have a concrete life's work. For some of us, our life's work is just to love other people. I surmise that for a few of us, a life's work includes ample portions of chocolate manufactured in Hershey Pennsylvania.

marstokyo hit upon a creative outlet that is novel, amusing, profound, disturbing and just so darn impressive. She became a desiger of miniature theaters, which she calls "teeny theaters". But these are not your grandpa's Oldsmobile of dollhouse furniture and model train scenery. Rather, each theater is an rich, dense assemblage of molten story and idea, placed inside a small "theater" setting a few inches high. She's done hundreds of these theaters, each a complex and fascinating set of ideas.

Success serves so many masters as to serve as such a funny word. So often people mistakenly see success as exactly synonymous with economic gain. Some folks (and here I mean in particular some artists) imagine, by contrast, that all people other than creative people are driven only by money (a misperception rather akin to thinking that all people of faith are fundamentalists, or all left-wing political people are communists). marstokyo's works don't fetch Dale Chilully prices nor serve as the imitation point for MTV videos. Yet marstokyo succeeds with her art in ways I admire. It's not just that she gets her art exhbited in cool public shows. It's that her work shows a consistent and pleasing elaboration of personal vision--an art made real, an art of a life.

Here on LiveJournal, marstokyo set up a journal devoted entirely to showing off those teeny_theaters. If you're ever in need of a challenging and interesting half an hour, then go tour any few of the theaters at a time which a half an hour will permit at her theaters LiveJournal, where theaters and narrative intertwine into an interesting experience. If you'd like your friends page to "light up" with something novel each week, then add teeny_theaters to your friends' list.
I love this aspect of weblog culture--a talented artist makes her work available for the world to see.

I'm one of thousands upon thousands of people who discovered teeny_theaters and am richer for the experience. Unlike a hair loss remediation formula, though, her work is freely posted as an experience. To me, artistic endeavor is all about the Experience. One looks at a work of art, one connects the art to one's own ideas, and a moment of near-sacred communion ensues. In many ways, the words she posts about her art, while interesting, stand beside the point. I like the idea of the artist as the generator of mindscapes--of places the mind goes where real life appears and shimmers. teeny_theaters offers the viewer a personal box seat ticket to that sundrench-shimmering moon-dark-longing corn maze of the inner life.

I hope that someday marstokyo, along, perhaps with her friend and musical artist fabulist, make a film which features slides of her theaters, a simple spoken word narrative of her "texts", and melodic ambient drone. Until that time,though, the best place to see marstokyo is by friending teeny_theaters. Someday we may all say "I knew about her before she....", but that's really quite beside the point. I know her now--she's worth knowing. That's all one needs to know, really, about anyone.

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