Friday, May 9, 2008

Have you hugged your demons today?

If you're going to pin your hopes on innovation, whether as producer or investor or consumer-participant, you better get comfortable with the idea of living with (some say suffering) demons.

I was reminded of this yesterday when I made a short return trek to Oberlin to do some backstory follow up on the Monk performance I attended last week.

I was so impressed with the interpretation behind the choreography of this show, the insight into and embrace of the innovator, that I wanted to at least meet and thank the woman behind it. You never know what you might learn on such a journey. But rarely have I been disappointed when I've followed my instincts about artists, and the same held true in this case.

Adenike Sharpley is currently serving as "Artist in Residence" at Oberlin. When not working with students and staging performances, she runs Ade's Place, a small African Art Gallery tucked into the downstairs of a more mainstream gift shop on Main Street. That's where I caught up with her yesterday.

"I love me some Monk," was Ade's passionate reply when I told her how much I enjoyed her work. No filtering, there. We went on to talk a bit about influences and community reaction. The thing that struck me most from this conversation was when Ade made the comment, "A lot of folks thought I was being too hard on him. But, you know, he did drugs, he was autistic -- at least-- and I felt like you had to deal with all that."

I can't even imagine her show and what it would have been if she had not dealt with these influences. Well, yes I can. It would have been a mainstream, Hallmark cards look at a Jazz legend. Sanitized. Safe. And ho-hum. And the influence of the edges, the fringe, the demons would have been lost.

Thanks Ade for the reminder. And the love.

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