Vlad Savich: I and our readers don’t know anything about you. So I ask you to tell us a little about yourself.
Whiskey Radish: There’s so little to tell: I live close to Boston, MA. (USA). I have a hubby and 3 kids. I have a degree in French Lit from a fancy Univ. I teach teenagers at my private art studio.
Oh hey! Try this: WHO IS WHISKEY RADISH?
I do LIKE TO GOOF AROUND A LOT!!!
VS: Nowadays you don’t often meet such a big family. It doesn’t bother you to be creative?
WR: Do you mean does the family bother my creativity, or do you mean, does being creative bother me?
Both! But both are who I am, and both are what bring me the greatest joy.
I can’t really imagine one without the other.
A family and a creative mom/parent can be a dynamite combo!
My art is about being human from the point of view of not being human (there you have it!)…so being a mom rather helps me to learn about that: what it is to be human.
I’m not saying people who don’t have kids know less about being human – obviously they have an opportunity to learn different things instead. But being a mom, for me anyway, is a SUPER GIGUNDOUS HUGE kinda thing.
And then there’s the whole being a wife…NOW WE’RE TALKIN!
VS: “What it is to be human”
“’Man‘—it has a proud ring!” says the hero in the Gorky play, but I’m not talking about that..
You are a writer and artist (rare combination). Which of these is more important?
WR: Oh, I see your point. I mean to say, I explore what it is to be human…it’s my BIG QUESTION. I do not claim to have any answers whatsoever!
As for writing vs visual art…whoo! That’s an impossible choice. Kind of like, is it more important to pee or to poop!
Writing is much cheaper and I could do it no matter what. So that’s an advantage.
But the physical process of writing is nil…and the influence of chance plays a much –much! – smaller role.
Anyway, as I always tell my students, it’s all about the idea; how the idea is expressed is important for communication, but that’s it.
The idea is always closely linked to chance, in my experience.
My kids are all grown up, so I have the advantage of retrospect.
Women should understand, though, that full creativity does require a lot of alone time, imho.
And a good husband or partner like mine is a huge form of support, in my case both financially and emotionally.
I’m not rich or famous or have much to brag about (except that I run a mthrfkkin killer art school!) — and if I didn’t have a family maybe I would be those things.
Thing is, I don’t care about them.
(Although I do care about the quality of my work.)
Thanks for asking!
VS: More important to pee or to poop! This is a question of Shakespearean scope!
What painting style do you work in?
WR: Yes, it is a good question, and I don’t know how anyone could answer it — it takes both !
I guess my style is Improvisational — it’s not built on not making mistakes, it’s built on using mistakes.
Close to the Miles Davis quote:
“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”
I would be flattered if jazz musicians liked my work. Improv is my mindset, combined with Carpe Diem!
I don’t aim for perfection, I’m happy with getting the point across as easily and naturally as possible. I want everyone to be painting and writing!
VS: I want everyone to be painting and writing!
Close to the Dostoevsky quote: “Beauty will save the world.”
Do you think it’s possible?
WR: Yes! If by Beauty we mean all forms of progressive thinking: science, art, religion, politics, medicine, manufacturing, garbage collecting, mouse trapping etc.
VS According to you, what is art? For what purposes does it serve? Newton, Copernicus, Einstein, Bohr gave the world much more than all artists in the world.
WR: This is true! At my studio, I have many students who go on to MIT and the like, and using their artwork in their applications has helped them get in….because at MIT (and the like) they realize that creative thinking is how you get to E=mc2 (can’t write that correctly on my phone). Einstein was a musician too! There’s great art all over the MIT and Harvard campuses. MIT even has a poetry department!
I like to think I teach creative thinking, with visual art as the vehicle.
So, simply, the arts help people think more creatively in all fields.
Olympians inspire us to run, for example, and be healthy. Artists (I hope) inspire us to think more creatively….and progressively…. = Beauty = save the world?
Progress requires our collective diverse minds.
And anyway, what are all these scientific geniuses going to spend their money on, if not art?
VS: You are mother, wife, teacher, artist, writer etc. etc
Tell me please, what does a good life look like to you?
WR: I only know my own and I like it. I’ll take exactly this for thousands of years.
VS: What’s new and interesting have you discovered for yourself lately?
WR: Oh. terrific timing on that one!
I worked the door at the legendary Ryles Jazz Club and Latin Dance hall (Cambridge MA) for 17 years before it closed in 2017.
What a scene!
I loved it even if it did mess up my general productivity (I usually got home at 3:30a, and would have to get up early for work and kids etc).
Anyway, a couple weeks ago my daughter and I went to an experimental jazz show at the Lilypad (David Haas Group played). The Lilypad is a cool little jazz club that happens to be across the street from the old Ryles.
I asked if they needed any help, and Josh, the manager, said yeah, they needed help at the door on Monday nights.
So last night I went over and it was glorious! Packed house (meaning about 25 people) — old and young — and killer playing, Jerry Bergonzi et al.
I fell right back into my “Hi! Are you here for the show?”, keeping the money all perfect, being the ultimate pro I am at this job (at Ryles I dealt with hundreds of people in one night, and as many as 5 different ticket prices).
I love doing the door at jazz shows (I do others as well, to help out Dan Fox). And I caught a glimpse of John Lockwood, whom I like a lot. It is he who told me if I want to sound like myself (on bass) “DO NOT GET A TEACHER” — hahaha!
So, anyway, I admit I used to be kind of snobby about the Lilypad…thought it was a lesser venue that Ryles. But..egg on my face! My discovery is my new home/gig for random Monday nights.
VS: Has the coronavirus pandemic found a place in your creativity? I wrote a play for example. The director took it for production, however, the management of the theater banned it. They said: This is not a topic for theater!
WR: Due to the fact that I couldn’t go out as much because of quarantine, I did have a little more time for my music (art about the same). I had the space in my studio while I was teaching via zoom to build this instrument, which is a long (bass) version of a Diddley Bow. 100% fun:
VS: What is the purpose of your creativity?
WR: It’s involuntary, like a sneeze. If you hold it in, your ears get blocked!
That’s all I know — it’s a mystery!
VS: Like a sneeze, you say. Can I understand writing is a disease?
WR: Hmmmmm…well…no, not in my case, just involuntary it’s major discomfort if I don’t let it out.
VS: Imagine I ask you to make a list of books that a person needs to read in her life. Which books would you name? And would your books be among them?
WR: I do not believe that anyone needs to read any particular book in their life. Certainly not mine! (However, I would really love it if people caught on to the idea of writing, themselves, daily sorties.)
There are a few books that have influenced me a great deal, but I don’t think anyone else needs to read them.
If I were pressed to do so, I’d say a history of the world would be a good choice, and also a history of philosophy and religion.
Reading any book in a foreign language kills two birds with one stone!
VS: The question is of course stupid, but what would you choose: a flight to Mars with no return or a billion dollars?
WR: Dear God…..neither!
Although I could give away the billion dollars to environmental protection agencies. So I guess that.
VS: How about iIf you had a choice: to be born or not to be born. I would choose not to be born. What about you and why?
WR: I like living a lot, so I would choose to be born.
VS: You are an artist: what colors do you like? Bright colors like Van Gogh or black like Malevich? I his mean black square.
WR: Black is my favorite color. It’s the foundation of what I do. I like it messier than the Black Square, more like Motherwell.
I always feel like color is a crutch — but it seems to be what people like.
I’d like to do a very fat book in just black and white.
VS: I became a writer by accident (but we’re not talking about me). What about you. What reason to be a writer Whiskey Radish !!!!!??????
WR: Serge Gavronsky, a highly published poet, critic and translator, told me I should write. I balked. Then one day in March of 2009 I started writing a daily “burst” or what I call “sortie” of thoughts, and have not missed a day since. Like brushing my teeth!
VS: There is surely always some form of censorship in writing. That could be government censorship or even that every writer has internal censorship. Would you agree?
WR: No censorship except truth.
VS: Are you always only telling the truth? I think human language was made to lie.
WR: I had a Russian boyfriend once who said there was a Russian saying that “The word once spoken becomes a lie.”
I had a great English teacher in high school who said “Write only the truth.”
Wisdom in opposites.
VS: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
WR: Haha! I write a sentence a day. Not exhausting! I need it like a drug.
VS: Thank you for the interview. You wanna wish something to our readers?
WR: Thank you! I wish that we can all learn to use our imaginations as a way to find peace.
Whiskey Radish's the adventures of char vol. #1 is now available to pre-order from Ice Floe Press. Image from "Who's Whiskey" -- film by Zach Kolodziej