IT Professional

The Beauty of M. Allen’s art

with 2 comments

I wrote a post about a year ago that was very well received (it was featured on WordPress’ ‘Freshly Pressed’). It was mainly about Tiger Woods and his fall from grace. The point of my “The Good, the Great and the Extreme” was that genius talent isn’t always worth a damn. In most cases, high achievers tend to the selfish, that is, they achieve great heights in business, sports, the arts, education and other fields to the detriment of humanity as a whole. For example, if a cancer researcher finds a better way to treat lymphoma, but leaves his children and wife alone and the kids have to fill a hole in their hearts, there is a net negative there. He may have added to civilization in one way, but the neglecting of his family means that his children will (likely, not definitely) spread his bad parenting habits to their children. They may end up spoiled, delinquent, or otherwise threatening to society.

There were a few comments that were mostly in agreement. There was one however who wrote his own post in the comments section. He made some very valid points about some gross assumptions in the article I made. I was in fact wrong to characterize all gifted people as ‘tokenists’ who only mean to improve their lot, or get their itch scratched. I also made some points about how the servants of our society are the only ones who sacrifice anything. How without them, the rest of us are nothing. I still stand by some of the sentiment there. For instance, if there is no garbage delivery and we all have to carry our garbage to a place in the woods and dig a hole every week…well, our lives would be hell without society’s ‘lower classes’.

At any rate, the post from Cobalt Gradient made me think deeply. This post isn’t a retort, but rather my thoughts about what I said at that time, refined.

I worked in Frankfurt for about 9 months recently where I stayed at the infamous Frankfurt Hostel in the heart of Kaiserstrasse. Kaiserstrasse is full of whores and johns, drug users and dealers, houses of ill repute and the like. Just up the street you will find the biggest banking center in continental Europe and one of the biggest in the world. It goes without saying that the seedy end of the street is hard to tell. Both the bankers and the street workers on the other end use each other to no end.

I met many people in my time in Frankfurt. There was one person however who stood out among the rest. He is a street artist who goes by the name M. Allen. He is a wonderful artist, and a very thoughtful person, and I consider him a friend. He is just like any one of us in that he has a past that haunts him, a present that is sometimes precarious, and a future of which he is not so sure about. We had so many conversations, Murdock and I over a few beers in the hostel lobby, in his studio (or rather the stair well where you enter the hostel), and sometimes over a bratwurst on a warm day.

He is originally from Argentina from an aristocratic family, and has traveled all over the world so I listened to his words, and the spaces between his words. He was essentially my escape, because at the time I was there, my daughter was in the belly of her mother, and I had a high pressure project going on in a Frankfurt suburb. At the end of everyday i would have a fight with the mother of my children, drink a few hefeweizen wheat beers and chat up whoever happened to be running through the hostel. Of course, M. Allen was there on most days.

There was one conversation we had though where he really opened my eyes to something. We were lamenting our place in life (which tends to happen after a few too many)…however, he was lamenting being poor and proud, and I was lamenting being well off but trying to stay humble. He would tell me that I have wonderful children and a great job, and being fairly young and able to do anything I wanted. I told him the same thing more or less and I wondered at that moment what was the common thread that bound us…we were both obviously right even if it isn’t yet apparent to you.

I said to him (in my eternally optimistic way), “dude, you are putting beauty in the world with your art.” People buy his paintings and buttons and jewelry and postcards and feel better about themselves because they carry something beautiful with them. That beautiful thing would not have existed were it not for him. That feeling in that person would not have existed had he not presented it, or rather offered it to be shared with the world. He smiled a beautiful smile that told me he could understand the sentiment exactly as I meant it! I felt good too!

At that point I truly understood that what I was doing in Frankfurt might have been with good intentions, but was nonetheless wrong. You see, I figured that if I am earning tons of cash and buying new kitchens and clothes and shoes and camera’s and vacations for my children, that I am providing for them. After all, I saw them every weekend, took them to school on Mondays and got back to them on Fridays. I could not understand why I was having all of this trouble with the mother of my children. Okay I could a little, but I wondered why she could not see the benefit that I was providing to her and the kids.

When I had that conversation with M. Allen, it became abundantly clear to me that the point to life is that whatever we are doing, we need to set beauty in the world. To make other people happy with what we are doing. The happiness must come later, and not immediately because if it is immediate then it will fade. It’s like if you give a hungry man a fish, he will be full for a moment, but if you teach him to fish he will be full for a lifetime…and he can teach others to fish. Real Beauty (yep I intended the caps) perpetuates itself. Not that real beauty eliminates sadness and despair and depression, but it always has the ability to offer respite from the ugliness we are faced with in this world everyday.

Ironically, after I left Frankfurt, I decided to cut back if not give up completely my artistic pursuits. I am a session (bitch) singer who has a few releases, but was waiting on my time. I am a professional technical writer, but I always had the dream of writing a book, or becoming a columnist. This was the way I always thought to express my creative energy. Of course I was so wrong. I thought long about what might happen if I get the big contract, or a hit single and honestly the picture doesn’t look good. There is the positive side that you can figure out for yourself, but the negative side is that my children will suffer. I would have to leave them regularly to tour, to practice, to do promotional functions. I might even have a couple of other kids with some groupie or other and have to split my time between more households. I might get jaded, and the time I spend with my kids might be filled with life lessons from being alone on the road with people who want something from me. No, the beauty that I could express through music was not one that I want to take as far as it can go.

Which brings me back to Cobalt Gradient and his post. The avatar name has something to do with chemical processes, though admittedly I didn’t spend much time on that topic. That only gave me an idea of who this person may be. His last statement was:

The talented often have to put themselves in the spotlight in order to give their gifts to the world, but in the end, they too ought to remain humble and approach society as a servant. Perhaps that is hard to do, given our human lust for glory, but not impossible.

That resonated with me for a long time. Especially the part about ‘giving their gifts to the world’. Of course, I see things a little differently now and I can see that there is no error in that statement aside from it being incomplete. It must include that there be some form of perpetual beauty that we can all appreciate. Whether it is a talent for physics, engineering or mathematics, or understanding, caring and sympathy. It can be that you relate to a story you have read, or see yourself in the artists’ painting, or appreciate the brush strokes of the artist. Beauty is something we are all capable of, and we should share it with the world, as a gift.

Frankfurt Kaiserstrasse by M. Allen

Look up M.Allen on Facebook as Murdock Allen, or if you stop by Frankfurt Hostel, buy a painting. He’s happy to share…


Written by lionoah

May 14, 2011 at 15:51

2 Responses

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  1. I have a painting of an owl signed by M. Allen – could this be the same person? Very beautiful.

    Dreama Slaney

    November 2, 2011 at 17:28

  2. If you got the painting from Granada in Spain or Frankfurt in Germany, you can only hope ; )


    November 2, 2011 at 21:47

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