Saturday, October 3, 2009


Big art show tonite! Phew! 107 Shaw: Studio Visits.

A tad nervous about this new work.

May I delve into creative process here?

Around five years ago and/or more, I felt relatively infallible. I was in a band that was teetering on success, a movie I starred in just came out, I had a weekly column, etcetera. Well, the labels never came knocking even with the heaps of press that we received, I left the column out of anger (they didn't pay anyways) and found that after years of writing this thing no other mags/papers/options came knocking cuz it was a silly lil weekly in a silly lil city, and the movie did get me an agent where I'd constantly be competing with others in a large room for a wacky part in a commercial (but when I landed one it was totally fun, I should state for the record amidst this murk that my agent is awesome and he truly believed in me). I was living in a city that grew increasingly uncaring about anyone/anything except a DJ with an iPod. I was bitter and frustrated. And nervous. Oh, and I stopped drinking which showed that my indestructibility was a farce. Introspection. I am fallible. Like everyone else, I am a mere speck. But actions do cause ripples! So I would continue to take risks. And try to be grateful.

A big risk was moving across the country. My girlfriend was moving, too, and I had a small part in a movie for when I arrived.
The bitterness and frustration left with the change of scenery.
However, I was also the new guy in the new city. They mostly knew nothing about my years of output. But they were also pretty welcoming.

On the movie set, I was seriously nervous and second guessing myself every step of the way. This has been the same with my visual art practice. I have been needing serious feedback as I have grown so doubtful. "How's my driving?" Even with maintaining a blog, I know that my ego has shrunk. A bit.
I'd never misconstrue lack of ego with self-pity. Self-pity is just another side of the ego beast.
I've been a critic. When I was 'super-young know-it-all' I would fire off some of the most scathing reviews about the 90s musical dregs. Positive reviews, too. I wanted the writing to crackle and leap off the pages. A coupla months back my band WET DIRT got a review in The Now, one of the three alterna-identi-papers (which to be fair has never been that kind to me and a lot of Torontonians tell me they don't take it seriously) which, to others, read positive but its' flatness got under my skin. I wish that review never happened. It spent a long time focused on my outfit, how I was from Vancouver, it boxed in the bands' sound in an off manner, and briefly stated that my voice didn't blow them away. I fixated on that quick line. I did lunchtime polls with everyone about my voice. I thought that I wasn't keeping my end up in the band. I didn't want to add to the mediocre crap heap. I was seriously considering stopping. After all the years of honing, recording, touring, voice specialists, allergy shots, and exercises I figured it was hopeless. My voice was better than it was three years ago. Still. Not. Good. Enough. Give up.
I was a mess. Two days later I had to take my girlfriend to the hospital and I had to be there for her. And I was. But I felt so depressed and mentally numb. I tried to put my arm around and snap out of it! SNAP OUT OF IT! And I couldn't totally. She confronted me later and I was so upset at me for her, I told her how it was my duty to be there every step of the way-and I was physically- but my head, my friggin head just wouldn't let go! She understood. But that's just another part of ego. This self-absorbed fixation. Self-pity. I'm just a speck. She was pretty good at bringing me out of that self-absorption. It's over now, as she had to leave and I am so sad and adrift, always on the verge of tears with this loss. I don't even want to think about 'the next relationship' as I didn't even want this one to end, nor did I think about it ending but I have to be less self-absorbed in life. People are interesting. Others are interesting. Creative self-expression must be a passionate conduit of deeper things.

I decided to sing some more. I took a step back and realised that I am fine, not technically brilliant but, passionate and emotive. Sure, I can always be better but I have this need to perform for people and to make albums, to craft songs. I need to be entertained and so do a lot of people and there ain't that much musical entertainment out there. Just need to make it shine, work on it. It can be tougher, more of a vaccuum when one is completely D.I.Y. , doubts can set in more; I never asked to be D.I.Y. but occasionally flickers of validity can be seen through the trees. I have to remind myself that some of my favourite things are made with zero backing.

Jay Isaac, bless him, has been one of the people that's helped so much. He booked the band for a show the other week at the Wrong Bar as part of the Hunter and cook mag launch. This show was so unlike that show that got the review, as the room looked and sounded great and people I never met gave good feedback and we affected them. Okay, okay, it's going right, don't give up, don't give up...
(and the movie premiered, someone I deeply respect said something super-nice and honest about my work... don't give up, don't give up) to find the balance. Don't get the cocky walk. If people compliment I can't let it feed the ego, it can't go to the head, it has to go to the spirit. Balance.

I think it's healthy to second guess, that fallibility probably makes for better art. It actually hasn't hindered my craft at all but it has been a bit gut-wrenching at times, more time spent second guessing than making. Granted, going from the gut as pure conduit is great as well. Having both is perfect. Gut-reflection-gut-reflection.

I'm still nervous about these new drawings. That go up tonight.
I took a preliminary sketch to Jay last month and he set me into a good direction, he made me think about where I was taking it. I was so scared that this work would be empty 'art about art.' He told me that art is spiritual. He's right. There is a lot that is so spiritual in the world that doesn't get recognised as such. He gave me the names of some French Symbolists as inspiration and sent me away in a hopeful mood. I saw my work in a new light. I gently coaxed and eased more meaning out of it due to the path Jay sent me on.
I so want to make sure that the art has a positive force to it.
I'm still worried, i mean, my anatomy is fucked, working big again and figurative, taking risks...nerrrrvousssss.

Oh, I will have to dash out of the opening for an hour to catch Destroyer at the Horseshoe, what a busy night, this gives me an excuse to break up the text and post a pic I drew of a project that he, Julian, and I formed ten years ago, we were originally called AIDS and played just one show. We then changed it to the more palatable Points Gray and I hope that one day someone releases our album of acid downer folk damage on wax. Or that i get a sudden windfall to, yes, do it myself.


the iron chic said...

Very introspective...I sense a real turning point about to happen in your life. Hey, at least it is not boring!

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Boring it ain't, I have to tone it down for the ladies at work sometimes cuz my life gets crazy...a lot of people are just trying to survive with their family in a job that involves a 90 minute commute to and fro and are too tired to have a sort of 'outlet.' But they are thinking, interesting, thoughtful people who are truly there for their loved ones.

Turning point? Whoah! I wonder what?
By the way, Sonja Ahlers gave me the most massive persian cat picture that is above my desk as we speak.

Xenia said...

yo I totally missed it, how can i check it out?

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Oh! Link up soon, we took pics yesterday...
And if ya wanna see em 'for reals', you can always pop by my hovel but look out, I am a 9 to 5er and, hence, unavailable in those hours.
I gave you serious white knuckles and made you look despairing of the visiting spectre!

Anonymous said...

Man sorry about missing thatshow, I mean I saw the work but wanted to come out and support. I feel almost normal now.bad cold. Can't wait to see the finished drawings in color.

I dont know what happened to Vancouver, you're right about the ipod deejay thing, it came out of nowhere fast and lefr a lot of really unique and creative people feeling totally alienated from the new generation.

Its funny, I was talking to that guy Brad Phillips at some party here a few months ago and he said "man, I can't believe Daytons moved, when I think of Vancouver I think of him, he's Mr. Vancouver!" and I think he's right.

You did your thing years and years before the internet was invented and you still do it. Thats integrity man. So Vancouver has such a nonexistent sense of history they don't realize the people that created what they take for granted.

There are still people that care and think about what you do. These are the people that matter, I always tell myself.

Don't take this the wrong way but I like the Toronto Robert Dayton more than the Vancouver Robert Dayton, why????Because you've grown that's why.


Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Shucks dude, ya make me blush, but i think very highly of you and that is why i wanted you and young Jason Mclean and Jay to get sneak peeks to make sure I was going along 'the right path'....
Vancouver's sense of history is a snake eating its' own tail and this is in practically all things. Put on a Poppy Family record and report back. I can think of so many people who keep valiantly trying to make things happen there in the face of adversity.
You've grown too in a great way. Moving can do that, along with other conscious and unconscious acts.
I like your quest for truth and stuff that isn't empty. Funny thing is there is quite a bit of it, one just gotta know where to dig- in even the most unlikely places!
I lost my copy of Black sabbath 4...can I borrow yours? I need to spin "Changes" this Sunday at FEELINGS as one of the songs that makes me cry.

Anonymous said...

yeah its Dougs, he won't mind. I thought feelings was a memory? It might actually have a couple pops during that song, like right at the most emotional moments it fucks up. My vinyl came in at a whopping 750lbs so I may never be able to ship it out here.

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Awesome! Those pops may be all the better....
FEELINGS tie into memories, don't they tho many things in the present cause same reaction. What of future FEELINGS?
My records cost a LOT to move but i had to get rid of a third of em before I moved...
Maybe you can just do a couple boxes for now, I can tell you good cardboard boxes to use. None of my records were damaged.

the iron chic said...

Wait, a real Persian cat?
Hey, my captcha says "Mingstu" what a great name for a Persian cat.

benivulka said...

Robert! I left town the day of your opening (had to move back to Montreal) but I'd love to see the paintings. I will be in Toronto next week, can we arrange a meeting/hangout? I'll be there Monday to Sunday. xoxx Yuula.

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

You bet- yer sis and other peeps may be coming over at 2:28 in the afternoon Monday to watch The Telephone starring Whoopi and you can come, too!
If not, then we will meet! Drop me an e mail!

Robert Dayton, Junior said...

Oh chic: it's a massive pic of a cat above the desk..! But I may name it Mingstu.