Beyond Your Years with Luis Martinez

Make Art Your Verb

What is your art?  When was the last time you worked at your art?  Have you even considered that something you are already doing has merit as an art form?

One of my friends recommended that I read a book, “Art and Fear”, so I went to Barnes & Noble, picked it up and I immediately sensed its compelling message – work your art. As one of its authors, Ted Orland, points out: “This is a book about what it feels like to sit down at your potter’s wheel or keyboard, easel or camera, trying to do the work you need to do.”  What this book has done is to inspire me to inspire you.

My friend Mike is a rocket scientist.  Can a rocket scientist be an artist?  Mike manages the design and construction of devices that are placed on high flying airplanes and satellites. These sophisticated instruments sense patterns and observable features on earth which are then turned into rich troves of data. Mike says of his craft, “My passion is remote sensing, both as a career expertise and a personal art form.”  Brilliant.

Do you have to be a fine art painter to be an artist? Or a pianist? Or an opera singer?  Actually, you can use your chosen craft to display your art. Kelly is a fitness instructor.  She spends many hours practicing new moves with music in Yoga, Tai Chi, Pilates and even weight lifting routines.  At the gym Kelly leads a throng of eager participants; she is working her art – sometimes balancing gracefully in Locust Tree, Half Moon or Dancer, other times hurling a barbell over her head for clean-and-press repetitions. She practices to ensure perfection in her chosen choreography – matching moves to music – that’s Kelly’s art.  Our dear friend Gwenn is marching to her artistic drummer; after retirement she learned how to play percussion and debuted with a 30-piece community band at the Eastman School of Music. She has earned a nick name, Boom-Boom Gwenn, as her artistic brand.

In 1994 Michele had the idea to publish a small magazine dedicated to the arts – visual art, poetry, short stories, etc.  Now, 22 years later, Michelle’s Lake Affect magazine still presents many of Rochester’s best artists. There are many forms of art through which you can express those things you care about: poetry, gardening, engraving, gastronomy, woodwork, comedy, welding, etc.

My art?  Well, besides writing, my favorite art form is sports car racing, specifically as a racing instructor. How’s that a form of art?  Like my friend Mike, above, after decades of racing sports cars at the edge of disaster I’ve turned my craft into helping others enjoy my sport. The artistry takes form in my responsibility to teach a complete stranger how to optimize their individual driving talent with a powerful race car’s potential. My art is to very quickly size up the aspirant racer’s skills and ensure that he or she doesn’t push the car beyond their talent envelope. If I get it wrong and they run out of talent at 140mph, it’s an irretrievable blunder. Artistically, I show them how to reach that apex where their talent aligns exquisitely with the car’s potential – to their utter delight.

Is there an age limit to indulge your art?  Let’s ask Roslyn Rose, who did not own a computer until 2001 and now is an expert at using Photoshop to create mesmerizing art images. Can Roslyn really be 87?  Or we can visit and see the art of Margaret Ward, whose paintings decorate the walls of her room and were on display earlier this year at the Art Gallery at St. John’s Home. Unbelievably, Margaret continues to produce art at 97.

Returning to the stimulus for this piece, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed “Art and Fear”. As I mentioned, the book has inspired me to inspire you. Within its pages are many memorable quotes, but I chose one with which I hope to capture the essence of art, by the authors David Bayles and Ted Orland: “The only art really worth doing – the only art you can do convincingly – is the art that focuses on the things you care about.”

Luis Martinez is a guest blogger for St. John’s. He is an active senior that likes to observe and write about how people work at their careers, guide their businesses, strengthen their families, stay physically fit and mentally sharp, and race their sports cars. Luis habla español. Follow Luis on Twitter @BeyondYourYears, or email

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