Finishing the Hat

Like virtually every elitist, bleeding heart, Sarah Palin hating, liberal snob in the world, I simply adore Steven Sondheim. Friday night we watched the blu ray of the concert celebration of  his eightieth birthday. Such glorious music and lyrics performed by so many dazzling, broadway stars! Why, I nearly fainted two or three times.

There is a marvelous song in Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George: Finishing the Hat. Also the title of Sondheim’s new book, the lyrics are a celebration of the joy of making art even in the face of personal loss:

And when the woman that you wanted goes,
You can say to yourself, “Well, I give what I give.”
But the woman who won’t wait for you knows
That however you live,
There’s a part of you always standing by,
Mapping out the sky,
Finishing a hat . . .
Starting on a hat . . .
Finishing a hat . . .
Look I made a hat . . .
Where there never was a hat.

George Seurat, the 19th century French artist and subject of the musical, was a great artist (best known for his masterpiece, Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte).  Steven Sondheim is a great artist. Both obviously took great joy in creating their masterpieces. Thank God they did. The world is enriched by their outpouring of art. Their stunning work both thrills and amazes me.

I imagine both of them were born to create; they could only choose what to create, not whether to do so . For these titans, I would think neither riches nor fame mattered. They were continually compelled to “finish the hat”.  They were as driven to make art as birds are to fly (or fish are to swim; but I don’t mean to showboat, Oscar…)

I am not a great artist. I am not a good artist. On my very best day, at the zenith of my talent and inspiration, I might aspire to a jejune mediocrity. But there is one quality I share with Seurat, with Sondheim, with virtually every other giant of art:  a compulsion to create.  Of course I’d like recognition, even adulation, not to mention fortune.  But it doesn’t matter. I don’t really care. Over and over again, I must finish the hat. And I know there are thousands, even millions, of others out there who will never rise out of obscurity either but who must also finish theirs.

Hat tip to Wikipedia. Please donate.

Here’s a nude by Seurat:

Standing Model (1887)

And my remix of a luscious photo by Manu2560, is my shameless homage to Seurat, but I admit its pretty pointless…


By Manu2560

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