No Boundary Line to Art

Sunny Side of the Street
 ©2021, Molly Larson Cook
30 x 24, acrylic

Charlie Parker:  “They teach you there’s a boundary line to music.  But, man, there’s no boundary line to art.”

I write this with snow falling just outside my window.  It’s a lovely sight – peaceful and clean and quiet.  But it’s chilly.  There’s no sunshine today and perhaps not tomorrow.  Still, a snow day can be fun if you don’t have any place you have to be.  Clearly I’m not at the studio!

But I’ve been there the past several days working on what started as a map and morphed into a favorite tune.  This one is dedicated to one of my favorite trumpeters, New Orleans jazz man Kermit Ruffins and I’ll include a link later so you can listen.  As usual, I didn’t set out to paint a particular tune, but as it came together, I knew what it wanted to be.  That it came together on the eve of our first snow doesn’t surprise me.  These things happen and they’re gifts when they do.

The jazz advice site I subscribe to gave me the Charlie Parker line, and in true New Orleans fashion, it’s a kind of lagniappe – an unexpected bonus or gift. 

I am no longer surprised at the relationship between the music and the art.  And it’s become clearer to me why I make my own choices about the art I want to see, and not just the art I do.  I’m always open to seeing what other artists are creating, but I also know that some of it works for me and the rest of it, not so much.  I’m not a purist.  I like things from many different periods and schools, but the underlying aspects I look for, feel for, are courage and joy.  That joy is not always easy to define or describe. 

I write this  knowing full well that many musicians, composers, painters, did not have lives filled with joy, but many of them had courage and somehow found the joy in their work. 

I think there may be a clue in Parker’s words.  The boundary lines keep us in place.  But it takes courage to go beyond them to where the joy can so often be found.  Parker was one of those whose life was a model of courage although racked with anything but joy.  He died young at 34.   Mozart died at 35. Bizet at 36. 

Van Gogh died at 37 and Modigliani at 36.  Young death is not the province only of genius musicians. No wonder Rollo May titled his book, The Courage to Create.  Or Bayles & Orland, Art and Fear. 

Now for the promised jazz break.  Here’s Kermit in New Orleans.  Courage and joy!

Kermit Ruffins “Sunny Side of the Street” Live at KDHX 7/25/13 – YouTube





2 thoughts on “No Boundary Line to Art

  1. Thanks Molly. I can’t help thinking what the world would have looked like if these geniuses had longer lives…take care.

    I see your inspiration in your paintings, the way the colors fall on the canvas, as if notes are on a score.

    Stay safe.

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