Dan and Priscilla Wieden
Creative Spirits, Arts and Environmental Advocates, Sweet Newlyweds
The first thing that popped into my mind was the beauty and the challenge and the stimulation it can cause. Well, positive and sometimes not—dissonant. But that is still good in my mind
It depends on what art form you are talking about, but if you generalize, it is the something I did know but didn’t know until I was conscious of seeing it. An aesthetic that is challenging but there is something original – stories I have never imagined.
My freshman year of college, Henry Miler’s Tropic of Cancer had a huge influence on me. There was so much freedom to explore things you weren’t supposed to explore either in private or public. That was an immense transformation of my brain. It gave me permission to be much more interested in everything.
The earliest connection to art I can remember is an interesting story. I was under seven, because I can remember where we lived and there was a television program called John Gnagy: Learn to Draw. I was so drawn to it. I loved to do that. I can still remember I drew a lighthouse and I was so proud of this drawing I had done. I remember taking it into the kitchen where my mom and my sister were and the response wasn’t what I wanted. I don’t remember if I tore it up, but I remember being really hurt and disappointed and not really thinking much about art again until I was in 4th or 5th grade. It definitely made an impact.
When a child can find a way of finding their voice and they can see how that voice resonates with other people and that they can have a place in the world. That’s important. I remember when I was in the fourth grade, with Mrs. Allen at Irvington, we had to write a story and turn it in and when she handed it back to me, there were no grades back then, but she had circled a phrase and written on the top of it “Danny has a way with words” exclamation point! I remember that sentence. It was “The night was as dark as the inside of a whale”. And ever since then I went, well, that’s something I can do. And you start imagining that the world will listen to you or recognize you in some way.
I think that speaks to how important it is to be supportive of young artists. My story was the opposite. Part of me feels like I could have blossomed into a career in art. It reminds me of a lot of women in the choir I used to sing in would stand up and tell the story about how when they were young they were told they couldn’t sing. They believed that their whole life until they found this choir and they realized “I can sing”. For them it was this amazing eye-opening experience. It makes you think about how it is important it is to support young artists. That comment on your paper crafted your life in a way.
Oh, yeah, Certainly. And Mrs. Weasel, I think was her name, the music teacher. In my mind that’s her name anyway. In third grade she brought us out in the hall and you had to sing something. She would play some notes and you would have to repeat them and then do it backwards. The first thing she told me “You don’t have to sing anymore. You can just mouth the words.” So, I always thought I had no part of music. That wasn’t something I could do, so I better go write.
Isn’t that dreadful? And I hear him singing around the house and he sings well. It is quite nice, but he doesn’t think so. He also doesn’t think he can dance, but he danced quite well at our wedding. I mean he’s no Fred Astaire, but then again, I’m no Ginger Rogers.
One of the other things I think about art, that I have often thought through out my life, is when you look at a piece of art you think, “I can do that”. But the difference is that I didn’t do it. That’s makes me start to think that art just has to come out and it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. That really makes a difference. So, I think what makes that difference—is it early support versus not early support? Was it just the destiny of this person to have this outflow of creativity happen and not them becoming an accountant because that is not what they are good at? I think there are a lot of people who think they could be artists, but they don’t do it.