Monday, December 28, 2009

For Auld Lang Syne?

For Auld Lang Syne?

By Tom Wachunas

After living in New York City for 14 years, I left in November of 1991 on a Greyhound bus bound for Syracuse. It was during rush hour. I was in a hurry to join my brother and his family in time for Thanksgiving. From there it was on to Ohio, and to another brother’s household in North Canton. My Christmas visit with him and his family lasted well over a year before I found my own apartment and a job (the first of many). I’ve been a Canton resident ever since. That’s the sugar-coated, short version of how I got back to my Ohio roots.

The warts-and-all short version reads something like this: I left New York City, a sniveling, homeless drunk with only a gifted, one-way bus ticket to my name, running from the debt and the damaged or destroyed relationships (including my first marriage of 10 years) I left in my wake. I continued to live foolishly, dangerously, and drunk for the better part of the next 8 years. It is ONLY by the grace of God, my surrender to Jesus Christ, the Lord of my life, and my commitment to fellowship with many others who have successfully wrestled the same demons, that I have savored the undeserved gift of uninterrupted sobriety since 1999.

When I began this blog nearly one year ago I vowed to myself that it would not be a rambling on-line diary - a platform for communicating my most personal dreams and confessions. In that regard, I am certainly aware that in offering my views on the arts and artists, I bring to the table varying degrees of confessional content, but only to the extent that such content serves, hopefully, to clarify or justify my opinions.

So why share such intimate information now? It points to my motivation in writing this blog in the first place. And this is, after all, the time of year when we traditionally dedicate some energy to reflection, projection, and resolution.

It was always my hope with this blog to establish a meaningful and useful forum for informed awareness and intelligent discussion, as well as a vehicle for my own constantly evolving passion for writing about the arts. Through all the above-mentioned years of struggle and turmoil, that passion never left me (a miracle in itself), and I have consistently sought outlets for it. Journalism has been a reasonably dependable anchor in keeping me moored to the arts community at large. For this I am ever grateful. It is a community comprised of individuals who are in many ways among the most courageous and passionate people I know. And I think ‘courageous’ is particularly apropos here, given that Canton, Ohio is a particularly daunting “market” in which to ply a fine arts trade, including writing about it.

In this context it is my fervent resolution with this blog to continue observing, encouraging, and analyzing just what it is we do as artists, why it’s important, and to let the citizens of greater Canton (and beyond) know about it. That resolution comes with an abiding and increasingly urgent hope. It’s lonely here in cyberspace. I hope that you, the readers, avail yourselves of the opportunity to insert your comments and suggestions here on a regular basis, and to tell your friends to do the same. Along those lines (you can file this one under shameless self-promotion on my part), I also encourage you to let our local newspaper, The Repository, know that its readership would be very well-served by the long-overdue addition to its staff of a local arts critic-at-large.

Our best days are still ahead. Meanwhile, it remains my pleasure to serve you. Happy New Year. Write on.

Photo: “Claude Monet Reading a Newspaper,” by Auguste Renoir

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