Love Affair with Lincoln Center

To go hide in a crowded city, the easiest spot is a place that is always filled. You will find those spaces every couple of blocks, but the ones that bring people in are the ones that people can change. A lot of spaces cannot be adaptable; they are designed to be controlled. On the other hand, there are some public architecture that are designed to be modified by the people who use it. They could be changed through activities or just occupancy. New York City has gems of Public spaces that are hiding between buildings that can be modified, but my heart belongs to the ever morphing Lincoln Center. I could probably list a thousand reasons why I love it so much but I think a few will suffice.

Ever since I started school, I had been in search of a place where I could go to find refuge. Maybe it’s the romantic in me who was looking for it or it could have been my need to get away from all the craziness without actually leaving. I tried hard to find a place that belonged to me for almost a year without having any luck. My first choice was the Riverside Park by 125th St., it has its charm with its pier and the rocks that give you privacy when you just want to ponder without disturbance, but the feeling wasn’t there. Second I thought, why not Central Park, it’s one of biggest public space that New York has and I can get lost there without anyone knowing. I would go there after class and sit on one of the higher rocks and read or sketch. It still wasn’t right. I could get the views but the feeling of loneliness was overpowering, even though that is what I was searching for. I felt pretentious just being there.

I kept looking; finally, one night, around midnight, when one of my best friends and I were tired of working on our projects decided to go for a walk in the freezing cold and ended up walking to Lincoln Center. There was no one there and it was pitch dark with one security guard standing under the awning. We giggled and kept walking towards the now turned off fountain. We climbed on the platform by it and just laid down and watched the stars. The feeling of cold went away and I felt at peace. This started my love affair with Lincoln Center.  The place has a welcoming feeling; it is like you are being called. It has abilities to transform in the morning and during different seasons. During the summer it’s at its happiest, the fountain pours out warm water and people are huddled against it watching as the water dances. The three different but coherent buildings that surround it look marvelous with their creamish white limestone which perform as enclosure and structure. The buildings serve as different performing halls functionally but as one they behave as a safety barrier that will protect you come rain or shine, literally. During Fall, this attitude is still prevalent with the colors changing to the brownish hues and the rustling of leaves, but it starts to die down as it gets colder. Which hasn’t stopped me from going there to rethink life.

I have had days when I am super happy and I just need a space to get that excitement out and I would go there, and I have had days when I just couldn’t talk to anyone I know and so I would go there. My best friend knows me and if she even suspects that I need to get away for some time, she would know to find me at Lincoln Center. There was an incident last fall when my best friend, A, needed to talk to me about something and it was super urgent but she had a class in 10 minutes. We still ended up going to Lincoln Center and sat by the fountain in the chilly breeze to decipher the situation and make some sense of it. We have had lots of moments like these but at this particular moment a stranger took a picture of us since we became silhouettes to his lens with the Space being the central element. It was a beautiful moment.

Lots of people have an attachment to Lincoln center as well. When I am just sitting there, people watching, (It is not a weird thing to do I promise, it’s actually a fun activity that can give insight to so many ideas and inspiration) I find so many ways people use Lincoln center and transform the space from just a designed object to a place with emotions. I have seen the fountain area being used as a tourist space, a lover’s nest, a resting place, and even a dancing studio. I have seen music videos being shot there. It is truly magical to see all the activity going on. At the same time when I sit there in the midst of all the noise, I am still at peace.

This feeling is a base for all the other emotions felt when in Lincoln Center. There is a backyard to the arena as well. At first look, it is a beautiful space with a canopy of trees surrounded by a brutalist performance hall on the right and an infinity pool on the left. Once you step inside the enclave, the feeling of motion sets in. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like I am travelling to a place where I can observe everything that everyone else is doing but I am not seen by anyone; it’s the feeling of invisibility in the most serene way. This whole area is mostly a quiet zone and I have seen people come here to chat with a friend, eat lunch, read a book, and study mostly, which are all activities that I have done there, but for me it’s a place to ponder. I have my craziest, quirkiest imaginations while sitting on the curved wire chair under the shade of the trees overlooking the pool or the linear concrete and glass building.

Throughout the two years that I have been going to Lincoln Center for solace, I fall in love with it more each time. My love affair with this place is for life and if you want to find me, you know where to look.

 

HS

 

Perfection Perception

Perfection is bittersweet. It can help us set high standards for our work or leave us grasping to reach impractical goals. With the constant need to overachieve and always second guessing yourself, the finish line can seem impossible. Perfectionist ideals can help us create an impeccable image of what our creative process should be, but perfectionist tendencies often leave us feeling inadequate.

I often feel uninspired to paint or sketch because I think it should look a certain way. Perfect lines and smooth transitions.

Tonal value and depth.

A play on darkness and light.

It has to look real, have dimensional quality.

Nothing abstract.

Anything less and it’s not good enough.

Anything less and it’s not perfect.

The focus here is perfection and its relation to the creative process because it may be doing more damage than you think. Those who have perfectionist tendencies often look to please everyone else, but the fear of disappointment can take away all of the enjoyment.  Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. If you really think about it, you are trying to achieve something that is unattainable. So allow yourself some compassion and flexibility and learn to accept imperfection.

I wouldn’t sketch or paint for months, because I was stuck in the mindset of perfection perception. Instead of allowing myself to be encompassed in the process, I was rigid about the outcome. It’s funny to think about it now because I call myself a creative. Don’t get me wrong, the desire to create something based on your standards is completely valid, but understand that criticism is powerful. Don’t take it so personally because it is not about being invincible, it’s about being resilient.

When something goes wrong, we have all probably thought to ourselves that we weren’t perfect enough, or rather simply not good enough. We begin to compartmentalize and if done the wrong way, it can emotionally conflict us. Then, on top of that we use perfection to categorize excuses for why we failed. You didn’t fail because you weren’t good enough. You failed because that tactic didn’t work. You failed because you made a wrong decision. Maybe you failed because it just wasn’t the right way. And no, I’m not calling you a failure right now, but understand it’s all part of the process. The point is to acknowledge what didn’t work in your situation, not waste time deciphering the logic of perfectionism.

So I started to art journal. Even though I already knew that art is not just still life, landscapes and portraits, I learned to practice this idea with intent. I allowed myself to experience the abstract because the goal was simply expression. With that in mind, I created some of my most meaningful work.

The bitter side of perfectionism can truly paralyze your creativity. If you find yourself struggling to finish a piece because it has to be perfect, give yourself a deadline or get some feedback from another creative or just a fresh set of eyes. Don’t stop and tell yourself you’ll do it later because the same issues will just follow. Something has to change: a new outlook or a different approach. Maybe try out the artistic style that scares you a bit or try a new genre of music or literature. Don’t waste your energy on fighting something that simply doesn’t work. Rather, use that energy on something new. You can begin by not striving for perfection itself, but by striving for something tangible, like your realistic goals.

-AJ