That Time My Fear of Artistic Inauthenticity Met The Fear Doctor

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Before I walked the plank into indie authorship, I did time as a small town newspaperman. As my affiliations grew, so did the amount of press releases I received in my inbox. I still receive them, and one arrived today that served as an ironic reminder of an issue I’ve been facing — a pervading feeling of inauthenticity.

Maybe it’s a Gen X thing, or an artist thing, or a byproduct from all the Fake News we read. Maybe it was because Nirvana’s bassist played a Guild B30E Semi-Acoustic Bass for the Unplugged album, which technically is not totally unplugged.

So, imagine the deep soulful sigh I released when some flack from West LA beamed me a release for a premium, naturally-alkaline, spring water from some nordic country that hopes to inspire individuals to find their own “pure authenticity,” you know, by drinking imported water. 

Side note: When I lived in L.A., I visited the FAQs on the municipal water company’s website. The answer to the question “Is my water safe to drink?” was a shruggy “Probably.”

Fortunately, I was fortified against the pitch thanks to art. Not in the hippy-dippy “art will save your soul” kind of way but rather through an art installation at the stARTup Art Fair in San Francisco last Friday.

The fair took over the entire Hotel Del Sol and each guest room was converted by an artist into their own exhibit space. Situated in the courtyard by the pool was an artist named Hunter Franks, who was in a booth described the event’s organizers as a space to open up to a stranger and share a fear to receive a custom, typewritten philosophical prescription from a certified Fear Doctor. So, I sat down and told the Fear Doctor about my fear of inauthenticity. 

This is my prescription:

Instead of washing up writing press releases for water or drowning in printer’s ink, I’m gonna dog-paddle in those two tablespoons of “faith in the process” until I’m safely ashore. Meet me there?

About Hunter Franks, per his website: “creates art that intervenes in the social and physical landscape of our urban environments. His participatory installations in public space break down barriers and help us reimagine our relationships with each other, our neighborhoods, and our cities.” I heartily encourage a visit. — DH

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