Artists are visionaries. We routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance-often visible to us, but invisible to those around us. Difficult as it is to remember, it is our work that creates the market, not the market that creates our work. Art is an act of faith, and we practice practicing it. Sometimes we are called on pilgrimages on its behalf and, like many pilgrims, we doubt the call even as we answer it. But answer we do. I am writing on a black lacquer Chinese desk that looks west across the Hudson River to America.
I am on the far western shore of Manhattan, which is a country unto itself, and the one I am living in right now, working to cantilever musicals from page to stage. Manhattan is where the singers are. Not to mention Broadway. I am here because “art” brought me here. Obedient, I came. Per capita, Manhattan may have a higher density of artists than anywhere else in America. In my Upper West Side neighborhood, cellos are as frequent and as ungainly as cows in Iowa. They are part of the landscape here.
Writing at a typewriter, looking out across the lights, I too am something Manhattan knows very well. I write melody on a piano ten blocks from where Richard Rodgers, a gangly adolescent, climbed a short stoop to meet a short boy who became his longtime partner, Larry Hart. Together they dreamed through drought and flood.