Community Blog: Disorder and Ecstasy in the Creative Process

One of the most neglected topics in discussions of the artistic process is the internal state of the artist, and how it can either facilitate or obstruct the act of creation. The successful invocation and use of states of intense concentration and passionate release are tools that can be as critical to the artist as brushes or pallet knives. Even when such aspects are considered, the focus is most often relegated to highly refined states of productive focus. Far less frequently discussed, and perhaps less frequently invoked, are the states of disorder, dissociation, and frenzy.

Ultimately, the tempests of the unconscious mind are the source of the well-spring of creativity, and in the realm of the spirits there are muses aplenty eager to speak to the attentive listener, or else howl in discordant fury. While the hidden interplay between feeling, symbol, and desire is, by definition, difficult to consciously navigate, it contains the keys to unlocking fire in its depths.

One of the clearest representations of this source is found in the Greek god Dionysus. Often miscast as the ‘god of wine’, this portrayal mistakes the method for the source. A far more revealing descriptor of his essential character would be ‘god of intoxication.’ Considered dangerous and subversive to the social order, before its brutal repression by the Roman state cultic worship of Dionysus centered on the embrace of states of altered consciousness through intoxicants, forbidden sexual practices, and omphagic frenzy. Despite the diversity of these rituals, they shared a common purpose as a bridge to states of ritual madness.

While sparagmos is possible as well, for the artist such states of divine ecstasy may instead manifest themselves as a surrender to the pure expression of creative energy. While application of this passion often takes the form of wild extremes of expressiveness, it can also result in sparsely proficient application of familiar techniques in subtly radical ways. This should come as no surprise when one considers that the physical skills governing artistic practice are almost always most effectively subconsciously learned and applied. It must also be cautioned though that the creative potential inherent in these unstructured states is balanced by the danger of a work being overtaken by its chaos.

When this chaos emerges in a greater context however it can fulfill a direct aesthetic necessity. Even in works whose emphasis is harmony, the contrast provided by discord may elevate a work to new heights. The Nietzschean aesthetic framework for instance considers that for an artistic endeavor to reach its highest potential it must embrace both the frenzied passion of Dionysus, as well as the subtle harmony associated with the god of light and beauty: Apollo. Indeed, just as imperfection is a necessary component of the perfect phenomenon, it is ultimately the fusion of states that permits the greatest realizations of beauty.

For a culture that consistently emphasizes the rational and orderly at the cost of the intuitive, often to the point of suffocation, utilizing the disordered madness of Dionysus can seem foreign and uncomfortable. However, the use of ecstatic states has by no means been a limited experiment. Examples of similar practices are familiar enough that their absence appears as the aberration, rather than than the norm. Sufi mystical dancers and poets, accounts of viking-age berserkers, indigenous shamanic ceremonies, and Buddhist Tantric practice; all share similar of states of intoxicated passion. Indeed, even the earliest known human story is suffused with the motifs of ecstatic ritual; as Gilgamesh attempts a resurrection he does so with shamanic drumming and a ritual invocation to the spirits.

Regardless of whether the artist chooses to directly commune with the spirits of Dionysus, the dynamic life of the discordant can not be ignored. Even as a subset of the creative act, all outpourings of feeling originate in the movings of the psychic depths, and creative endeavours that lack feeling fail the most basic task of art. In the creative deserts of rationality, it is the leviathans of our own abysses that offer us water.

To see more of Noah’s work, visit NAStein.com

Time to Shine – Artist and Art Space **Opportunity**

Sara Burbidge/totallyhyena.com

First Friday PDX is excited to announce a special February First Friday Light Walk in collaboration with the Portland Winter Light Festival! The event will take place on Friday, Feb. 2nd, 2018. The affair will illuminate local art through light art exhibitions, installations and live performance. Featuring more than 100 artists, and attracting more than 40,000 visitors, the annual Portland Winter Light Festival is one of the cities most dynamic and engaging art events. To help facilitate this collaborative opportunity, First Friday is offering two ways to become involved:

  • Independently create or host a light themed exhibit, installation, or performer.
  • Be matched with and host a local light artist or or performer (or for artists: gallery) from the First Friday PDX roster

Participating galleries and studios will become a featured stop on the Light Walk and special Light Bike Ride and receive publicity and visitors from both First Friday PDX and the Portland Winter Light Festival.

Contact us at info@FirstFridayPDX.org

Costumes, cats and bikes OH MY!

First Friday PDX Art Ride October 2017
Come out this First Friday for festive fun

First Friday PDX – Portland’s Eastside Artwalk and The Street Trust– Women Bike invite you to join us on a Night of the Living Dead Artist Art Ride. Ride participants are encouraged to come dressed as a dead artist. The event will take place on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. The first gallery and meeting location will be at Splendorporium, 3421 SE 21st Ave., Portland, OR 97202.

The ride will commence from the starting location at 6:00 p.m. Participating locations include: Splendorporium, East Creative Collective, AFRU Gallery and Redux Gallery and Boutique.

4 Ways to Promote With First Friday PDX

Artists and galleries looking to promote an upcoming art event opening on First Friday can be assisted using a few simple social media tips. In order to bring a larger audience to your space and generate more awareness of your creativity and news a consistent approach to social media and forming alliances in the community are needed.

Connect on social media outlets

First Friday PDX uses Facebook, Twitter, Meetup and soon we will add Instagram. If you connect with us, we can be on the lookout when you post news, events and updates. Check out our gallery and artist page to see other businesses in the community from which social media alliances can be formed.

Announce participation in First Friday PDX

On your website, blog, newsletter or other social media announce that you are a part of First Friday PDX and link to our website or Facebook page.

Once you plan on opening for First Friday on a recurring basis we recommend repeating this kind of post at least a few times a month because repetition tends to draw more visitors to your posts and over time this will create a buzz!  

Use Google to search for instructions on how to tag and share using social media platforms. Below we have listed instructions for Facebook.

publish Events and Updates

Use your Facebook page to create an event with your contact information (include your address and First Friday open hours.) This provides our First Friday PDX page with a link to promote you. 

Along with the show opening details, add a short description to the event about what you are currently working on and a brief bio/about you section. Share this event with your friends, family and fellow artists. 



When creating your event make First Friday PDX a co-host and it will automatically add your event to our featured events AND post the event to our main newsfeed.

Another way to promote is to share your event as a post to the First Friday PDX page and we can share your event to our main feed.

Submit news updates

We write a press release about First Friday happenings and submit it to many local press outlets on a monthly basis. Our press deadline is the 17th of each month. Most of the time we can include your event or news update if submitted in time. If you plan on participating in First Friday on a recurring basis we can announce you as a newcomer on our social media outlets. The best way to submit your information is to email us with your photos and press releases and be sure to add our press email press@firstfridaypdx.org to your mailing list .

Printed map of First Friday PDX locations now available

Tamara from Redux has published a printed map to First Friday galleries and her favorite local spots. The map is free to First Friday PDX attendees.

Local businesses can pick up maps for sale in bulk at her shop located @ 811 E. Burnside #116, Portland, Ore. 97214. Shop hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The prices below reflect the cost of creation.

$10 for 25, $18 for 50, $26 for 75, $35 for 100, and 35 cents each for more than 100.

Introducing – the Art Ride!

First Friday- Portland’s Eastside Artwalk and The Street Trust invite you to join us on an Art Ride as part of Women’s Bike Month! The bike ride will visit six galleries located in Southeast Portland. The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. The first gallery and meeting location will be at Eutectic Gallery, 1930 NE Oregon St. Portland, Oregon 97232 (entrance located on 20th).