Interview- Lisa Durow

This is another throwback interview I did with the trusty Flip Mino camera.

I got a call from a friend from High school.

She was telling me about her job as an occupational therapist and wanted me to meet with her music therapy group.

I met up with her in Santa Monica, and she began telling me about her experiences as an artist and working in a gallery, and I had to record it.

This is definitely one of my favorite interviews.  This is your essential conversation between creative people and the dilemma’s they face pushing forward.

Pt 1

– Art galleries and how shady the art world can be.

– What occupational therapy is.

Part 2
-What is therapy and what things can be used for therapy

-The struggle for art and to be an artist

To see her art, email:


The Creative Mind

Finally, there’s proof.  Something I always felt I saw happening.  Something many people have commented on in various ways, perceiving, but not quite able to articulate.  Probably part of the reason why a lot of films are starting to feel redundant, why the music is so repetitive, why you probably can’t name four contemporary pioneers of visual art right now…

Creative intelligence is dropping.

I got this article from Newsweek that states that creative intelligence has been steadily dropping year by year since 1990.

Intelligence can be marked in various ways.  Some have emotional intelligence, meaning they can perceive emotions well or how to manipulate the emotions of others around them.  Some have a spatial intelligence, which would make them a great architect or artist.  Some have academic intelligence.  Some are creatively intelligent, meaning they are good at taking one thing and creating something new or improving it.  It could mean a whole range of things.  For all these kinds of intelligence there is usually some kind of test that is associated.  We most know of IQ tests or SATs.  Well then there’s the Torrance test.  The article goes into some detail on the test and so forth, but here are the most striking parts of what the article says about the decline of creativity over the years…

…there is one crucial difference between IQ and CQ scores. With intelligence, there is a phenomenon called the Flynn effect—each generation, scores go up about 10 points. Enriched environments are making kids smarter. With creativity, a reverse trend has just been identified and is being reported for the first time here: American creativity scores are falling.

Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.”

It’s too early to determine conclusively why U.S. creativity scores are declining. One likely culprit is the number of hours kids now spend in front of the TV and playing videogames rather than engaging in creative activities. Another is the lack of creativity development in our schools. In effect, it’s left to the luck of the draw who becomes creative: there’s no concerted effort to nurture the creativity of all children.

The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly…

A large part of the reason why I created this site is because I wanted to use the arts as a way of communicating the idea of “creative intelligence”.  It’s my belief that in order to be a great artist/entertainer, you have to have some kind of creative intelligence in order to move what you’re doing forward.  Of course, there are plenty of musicians who can play instruments, but do not have the creativity to improvise a piece.  Many people who are artists can copy a picture, but probably can’t create something out of their own head without a direct reference in front of them.  But that’s what, to me, means they are not ARTISTS in the sense of it being their path of life.  The life of a person who produces a product based on their creativity.

Leonardo to Picasso.  Stravinsky to Stevie.  Hitchcock to Spielberg.  Some of these folks have an ability to take a medium to the next level.  That’s the kind of thinking I am talking about.  Someone that can take one piece of an idea (like the Torrance test does in it’s drawing section) and being able to expand on it to create something different.  It’s a quality of leadership.  It’s problem solving.

So when we hear music, see movies, or other things that make you say “I’ve seen that before” and we feel that it’s copying something else, it’s probably because the person behind it was not entirely creatively intelligent.  But the folks who have a deep following and fan base, that have set the trends, that have changed the game, were creatively intelligent.  Kanye West.  Heath Ledger.  You name it.  They take the art to the next level that inspire us.  They are leaders.

It’s not enough for a person to get a mic, pro tools, and a computer program to make beats, and then call yourself a music artist.  Sure you can do it, or imitate others.  But come up with something on your own, that’s honest, and catches fire like Prince?  That takes another level of thinking.

I’ve seen a lot of people suddenly take up cameras and call themselves photographers.  People who jump in front of that camera and call themselves models. Folks who buy the cheapest Flip Mino and want to make music videos.   But compare the work of an amateur to that of the creative intelligent person with the natural knack and learned skill?  You can’t compete.

So before someone jumps up and calls themselves an artist, I ask, are they creative? And as the article says you don’t  necessarily have to be in the arts.  A business person can be creative.  Anyone can use a creative mind in any field, it’s just that we usually recognize efforts of creativity in musicians and storytellers.

And who are the culprits when it comes to the fall of creative intelligence?  Well we can definitely point toward the American school system.  We measure achievement by how well you can do on academic tests.  Your grade is reflection of your ability to learn. But plenty of people in leadership positions didn’t do well in school.  Along with that, how many of us learn how to create the solutions to problems?  We learn the process and get the answer.  But how often are we asked to create the process itself?

And furthermore, we have a society that doesn’t really reward creative thinking…at least, not until the thought has been proven to work.  Imagine someone coming up with the idea for an iPhone in 1978?  A computer, a camera, AND a phone all in one?  Yeah right.  How is that going to happen?  We doubt imaginations that don’t seem immediately practical.  A seed of doubt can kill an idea.  So we place a lot of doubt on “out the box” thinkers.  So then they also doubt their own intelligence.  But the ones that truly believe in their idea, and prove others wrong?  We praise them later, especially once they make millions of dollars.

I can go into a whole rant on the industries (i.e. film, music, television, radio, etc) that take “creative” works and market them.  Contrary to popular belief, people aren’t dumb.  It may take a while for others to catch on, but when they notice a remade film disguised as being “new”, a song that follows the exact same format as another one, people begin to catch on.  And when they notice their pockets being drained by nothing but the same product, that’s when the pirating happens.  And yes, the industry wants things “proven” to work, so they tell artists to copy the creative minds.  It’s a very interesting cycle that happens in every business, but we treat it with a different regard when it comes to art.  We think of art as needing to have some kind of unique mind behind it.  I don’t care if my socks are the exact same, but the art I enjoy?  Some of it needs to be original and unique to me.

It’s no wonder that a lot of younger people now are listening to older music.  They feel the creativity and honesty in it.  People are going back to older things trying to figure out where to go next.  Leadership is dropping.  A lot of people sense it happening.

I saw this video a while ago and couldn’t wait for the right post to put it up.  I think you all should check out the WHOLE LECTURE HERE.



Today marks the 89th day of my self-imposed 90 day discipline.

Before 2010 came my homies and I made goals for health.  Not so much resolutions, but goals we were aiming for.  Mine was to go 90days with no alcohol or smoking, go from 155 to145lbs, have a 6-pack, and be able to do 10pull ups.

At this point I can do about 6 pulls ups, the six pack is pretty much there, and I’m actually at about the same weight (gotta do less weightlifting).

I didn’t quite make what I wanted, but I’m happy because I got through the hardest part for me: no alcohol.

People asked, did I learn anything from not drinking?  I would say (partially joking), “I learned I can save a lot of money, and I learned that I really like to drink.”

But I also learned another serious lesson.  The importance of discipline.

A few years ago I did something similar to this.  I stopped drinking for a month or two to get in better shape for the capoeira class I was taking.  By the end of it I felt my energy increase tremendously.  I didn’t drink alcohol often at that point, just socially on weekends, but I cut all that out.  Later on I found myself drinking whenever alcohol was around.  If I went to a friend’s and some drank was there, I’d have some.  If I was stressed I’d say “I need a drink.” and usually get one.  If I was at a party, first thing I do is hit the bar.

This time around I didn’t have that option.  It was hard the first 2 weeks to break into it but then I was fine.  I didn’t have much to run to if I was stressed out.  I either had to hit the gym or deal with it.  I had never been to so many parties with open bars.  There was like 3 of them in 2 weeks!  That never happened before.  About 2 weeks ago I was mad at a situation and I was real close to giving in.  It would have been real easy to make an excuse for myself at that moment, but I knew I could do better.

When I told people I wasn’t drinking for 90days I got looked at in a funny way sometimes.  A good amount of people asked if I was lenting.  It seemed odd that a person would purposely not drink just because, I guess.  There was a good amount of people who commended me, and plenty who said,  “Wow, I sure couldn’t do that.”

I read a book a few years ago called  The Way of the Superior Man : A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work, and Sexual Desire by David Deida.  I recommend it, even for women.  In one particular chapter he says that men often look for refuge in things that bring them comfort and don’t know how to deal with discomfort very well.  The things men usually seek refuge in are: drugs, alcohol, and women.  As he basically puts it, what does it say about you if you’re always running toward a crutch?

But being that this is a blog mainly about art stuff, I better bring it into a perspective here.

A week ago I was at a bar with friends, and I struck up a conversation with a guy named James Peterson.  Turns out he and his wife are artists.    We were talking about applying for grants for money to get artwork done ,  and he said something that really struck me:

It’s real interesting how you’re doing that 90 day thing.  A lot of artists, when they see all the work they have to do, the requirements for filling out the grants, the paperwork and stuff, they don’t even start it.  They see how much work it is and don’t even try.  But you have to really go ahead and do it.  The 90 day thing you’re doing, you made a promise to yourself and you’re keeping that promise.  That’s really important.

Just about every art takes a lot of work and discipline. Practice and work needs to be put in, not only to be good, but to make your business moves.

Another quote I’ll never forget is a girl in college who was an exchange student from Vietnam.  I asked her how she liked the U.S. so far.  She said “I like it because there’s a lot of freedom.”  Then she paused and said, “But you know, sometimes I think American’s almost have too much freedom.  Like,  so much they don’t know what to do with it, you know?”

I completely understood.

Discipline is humbling.  It makes you realize some of your limitations.  It’s easy to say “I’m free to do what I want.”  But it’s also a testament of will to tell yourself “No, I’m not going to.” and follow through, or say “Yes, I will do this.”

Artists:  Get to work!

P.S. Is Guru out the hospital yet?!


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