Artistry and Addiction

Lakesha Mathis

Prince at Coachella 2008.

With the recent passing of mega music stars Prince, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson all being related to potential addictions it is becoming more and more difficult to talk about their artistry without addressing the other elephant in the room; addiction. Addiction almost seems synonymous with artistry. Sometimes the pressures of being consistently creative have been to blame but most often the elephant was always in the room; however, exacerbated by the pains and pleasures of being creative. We’ve just often chosen not to see the tortured nature of the artistic soul.

There is nothing quite like the pressures of being consistently artistic on someone else’s schedule. Everyone expecting greatness from you all of the time, sometimes even becoming critical when you don’t surpass records you previously set. It’s not hard to see how someone could find themselves at a crossroads of pushing the boundaries of right between wrong; taking too many pills, not getting enough sleep, even when it means hurting, all for the sake of success. Success which by this time has become defined by others and not so much by self.

So as we mourn the deaths of the world’s most famous artists whether Whitney Houston or David Bowie, let’s remember that artistry is personal, creativity takes time, not every song, book or painting is meant to be award winning. The artist makes some art from personal satisfaction. Some music is created to heal the artist; some the world.

Whitney Houston. Mini Biography

We should also walk away understanding that the nature of addiction exempts no one. Everyone is susceptible to the lure of it. Being an addict doesn’t lessen the value of the person or their creativity. Perhaps leaning in to the humanness of celebrities, artists and everyone may give them the space to get help, feel the pains of life, heal the pains of life and grow from it.

There is no silver bullet for addiction and all artists are not destined to addiction but there certainly seems to be something about the two that keeps them in the same room.


Princely Legacy

Jason Nugent


Photographer Unk. Title Unk. Mar. 30, 2017

In 2016 we lost another legendary performer. Country stars like Merle Haggard, rappers like Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, Glenn Frey of the rock band The Eagles, David Bowie, Natalie Cole, and most recently Prince. They have all passed on leaving behind musical legacies that will inspire current and future performers to achieve their musical ambitions. It’s tragic when we lose icons, but at some point we all must come to that moment in our lives. When musicians pass, we tend to feel sadness because no longer will we be able to enjoy new music from them. We can take solace knowing what they did leave behind will remain with us.

The most recent death of Prince was a tough one for many. Despite what you think about him, he came across as genuine. He may have been flamboyant and oozed a certain sexuality, but musicians across the spectrum recognized his talent and respected him for it. Prince is known for his sexually charged lyrics but is widely hailed as a spectacular guitar player. Most of his music could be classified as pop, but there are many bands and musicians that understood his amazing guitar playing.

Years ago the thrash metal band Sacred Reich paid homage to him. It was a time when heavy metal fans weren’t supposed to like rap or pop music just like those fans weren’t supposed to like heavy metal. In their song “31 Flavors” off their 1990 album “The American Way” one line reads:

Black Sabbath
Ozzy’s voice is sick as hell
Prince, Fishbone, NWA
these are the things that I like to play
Mr. Bungle
is so very cool
so don’t be
an ignorant fool
there’s so much music
for you to choose
so don’t just be
a metal dude
it’s cool fool

At a time when musical fans weren’t supposed to cross barriers, here was a band flaunting the diverse choices out there and Prince of all people being singled out was a stunning choice for young metalheads. Throughout the ‘90’s other bands followed this trend trying to break down unnecessary barriers. And Prince is a perfect example of a musician deserving this respect.

His talent crossed genres and earned respect from countless musicians. Prince’s song “Darling Nikki” from his seminal album “Purple Rain” was covered by the rock band the Foo Fighters as a b-side to a single and found success as a top twenty hit in 2003. In 2004 at a tribute for George Harrison of the Beatles, a collection of rock legends performed the song “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Prince on stage as part of the tribute. When it gets to the guitar solo, they give way to Prince as he shreds the solo and clearly shows off his amazing talent. Surrounded by legends of rock, they give Prince his respect proving he’s no normal “pop” star. He’s someone with true talent recognized by his peers.

It’s tough seeing people we admire pass on but it’s something we have to face. We can crawl in a hole and pretend it’s not true but that doesn’t help anyone. What we can do is appreciate the gifted individuals while they’re here with us and respect their talent after they’re gone. For stars like Prince, their legacy lives on in their music. Fortunately his talent was known and respected by his peers and fans long before he passed on. 

Summer In St. Louis

Lakesha Mathis

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The Gateway Arch and The Mississippi River at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis. 2012. Kbh3rd.

Everywhere you go in the city this time of year you can hear, “It’s hot!” but what you will not hear is anyone complain about is the great events and experiences St. Louis offers during the Summer. From marathons to free concerts to float trips situated just outside the city, St. Louis is bubbling with things to do this Summer. And while Summer began on a few days ago the fun in the sun began much sooner.

Nomad Studio: Green Air, Contemporary Art Museum of St. Louis. 2016. Lakesha Mathis.
For the Art lover, there are few excellent exhibits all over the city. The Contemporary Art Museum (CAM), located at 3750 Washington Blvd., currently has on exhibition, Nomad Studio: Green Air. Nomad Studio is based in New York. The exhibit is comprised of thousands of slices of wood suspended from CAM’s courtyard trellis. The slices of wood have Tillandsia air plants attached to their ends. Amazing may be an understatement because this exhibit is so much more. The idea of plants suspended on pieces of wood, wood which actually comes from a plant, moving in the wind brings to mind the best wind chime imaginable.  I have visited the exhibit once; however, I know I will visit it several more times before it leaves the museum August 21, 2016.

However, don’t be too mesmerized by Nomad Studio to venture throughout the entire museum to visit the other equally awe inspiring exhibitions.

For all the fashion-loving, history enthusiasts, the Missouri History Museum, situated close to CAM on Lindell and DeBaliviere right inside Forest Park has on exhibition The Little Black Dress: From Mourning to Night. 

Missouri  History Museum, Little Black Dress. 2016. Lakesha Mathis
I love dress, art and history so this was a must visit for me. The exhibit takes the visitor on the historical journey of the ‘little black dress’. The history ascends from the rarely-worn, basic black mourning dress, to its evolution as a popular, must-have garment for all women. Of course a trip down memory lane must include the influence of French designer, Coco Chanel, brought to the little black dress, making it one of the most versatile and accessible garments today.

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Round Lake in Forest Park. 2008. Bluelion.

After you leave the history museum, leave your car parked and stroll through Forest Park. Take in views of the many lakes, golf course, bike trails, waterfalls and then visit the St. Louis Zoo. Or, if you’re seeking a more adult visit to the park, have dinner at the Boat House or see a show at The Muny to end your day. But please leave your wallet at home unless you’ve planned for dinner at the Boat House because all three of these events, Nomad Studio: Green Air, Little Black Dress: Mourning to Night and a stroll through Forest Park are FREE.

And if you happen to be in St. Louis for the Independence Day Holiday, Forest Park will be hosting Fair St. Louis, America’s Biggest Birthday Party. Come on out and join the celebration; This fair is always a good time with fireworks every night, concerts and a lot of events for the family.

St. Louis Ballpark Village. 2014. Cardinals Nation.

If museums and art isn’t your thing visit Busch Stadiums for a Cardinals game or Ballpark Village for quick bite with friends. All summer long Ballpark Village has a schedule full of exciting events.

For the super adventurous Summer wanderer, I encourage you to grab a group of friends and head down to Steelville, Missouri, just an hour and a half drive, for a weekend of camping and floating on the Courtois, Huzzah and/or Meramec Rivers. Down in the country you get to pick your poison. Camp outside in a tent/camper or rent a cabin for more home like comforts. While there are several resorts to accommodate your needs, Bass’ River Resort is my personal favorite.

So whether you want to take in art or camp in the wild, Missouri is an incredible place to be in the Summer. Visit for a more complete listing of Summer events for 2016.