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Defining Family Essay

1915 words - 8 pages

The task of defining art and artists will forever collide with dissent, argument, and debate; inevitably concluding with a wide array of opinions. Art’s strong relationship with our diverse human culture and identity, and concurrently its correlation with the ever progressive evolution of our customs and traditions, adhere to an ethos of complete subjectivity. It’s the proverbial Gershwinian quandary, “you say tomato, I say tomahto.” Yet there is a continually growing list of art and artists that upon examination compile definitive examples of the concept. I present to you such a model in Jerry Winsett and his burgeoning artistic accolades. Chapter One of Robert Berson’s text book Responding ...view middle of the document...

The Bronx Zoo would setup an article about Jerry in order to promote the animal’s performances. To the irk of the zoo, the tone of the piece quickly shifted and became predominately about Jerry’s performances outside of work. The article, and the coincidental termination of funding for his animal training, can be seen as the launching point for when he became a full time artist, where in his own words, “Art became my total identity, all facets of my life are bolstered by art.” Jerry Winsett has since performed his craft in commercials, television shows, films, theatre, and animation, while publishing short stories, poetry, scripts, songs and musicals.

When asked about his values, Jerry was quick to respond with family and religion, and after a moment of consideration also stated equality. With a mother who worked full time and a father, a long haul trucker who was often away from home, Jerry did not consider himself coming from a traditional close nit family. Therefore, it is understandable why he views performance art as an appealing career. Stage work frequently occurred in the late evenings and acting for the camera often resulted in high pay for short work periods enabling him more time with his wife and son. He feels that he now belongs to a family of artists. His wife, Diane Halley is a cello and pianist musician and her father a painter and sculpture. His son, Logan Halley-Winsett had aspirations to become a marine biologist, but an unplanned experience with his father may have led to a change in direction. Jerry, needing an audition tape and not having the time to hire a professional cameraman, asked Logan for his assistance in creating one. Logan promptly took on the role of cameraman AND director and found himself instructing his long time acting father on the proper method. Jerry got the part, and wonders if this incident was Logan’s departure from marine science to his current profession as an assistant on photo shoots for Rolling Stones and other publications and his creation of Special Species records, a free release space for music (mostly his own), visual art, and literature. Jerry makes it very apparent that art has impacted himself and his family in a positive way. He admits that he has endured the common cycle of destitute artist to riches back to impoverishment just to find wealth right around the corner. Still, Jerry’s career has facilitated a lifestyle that many would covet, but his measure of success is not monetary, rather stating that, “ a successful artist is the one who continually works.” In this case, Jerry should be featured in Forbes magazine. With over 150 shows a year of his Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre production, annual trips to the Tennessee Shakespeare Festival and Dragon*Con, and his consistent work in film and television, it is safe to say Jerry “continually works”.

With a successful career and family life, Jerry has taken on the pursuit of helping others. Growing up in Tennessee during the Jim...

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