Another critical distinction in the Chicago/Los Angeles comparison: Los Angeles is a more inspiring town for the artist.
I feel more in touch with reality in Los Angeles. Being at the western edge of the country, it feels as thought it is able to pursue and run through its coastline the possibilities of how art can be pushed further. New York has probably the same motivating energy, but whenever I’m there I am too distracted by my sensory receptors to focus and too investigative of the material world that I am unable to detach myself from the noisy demands of life and allow time for my ideas to flourish.
L.A. pushes for a more progressive, artistic culture and it doesn’t apologize for any of it. Everyone holds a creative license, it seems like. Whereas Chicagoans want to have the same coastal aesthetic and feel, it produces something halfway. Chicago has its own appeal, a more sophisticated metropolitan orientation, but for it to nurture the same culture as Los Angeles, it is just not possible. Many Chicagoans try– from art to fashion evident in galleries and the streets. Every time I see photography in Chicago that evokes a seaside tone, or a freespirited mood, wherein the photographer hopes to capture the blithe wonder palpable in the corners of southern California, I do not imagine the transference the coastal culture of the west to Chicago nor am I transported to Los Angeles– I am even more aware of the fact that I am planted in this midwest town, with no ocean nor mountains to speak of, and I feel a sense of displacement.
The west coast is the place to be for those serious about their art. It nurtures not just the practice of creation conducive to the surroundings within, but also the pressure to identify the art you’re making and question what it is that makes it special in a place where that same art is likely practiced by the next passerby on the street or your neighbors on both sides.
It could be the ocean that creates this mood. The rhythm of the waves is a piece of classical music played by nature that encourages the meditative stance that allows the emergence of content on which you base your creation. Beyond its calming effects, it could be the concept of a moving entity that extends the contrast of constancy and impermanence at once.
There’s something about the mobility and strength of the ocean that cannot be captured by any other body of water, with or without a manmade shoreline.