A Message to the Artist

Is your art only yours?

image credits clockwise: Jr Korpa, Annie Sprat, Alexander Popov, Marjan Blan

Transcript of Layer Cake Podcast Episode #3

Welcome to Layer Cake!

I'm your host, Dr. Angela Brumett, and this is your English fluency podcast. Layer Cake is sponsored by Parlay Vacay English Immersion Weekends. Build your English fluency online and in person at beautiful and relaxing destinations.

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You can listen to Layer Cake on your favorite podcast app, or go to Parlay ParlayVacay.com/LayerCake where you'll also find podcast notes, more about our guests, and learn all the new vocabulary and phrases in the content of our show.

And with that out of the way, let's get started!

Layer Cake presents "A Message to the Artist"

Produced by Portmanteau Theater Radio Drama and Nine Brains Studios

Oh! Hi there. Glad you dropped by.

Yes, I’m painting a picture. No, please stay. I’m almost finished. Really, I will be done in just a minute.

You look rather pensive. Don’t you like it? What is it, you ask?

Well, I thought I’d try my hand at what people call “modern art.” I’ve seen a lot of it, especially lately, and I thought, “Why not?” That’s the reason it’s rather hard to see what I was thinking.

The blue lines? Ok, those are all the feelings. Whose feelings? Well, mine, yours, everybody’s. I used the water, water color paints, since we can drown in those if we’re not careful.

The red dots? Those are all the reasons people feel the feelings, all the “causes” for pain, love, joy, and sacrifice. I sprayed those, so they’d look like blood. Yes, I know I nailed that one.

The white in between? Yes, I’m going to leave it like that. Well, you see, it represents all the potential. That’s what could happen. I mean white is always a blank canvas. A space where you can do anything, go in any direction. It’s the place for something new, something even better because we always have choices. See? So many colors here to choose from. If you count what you could blend, they really run the gamut.

You think it’s brilliant? All that and a bag of chips? Really? Thank you! You’d buy it? Wow! Well, thank you for saying that. You’re very sweet. But it is really huge. Yeah, it’s heavy too. No, you’re right. The two of us aren't strong enough to put it in your car. Ok, maybe later then. It needs to dry anyway.

Wait, what? You’d add a couple of stick figures? Where? Right here? Oh, only if it were yours, you mean? Okay.


Well, hey! Why not? Go ahead. Here, take a brush. Yes, I’m serious. I mean it. Have at it! Go ahead, show me what you've got. How about the black? Or maybe the green? I remember you’re head over heels for green.

Ahhh! Nice. Thank you. It’s even better now. It’s gone up at least a dollar, wouldn’t you say? Really, I mean it; I love it. Now, I’ll buy it from you!

Hey, you want some coffee? I have tea too. I need a little breather anyway. Fresh paint makes me dizzy. Let’s sit down and catch up.

I wrote a letter to JonOne. Who’s that, you ask? JohnOne is the artist of the abstract painting that is on display in that Korean shopping mall. Yes, right, that’s the one that a couple painted on because they thought adding paint to it was the intention of the exhibit.

I can’t say I blame them. I mean, there were brushes and cans of fresh paint around it and those types of activities have been really popular in public spaces during the past few years. Besides, what a lovely moment of sheer enthusiasm!

Oh, but I know, of course, how embarrassing for them. They were arrested and they may have to foot the bill. Yes, I heard the artist wants it to be restored, but he doesn’t want them to be burdened financially. That’s thoughtful of him, I suppose.

However, since it’s going to be very expensive, the exhibitor’s insurance company wants the couple to pay at least part of the bill, so that is what will likely happen if the painting is restored. Yes, if. That’s right, it hasn’t been restored yet.

Can I read my letter to you? I’ll share what I’ve got so far.

Dear JonOne,

First, let me tell you how exquisite your painting is. Next, let me tell you how exquisite your painting is.

I know, I said the same thing twice. But I’m going to make myself more clear. Shall I keep reading? Ok, here I go. I was sorry to hear about your painting. It most certainly was damaged, and I know it hasn’t been restored yet.

I know the painting is worth a lot of money not only because it’s exquisite but because you’re very famous. And you deserve it. You’ve worked so hard to get here.

But is that what you really wanted when you started? Back when, under the cover of night and when no one was looking, you "decorated" New York City for not even a penny? You didn’t want anyone to see you spraying your graffiti. You did want everyone to see your art. Street artists want the everyday person to connect to their art and to be moved, not just move on.

Ok, back to the damaged painting. Until that happened, everything went as planned. Everyone saw the signs and moved on without touching the painting. But maybe, just maybe, it didn’t touch them either.

Everything changed when two people, who didn’t see the signs, did see your painting and didn’t move on. Instead, they moved closer and into the painting with you. You did it. You finally did it. Your art connected with the everyday person. Not just the investors. Not just the exhibitors.

That’s the power art can have, and this time it was your art. Jon, this time the universe chose you. Embrace your moment before it moves on. There are many more waiting for their moment. Most will never even get the chance to miss their chance.

I understand. This sure doesn’t look anything like the moment you’ve worked so hard for. But I really think it is. Don’t you see? It’s only now that you have arrived. Everything else was really just leading you to this, and this was the only way. But I know it’s hard to see. Seeing that requires opening your eyes really, really wide. Maybe wider than ever. Your mind too.

Did that couple make a mistake? Yes. But is their mistake a mistake? No, not even a little bit. Please don’t restore that painting, Jon. Or you most certainly will damage it.

That’s it. Thank you. I know, he probably won’t ever see it. I’ll post it somewhere anyway. Now let’s toast to our moment. Thanks again for coming to see me.

Did you hear any new words or phrases? Check out the transcript and the fluency builder lesson online at Parlay Vacay.com/layercake

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Layer Up your English!

These items may be useful before and/or after listening to the recorded episode.

Key concepts are followed by the Vocabulary and Phrases then Questions for understanding and Discussion Topics.

Items are presented in the order they appear and are defined only as used in the featured piece (other uses may exist).

Key Concepts

abstract: not concrete in its representation of something, a common trait of modern art

intention: the reason behind an effort

exhibit: display for people to view

blame them: assign responsibility to them for a negative outcome

arrested: taken into police custody

worth a lot: valued at a high price

graffiti: writing or art often created without permission, usually large and with spray paint, meant for public view (can range from only destructive in nature to very skilled)

did want/did see: emphasizing the extreme opposite of didn't want/didn't see

the everyday person: typical people; people without much or any experience in the art business and [implied] difficult to reach through art

be moved: be emotionally impacted

move on: leave behind and forget

touch them: reach them or impact them emotionally

Vocabulary & Phrases

dropped by: to visit without calling first

pensive: deep in thought

try my hand at: make a first attempt to do

water colors: translucent paints with water as a base

drown: to die by suffocation in water

nailed that: did something perfectly

potential: the possibility of something

a blank canvas: a plain surface area meant for decoration or a chance to try something

even better: better than better, better than what you would call "better"

what you could blend: new results formed from what you mix together

run the gamut: every degree and every possible selection between two extremes

brilliant: very clever or outstanding

all that and a bag of chips: everything you could ever want and more

huge: giant or very large in size

stick figures: very simple drawings representing people consisting of lines for the body and limbs plus a circle for the head

Have at it! : Give it a try!

show me what you've got: Impress me/Surprise me with your skills.

head over heels for: completely in love with/really like

has gone up: has risen in price

wouldn't you say?: you would agree with me, right?

I mean it: I'm sincere and truthful

little breather: short break

dizzy: an unsteady feeling, sometimes before losing one's balance

catch up: learn what has happened, usually in the life of someone you know

I can’t say I blame them: I don't blame them at all.

public spaces: areas open for public activities such as parks

sheer: pure

enthusiasm: a very high level of combined joy and excitement

foot the bill: pay the bill, usually with extra effort

restored: returned to the original state, usually through specific actions

burdened: forced to carry a burden or manage a difficult problem

what I’ve got so far: what I have until this moment-- not finished yet

exquisite: having a certain beauty and charm (a compliment)

here I go: I will start

most certainly: for sure and without any doubt

deserve it: should have it

to get here: to do specific things that caused [you] to be in the present situation

under the cover of night: during the night or in the dark, usually to avoid being seen

for not even a penny: for less than a penny, for free

as planned: the way things should happen, according to a plan

investors: those who use money to make more money

exhibitors: those who make money by displaying something

the universe: fate or the higher power(s) with the master plan (a euphemism or figure of speech; not literal)

embrace your moment: celebrate your unique special occasion

sure doesn't: really doesn't

you have arrived: you have finally achieved your goal

leading you to this: bringing you closer and closer to the current situation or moment

open the eyes wide: open the eyes as much as possible; be willing to understand everything post it: place it somewhere for viewing by other people

toast to our moment: to acknowledge our shared special occasion by clinking our glasses together before taking a drink

Questions for Understanding 3

1. Why were the couple arrested?

2. What outcome does JonOne want for the painting and for the couple?

3. What kind of art did JonOne create for free in New York City before he was a famous and well-paid artist?

4. What are the points of view expressed in the letter to JonOne?

Discussion Topics 3

1. If the damaged painting were yours, what would you want to happen now and why?

2. Should any painting be worth many thousands or millions? If so, which ones and why? If not, why not?

3. Who does your art belong to and why?

Parlay Vacay sincerely hopes that you enjoy Layer Cake. Please like and share everywhere. We'll see you at the next Parlay Vacay immersion weekend or next week, whichever comes first!

Thank you.

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