Last month I photographed the Hot Couture fashion show at Oakland’s Crucible. The 2017 Hot Couture fashion show was inspired by the artist Prince and called “The Beautiful One’s.”
This is the fourth consecutive Hot Couture that I have photographed and I tried to be inspired by Prince. I created an 84 image photo gallery. Prince released the album and movie Purple Rain in 1984. “The Beautiful Ones” is a song on Purple Rain.
While “The Beautiful Ones” is not my favorite Prince song, it probably captures my feelings about him. The song captures the contradictions. He was an artist who was passionate. (“You were so hard to find”) He was a passionate artist who yearned to “paint the perfect picture.” He was like all the beautiful ones, “You always seem to lose.” We lost him too early.
When Prince died, I lost something. One year ago today, Prince performed in Oakland. I tried to meet and photograph Prince many times, but it never happened, not last year nor the previous years. I always thought that I would have time.
I do not usually care if I meet famous people, but Prince was different. We both had epilepsy. There are so many people who still live in the shadows, I thought that we could make a difference or at least a connection. For those of us who have epilepsy, we speak a different language when we are together. We paint a different picture, and it’s usually purple.
Even though Prince was enigmatic, he inspired people by maintaining his personal integrity. He was able to keep his artistic vision and an income. Most people, and not just artists, must sacrifice to survive.
The tension between creative and commercial success is not new. I have been re-reading the book “Bauhaus, Crucible of Modernism” by Elaine Hochman and I wonder if The Crucible in Oakland could become a present day Bauhaus. The Bauhaus transformed art and design. The Bauhaus was also forced to close by the government.
Can The Crucible influence how the city looks and works? How will The Crucible survive? Will The Crucible rely on the generosity of others or will it shift, as the Bauhaus tried a few years after opening, to “make art financially answerable without compromising it?”
When The Nazis closed the Bauhaus in 1933, the school had not learned how to make money and good art. However, in the school’s fourteen years, the school showed the world a new way to approach art education. The Crucible continues the tradition with many of the same questions.
We do not live in 1933 Germany, but we still have political and economic challenges. The 2017 Hot Couture fashion show was successful at helping us look past the struggles of 2017. The artists and audience seemed more mindful and beautiful. Prince would have enjoyed all the beautiful ones, even the ones you always seem to lose.