Being an artist

Tom Wilson lets no one define him

Tom Wilson doesn’t let anyone tell him how to be an artist. 

“I think that we as artists are bees, just drifting from flower to flower,” Wilson says.

Wilson certainly lives by that philosophy. As an artist, he drifts freely from medium to medium without apology or explanation. 

He’s headed to Winnipeg for Nov. 8 to play music, promoting the latest Lee Harvey Osmond album Beautiful Scars, which iTunes classifies as “easy listening” but Wilson has been quoted as calling maximum folk. For those less familiar with his work, “Lee Harvey Osmond” is Wilson’s performance moniker. 

This and his previous two albums as Lee Harvey Osmond have all been listed for the Polaris Music Prize. 

But Wilson refers to Beautiful Scars as a project, not an album. 

While he says society likes to pigeon hole artists, he won’t let that happen. He used the music from this album to create a series of three videos. 

Where The Dirt Ends The Love Begins… is a trilogy of short films produced by Wilson and filmmaker Jeth Weinrich. The videos are a series of dreams about the day-to-day journey of love. 

The pair partnered to produce Burned Out Car in 1997, a Juno Award winning video about life on Vancouver’s East Hastings Street. 

Wilson says he produced these latest videos in lieu of music videos because he’s not into putting on tight pants. 

That project is already in the past and he says it’s posted somewhere online. Probably YouTube. Indeed, the first of three videos is on YouTube, but Wilson doesn’t seem to be too concerned about their whereabouts. 

Now, he’s focused on writing a book. Or rather, he’s focused on creating a multi-media version of the book he’s writing. 

“We’re putting some of my stories to orchestral arrangements,” Wilson says. 

Recordings of him reading from his book will be accompanied by the music and available for people to buy. 

“Technically, we’re arranging an art piece,” Wilson says. He expects to release this project for purchase in February 2017, but he doesn’t expect to actually perform it anywhere. 

Music, video and writing seem like a lot of medias, but Wilson also dabbles in other forms of art. He recently packaged and shipped six of his paintings to Edmonton, Alta. for an art show. 

Wilson says he made the decision to live life as an artist when he was four and part of being an artist is following what you want to do. 

He says living life as an artist is not about the money, fame or notoriety. It’s about fulfillment and satisfaction. 

So, when he comes to The Park Theatre on Nov. 8, don’t expect a show that will please. Expect a show that will make an artist feel satisfied.

Published in Volume 70, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 5, 2015)

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