I thought passion pushed the artist. A gargantuan gut tumult right in the center of your body and words whirling in your head.

Threads of Wisdom by Gail Ingis Claus 36x36 Oil on canvas

“I must paint, I must write, I must sing. The drive is all consuming.

In last Sunday’s April 22, Connecticut Post, was the article, Art, religion collide in ‘My Name is Asher Lev.’ The article addresses the Chaim Potok novel “My Name is Asher Lev.” It tells the story of a Jewish boy determined to pursue a life in the world of modern art despite the opposition of his parents and the New York City religious community within which his family lives.

Potok set the novel in a very specific time and place, but the tale of a son having to battle his father to find his own way in the world has resonated with readers of all faiths since the book was first published in 1972.

Asher’s deeply religious father is puzzled and then outraged by his son’s fascination with drawing – from a very early age – ultimately forcing the boy to choose between his religion and his passion for art.

Hasidic praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur

You don’t have to be Jewish or an artist to identify with Asher’s quest to be his own man and the result is a coming of age classic that has been added to many high school reading lists over the years.

My issue with this article are the words “quest to be his own man.” The passion to do art and the quest to be your own person are two separate issues. Writers must write, painters must paint, sculptors must sculpt. But growing up, finding your way in the world, the quest to be your own person is part of life. I am an artist, I must paint, I must draw, I have a quest to do art in some form, design, create, fill the negative space, but I am still finding my own way.

The recent stage adaptation, written by Aaron Posner, will be receiving its Connecticut premiere at Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Starting May 2.

Hasidic with Shawls

“It’s a universal story. It’s about Hasidic Jews and a painter, but I thinkĀ  you could substitute almost anything you want,”

Actor Ari Brand

actor Ari Brand said of the way so many diverse people have related to the Potok tale for the past 40 years.

“The stronger the pull of the parents and the stronger the pull of a child’s passion, the greater the conflict,” Brand said of the battle so many young people have to go through over their career paths.

The quest to find your own way is a lifelong ambition. So tell me, are you still finding your own way? How, where, why?


  1. Katy Lee

    Great post, Gail. And food for thought for me. I am getting burned out and not writing because I have so many other things to do. But now I’m also starting to feel resentment over it. I imagine it is the way a bird would feel not being able to fly. And as PJ stated to stagnate is to die. I don’t want THAT to happen. :)

    1. gailingis Post author

      Thanks Katy. I know how difficult it is to comment as well. I know, I know, I know. I am an extremely busy retired person. Be careful when you retire, it is the busiest time of life, well, for some, certainly for me. I was told if I want to be a writer, you must blog. So, guess what, it is my favorite thing of all that I do. Not only do I have the opportunity to discuss my love for the history of interior design and architecture, but I can be blatant with my opinions. And I can discuss the contemporary aspects as well. Whatever.

      It is loose as a goose time when I write my blog.

  2. Marian Lanouette

    I loved this blog, Gail. I agree passion for anything you want to accomplish is life is important it’s what motivates a person. My mother always said, “Be true to thyself and the world will be true to you.”

    1. gailingis Post author

      More truth from mother’s mouths. Mine always said,”You can be whatever you want to be.” I am still searching amongst all that I have found, all that I am, and all that I hope to be.

  3. PJ Sharon

    Wonderful post, Gail. I especially liked what you said about “The passion to do art and the quest to be your own person are two separate issues. Writers must write, painters must paint, sculptors must sculpt. But growing up, finding your way in the world, the quest to be your own person is part of life.”

    That is so true. But on another level, the two are very connected. I think that we are constantly evolving. Our art changes and grows just as we do. Finding our way is not a one stop destination but a journey of discovery that leads us on new and exciting pathways through life. To stagnate is to die, whether in body or soul. It is the same for our art. Becoming who we are as people can be defined by our passion just as our passion can be defined by who we are.

    I was extremely aware of this while raising my sons and I tried to encourage their individuality and foster their dreams at every turn. My youngest used to tease me that he was going to “stay at home forever and become a trash collector.” Of course he said this just to get my goat since he knew I wanted him to go to college and get a degree. I could have argued, but instead I would tell him, “As long as you are happy and take pride in your work, dear.” At 24, he hasn’t quite found his place in the world, but he doesn’t live at home and he is in fact, not a trash collector.

    Wow, deep stuff for this early in the morning. Thanks for getting my brain going:-)

    1. gailingis Post author

      Great insights Paula, great pearls for your kids. Young men at 24, ugh, some take to thirty and then some. I was blessed with my two sons who went to college, took accounting, became CPA’s and went into public accounting and computers with their dad. On the other hand, Tom’s son became a mensch after he got married, around 25/27. By the time he reached 30, he was cooking with juice. We are very proud of our children. But it is hard, demanding work. And the importance of role models is critical. Thanks for the comments. You are a great writer.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Powered by sweet Captcha