Here we are in the 21st Century, in the middle of the so called “Great Recession.” Everything has been reduced to money, or perhaps more accurately, the lack of it. Millions have lost their homes, jobs, savings, and perhaps their health worrying about it. Wealth has evaporated, retirement savings destroyed, the list of financial woes are as long as both my arms. Isn’t it frivolous to worry about art when there are so many more pressing matters?
No. Because art is more important – more important than stock certificates, property deeds, and 401k plans. You will make more money, or you won’t. But will you still be human on the other side of the chasm? Art is not about elitist parties of bejeweled aristocrats fawning over the latest indecipherable fad on the wall. It is about life, about grit, ecstasy, pain, about the emotion it takes to be truly alive. It is the mirror held to our souls that shows us there is more to life than struggle and decay.
We live in very cynical times. We are told daily how little our efforts mean to the world, how a banker, politician, or terrorist will take it all away from us at the least provocation. But deep down you don’t really believe this, do you. You know that your personal essence, that indefinable part that many call the soul, is yours alone, not subject to the whims of society, fashion or despair. But this little spark needs fuel to live and grow. Art is that fuel.
Don’t believe me? Ask yourself why every culture on earth, in every miserable mud hut has some kind of art, some scrap hanging on the wall, or writing on a filthy rag. Why our earliest ancestors crawled into caves and drew pictures in the dark with berries or their own blood. Are your walls empty – completely empty? And is your home devoid of books, music, or film? Not likely.
Does the quality of art matter? Of course it does. Just like some foods are healthier for your body, some art is healthier for your soul. But we’ll have to breach that wall at another time. The point here is that we all need art; art in all its forms: painting, sculpture, literature, music, dance, architecture, film, etc. If you can’t buy a great painting, step into a museum, go to a concert, read a classic novel, look up at a great building. Feed your soul – otherwise its grumbling might keep you up at night.
Colorado, December 2010