Saturday, May 2, 2009

Why We Need Artists

First Friday evening every month, the galleries in Denver have an art walk. There is a huge cluster of art galleries on Santa Fe Drive and they all stay open late, and people walk around looking, listening to live music, sampling food and wine. Quite a good time.

As I was looking at how many galleries had been set up in old buildings that used to house a variety of retail outlets that had been subdivided and added onto, it really sank in that what really draws people is all the creative energy that is generated by all the different works on display.

Given, we all have different tastes, so what I thought was best you may or may not agree with, but what they all have in common is that some person expended their energy and used their imagination to make something. Even though today, we can find all kinds of art on line, and lots of artists are now using computer generated imagery, there is still a sense of aliveness that comes through from a painting that someone fashioned, stroke by stroke, or drawings, or pottery, or carvings, or jewelry or photos that someone took the time to compose and develop. You can sense the energy and imagination that went into these efforts, and when a piece connects with us, we can feel ourselves go into a trance and travel to another place.

So even in this age of computers, there is still a hunger to connect with something made by hand by another person. Galleries and studios have a different feel than a museum, because a museum is a finely finished space, and visitors are expected to appreciate the art quietly. But these gallery and studio shows are throbbing with life. People are talking, there is a festive atmosphere and in many cities I have lived in, I have been to shows where the artists simply show their work in old factories or old school buildings where they have rented space. Many of these old buildings have been stripped down to provide the simplest plain wall space to show off the work.

There is something very life affirming about all that creativity bubbling up from all these different people in all these different places. Joy, sorrow, excitement, awe, mystery and wonder emanate from these gatherings of artists. And that is why we always need artists among us. They remind us just how much more we are capable of, if we just give ourselves permission. That plus the fact that they help us find different perspectives to view the world, and different ways of relating. An imaginitive picture reframes our view of the world.

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