Monday, March 10, 2014

people simply need art...

Cities need arts, and all citizens need to be involved in the making of beautiful and useful things. It is transformational. The young man or woman standing at the lathe is changing the shape of wood, but also changing the shape of his or her own life, and shifting his or her relationship to others. To make the turn from consumer to maker is a powerful transformation.

Unfortunately creative acts breed intolerance for ugliness. I really don't want everyone to come to Arkansas and trash this place. What I do want is for folks to make Houston beautiful again. There is more shopping there than anyone could care for. There are too many cars waiting in lines going nowhere fast. Where folks in their vehicles escape from the lines, they speed ahead at breakneck speeds as though to make up for lost time and to remedy the sense of impatience and constraint that has grown within.

There is recompense for this in the making of beautiful and useful things that slow down the process of thought to the point at which time ceases to pass. It can take years of purposeful neglect for a beautiful forest to arise. And it will take years of careful cultivation to restore beauty to a place that has been trashed by too much shopping, too many cars and too few personal acts of making art.

If you live in the beauty of nature, participation in the arts is not quite so essential to the human spirit.  You may have the opportunity to bask in creation. But if you live in a city like Houston, Dallas, Cleveland, Chicago, or Detroit, engagement in the arts can  allow you to cope with your situation or even better yet, help you to begin to transform the whole of the place you live.  Artist Theaster Gates was on the Stephen Colbert show on Friday, to make that point.

Make, fix and create... teach others to do likewise.

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