Sunday, September 13, 2009

Neglect of the arts

Several Eureka Springs artists participated this weekend in the annual Pinnacle Hills Art Show in Bentonville, Arkansas, and according to the report in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, sales were poor. It is what one might expect in a difficult economy. Who needs art when your walls are in danger of being foreclosed?

The simple drawing above may help even those who are culturally impaired to understand an essential relationship that we often neglect.

On Friday I delivered my recently made cherry tables to their new home, and am reminded that work can create bonds of friendship and community that give us all strength. You can see how this works in the drawing above. When you invest in an artist's work, you are also investing in his or her growth as an artist and member of your community. But I am not just talking about visual arts, the decorative arts that hang on walls of sit on pedestals and look pretty, but practical things as well, and getting back in touch with practical useful work is my advice to those artists hoping to survive recession.

Also in Today's Democrat Gazette is an article, Putting Art in Arkansas by Tom Dillard about my old and dear friends, Louis and Elsie Freund (pronounced "friend"). They, as artists, founded a summer art school here in 1939 and led the historic preservation movement and are thus responsible for Eureka's two distinctive qualities, as a home for the arts, and a destination promising architectural delight.

It takes a village to make a craftsman. It takes craftsmen and the arts to make a true community. Louis Freund called his own often rambling discourse "a shaggy dog story" in which, however the story might wander, it will find its way home. And so, while this particular post may require you, my dear reader to do some assembly on your own. You would have to be graphically and culturally impaired to miss my point.

Arkansas writer John Gould Fletcher had noted in a letter to Louis, "not much happening in Eureka Springs, but it sure is laid out pretty." Louis and Elsie's involvement in the arts and historic preservation led to a whole lot happening here. And a returning Fletcher would be surprised. As one of the top 25 Arts destinations in the US, and one of the smallest, there is a lot happening here now for which Louis and Elsie deserve credit.


  1. Anonymous6:20 AM

    I heard similar stories at our recent Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Sales down about 20% from last year, which wasn't a great one either. Rough times.


  2. Friends of mine who travel and do shows have reported even greater decline. At the Pinnacle Hills show, one painter told that years past he could make 4-5,000 in one show costing about one thousand in expenses. Now if he makes $1600 he considers himself lucky. Some are dropping from the show circuit having noticed that their expenses exceed income.