Monday, May 25, 2015

Art, Artists, and Patrons Of..

I don't consider myself an artist...I write, I make my house pretty, I used to craft lovely pots on a wheel and burn them into something lasting. Now I craft tiny people, and the days that pass us by.

               "To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts."
                                                                    ~            ~Henry David Thoreau

True enough, but it doesn't make me an artist, not really. 

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I believe in art. I believe that "beauty will save the world," that it has saved the world, in fact, because Christ is Beauty, and Beauty is Christ. And so I believe that both art and the artists who create it are worthy of my support. 

Like all of us, I'm limited. Limited financially as I try to spend within our means to feed and clothe and nourish our family; limited spatially in that I have one room, 24 feet in diameter..about 75 feet totally of wall space, most of which is covered in tall dressers, bookcases, cupboards, and especially Icons.

Most importantly, though, I'm limited by my own judgment. I support artists. Co-creators of beauty. I determinedly pass over artistes - 'throwbacks to the disease of Shellyism' (in the words of Kathleen Norris ), or stagnating 'talents' who have never developed a voice of their own.  That last category which gives me pause though. I want to support them. I want to help them find a voice, a style, a medium that truly speaks for them. But I don't have the time or the money. I can't really be a 'patron of arts' so much as I can just be a tiny signpost on the path the artist has to walk. Saying softly - and I hope gently - "not this way.." or else "almost"; and most importantly, with Rilke, reminding them to:

“Keep growing quietly and seriously throughout your whole development; you cannot disturb it more rudely than by looking outward and expecting from outside replies to questions that only your inmost feeling in your most hushed hour can perhaps answer.” 

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With my small resources, I'll buy a beautiful, handcrafted bookshelf here, a vivid painting of trees against an October sky there, textured photographs and well-lettered altar cards..Art and crafts by those whose voice is strong, or growing well within them. I'll nourish them with words and actions, at the same time nourishing my own family with the beauty they've created.

Society needs artists, just as society needs prophets..and both are rare, shy creatures in our culture. It's a dangerous calling. It's dangerous to have any calling, "the ideology of our time is that we can live an uncalled life, one not referred to any purpose beyond one's self."(Walter Brueggeman)..and our society hopes that in encouraging such a life, everyone will be essentially the same, and the prophet, the artist, the 'necessary other' will recede into distant memory. But it is a calling, and not everyone who desires it is called.