Just Add Art

Lately I have been thinking about all the ways the arts–dance, music, acting, painting, writing–bring joy to our lives. For me, they are too numerous to count.

One of my favorite early memories is of attending a performance with my mom of for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, the late Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking play. I was excited to see my first Broadway show with her, especially knowing it had been written by a Black woman.

The sheer poetry of what Shange created swelled me up with sister pride. Here was someone of my community who understood my world as a young Black woman and had poured everything she had seen, heard and felt into poignant portraits of our reality.

The play opened my eyes to the transformative power of the arts. It is a lesson I haven’t forgotten.

Since then I have celebrated many afternoon matinees and nighttime viewings watching in amazement as some gorgeous dance, moving ballad, or engrossing monologue is performed on stages big and small.

Just as I had once sat in a darkened theater spellbound as seven beautifully talented Black actresses commanded the stage with lyrical choreopoems, so too I now hope that you and your loved ones will head to the theater, the museum, the dance company, and embrace the beauty you will surely see there.

Creative expression is a cultural lifeline. Without it, part of our soul surely withers. Let’s always encourage one another to tap into that innate spirit to make art. It lives inside each one of us. In the comments section, write and tell me how you express yourself artistically.

Stay in touch,

1 comment… add one
  • Joanne Mattera March 19, 2019, 10:04 pm

    Vanessa: I love that you are inspired by the arts. As an artist I would add that it’s crucial for people to support not only “the arts” but the artists themselves. Financial help for artists is meager and highly competitive, and many artists–most college educated–live close to the bone (because they are paying both home rent or mortgage plus a studio rent, and art supplies and studio space are costly). I’d make these suggestions:
    |. Buy art!
    2. Find out where the Open Studios are in your area and visit. It’s a great way to see visual artists in their “habitat,” and to get work at affordable prices because many of these artists are not gallery represented
    3. In terms of performance, attend events when the actor is workshopping a show. Your response will help her/him craft a better final production, and tickets will be cheaper than when it gets to Broadway
    4. Relatedly, if there’s a post-performance talk stay and engage. If you have kids and there’s a family event, take them
    5. Find some galleries you like and visit regularly. Don’t be intimidated. Engage the dealer in conversation. As a dealer gets to know you and your taste, you may find that s/he emails to let you know what’s come in that you might be interested in. Also, unlike museums or art fairs, entry to galleries is free
    6. Go to art openings, also free, and artist talks, usually free
    7. Buy art for yourself. Those Manolos will wear out, but a painting won’t. You’ll have it for a lifetime
    8. Give art as gifts. Need to buy a wedding present? Instead of giving the couple another soup tureen, join with a few other wedding invitees and give a small painting or framed drawing. Or give tickets or a subscription to a dance theater, opera company, or jazz club
    9. Take an art course. Not only is it fun, you’ll realize just what goes into making a work of art. (It’s not as easy at it looks)
    10. Support the institutions that support arts with a subscription, a donation, or a scholarship

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