Happy New Year! Let’s all hope 2021 brings an end to the miseries of 2020.
With vaccines slowly making their way into our area, there is something to look forward to. While we wait for the “new normal” to arrive, we are a society starving for a diversion. Tired of being in our homes, away from friends and family, with our normal means of entertainment canceled or limited, we need art to save the day.
And when I say art, I mean art in all its forms — music, literature, performing arts, visual art and textiles. Art has been in our lives dating back to the cave paintings from prehistory, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with its ability to calm us, inspire us, and to distract us from the monotony of isolation and closed entertainment venues.
The first thing we should do is break the patterns we have fallen into (I know I have). Dinner. Netflix. Bed. Although TV can be an art form, it is also a mind-numbing filler that robs us of other kinds of artistic fulfillment. Turn off the TV, then turn on some jazz, or play your favorite country or rock artist. Pick up a book — either a new offering, or rediscover an old favorite.
As an actor and visual artist, I try to read two to three plays a week, as well as create at least one piece of visual art to sell at Artists of Elements Gallery. There are thousands of “how to” videos online — knitting, woodturning, jewelry making, sewing, cooking, baking …the list is endless. What do you like to do, or what have you always wanted to learn? A friend of mine has discovered Turner Classic Movies, and is greatly enjoying discovering actors, directors and movies he had never seen before. Have a favorite visual artist or museum? The internet is also a great place to go on virtual tours of museums, or discuss the meanings and inspirations of paintings and sculptures. Learn how to tap dance, or play that banjo that’s been hiding under your bed for the last 15 years. Do a jigsaw puzzle with your family. The possibilities are infinite, which is one of the cool things about art — you get to choose!
If you want to create art of your own — a little advice. The hardest part? Getting started. Taking that first step. One of the most challenging things about being an artist is having the strength and confidence to create something and then say to the public, “I made this. What do you think?” Art (singing, dancing, acting, painting, poetry) makes the artist vulnerable. Is it good? Is it good enough? Is it new? And you know what? Ultimately, none of that matters. Everything has been painted, but how do you see it? The body has danced every move imaginable, but how do you do it? The power of art lies in the journey it takes to create it, the connection the artist makes, and the end product. If you love it, it’s good enough! If you created something from nothing, it’s new!
Take a breath. Take a chance. You can do this!
I also feel compelled to release any of my readers from a sense of guilt or obligation. In this pandemic, mental health is key — do what you need to do to keep yourself sane. If that means watching the entire series of “The Golden Girls” on repeat, have some cheesecake for me!
Have an artful day!
John DuVall is the Managing Artistic Director for Lakeland Cultural Arts Center in Littleton.