Art matters because it allows us to express ourselves, communicate complex ideas and emotions, challenge societal norms, promote empathy and understanding, preserve cultural heritage, and inspire creativity and innovation. It enriches our lives and helps us make sense of the world around us. Quite simply, art matters because it not only reveals...but revels in the human experience.
But what is art anyway? How does one describe something seemingly so simple yet ambiguous and obscure? For starters, in Latin, art derives from ars or artem and simply means a skill or craft. The world's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is a work of art. The song you heard on the way to work this morning is a work of art. That being said, the dinner you make tonight is also a work of art. We are all creative beings and art is a diverse range of activities involving the creation of visual, auditory, or performance that expresses the creator's imagination.
Speaking of the Mona Lisa, while priceless, some estimate its worth at over a billion dollars. Placing "value" on expression and creativity is as enigmatic as the art itself. The benefits of art culture cannot be adequately surmised in monetary constraints. Artists and art organizations shape the social, physical, and economic character of their communities. Research shows that people who participate in the arts are more likely to participate in activities beyond the arts. The appreciation of creative expression is not linear but it begins with, how we together as neighbors, come together to collectively shape the spaces that we inhabit.
Art and community have a strong relationship - as art can bring people together and create a sense of shared experience. Art can be used to express cultural identity, promote social change, and bring attention to issues affecting the community. Additionally, community support is often necessary for artists to thrive and create impactful work. Conversely, artists can also contribute to the community by beautifying public spaces, creating opportunities for artistic expression, and fostering creativity and innovation. I have long lamented that art is a symbiotic relationship between the artist and the audience. A bar of handmade artisan soap, in my eyes as the artist, isn't a complete piece until it reaches the end consumer. The creation is not finished until it is used.
The thing to realize is that artists and creators are the one asset that is present in every community. Embracing a culture of art within your community does something that nothing else can do. It encourages community attachment and cohesion through engagement. Economically speaking, most art is consumed in-person. Putting art at the heart of a community enhances its resident's lives. A strong art culture drives foot traffic within a community's business district. Art is just a call to come together and be with fellow human beings. Understanding that creativity is an infinite and powerful resource that strengthens community bonds is vital to communities both large and small. Additionally, by attracting non-local audiences, innovative communities find more people want to live, work, and play in the area. Supporting a culture of art appreciation is fuel for community development and economic growth.
Art walks and art exhibitions are a great way for artists in lesser known locations to showcase their work. Gaining in popularity more and more, art initiatives are fostering a new generation of audiences. The notion that small town America is an artistic wasteland is changing. Once upon a time only the big cities had world-class museums, performing arts and music venues, hip galleries, and funky boutiques. Coincidentally, the rising costs in urban areas is becoming too much for artists and creative types, leading the way for smaller affordable communities the ability to woo them out of the cities. Art just may be the key to saving small towns and rural America.
The beauty of art initiatives and activities in small communities is that attendees have the ability to experience art in a whole new way. Art lovers, young and old, can safely explore without being encumbered by heavy traffic, congested parking, expensive covers for entry, and exclusive environments that may not be as welcoming. Our community in Wahoo, Nebraska is hosting its first art walk June 9th and 10th called the Wahoo Art Wander. It is the brainchild of Angie Craft, artist and owner of Sassafras Galleria.
The secret is out - Wahoo is a funky cool town with a blooming art district. In addition to Sassafras Galleria, a unique and eclectic space of mixed media artists including budding child creators, this community includes a sprawling history museum, a Veteran's Memorial at the Saunders County Courthouse, and a delightful public library. The Wahoo Bakery is nestled in one of the city's oldest buildings and Found & Flora is the preeminent spot for floral arrangements and decor. Additionally Wahoo hosts a number of quaint coffee shops, eateries with both small plate and sit down dining options, antique shops, specialty clothing boutiques like Scraps & Such Co. with handmade children's apparel, photography, dance and martial arts studios, and Sadie's Treasure Chest where guests can meet Sadie the adorable bulldog. Take a stroll through one of the city parks or stop in for a cocktail at one of the bars. Oh yeah, and of course, make a plan to check out Anthologie Soap Co. - Wahoo's only bath boutique!
The Wahoo Art Wander will include performance art demonstrations and exciting exhibits to peruse, appreciate, and purchase. Make it a date with your beloved, a girls trip, or a family outing. Whether you spend an hour or a day - come to relax or play - the Wahoo art district isn't just a destination...but it is the Wahoo way. Download the We Are Wahoo app for iphone or android to stay up to date on everything Wahoo. Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank the artists, the creators, and the visionaries dedicated to the collective growth, enrichment, and betterment of this amazing community.