Monday, September 24, 2012

Counting the Many Contributions of Artists


Maynard G. Krebs
as played by Bob Denver


OK.  I admit it.  I remember the television sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis".  The show ran from 1959 - 1963 and revolved around the lives two teenage boys, Dobie and Maynard.  Dobie was the clean cut 1950's teenager and Maynard was the crazy beatnik/artist sidekick.

I mention this show because I think in the minds of many people, Maynard is the archetype  of an artists:  kookie, lazy, a bundle of misdirected energy,  easily dismissed and not much of a contributor to anything other than disaster.  If you read the article on Wickipedia about the Krebs character, you will find that he has indeed become part of American popular culture.  So why do I mention this character?  

I mention Maynard because artists are so not like Maynard.  While this character has many endearing qualities, most artists I know are not just "dressing the part" or trying to be unique, special or different.  In truth they ARE unique, special and different/just like everyone.

The uniqueness I want to point to here is how they contribute to our culture and economy.  Try to think of our world without art, be it world treasures in museums, churches, synagogues, temples, mosque or any other place of worship or spiritual life.  Think of the public art that graces and activates parks, squares, malls or commercial buildings.  Don't forget to envision the bare walls of your office cubical or your home.  Mentally remove all original art, reproductions, your children's artwork or some much love "dime-store" treasure....it all counts.

Gosh!  Kind of sterile isn't it.  Today most hospitals have artwork in their lobbies, halls and rooms.  Why?  Because art is medicine for the heart and for the spirit.  It takes us places, inspires us and relieves the mind numbing impact of too much neutral green.

The second point I'd like to make is the economic impact of art and artists.  I'm not a numbers person so I didn't go look up statistics to prove my point but if we added up the value of all the art supplies artists have squirreled away in their studios and homes the total would blow your mind.  Going to the art supply store, real or online, a "kid in a candy store" experience for most of us.  You look at the materials and you just have to have them.  You see the potential.  You want to give them a try.  Never mind that you may never recoup the expense of all these materials.  It just isn't about that.

I know there are many people with many passions who spend money on things that don't "repay" them in cash but I'll put artists up against all of them and say we are in the upper echelons of those who put their resources where their hearts are.

We pay to participate in shows, we pay to ship to shows, we pay to have the work photographed, we buy catalogs of these shows, we buy books about other artists and art techniques, we attend workshops, seminars, we pay rent on studios and get degrees in art....often with no hope of an actual job in art....we give art work for auctions that support all sorts of causes and we know our lives would not be the same if we stopped making art.

I loved Maynard G. Krebs but he really isn't a true personification of who we are.  We are alive and involved in creativity.  We are doers.  We are supporters.  We are good people.  

I suspect that most of my readers are artists.  Give yourself a big dose of appreciation.  The world would be very dreary without you and your work and the economy would miss your participation to boot.  We are some of the lucky ones.

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11 comments:

  1. Great post, Terry! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. xo

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    1. Hey Connie! Thanks for writing. Artists are so unde-rated for the contributions we make. Just wanted to send a little love.

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  2. First of all great post Terry!! Well said! My daughter and I were just talking about this watching switched at birth where a teen daughter's art (and future artist career) is under valued by her rich father. My daughter didn't understand how he could be so insensitive. I have to keep on reminding her that he valued things other than art and he took art for granted. Lots of times I feel that artists are "Not of this World" because most of us would rather see currency used in some interesting and fantastic installation rather than for a dinner out.

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    1. Hey Nina Marie! Well said back to you. This is an excellent thing for your daughter to understand now. I love your "not of this world" description. Thank you for taking your time to read my blog and comment!

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  3. Ah, Maynard Krebs. My first crush.

    Absolutely everything -- and I do literally mean things -- that we have in our lives was formed by some kind of artist. Furniture and furnishings are designed. Clothing is designed. Take the art off the wall and you still have an object -- the wall -- that is part of a larger object, the house or apartment, that was designed. Food is bred, and dyed, and packaged to appeal to the eye, sadly more than to the taste.

    Art, like gravity, is everywhere.

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    1. Absolutely! You went right to the heart of it all. Many people never give much thought to that aspect of their environment. Thank you for taking the time to share. xo, T

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  4. We are the lucky ones. Thank you for reminding us and patting us on the back!

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  5. Great Post! Thanks for making me feel good about my contribution to the economy!

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    1. Hi Mechelle! It's a huge contribution and the best part is that we love the materials we purchase and take them and make wonderful new work with that material. It's magical.

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  6. Well said Terry.

    Besides all the things you have listed, I would like to add how making art is nourishment for the maker.

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