I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe artists of all ilk are deserving of our respect.
Column after column has been dedicated to the recognizing, sometimes celebrating (and sometimes, admittedly, not) and always acknowledging the good intentions of the Augusta area’s creative class.
But I learned something this week. Something about myself, the artists I write about and the approach I have been taking.
I learned that my angle on art, artists and the creative has been all wrong. It’s a lesson I learned, surprisingly enough, from Facebook.
Last week, stricken with a bout of stress-induced insomnia, I wrote a short piece about my difficult and conflicted relationship with writing and my need to make it a marketable commodity.
I wrote about my experiences as an artist – such as I am – whose career and creative impulse draw from the same well.
My expectation was that, given the odd hour and the relative apathy with which most Facebook posts are met, it might garner a comment or two and then fade away before most people ever woke up.
Before breakfast comments were in the double digits. By dinner my mini-missive had nearly 50. Clearly, my creative turmoil struck a nerve.
Please bear in mind, I don’t get emotional easily or often. I was once told my spirit animal is a porcupine. But this outpouring of support, concern, advice and acknowledgment got to me. It also made me realize something important.
I had been writing to the wrong audience.
All this time I had been writing to the audience and, for the most part, ignoring the artist.
I had told people why I thought something worked and why I thought it didn’t. I had built arguments based on opinions formed from afar.
What I hadn’t done, at least not enough, was acknowledge the artist. I hadn’t given our local painters, poets, dancers and musicians the one thing they work so hard for.
I hadn’t given them my measure of applause.
We are all, to some extent, consumers of creativity.
We see art every day.
We hear music.
There are performances, large and small, being offered for our approval almost constantly. And while we’ll talk at the water cooler about the acts we hear and shows we see, we rarely take the time to tell an artist that we appreciate what they do.
Being an artist – spending the time, effort and, yes, money being creative requires – can be a thankless job.
We all know someone who feels driven, in ways large and small, to create. It is their job to make the world we live in a bit more beautiful.
It is our job to make sure the effort is appreciated.