Thoughts by Richard Bleil
The quarantine that started a couple of weeks ago looks as if it will continue possibly through May. Millions of Americans find themselves stuck in their homes. Many businesses are closed, sport events are canceled, bars are closed, and people are stuck online seeking entertainment, playing games, binge watching streaming service, listening to music and trying, some of in vain, to maintain some semblance of sanity.
Good luck on THAT one.
We’re beginning to finally realize the roles of so many people who are often marginalized in our society and their roles in keeping us moving as a society. The fast food workers at the drive-through, grocery store employees, public transit drivers and those working without benefits, for wages below the poverty level, and who face abuse from employees on a daily basis.
Along with these employees, the role of arts is often overlooked as well. The contribution of the arts in our society are more critical than most people know, but these talents should be coming into sharp relief now.
Performing arts are very important to us whether we think about it or not. Personally, I think I would lose my mind if I couldn’t listen to music. I listen to classic rock, hard rock, classical music, jazz, blues and many other genres as well. Classic rock today was contemporary rock when I was in school which no doubt is why I like it so much. Yes, I am very familiar with it and love to shout the lyrics when I’m naked and wet, or when I’m in the shower. But it’s more than that. It connects me to my youth and brings back memories of when I wasn’t stuck in this apartment. And had a job. And a car.
“Performing arts” probably brings forth images of plays and operas, but it includes actors in televisions shows and movies. I guess these particular artists have always had a great deal of respect in our society, but keep in mind it also means writers, directors, and behind the scenes people as well as the musicians for the movie score. One thing a lot of people might not consider is the role of the graphic artists in these shows and movies, but they do so much more than just that.
Sitting here typing on my laptop it is the graphic artists that developed the letters painted on the keys, and the ads for the processor glued next to the mouse pad. The icons on the screen, the scenes of the movies, the images in the online games we play and so much more. These artists have their fingers in every aspect of our life often without our realization.
A lot of parents forced into the awkward position of unexpectedly homeschooling is discovering that graphic arts has another side to it that is very important for their personal sanity, namely, projects for their children. I’ve read an interesting observation that said that every child is born an artist until society drives it out of them. My good friend is periodically publishing her line art for children to color. I have to admit, I’m rather jealous of her skill set. I’ve often wished I could pick up a pencil and paper and create the images I have in my mind, but I just don’t have the ability, at least not beyond grade school talent. I tried to draw a stick figure the other day and it was mistaken for a Rembrandt. No talent whatsoever.
Studies have shown that children who learn to play an instrument tend to be better at mathematics. Sadly, we live in a society where art and artists lack the respect they deserve. I have far too many friends with great talent that have a hard time supporting themselves because people have projects they want them to do but don’t want to pay. Too often they are asked to do work “for posterity”, but you can’t buy a meal with posterity, especially in a society where even those who might appreciate their work rarely think “I wonder who did that”, and even less frequently seek out the artist for another project. In education budgets, people rarely appreciate the benefits of art and music. Often, these are the subjects that are the first cut from the budget to save money. But, maybe with this crisis we can all learn to appreciate the arts better. When voting for the next school charter, take a moment to think about where we would be in this isolation crisis were it not for the artists that are keeping us sane. Ish.