Artistic Doings in Batavia

Jackson Square Audience

Jackson Square Audience

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. What’s happening on the arts front.
JOE: I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but I have been busy here at GO ART!
CALLIOPE: Tell me more.
JOE: Among other projects, I just finished a window display at the Chamber of Commerce for our upcoming Picnic in the Park on July 4.
CALLIOPE: Anything else.
JOE:  We are in phase two of the Genesee Veterans Support Network (GVSN) Logo Contest. As you may recall GO ART!, The Mental Health Association in Genesee County and the GVSN are conducting a contest to develop a logo for GVSN promotional materials.
CALLIOPE: How is it going.
JOE: The submission deadline was June 11. We got a number of submissions which will be on display at the visit of the Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall at the Batavia VA Medical Center this weekend. We are asking viewers to vote for their favorite.
CALLIOPE: Sounds ambitious.
JOE: We also have two musical events coming up.  One is Jamble, an event this Saturday at TF Brown in Batavia, a fundraiser for the Mental Health Association. The other is an all day Ramble, a free day of local musicians in downtown Batavia on July 3. Hope to see you at some of these.

Accepting the Healing Gift of Art

Jazz Street Rochester NY 2010

Jazz Street- Rochester, NY- 2010

~There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others
who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun~

Pablo Picasso

The ramp attendant smiled and wished us a good evening. A food vendor shared how delighted she was to be part of the festival. A policeman chatted with us while we waited at the crosswalk. Each encounter drew me further from my day’s reflection on terrorists, environmental disaster and political logjams. Maybe there is still hope.

For the second time in a week, artistic joy overcame me and drew me from the doldrums of life on our planet. First came the dedication of Seymour Place as the revival of the former Bank of Genesee and Batavia Club, now the home of GO ART! The Genesee-Orleans Regional Arts Council. Patrons and lovers of art in Western New York gathered to thank Dick and Kathy Seymour for their contributions to the local arts community and Linda Blanchet for her years of leadership.

Next came opening night of the 2010 Rochester International Jazz Festival. Jazz performers from around the world gathered with avid jazz lovers as well as those tasting jazz for the first time. Both occasions reminded me of the power of art to bring us together as a human family. The realization gave me a great deal of comfort.

When times are tough, many of us tend to seek isolation with our feelings of anger, sadness, disappointment and loneliness. We retreat into ourselves and become stuck in our own mire. Some of us remain trapped although some us escape. One way out is through the arts. In art we see reflections our our lives, portrayals of our moods and sometimes possibilities which never before occurred to us.

Science and technology are often touted as essential to our educational system. Language is important so we can communicate about technology. Art seems like a nicety but not so important in the grand scheme of things. But wait a minute. Science and technology provide us with the tools of civilization. Language gives us ways to communicate with each other. And the arts? They provide ways to express, understand and share with each other what is important to us, how we feel and what we dream for ourselves and the world.

Edvard Munch showed us Nature’s despair in his painting, originally titled the The Scream of Nature. Friedrich Schiller’s Ode to Joy incorporated into Ludwig Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony expressed our collective joy. John Lennon’s song, Imagine, quietly suggested what life might be for us at its best. Thank God for the arts.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Ponder Edvard Munch’s painting, The Scream.
  • Listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, especially The Ode to Joy, in live concert. If possible.
  • Find a quiet time to listen to and resonate with John Lennon’s Imagine.
  • Look for artistic expression of what means the most to you.
  • Share with those you care about the art which brings you joy.

Releasing My Friend John

Immaculate Conception Garden

Immaculate Conception Garden

JOE: Good morning Calliope.
CALLIOPE: Good morning Joe. I haven’t heard from you in a while.
JOE: My apologies. I guess I am still adjusting to my new busy life.
CALLIOPE: What’s going on?
JOE: I won’t bore you with the details. However one major event took place.
CALLIOPE: Tell me.
JOE: I am planning a trip to Long Island next month. An old friend there has wrestled with mental illness for years and I was wondering if there was anything I could do for him. In tracking him down, I found that he died in February.
CALLIOPE: Sorry to hear it. How did you learn of his death?
JOE: Through an online obituary. Then I found his sister and had a wonderful talk with her last night.
CALLIOPE: How did that help?
JOE: I learned that my friend had some good time in the last couple years, fell in love and then died peacefully after a struggle with cancer. His sister has been there to help him through the rough times. I will be forever grateful to her for that. Now it’s time to let him go.

Sliding Otter News 6/5/2010

The Gentle Art of Forgiveness

Fan Palm

~To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you~

Lewis B Smedes

The goal of forgiveness may be considered from the point of view of the offender, the offended or the relationship between the two. The offender may be relieved of the offended’s wish for retribution. The offended may let go of a wish to retaliate. Ways may be sought to normalize the relationship between the two, which forms one aspect of restorative justice.

Do you wonder just what forgiveness means? I did. The best definition I could find was one put forward by the American Psychological Association, “Forgiveness is a process (or the result of a process) that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender, resulting in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite their action and requires letting go of negative emotions toward the offender.”

The definition seems clear to me but difficult to accomplish. The great majority of us react to being wronged with feelings of anger, blame and a wish for the offender to be punished. Eventually many of us let go of these feelings although others allow themselves to be consumed by them indefinitely. Our anger might continue long after any legal process on our behalf is completed. In this case it is we who suffer rather than the person who harmed us initially. We become prisoners of our own feelings.

While forgiveness may involve a more normalized relationship between offender and offended, it does not require condoning what was done, excusing it, pardoning it or trying to forget about what happened. While forgiveness releases us to go on with our lives, the rest of these actions place us at greater risk of being taken advantage of again.

So why should we forgive those who have offended us? What do we have to gain? Positive changes in our feelings lead to our healing by releasing us of the stress of being burdened by negative emotions. Improved physical and mental health usually follow after releasing ourselves from the chains of a quest for revenge. A sense of control in our lives often returns when we no longer dwell on our misfortune.

If we choose the forgiveness option, what of the offender being held accountable? We live in a society where most offenses have legal sanctions. Even primitive civilizations have societal ways to deal with transgressions.

What if we are harmed in ways for which no legal redress exists? One approach is to be sure the offenders know how we feel about what they did. In discussing what happened we might find the offender meant us no harm and that we bear a grudge for no good reason. We might also find that the offender will take responsibility for his or her actions.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Recognize when you feel offended and why
  • Realize that the choice of how long to dwell on the offense is yours.
  • Do what you can to right the wrong and then let it go.
  • Find ways to protect yourself from further harm.
  • If you can’t let it go, write about it and store what you wrote.