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.
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