Art and About began as a newspaper column for one of the community weekly publications of the Contra Costa Times. I had been a features reporter with three of the Contra Costa Times Weeklies, primarily covering stories on visual and performing arts and artists. Usually, within the 600-800 words I was allotted per story, I had to catch the highlights of whatever I was covering and move on. But the hours I spent interviewing painters, dancers, actors, musicians, writers, sculptors, etc, always yielded memorable moments about how the arts worked in the lives of these people on a daily basis. It was not just their profession, or hobby, but for most of them, the arts were as essential as breathing.
I connected with these personal testimonials about the arts being a necessary spiritual component of life. But many of the anecdotes were too tangential to the feature story I was writing to include them in the prose I wrote for public consumption. Eventually, I convinced an editor to let me put these more personal artistic revelations into a column to run on the Arts page of the Contra Costa Sun. The column ran from 2001-2006. All columns are posted on this Web site, and reading them in the Printed Archive is the best way to understand the essence of Art and About.
Since my final column for the paper, I have realized that it is one thing to preach to people about engaging the creative force in everyday life, and quite another to go out and show people how to do it. Art and About needed to come off the page. It actually already had come off the page in 2004 when I stumbled into the role of children’s choir director for a local church. Singing, for me, is as important as breathing. Being an arts writer attuned my brain to noticing creativity within the world around me and within myself in ways I previously ignored, but singing has always been a constant. When I started choir directing, I was not just teaching songs to children; I was guiding them to boldly sing out and share with the world the unique songs within their hearts. There is no more meaningful connection between human beings than communicating artistically from one heart to another.
The physical body without its inherent artistic spirit is a zombie. The methods by which we engage with the creative force are too varied to list. The basic message is this: We are all born artists and we are all constantly engaged by the creative force in our lives. As long as that connection is nurtured and maintained, then all will be right with the world.
I will be regularly writing new columns to post on this Web site to share the journey I am traveling as a creative being within a creative world. I look forward to journeying with you!
An April, 2007 article in the Washington Post by Gene Weingarten is a superb example supporting the thesis of Art and About.
A great synopsis of the Post article by Matt Stone for The Wildcat Online: The Online Edition of the Arizona Daily Wildcat is even more on the nose, in terms of the Art and About way of life.
If you would like to share insights on the Art and About approach to living, I look forward to reading your comments.