Wednesday is Valentine’s Day!
What a great time to speak about passion-
-passion for art.
Which arts attract you, and how are feeding this passion??
I believe the arts contribute to our mind, spirit, soul and physical health.
Each day, you can add a bit of stress reducing, peace promoting beauty. Log onto Pandora channels which fill your soul! Add beauty to you walls with locally purchased art or poster reproductions of works by favorite masters. Dance when no one is looking! Take lessons - or attend a recital. Attend community theater or listen to a good drama via audio recordings. Stargaze. Read poetry aloud. You get the idea!
Many favor the beauty of verse of the King James Bible; read 1 Corinthians 13, the well-known love chapter. Or seek the verses of Kahlil Gibran, popular when I was young.
Pictured above is Robert Indiana's iconic design for a MoMA card, actually Christmas in 1966.
Instead of my usual tips and instructions about painting, this week I am focusing on passion for the arts. I had a very fortunate childhood- influenced by those who loved and practiced their art!
I speak often of my mother who, from the age of 12 when she was befriended by the poet Esther Baldwin York, belonged to a women’s association which supported the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, NH, and she had the privilege of knowing the colony founder’s wife, Marian MacDowell.
The most wonderful part of this “art club” was the strong friendship and respect among these women: pianists, poets, painters, prose writers, actors, dancers. They met monthly for decades. At each meeting, one presented a short concert, demonstration, lecture, reading and so forth. They encouraged one another and learned from each other. I occasionally attended meetings and was present when they met at our house (recruited to help clean and hostess!)
In Greek mythology, the nine muses were the Greek goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts. According to Hesiod, the Greek poet and contemporary of Homer, each muse protected a different art and were symbolized by a unique item.
Calliope (epic poetry - writing tablet)
Clio (history - scroll)
Euterpe (lyric poetry - aulos, a Greek flute)
Thalia (comedy and pastoral poetry - comic mask)
Melpomene (tragedy - tragic mask)
Terpsichore (dance - lyre)
Erato (love poetry - cithara, a Greek type of lyre)
Polyhymnia (sacred poetry – veil)
Urania (astronomy - globe and compass)
You may prefer the traditional subdivisions of the Seven Arts: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Music, Poetry, Dance, Performing.
The arts contribute to health, confidence, well-being, relaxation and appreciation of beauty. It is widely agreed that knowledge of music complements mathematics skill. I believe all subjects can be taught through the arts; it is a crime against society when the arts are cut from public schools.
The women in my mom’s “art club” left lasting impressions. Poet-composer, Ruth, wrote witty poetry, songs that were performed by Delores Hope, and tutored students at Fairfax High School. She was always “Ruth in the Blue Dress” to us. Jacqueline was a writer-journalist who traveled the world, returning with treasures for my dollhouse, such as the tiny copper pitcher and real silverware, and telling exotic stories. During the 60’s actress, Margaret, landed a part in an adult rated film and was a bit of a scandal among the more conservative women. Elizabeth was a concert pianist. Esther and was an award-winning poet (and my mother’s best friend).
These determined women raised funds to send to the colony through concerts and even an art themed cookbook. Each of these women became very real to me. Esther and family camped with us in Sequoia. I played with their daughters and have stayed in touch with some. I often wore their “hand-me-downs.”
When we married, Esther to read, composed a sonnet for my new groom and me! At the end of my mother’s life, three of these women made several trips (a long distance across LA for these older women) to visit her and yes, when she died, another sonnet was written.
Our senses hunger for beauty! On this Valentine’s Day, remember passion for expression.
So which art(s) are you passionate about? Which muse moves you?
Do you help young people to have opportunities for expression and exposure to the arts?
Take an extra moment this week to celebrate your favorite muse - or host a gathering to share.
Or let cupid’s arrow land, and send your love a personally created Valentine!
Note: The last 15 months have challenged us! This month I encourage you to learn from the isolation and I wish you a cautious, but joyous June reopening!
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