Friday, November 2, 2012

First Fridays and Inspiring Art

One of my favorite things to do in Kansas City, MO is to attend the monthly, "First Fridays" art event in the Crossroads Arts District.  My husband and I attend nearly every month if we can, and we never fail to be mentally stretched and inspired by the art we view.  Local and new talent is always showcased, and we enjoy meandering about the district, listening to and viewing the various musical talent and street acts that also typically perform.  Today marks yet another, "First Friday," and my husband and I are planning to take in the exhibits and such this evening after he speaks at a conference in KC.  The main exhibits for this event will be from 2-8:30PM at, "Weinberger Fine Art," (located at 1800 Baltimore Avenue), and the, "Art in November, Lest Cold to Remember" exhibit from 6-9PM in the "Jones Gallery" (located at 1717 Walnut).  There is also a special fashion show event entitled, "In the Vain of Style," from 6-11PM at, "The Craft Gallery & Studio" (located at 412 East 18th Street)--tickets are $20 in advance via their website and $25 at the door.  Personally, I will more than likely be offering up favors and schmoozing to persuade my husband to take me to the fashion show!

If you know me at all, you know that I love art and all its various mediums and forms. The definition of "art" from dictionary.com is as follows:  "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance."  You can find a lot of other definitions for, "art," many of which are more mechanical and impersonal than this one.  As someone who thinks of art as much more than just creative skill, and believes it is at its best when it relays some personal feeling, thought, or emotion, I personally prefer any definition that uses the terms, "expression," or "beauty."  I also like this particular definition because of its ending:  "or of more than ordinary significance."  Great art certainly isn't ordinary, and definitely holds "significance," either in creative genius or in profound thought and/or emotion.  

On a much simpler level, I suppose I love art because I can lose myself in it--art is a wonderful escape.  At the same time, it is intellectually and sense-fully stimulating.  I am challenged to see my world differently or think about something commonplace in a completely new way.  I discover things I didn't know about life, death, love, and the human spirit.  Sometimes, I even discover things I didn't know about myself--things that move me, disturb me, provoke me, encourage me, haunt me, captivate me.  Being a lover of people, but someone who is not always very good at getting to know new people, art feels on some strange level like a safe way of branching out to humanity.  I think it is one of the rare times when complete strangers give you a glimpse of their soul, and it doesn't seem unreasonable or ignorant for them to do so;  dangerous, courageous, or risky perhaps, but not foolish.  If the artist is present, I always try to make a point to thank them for sharing their work, regardless of my level of appreciation or love for their art.  It is a brave thing to share one's soul with others. 

Like many others, I like to think of God as, "The Master Artist of All."  Jesus, being a carpenter by trade and skill, was also an artisan and craftsman in His own right.  To me, art started with God, and He filtered it down to the rest of us, inspiring anyone and everyone who appreciated and valued His designs and creations, (or life, in general), to use creative expression to tell the world a little something about themselves (or about life).  God's work in designing the universe and everything in it tells us a great deal about Him--His character, His glory, His intelligence, His heart, His awesome power, His majesty, His great love for us.  He is the most amazingly expressive artisan the world has ever known.  You don't even have to attend an art festival, visit a gallery, or catch the latest museum exhibit in town to view His work.  Most of His works are free to behold, and when you truly take in even one of His masterpieces, you realize very quickly that everyone else is just copy-catting Him.  Whenever I derive great pleasure viewing another human being's artistic ability or work, I always praise God for what He gifted that person to do.  Since God created the skillful eyes and hands that perceived and created the good art I am beholding, it makes perfect sense to me that God ultimately deserves the praise, credit and glory for it, as well.  By way of the transitive property (or good logic), one can deduce that He essentially designed and created that, too.  Praise be to God, for His amazing artistry--His works are our best great escape, and our greatest inspiration.

Psalm 40:5 (NASB version), "Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count."

Psalm 145:5 (NIV), "They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works."

Psalm 71:17 (NIV), "Since my youth, O God, You have taught me, and to this day I declare Your marvelous deeds."

Psalm 66:3-4 (NIV), "Say to God, 'How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power that Your enemies cringe before You.  All the earth bows down to You; they sing praise to You, they sing the praises of Your name.'"
   
Psalm 111:2 (NIV), "Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them."

Job 37:14 (KJV 2000 Bible), "Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God."

Philippians 4:8 (NIV), "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."