State of Independence

Have your ever considered what our country might look like today if the Declaration of Independence had been signed by a group of artists instead of Statesmen? Several years ago I was at a party with John Keegan and he brought up the idea, so now every Fourth of July I ponder the question and it just kind of makes me chuckle. To think how much different this country would be with more museums and spaces filled with public art, billions of dollars going toward self expression and the creation of ideas, finding a balance and harmony filled with color. Art would become a prominent part of our social fabric as we are encouraged to be creative from an early age. More theatre, more dance, more music, an appreciation of these performing arts becoming as equally as popular as athletics. It worked in ancient Greek culture and remained a defining influence of the Italian Renaissance, the era of Michelangelo and Raphael and of course Caravaggio. Where public art held a prominence in the churches and public meeting places and artists were regarded with high esteem, much still surviving years centuries later. Where everyone knows the work of art and painters become cultural social celebrities? Today I would estimate that 90% of American’s can name a living contemporary artist and what kind of medium they work in. But then again how many people know how many presidents we have had and who they were. I know growing up in a small mountain town like Superior in the 60’s and 70’s my artistic expression was quenched because it was perceived a frivolous. I remember my father telling me it’s OK to have as a hobby, but it’s not practical as a life choice. Coming from a moderately conservative poorer family who struggles to maintain the American Dream, my father telling me he would not help me with school if I chose to work in the Arts because it was a waste of resources to pursue something that was not sustainable and that I probably not succeed in and that I needed to be more practical. Yet helped my brother who became an engineer. But I was determined and believed enough so did it on my own and it eventually took me 8 years to work my way through college. Working in the arts is sometimes a very difficult challenge, because being an artist is the most underappreciated, under paid, misunderstood person in most circles of the world. Today I celebrate the birth of our nation and appreciate all the freedom we have fought to win and maintain. But for this one day, think what if…and don’t underestimate the power of art. Happy 4th of July America!!!