In kindergarten his little friend next to him told him he was scribbling.  He came home from school that day and asked if that was true?  Up until that point I assumed he had his father’s artistic abilities; stickmen abound.  He would hold up his coloring for me to comment on and I’d say that’s nice.  But now, he showed me the criticized art work and I just gently explained to him that coloring in the lines of the picture made it look more real.  He wasn’t hurt or mad, just thoughtful.

The next few years he took care when he drew.  Paid special attention to color.  Was inspired when his best friend drew large cities that fit on an index card.  Painted watercolor pictures of our woodlot behind the house.  I framed it special and hung it next to the other art.

What if that kindergarten boy had never told him the truth?

Some ten years, art classes, and day dreamy determination later has made him an artist.  Somehow he always was, it just had to be encourage and given opportunity and not always the best way from me, I confess.  I’ve ragged on him for ruining his good new sweatshirt with acrylics,  been late to pick him up from art club and told him to get his head out of the clouds, knowing full well he was dreaming of the city to draw on the index card.  He even STILL doodles in church.

This week him and his classmates had an artist exhibit at the downtown art gallery.  The theme was ‘art saves lives.’  An artist must have come up with that abstract concept for sure.  It could’ve been birds, or school thoughts, or hockey. Something simple and explainable.

I don’t think we can save art “saves” per se.

I can live without art but what kind of life would I be living?

I can’t explain how art lives in me and comes out as work.  Which is why it’s called art-work.  When I play the piano, renovate a room, work in the garden I create with little need for external motivators.   In fact these teenagers probably don’t even realize how art is able to save them.

By Wardan

They will understand it when they are working full time to barely pay the bills and come home exhausted and have to make supper and take the kids to karate.  When the new baby won’t stop crying and piles of laundry sit on the floor and you sit in the green velour rocker and stare out at the January snow wondering if you have enough energy to shower let alone get into real clothes.  Then they’ll know that art can save them.  Then they’ll sit at the piano and slowly, longingly, play Chopin with mourning and caress the old hymnal and lovingly play “How Great thou art.”  Then they’ll know that art is the only thing saving them.

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