Living Simply With Art

dsc_0015.jpgIn the story of Genesis God said, “Let there be light” and there was light…the whole story of creation is about God taking “nothing” and making “something” and then standing back and admiring His work and saying, “that’s good!” When we admire, appreciate, and make art we are imitating this creation of the universe.

In today’s world, especially in the United States, art is often viewed as something for the elite, for people who have been educated in it, for people who have been performing classical music since they were two and a half years old, but of course when we really look at it this is actually really silly….why? Well it’s not why art was created in the first place. Actually, many of the greatest works of art and music ever created weren’t made for concert halls and museums…they were made for people, serving a purpose, the purpose to help us better understand, express, and celebrate our lives and the lives we share with others. Bach’s cantatas from Leipzig, Germany, the Chauvet-Pont-d’ Arc cave paintings in southern France, Michelangelo’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel, The Gamble House in Pasadena, CA, to name a few, these are art works that serve humanity, that tell our story, that inspire us and prove that beauty does exist, that it is something universal and sought after in cultures and societies around the world.

What I am saying is this: Art doesn’t just belong to the educated or elite. It belongs to anyone with appreciation.

We can and, if we so desire, should pursue ways to learn about and possibly create art and music and find ways to incorporate it into our lives.

Some people were exposed to art at a very young age, and some in their adult lives feel an interest. Despite the vibe that you get from many artistic circles, it doesn’t matter how much experience or knowledge you have as long as you have an interest. There are many ways to interact with creativity. If you have never visited an art museum or have never attended a live concert, that is a great way to start. See what speaks to you. Remember that artists and musicians are people too. Some things you will understand and like, some things not, and that’s great! Often you will discover new ways of looking at things. I like to look for artists who inspire me and who bring out truth and beauty together in their works. Colleges often offer exhibits and concerts of high quality and free admission.

Once you develop or have a personal taste in art, you might wish to invite certain art pieces into your home. Works by local artists or artists you meet when you visit a new place can have special meaning and can help you interact with this appreciation. These don’t have to be any specific kind of art, just art that you like, that brings you joy, that reminds you of the good.

And have the courage to create when you truly desire to. This could mean taking up music lessons, learning to paint or sculpt, learning to dance. It could also be 20130306-111224.jpgcomposing music, music that no one’s ever heard before! Whatever your medium of expression may be, start out, and a little bit each day, even a few minutes, allows you to have a creative and balanced life. Remember the library, public museums, and the internet are all at your disposal, but more important is your imagination and the ability you have to explore and interact with beauty.

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting the  Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for the Arts and Crafts here in Alta Loma, CA. What a beautiful place! We were able to tour Sam and Alfreda’s home and see how the home grew from a few rooms to the two-story building it is today. Now it is a museum and is set up as it was when the couple was living there. What I noticed was how the art in the home, and the home itself was beautifully hand made by Sam, was just what they liked. It didn’t have to be by a particular artist or worth this or that much money, it was there because they liked it and because it reflected interests that they had. It is a very inviting home, very comfortable and very warm. If you are in the area I would highly recommend you’re paying a visit! http://www.malooffoundation.org/. It is interesting that Sam didn’t consider himself an artist. He always said he was a woodworker. I like to talk about Sam and Alfreda because I believe they show how we can live in balance with nature, ourselves, God, and others and they did this in their own unique way. Sam had a great personality and wrote really well about his work. You can read his own words about it at the following link: http://americanart.si.edu/exhibitions/online/whc/whc-noframe.html?/exhibitions/online/whc/maloof.html 

Always remember that art is here to serve us.

And if you have a song to sing, sing it!

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“Crystal Cove”

ImageWhen I was writing this piece, I was imagining the colorful landscapes and coasts of California. They have a certain spirit and feel that is unique to them and not found anywhere else on Earth. These special environments have long inspired California artists to create works of art that are contemplations of distinctive beauty. Artists like the architect Frank Lloyd Wright http://www.franklloydwright.org/, the woodworker Sam Maloof http://www.malooffoundation.org/,  and the California Impressionist painter Edgar Payne http://www.edgarpayne.com/, to name a few, have drawn inspiration directly from the gorgeous natural beauty of California. It was in this same spirit that I wrote the piece entitled “Crystal Cove” for violin and piano.

I had in mind the harmonies and textures of Debussy and Delius, but I wanted to create something spoken in a sincere language coming from someone who grew up in California. I had never been to Crystal Cove, but I had been to the coast many times and had in mind a specific kind of color and texture when I was composing it. When we visited Crystal Cove I noticed how much this place looked like the place I imagined while composing this piece, so that’s how it came to be named after this place. I would highly recommend you visit this park. You can read about it at http://www.crystalcovestatepark.com/.

This is the video of the first live performance of Crystal Cove taken on November 16, 2013 in Claremont, CA. Special thanks to pianist Nico Marucut who first told me the piece was good and who performed with me in this concert and to Ken Glaser who made the video.