In a time when we’re measuring blessings against regrets, I feel fortunate to communicate with fellow artists on a regular basis. Cynthia Llanes of Asheville Gallery of Art (AGA) recently touched on, perhaps, the most important facet of the arts at this time, or any time, with this statement: “We are not only talking about the economics in art but, most importantly, its healing power to our society and to our minds and souls.”
The healing power of the arts. Those words are in my mind every month as our Laurel staff puts together the latest issue, as we have continued to do since the pandemic began. Avenues for healing via creativity run throughout this issue, including a feature on Woolworth artist Kim Jones’ book Peace: a simple meditation, which invites art into meditation practices.
Several of the WNC musicians interviewed for a story on making music during these pandemic months mentioned the beneficial effect of not just creating but staying in the groove as much as possible with their writing, playing and promoting even though so much about the industry changed so quickly.
I also e-connected with Susan Webb Tregay, another AGA artist, who is using her paintings to chronicle the pandemic as I have been doing since March with my poetry. We share some common themes in our portrayals of the times—mask wearing, worry, grief for what’s missing in our lives and angst over George Floyd’s death—the same things being worried about millions of times over around the world.
Nature, of course, is always a source of solace. Emma has found ideas for outdoor fun perfect for September, the month that brings us summer’s finale and the overture to autumn.
As you find your own way through these stressful times, remember the words of Goethe: “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.” Soothing suggestions for any time, but especially now.
Gina Malone can be reached at email@example.com.