Summer Art Matters – Lori Illner Greene

Art, and the emotions it conveys and provokes, is a tangible intangible. We know it does something. All that it can do is expansive and open to interpretation. Art makes some people feel whole. Some art provokes outrage. Other works are soothing. Even others can be inspirational. It is hard to put a finger on it because everyone experiences Art differently. It isn’t a necessity of life like food, water, and shelter. But works of art are showing up in excavations from 15,000 in France1, to 30,0002 on the island of Java, and now 50,000+3 years ago in Northern Germany clearly pushing back the record of neanderthal/homo sapiens relationship with art to early times indeed. We don’t need art to survive. Still, it is arguable that Art as a form of expression is one of the things that makes us more human. And… we have been doing it for a long time. Engaging with that part of our brain that is creative, innovative, and capable of symbolic thinking has propelled us as a species and continues to do so today.

As you take walks or drive through the countryside consider your surroundings. Ponder the many historically innovative and creative ways people had to behave to arrive at this place, and continue to exist here. The many ways we choose to express ourselves now in our place. From tidy gardens to explosive riots of color. Bright store fronts to staid. Extensive landscaping to simple. Brightly painted homes to neutral. Why put the time and money into these forms of personal expression? Resale value and curb appeal? Personal tastes? In the end, everyone of us exists somewhere. Many of us choose to decorate, garden, or otherwise present our homes as an extension and reflection of ourselves. Personal adornment spilling over into adornment of place. We all inherently benefit from the many contributions to the overall appearance of our town.

So why paint, draw, sculpt or garden? What is this intangible? Art recharges the soul. It makes us feel more alive, or at least more ourselves because of it. It can be a mental escape if you are the artist creating it. And the same for the viewer who appreciates it. If you are an artist, maybe try to (brave the heat and bugs) to get outside for some plein aire work this summer? Make yourselves visible in our town – in our parks, or along Main Street. There are plenty of benches to choose from. Let our dedication to having Art in our community spill over into this, a visible reflection of ourselves.

For those of you who would rather enjoy the Arts experience rather than create your own, save the dates for the next few months of activities that Fort Madison Area Arts Association has in the works:

Friday, August 6th 5pm to 7pm – Opening with viewing all month – Tri State Quilt Guild exhibit

  • Friday, September 10th 5pm to 7pm – Opening with viewing all month – Huff Stuff steampunk-like metal assemblage by Rick Huff
  • Sunday, September 19th 10am-4pm – Art in Central Park with regional artists and their wares, music, kids’ activities, and delicious food from local vendors.
  • Friday, September 24th noon – a community favorite, Lunch ala Art resumes with a luncheon and gallery talk by Rick Huff

Plus… FMAAA will keep you posted via our Facebook page, website, and posts in the Community Events as we are able to get Art and Music classes going for young people and the young at heart alike.


Lori Illner Greene is the Director of the Fort Madison Area Arts Association and is a regular contributor to the Pen City Current.

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