The scope of this article is way too limited to make a case for why visual art is important. So, I assume you have already come to this conclusion. As someone who thinks art is important, what can you do to move from conviction to action?
Peoria needs people who support the arts. Not “arts” in a dis- embodied phenomenological sense. I mean artists.
Since my time in Peoria, I am amazed at the disconnect be- tween people who say they “value the arts” and how local art- ists are actually supported systemically and financially. Because the term “arts” has been conflated to mean any creative en- deavor, we have lost all sense of the very real connection be- tween artist and arts. The arts do not exist without artists, and artists cannot work at their craft diligently and passionately without a support system in place. In order to create “fine art” or “challenging art” or “provocative art”, the artist themselves need to have the time and resources to create.
How can you help? I’m going to offer 2 concrete steps.
1) Pay for art made by real artists in direct way where the artists actually receive the money. If you want to furnish your house with good art, be patient and go to galleries, cafes, exhibits, shows that feature local art and be ready to purchase some- thing. This may take months and years before you find some- thing you love. But if you wait and find a piece that speaks to you, it may be something you have for the rest of your life. And believe me, one piece you pay $600 is worth way more than a handful of kitschy prints you find at Home Goods or Crate and Barrel.
2) Talk to artists. Go to gallery spaces. Visit studio spaces on First Fridays. Attend an Emerging Artist’s Collective meeting at Ear and the Envelope on the fourth Thursdays from 4:00- 5:30pm and meet artists who are striving to step onto the arts scene in Peoria. It might be intimidating at first, but artists would love to talk about their work and they will be grateful you are taking an interest in them as people. Ask what inspired them to create their work. Ask them about their story and how they discovered their passion for art. Talk to them like normal people because they are normal people (with some potential quirky and socially awkward tendencies).
I encourage you to both appreciate and support the arts in real ways. For more information for ways of engaging the arts, please email me at . It would be great to have the opportunity to discuss more about this.