Santa Monica is an artsy kind of town and he city has some very left-brain proof of the area’s left-brain leanings. According to a report City Council received in 2007, 43 percent of Santa Monica’s adults make all or part of their living in the arts-related fields.
“Even compared to Los Angeles and other creative centers, Santa Monica has an extraordinary proportion of artists, performers, designers, writers, directors and other professionals who work in the creative sector, more than six times the national average,” it says.
Some signs of the city’s arts focus are readily abundant, there’s public art on the promenade, both sculptural and performance, there are murals on local buildings and the city has a multitude of movie screens, live stages, comedy clubs and performance venues. But art can be sneaky, it can creep into everyday life to jumpstart even the most mundane of tasks.
Talking is something we all do every day, but there is an art to the spoken word. When a turn of phrase is well crafted, delivered and received with impact, it resonates beyond simple communication. To translate the ephemeral thoughts of one human into sound waves, and then have those sounds re-associated with the correct concepts and desires is a great accomplishment, and one that most of us are less adept at than we’d like to think. However, there are places and people ready, willing and able to teach you that art such as the Toastmasters group. Toastmasters helps members refine the art of communication, not just for fun, but also as a real world skill. At a recent meeting, members were challenged to improvise speeches, deliver prepared remarks, and just as important, they were expected to listen critically in order to give useful feedback. The members use those skills outside the group to facilitate their jobs and personal lives. It was a very tangible example of art as a real life skill.
Eating is also among the mundane tasks that can be elevated with art. Food is unique in that it’s undeniably an art form, we’ve all be wowed by a dish at some point in our lives, but it’s also a biological imperative to survive. I’ve always been particularly impressed by individuals that are able to bring the artistry to food in a way that doesn’t just acknowledge nutrition, but celebrates it. Chef Gino Campagna did that at a recent class at Grant Elementary. He inspired the young students to appreciate the color, taste, texture and tactile sensation of food while also creating enthusiasm for the process of cooking and the benefits of healthy food. By changing snack time into an arts project, students had a chance to process the value of nutrition in a new way.
However, sometimes art can, does and should soar unfettered from the bounds of the mundane world. Sometimes art should elevate us, motivate us and bring is out of our normal selves. That’s the kind of experience that organizers are hoping for at Make Music LA. The annual event helps citizens bring live music to local parks. There’s some debate as to how Santa Monica may get involved in this year’s event, but as Karen Ginsberg says in today’s letters to the editor, local groups are being encouraged to participate at a grass roots level (you can visit http://makemusicla.org for more information).
As a community we are fortunate to have art so embedded in the community and hopefully we can all take some time to appreciate the artistic moments in life both big and small.