Monday, November 18, 2013

Cooking Up Some Culture

I've been giving a lot of thought recently to the plethora of food blogs. I LOVE food blogs; they're so folksy. (Although I do wonder why so many of them read like romance novels. Have you noticed how many great cooks have met their beloveds through their food blogs?) Why aren't culture blogs as folksy?

This isn't an idle whim, actually. I've covered Seattle area arts for three decades, and the ongoing quandary seems to be how to make art more accessible. A few years back, for a series of radio reports I produced on arts funding, a longtime Seattle arts administrator talked to me about the differences she saw between audiences for sporting events and arts audiences. This woman believes that while we all make art when we're young, we don't so much as we get older. For instance, many adults participate in community soccer leagues, or running clubs, or rowing teams. Not so many of us sing, or dance or write. At least, not in a public way. Are we afraid of making fools of ourselves?

I think some people have the same fear when it comes to seeing art, whether that means a gallery show or an opera, or something more cutting edge at one of the many contemporary art venues. Any number of people have told me that art is intimidating; they don't know how they're supposed to respond to it, so they avoid it. Football? That makes sense, it's a contest, we understand what's at stake. What's at stake when you see a contemporary dance performance? It doesn't help that when we write about that performance or painting or installation, we tend to over-intellectualize our subjects.

I'm not saying everything we write should be simplistic; just, why can't we write about art in a way that opens the door for people who are curious? I'm going to try to do that with this blog. You may not like what you read; that's ok. But I think a good performance is just as tasty as a chocolate tart. At least it should be. And I hope I'll be able to describe things I love with the same loving touch as the best food blogger writes about pasta.

And, by the way, I did meet my long-term partner at an Arts Commission meeting.  But you're not going to read that story here!


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