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Art is Like a Multi-Vitamin

(Originally published in the Napa Valley Register)


For the past three years, about this time of year, I’ve written about Napa Open Studios. I’ve suggested guidelines in building an art collection, described the difference between art and design and have even proposed logical itineraries to see the most amount of art during the two Open Studios weekends.


What new could I write this year? Should I skip it this time? But having participated myself in Sausalito Open Studios and having entered interior design competitions, I know how much heart, soul and even vulnerability artists put into their work and I cannot pass up the opportunity to support them.


As I scrolled through Napa Open Studios’ Facebook page, I noticed how each manifested piece of talent made me feel. There’s no denying that art affects us in an emotional way – if we’re paying attention. And, bingo, that is what I’m going to write about today.


At the risk of sounding cliché, art can feed our spirit. To compound my risk by sounding hokey, too, I’m inviting you to do an exercise. That is, turn off all the noise in your room, close your eyes and take two deep breaths. Now hear the relaxing sound of foghorns in the distance. Next, see a litter of scampering puppies. Now switch to the soulful notes in a Puccini aria and lastly, smell and taste the nostalgia of your grandmother’s home cooking. If these examples don’t hit home, think of your own that will stir healthy emotions.


What does this exercise have to do with art? Art can also stir healthy emotions. The emotions that feed our spirit – just like vitamins feed our body. Some art is meant to be disturbingly provocative and that’s okay. But as a multi-vitamin, I’m just referring to the pieces that make us feel good. The kind that enhances both our outlook and our inner being. The kind that reminds us of treasures of the past and inspires our goals for the future.


My own feel-good art is usually a painting composed with a lot of white background, i.e., “empty space”, and clear secondary colors like orange, magenta, green, purple, and turquoise. The white empty space gives me a soothing sense of quiet while the clear colors project refreshing optimism. (To each his own, right?)


I’m also uplifted by images of places I’d like to be such as in the midst of a butterfly stroke in a dreamy swimming pool or strolling along a café-lined Mediterranean city. I like these images represented in an abstract way so that my imagination and senses have room to travel.

What about you? What makes you feel good? What would your healthy dose of pleasure be? Black and white photography? Peaceful plein air, energetic oils, or hand-woven tapestries? What about the graceful lines of a bronze sculpture or clay pottery? Do you like to wear art like a piece of enamel, glass or metal jewelry?


The idea is to choose art that makes you feel good. That gives you a boost just like a shot of B12. Choose art carefully. Choose art that means something to you. Choose art that - feeds your spirit.


Photo: Lisa Livoni Art

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