Lately, I’ve been hearing ads on the radio encouraging me to take the “Happiness Experiment” and read the “Positivity Blog.” It’s a sign of these turbulent times. Tempting as those invitations may be, I’ve just taken to switching the radio “off.”
On the other hand, as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” I would add … “to the arts”!
Performing, literary, visual, media, architectural — the arts have the power to deflect, soothe, inspire, subvert, engage, teach, question, build community and, in the words of poet E.E. Cummings, “to challenge the status quo.”
The arts add unique experiences to our lives and provide welcome respite from the day-to-day. Often free for the eyes and ears, the arts beckon participation in any creative endeavor you opt to explore.
Yep, I’m an uber arts groupie. I moved to Napa in 2004, and during the past 14 years, I’ve had the pleasure — and surprise — of witnessing an arts renaissance in our communities.
Compared to cities similar to our size and demographic, we have much to brag about: a mix of theatrical venues and presenters; a growing number of nonprofit arts organizations; arts institutions with decades-long histories; a public art ordinance and master plan; and growing financial support through city/county grants.
Amateur, professional and aspiring artists live and thrive here side by side. All of us can enjoy the economic and personal benefits of this prosperity if we choose to do so.
Nowhere is the breadth and footprint of the arts in the valley more evident than during Arts in April. Produced by the dedicated team at Arts Council Napa Valley, this eighth annual potpourri features a schedule chock full of exhibitions, live music, street fairs, theatrical performances and galas plus the value added perks of food and wine (of course).
I’m looking forward to the four (down)“town” celebrations, beginning in Calistoga April 5-8. St. Helena, Napa and Yountville follow on subsequent weekends. Each community’s distinct personality is reflected in the arts activities being offered. Grab the invitation to discover the talents of practicing artists, culinary adventures and shopping (super important) in a community you may not be familiar with. (For a calendar of events, visit www.artscouncilnapavalley.org/artsinapril.)
Arts in April’s flurry of enticements remind me of past visits to New York. With so much to do and so little time, it was not unusual to pack in plays, visit clubs, walk to galleries, schedule meals with friends and catch the sounds of the buskers on streets and in subways. There have been weekends in Napa where that same excitement of things to do simmers on the streets — it’s now possible to catch an indie film, a street fair and some live music, all on the same day.
The next time you’re feeling world weary or burdened by the news of the week, plan your escape by supporting the arts in Napa Valley. As novelist Toni Morrison said, “This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.”