Opinion

Local artists need your support

If you’re like me, sometimes walking by the guy playing guitar on a street can cause you to pick up the pace a little bit.

Even if he’s well-dressed and sounds good, we sometimes have an aversion to listening to this guy because it seems like a hassle to appreciate art in its raw form, displayed without need for fiscal compensation.

As an American, whenever we want to see art, we cash out money for a movie ticket or a concert pass. We want to see the big names, Hollywood-quality production values, perfect mixing-in tracks, and an artist whose technique has inspired millions.

But what about that guy on the street, playing the songs from his heart that he’s playing for playing’s sake? Or that girl painting the mural in the park you like to visit sometimes? The free Shakespeare production happening at your community theatre?What about watching the video your friend made that he shared with you on Facebook?

Or even taking the time to listen to the mixtape that guy on the street randomly handed you? (That actually happened to me, and I wasn’t disappointed. The dude had bars.)

What I’m trying to say is we sometimes fall into the trap of thinking the only good art is the stuff we have to pay for, or the stuff that’s being sponsored by bigwig labels or record deals.Look around your town; There is so much raw talent being put out in coffee shops, bars, the performing arts center and so on. It’s usually just as good as who you’ll find in bigger venues, and always significantly cheaper. (frequently free!).

Frankly, I’m a little spoiled in this regard. I come from Tulsa, a very artistically active town. I can’t walk ten feet without running into someone throwing their art in my face. (which is a great problem to have). Sometimes in smaller towns that art will be harder to find. But that’s okay! Local artists need your support.

What does support look like? Obviously a few dollars at the door doesn’t hurt, but helping an artist is even more than that. Share your friend’s art on social media. Tell your friends how great their band/exhibit/show is. Be in prayer for their success.

What’s great about local artists is this: frequently, they’re not in it for the money (I don’t want to make an overgeneralization, but this has been my experience). So many local artists have found so much more joy in producing their art than in funds. When they present you with their work, it is their raw life being put before you on a silver platter. How can you not appreciate that?

All that to say, the next time you find yourself by that sidewalk guitarist, consider throwing him a few dollars. He’s doing what he loves, and if you stop and listen, you might discover that you love it too.