Who is an Artist?

/ / The Observer

The Art of Community


By Sarah West, ACE staff member


When you hear the word art, you might think of a painting hung in a gold frame, a sculpture on a pedestal, the echoing halls of a museum. We tend to lump art with high culture – galleries, museums, ornate theaters and towering concert halls. While these places help us to celebrate and preserve art, they’re not the whole story.

Art is one of the first ways we learn to explore the world: marks scratched onto paper eventually become mom or dad, then blossom into scenes full of texture, detail and narrative. Wobbly block towers mature into castles. We explore shape, color, and sound with the awe and fervor of an enthusiastic beginner, because we are one.

Though it seems from the outside that Picasso must have invented cubism as a toddler, that Michelangelo always knew how to carve perfect forms out of stone, and Shakespeare’s first scribbles were written in iambic pentameter, it’s not true. No one is born an artist.

The first time Miles Davis blew into a trumpet, it sounded terrible. Painting, sculpture, novel writing, dancing, photography – these all take as much work as learning an instrument. You don’t go to your first piano lesson expecting to play Beethoven – that takes years of study. Becoming a Beethoven takes many more years still, if you ever make it that far. Some of us have the tenacity and drive to become a Beethoven, some of us have too much fun doing other things.

It’s when you expand your notion of art that things get interesting and you begin to see artists all around you: quilt makers, carpenters, organizers, gardeners, scrapbookers, storytellers, cake bakers, room decorators, grill masters, web designers, letter writers, and on and on. You may not create art that ends up in a museum, but if you do something in your life that combines a sense of purpose with practiced skill, you are an artist.

In the words of the famous French painter, Henri Matisse, “Creativity takes courage.” There is no right way to do art and most of the world’s famous artists were rule-breakers by definition, pushing past cultural standards to forge their own expressive path. To be an artist, all you need is the courage to begin, and now is as good a time as any.

Creativity feeds on creativity. Come get inspired by the gallery exhibits displayed at our 1006 Penn Avenue location, or visit our Art at the Market booth, where you and your kids can exercise your creativity twice a month at the La Grande Farmers Market. Both activities are free and open to all.



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