Artful Living

Jean-DetjenBY Jean Detjen

My new Artful Living column is about feeding senses and spirits through the exploration of art, music, fashion, lifestyle, culture and creative happenings. I invite readers to journey along with me on an eclectic melange of artistic adventures, searching out muses and amusements, meandering as we go.

Who needs an itinerary? It often does us good to be more child-like, tapping into natural curiosity in fearless pursuit of new sensory experiences that grab our attention. Opportunities for doing so are all around us!

When asked as a kid what I was going to be when I grew up, I said I wanted to be an artist. I didn’t exactly pursue what most people think of when the word “art” comes to mind. But I’ve certainly played around with a variety of hues, mediums, and canvases in my life and career path.

I’ve painted and weaved lush stories, selling the romance of wine from across the globe. Danced a two-step and belted out Irish pub songs on a Texas dude ranch. Transported BBQ buffets down rocky riverside hills in an open pickup truck, using my dusty, ruffled, skirt-draped boots to keep pot lids secured. Seduced calloused, hard-working feet into all variety of foot candy. Haunted nursing home arts & crafts rooms with pen in hand, hoping to stir up hidden away memories. Vocalized great expectations for disadvantaged students who, like all children, deserve every creative discovery opportunity the world has to offer. Channeled my inner (friendly!) vampire, soliciting altruistic offerings of life-giving human blood.

Helped bring original music to community streets, homes, hearts and souls. Waxed poetic during challenging yet transformative life changes. Posed for camera lenses and the artists behind them, casting off old ideas about age and beauty.

Life is achingly short, yet art lives to tell the story. Many of us can relate to artist Pablo Picasso’s observation that “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Getting lost in the process of creating something is a balm like no other. Each of us has some form of innate creativity, expressed most authentically via how we choose to live.

I often ponder these words from French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault whose inquisitiveness I share: “What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?”

Why, indeed?!

I’m still trying to figure out what it means to be an “artist”. Perhaps a definition is unnecessary. What I know for sure is that life is about painting your own personal masterpiece. Throw lots of colors on it and experiment with texture and technique. Don’t be afraid to break rules, paint beyond the lines, and let your eyes see beauty in unexpected places. When you do, I’d love to hear about it.

Living artFULLY in the heart of Wisconsin.

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