#55 Art in the open
For at least two generations, people have gathered in Drenthe to celebrate amateur arts. Last week, with the fam, I joined this celebration for the first time. I misunderstood it at first — hated it! — and then grew to love it. This is a short newsletter about learning to sing and my prejudices at Buitenkunst, “art outside.” Thanks for reading!
First, singing. I’ve grown up believing I cannot sing. Especially the last seven years, since I’m a father, I’ve discovered I want to be able to sing. I love it, aloud in the car or silently, along with a tune in my head. When one of the facilitators at Buitenkunst, Hidde, announced a half-day workshop for people that want to but believe they cannot sing, it was a match made in heaven.
Hidde quoted research I remember hearing about (and referencing) before that only 3% of people really cannot sing. I like adding this 3% overlaps with the people that don’t know they can’t, so everyone that believes they cannot sing actually can. Hidde made the same point. We sang Yesterday and learned some tricks, and now I’m even more psyched to take classes later this year.
Getting to the workshop was an altogether different story.
We arrived at Buitenkunst exhausted. I set up our tent, and then a downpour beyond comparison began. The rain and Corona restrictions turned the welcome and introduction into a chaotic affair with stoned people in tents. I didn’t know what I was doing at a Spartan campsite surrounded by people I felt I had nothing with in common. Grumpily, I decided not to participate in anything and let all pretentious art wannabes be and focus on nothing.
Sunday, day one, I read an entertaining book about right-wing extremism, ran a bit, and noticed my kids loved their temporary home. Monday, hesitant, I made a horn. Wednesday, full-heartedly, my wife and I did physical theater. Thursday, I went singing, and Friday, with the fullest of convictions, I created and performed a Jheronimus Bosch-inspired parade.
Lesson learned: arts participation is super scary. Art practitioners, amateurs and professionals alike, may be frightening people even to an ally. It takes tremendous guts to sign up for that workshop.
Lesson learned two: I’m prejudiced, especially when I’m exhausted. I was not too fond of Buitenkunst when I arrived, then learned to love it when I got over my initial resistance. When I gave it a chance. I met beautiful people.
The gap between thinking you cannot sing and gladly singing is bridged in the mind. It takes courage to sing. The same applies to all creative participation. Hidde was extremely welcoming and encouraging and friendly and supportive. We should all be.
Sorry for being late this week (or actually, last). Thanks for subscribing, forwarding, etc. See you soon!