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Art & Culture
Auld Lang Syne
lessons learned from this profession
ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
mostly true stories from my
more "it's all about me"
Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The
Political Compass. Where
observations on the human condition
take a trip with me
|Published in "Legacy Online" May, 2004|
Growing SeasonIt'll probably come as no surprise that I'm an avid gardener. (When I say "avid", don't understand that to be "good", but rather enthusiastic.) With vegetables, at least. In spite of all the craziness with closing the gallery this spring, I still managed to find time to get our vegetable garden in. That's how important gardening is to me.
So, we've got tomatoes (7 varieties), peppers (4 varieties), sweet corn, pole beans, and watermelon, not to mention a small collection of potted plants which give me some claim to having an herb garden. I love all these veggies fresh from the garden, and dry a prodigious amount of tomatoes each year, storing them carefully in extra-virgin olive oil, for those cold days of winter when they're the perfect compliment to a cracker with blue cheese and a splash of scotch.
As a gardener, I understand about the changing of the seasons, how you have to put things to rest for a while now and then, why you need to rotate crop placement in order to maintain a healthy soil, what plants will thrive here and what will fail, when you have to start thinking about getting the soil turned, the need to plant and water at the right times. Don't pay attention to these things, and you won't have those delectable tomatoes to enjoy, no corn on the cob slathered with butter, watermelon to cool summer's heat, or fresh salsa to share over a beer with friends. Allow the weeds to flourish, and they'll steal water and nutrients. Wait too long to harvest, and the birds and deer will love you. There's a necessary rhythm you have to follow, a dance you have to dance, a time to sow and a time to reap.
All of this, of course, is a perfect metaphor for being in business.
In that sense, the soil here in Columbia has been drained of the necessary nutrients to support art. My hat's off to Sara Agnew of the Columbia Tribune for saying that in her Ovation piece mentioned above. In her position, it's hard to say anything which can be construed as being negative of Columbia. Certainly, there are those in the business community and the leadership positions of the city who would have you believe that the soil is not only fertile, but capable of growing anything from any corner of the globe, and in vast quantities. To acknowledge that there needs to be some fertilizing done, that the soil is tired and won't support more than a feeble crop, is risky.
Risky, but absolutely necessary. What Ms. Agnew had to say was hard to read. I love Columbia, and ache to discover that the support for the arts I thought was here is lacking. But unless we recognize and accept the truth of that, there will be no chance to correct it. If the pH of the soil needs to be changed, then no amount of tilling will help. If irrigation is necessary, fertilizer alone is useless.
The ground will lie fallow now for a while, recharging. Columbians who love art will have to seek it out in the nooks and crannies of our town, find it blooming over a brief weekend here and there. Perhaps another gardener will come along and try to plant a new crop in a few years. I hope so. But I hope that we'll remember that such a garden takes more than just our good wishes in order to succeed. It takes our support in the form of purchases of the produce.
all work © James T. Downey, 1993-present
photos © Martha K. John, 1994-present
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