Tuesday, 2 August 2011


A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.

(As always, if pressed for time scroll down to the WHAT CAN YOU DO section)

I am lucky enough to live in a city which enriches my life daily through the placement of art in public places. 
Art not only beautifies a neighbourhood; it provides a focus for conversation...
...an opportunity to experience something new or something familiar in a new way.  It also serves as an enjoyable method of exercising one’s brain and cognitive dexterity.
“How does art accomplish this? It introduces the brain to diverse cognitive skills that help us unravel intricate problems. Art activates the creative part of our brain - the part that works without words and can only express itself non-verbally. Art, in thought and through the creative processes, activates the imaginative and creative side, the spatial and intuitive side of our brain. Art jumps over the process of linear and logical thinking. It trains the brain to shift into thinking differently, of broaching old problems in new ways.
This is what makes art so important. It benefits the brain by training it to think outside the box. It helps children understand concepts with greater ease. It aids children in getting better grades. In the real world, the artistic side of the brain helps engineers solve problems. It guides individuals to create solutions. Art is the property of fine artists; it is also the product of engineers, technicians and computer designers. Art, in many different ways, helps people make the world a better place.”  Source here.

Art is also part of what makes humans unique.    Many animals use and create tools (crows, and chimpanzees to name a few).  Many animals in captivity have been taught to create art of one kind or another (and you can link here,  here, and here for examples), partly as enrichment for the animals and partly as a fundraising initiative for zoos and sanctuaries.  Some of these creations have become quite famous, and have served as a commentary on human art forms (for instance the paintings by Congo the chimp, and the hoax perpetrated in the 1960s). 

Undoubtedly animals are capable of appreciating art (for example, music), and of creating art in some form given some tutoring.  However, the spontaneous creation of art with intent is something that, so far, appears to be uniquely human; not surprising given the importance and unique place that symbolic thought play in human social groups, and in the human psyche. 

So, enjoy art in all its forms (for the purpose of this and the next  two blog entries, I have focused on public sculpture simply because I live in a great city which has abundant public sculpture). Actively take part in the dialogue and relationship -in the ‘conversation’ between artist, art object, and art critic (that’s you!)  created by art.


1.  Support your local artist.  Buy locally created art when you can. 

2.   Let artists know that you appreciate their work.

3.  Take the time to stop and enjoy art, and to share it with others.

4.  When public art is provided by a company or organisation, get in touch with the sponsoring body and let it know that you appreciate it.

This horse, for example, graces the front entrance of a hotel.
 This carved tree stands guard in a metro station.
This is a Henry Morgan sculpture placed outside the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

5.  Go here and see what you can do to support the Canada Council of Arts
6.  Support your local museums.  Become members, give a donation (this makes a great gift too), buy tickets to special exhibits, or just wander in on the 'free days'.  Let your city council know how important your museums are to you.
7.  Expose a child to art, and revel in the joy as a whole new world reveals itself.

8.  Write to your local MP and let him/her know that supporting the arts is an important issue to you

9.  Find out what arts councils are in your area, and see what you can do to help.

10.  Create art yourself.
(Note:  the next two blog entries will consist of pictures of public art.  I will be away on vacation, so just consider this list as the WHAT YOU CAN DO LIST  for the next two blog entries too.  Enjoy!)

1 comment:

  1. It's been a requirement in Toronto for many many years to have an art piece created by a local artist be commissioned for the front space &/or lobby of any new building. There is the most interesting stuff out there. From giant aliens to double-ended egg beaters, to a cement couch, and herds of tiny donkeys and blackened bronze cows laying in the grass. It's a wonderfully eclectic art-centric city.