What is it that fills the velvet cushioned seats of a theater with eager bodies? What draws people to travel hours to peer at a collection of paintings? What causes people to devote endless hour upon hour to repetitive, rote practice, sacrificing personal joys and free time with loved ones? Both complex and simple all at once, the answer is the art spark.
Shared by artist and audience member alike, the art spark is one of those wondrous things that make man unique from other earthly creatures. It’s the innate urge to express oneself and equally to observe such expression literally sparks an inward need for more. Once a patron of the arts, always a patron of the arts.
The spark is experienced in all walks of life. From the largest, most renowned stage to the barn-turned-community theater; from a high school poetry slam to a gallery of the highest ilk – they all have sprung from the passion of creation. For any performer – be they dancer, actor, artist, poet, writer, or athlete – the rush of anxious excitement that comes with displaying the proof of one’s dedicated practice is like no other. While the quality of one’s work may not (and possibly should not) be measured by its popularity, the great purpose of art is for it to be ultimately shared and enjoyed.
In this way, the audience holds an integral role in the artistic process. Their own art spark allows them to share in the artist’s excitement. They revel in the artist’s successes; cushion the blow of failure. Be it through admiration, sheer enjoyment, or empathy, they form a trust-based relationship with the artist. At times, a twinge of jealousy – the “I wish I could do that” feeling – leads the spark to turn audience member into full-fledged performer. After all, what great artist didn’t start as admiring fan at one time?
And so it goes. Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde to Noel Coward. Bach to Verdi to Copland. DaVinci to Van Gogh to Picasso. Artistic endeavors beget appreciation which beget further new endeavors, which allow the arts as a whole to live on. The simple nervous energy of an opening night is single-handedly continuing the lengthy tradition begun centuries before.
All because of that little spark.