Literature professor Laurence Perrine sums up literature as either interpretative or escapist (or a blend thereof). A classicist might instead say the function of literature is to teach and delight.
I think these categories can be applied pretty well, in different degrees, to all forms of art. Art has the potential of helping us interpret and intensify our experience of life. No matter where the art falls on a scale of brilliance, its effect can be the same. You can have the history-making character of a da Vinci painting or a cathedral’s architecture or a Shakespearean monologue. You can have the closer-to-home music of a jazz band at your local restaurant. You can have the home decor that comes from your kitchen garden or local boutique. All of it has the potential to teach or delight; to help us interpret life (not necessarily in an absolute or moralistic way) or take restful flights of fancy.
Which has an (obvious) implication: art is for people. Good art ends up enlivening the existence of many.
Just as art is for people, tech is for people. Talent is for people. Hospitality is for people. As human beings we can passively experience all these things—and join in as creators, too. When we do the latter, we find a myriad of ways in which to love our neighbors.
This is what went down in a wonderful way last Friday night at the Selby home. A busy family opened up their house so folks could experience live music from Wild Harbors and Vandalia River. Someone brought dinner so we could “eat and be satisfied.” (Food is underrated.) A childhood friend of mine stayed up late two nights in a row setting up and tearing down the portable PA system. Someone else brought in lighting equipment despite a flat tire. There were others whose planning, words, and presence helped make it fantastic.
The house concert production certainly was a level up from ordinary events. But I could tell as I saw everybody work in a mostly relaxed way that pulling together with their gifts, possessions, time, and ability was par for the course. This was a community that was used to living life together. And because they did, as they made way for musicians to present their art, they produced a down-home domestic art that enriched everybody present. Not least of all me. I’m still in an afterglow.