Time to celebrate local area's arts

One of the goals of my column is to celebrate the arts in the Okanogan as they exist today. But I also firmly believe that with your involvement this column can do much more.

This humble space in your newspaper can be among the many pillars of the community that give local artists the encouragement they need to continue to create. That’s why I need your help.

I would sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have a conversation with many of you about the homegrown artists that are active in your community. I envision working together to shine a light on some young folks that are showing promise as well as recognizing some older local artists that never quite got their due.

They say it took a thousand trumpet players in New Orleans to make one Louie Armstrong. Progress is measured by the past. It’s always good karma to find out the names of the giants we stand on.

I’m interested in exploring and promoting the absolute potential of the arts and music community in the Okanagan and its surrounding communities. Measuring the value of art isn’t easy.

It’s not as simple as ticket sales and who grows up to play at Carnegie Hall. But there is a particular life reaffirming energy that both patronizing and participating in art can generate within a community. You can see it hum like a cold fusion reactor. It’s spectacular.

I’ve seen its flash in the brilliance of jams at the Winthrop Blues Fest, I’ve been encompassed by its glow on a humble stage made by sliding around tables at the Twisp River Pub. I once saw the profound energy of local art flash remarkably in the eyes of a grandmother dancing at the Conscious Culture Festival as she tossed aside her cane. She was infused by the energy.

I have to admit, those transcendent moments are special for a reason: putting on a music festival and turning a restaurant into concert hall is a ton of work. There is no written or binding guarantee of capturing the unforgettable spark of art in your hands like a glowbug. Music in particular is invisible and fleeting. It’s daunting.

Putting on a music festival is like climbing a mountain all year, just hoping that the weather will allow you to reach the summit. Even when you reach the pinnacle, you pray the clouds will part just long enough to see a glorious sunrise. But I do know a trick that seems to work for me.

Sometimes when I find myself lacking hope, such as when I’m staring at the fractions of pennies I’m earning each year on Spotify, or just feeling downright uninspired, I search for an object around me. It can be any object, whether it’s an apple or an empty soda can. I pick it up and imagine Albert Einstein explaining to me the amount of atomic energy that this particular object contains. Albert Einstein was a fine violinist, and he reassures me that one idea, one song, one painting can fill the entire Methow Valley with its glow. Art is inspiration. And you can never really go at it alone. Nor should you.

Coda: This last Friday night in Bellingham I ran into local from Methow Valley named Erika Heenan-Medici. Over a delicious Shrimp Po’ Boy she recommended at Bayou on The Bay, I told her about this column and what I was dreaming up next. She filled my ears with the names of local musicians and gave me plenty of leads. But when I brought up the potential of her community, the conversation turned towards the acts of heroism and charity that fires last Summer demanded. My estimation of your community only grew.

Please contact me at staxxbrothers@gmail.com. Once you contact me via email we can even chat on the phone. Let’s talk about all the art that can fill this column.

Next week I’ll be reporting on the amazing progress Conscious Culture Festival has made in developing arts programs for the kids of CCF. It’s not every music festival where kids can learn to build a kite and learn to play an instrument in the same weekend, while spending quality time with their family. We’ll hear from the folks that are putting on these workshops.

Davin Michael Stedman is a songwriter and entertainer involved with Conscious Culture Festival. Email him at staxxbrothers@gmail.com.


Dimethylpixeline 3 years, 7 months ago

This is fantastic.

I host a workshop at CCF where we all get to craft hula hoops, then all have fun spinning them around and learning new tricks!

Please, come make one and spin with us!


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