What Does The Lizard Represent?

So a few changes around the blog today. I sent a few pictures of the objects on my desk to Inside The Arts fearless leader, Drew McManus to be used to spiff up the blog header and give it a new look. I sent a picture of my copy of Peter Drucker’s Managing the Non-Profit Organization among other things. Drew said the other pictures didn’t come out right, but I suspect he just felt I was getting full of myself and trying to make myself look deep and important so used the old lizard instead. (I also sent him pictures of the yo-yos and Wheel-O that also sit on my desk, but perhaps he felt that gave the wrong impression.)

But since we tend to be a little misanthropic about the state of the arts from time to time here on Inside the Arts, I also suspect that maybe the lizard and the “Culture Dinosaurs” album cover may be a sign of things to come.

With that in mind, I am about to introduce a topic reversing past statements about how the arts should be positioned.

In the past, I have argued that the value of the arts should not be spoken about in terms of prescriptive benefits – listening to Mozart will make your kids smarter being one of the more famous claims. But we can’t entirely deny that the arts are deeply steeped with pretty much every element that make us human – history, storytelling, movement, music and memory. As such the arts are a vehicle for just about every theory and idea Carl Jung espoused from archetypes to collective unconscious and can constitute an important therapeutic tool.

Psychology Today has had a series called The Healing Arts running on their blog over the past year. Every couple weeks since February, art therapist Cathy Malchiodi has been doing a countdown of her top 10, “Cool Art Therapy Interventions.” She is down to number three so presumably the top two will be coming in the next month or so. Among those therapies she has listed are mask work, mandala making, family sculpture making, photo collages and visual journaling. You can see pretty quickly how some of these activities could help a person express themselves better or introduce calm and focus. Asked to guess what activities might be helpful, I would likely mention these at some point.

Something I would not have listed because it seems so basic is Creating Together. Except for those artists who crave a solitary existence, I don’t think many in the arts would deny that part of what draws them to the arts is the collaborative experience. Even if you don’t achieve some sublime synchronicity while working with others or interacting with audiences in your daily experience, the communal act, even when simply fooling around, can bring something to each participant. About a year ago, I talked about the possible influence of high emotional satisfaction being a possible motivator for involvement in the arts. That, or something closely related, may also contribute to the therapeutic usefulness of the arts.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


1 thought on “What Does The Lizard Represent?”

  1. A Wheel-O! I was driving myself mad trying to remember what that was called.

    Officially, the culture dinosaurs is a raspberry at the “Prophets of Doom” that don’t realize the way out of most declining situations is improved leadership and efficiency. And since the beginning of Butts In The Seats, that’s what I think you’ve been all about.


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