((Excerpt from: "Art For The People: A Collector's Journal."))
We live in a society that’s easily impressed by great speakers. Famous orators can talk their way in and out of practically anything. If they have the whole image thing down, they can get past the velvet ropes, secure the best seats in restaurants and even convince you that they're sincere when they’re not.
Great speakers can make us believe that they have the answers. They're witty, intelligent, charismatic and sometimes they even care about people.
There are lots of great orators out there. Just turn on your television set. Not all great speakers are necessarily leaders. They can be pitch people for products or actors in situation comedies. There are 500 channels from which to pick your passion ... or poison.
"Gibberish, gibberish, gibberish!"
Despite all of the seemingly endless chit-chat, truth and wisdom can remain in short supply. Which brings me to this point. We love great orators, but what about great listeners? Can you name someone who you would call a great listener? Are YOU a great listener?
If there's anyone who I want to save me in a pinch, it's someone who can listen. I shouldn't have to yell out, "Help Me!" twice.
This is where art enters the picture. You knew it would, of course. Art FORCES you to listen. That's partly why I think viewing art is mainly a solitary experience. Yes, it's primarily visual, but you must also stop, look and LISTEN. Of course, most art doesn't make a sound, but you must be open to what the piece is saying to you. Artists channel their feelings, thoughts and inspiration. They communicate through their chosen medium. Hopefully, we'll get that message through the work itself. Yet, I think silence is also necessary because you must also be able to assess your own feelings and thoughts about the art. Go within. Listen to your heart.
Listening is one of the most critical learning tools. We must listen to learn about people, a new language and much more. Every wise person I've ever met is a great listener. We all want to be heard, but do any of us really hear? On the surface, listening seems so passive and boring, but whenever I visit an art museum or gallery, listening is one of my most important tools for learning. Right behind stopping and looking.
If you're a good listener, you're probably a great person. Especially if you like art. No, most art doesn’t speak or make sounds, but if you stop, look and listen, you’ll definitely hear it speaking to you. You’ll probably feel it too.
P.S… Artist Tim Hawkinson’s art actually does make sounds. I won’t give it away, but trust me, he’s great. If he has an exhibition coming to your town, check it out. He’s fun.