One of my favorite quotes comes from America’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams: “I have to study politics and war so that my sons can study mathematics, commerce and agriculture, so their sons can study poetry, painting and music.”
I’ve always taken that to mean: What is all of this for, if not art? The final destination is art. We need art to thrive. Art is life, life is art, art is what makes it all worthwhile.
And I’m not being an art school boujerella over here. I’m talking about Grandma telling stories over family dinner. Storytelling is art, food is art, finger painting with your children on a drizzly Sunday afternoon is art. Losing yourself in your jams before you lose your shit in rush-hour traffic—music is art and art just saved your life. Art is more than stark museum halls and austere galleries, and chamber music and couplets. Art is inextricable from life. Art shapes culture, defines eras, records our histories, it tells all of our stories. Second to love, It’s the most important thing. Is that on period, I feel like that’s on period.
On today’s episode of the Dive, I’m chatting arts, culture, influence and identity with Bennett Campell Ferguson, WW’s assistant arts and culture editor, and playwright Mikki Gillette, one of 25 people featured in this week’s issue who have shaped the arts in Portland.