ArtFul Living

With Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky
Healthy Planet Arts Editor

Happy New Year!

I guess the Mayans had the wrong date for the end-of-the-world so… time for a new calendar.

There’s really something special about calendars.

I’m talking about real calendars: the paper kind that have a different picture for every month. I’ve seen some truly awful calendar art as well as some calendars that showcase wonderful masterpieces. Calendars have long offered a bit of visual interest to many a blank wall.

When you turn the page on one of those calendars, you see a new picture that makes the next 30 days or so seem different than the ones just past. It’s a physical change that allows us to see the passage of time. A new calendar page offers a fresh start, a renewal.
Humans crave renewal—have you noticed that? We continually strive to change, to make a difference. We cut our hair, we paint our walls, we go new places. And we somehow feel that a change must be dramatic, with a definite start. “Today’s the day…..” Electronic calendars on phones and computers just aren’t the same.

When I was a kid, I was on a bowling team. Every Friday after school, I struggled to keep a heavy bowling ball out of the gutter, to improve my team’s chances of being handed a trophy by baseball great Stan Musial. I bowled at Red Bird Lanes and the annual highlight was a trophy presentation by the Hall of Famer. As a matter of fact, with lots of practice, I got pretty good at bowling, thanks to the advice of the older kids on my team (Haven’t bowled in years, but I still have the picture of Stan the Man handing me that trophy). Here’s the point: whenever someone was bowling poorly, my more experienced teammates would draw a line on that frame, to indicate the end of a bad bowling streak, to offer a fresh start. They were convinced it worked. Obviously, it was simply “little kid” voodoo. As I think back on it now, I realize that it was just the feeling that one could start over that made the bowler improve (sometimes). That line offered a break from the past and the opportunity to renew oneself.

That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are about: a line to mark the start, the turning of a calendar page, the occasion to see a different picture. There’s no reason why we can’t make February Resolutions, or July Resolutions, or even Right-This-Minute Resolutions. Nope, we insist it be done in January, when the year is fresh, when the air is fresh, when even the house looks refreshed after taking down holiday decorations.

2013 promises some new ARTful changes for St. Louis’ major institutions. We eagerly await the nearly completed new expansion, designed by Sir David Chipperfield, at the Saint Louis Art Museum. The downtown Central Library just completed renewal of its magnificent architecture. If you haven’t yet seen it, get to the library and experience the joining of a beautiful, historic interior with modern technology. The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts has a new director, Kristina Van Dyke. The St. Louis Symphony recently announced three new board members, Thriess Britton, Dr. John A. Pieper, David Steward.

So, as this new year starts, as you post a new calendar on the wall, think of how this year might offer renewal. Will you discover an artist deep within yourself by painting or drawing or singing or dancing? Give the arts a try! ARTful living is intentional living. Make 2013 a year of intentionally-ARTful living by seeking out new experiences, new tastes, new sounds and new sights. Get out of the rut! View an exhibition of artwork that you’ve never seen before; listen to a type of music that you normally don’t; simply add a new color to your wardrobe—whatever you do, make it ARTful. Open up to ARTful experience and then, pay attention to how it renews you, over and over, month after month, all year long. Make the resolution to use the ARTful Happenings calendar (both in print here and an expanded version online) to find where you’ll get that renewed feeling throughout the metro area.

There’s a lot to look forward to, now that we know the Mayans were wrong.