One could argue that there is (or at least there should be) something ‘humanizing’ about art whether we’re making it, seeing it, or engaging with it … and, whether we’re doing it seriously, casually, or coincidently. It enlarges our experience, strengthens our heart, and stimulates our mind. In other words, it’s good for us both individually and socially.
But what if it isn’t there? What if art isn’t encouraged in our schools or promoted in our communities? What if art is only a plaything for the privileged, priced out of reach, pirated away in collections we never see, or stashed in museums we seldom visit? The simple answer is we’re the lesser for it. It seems more the exception than the rule that this truth is recognized.
I have a friend who, it’s fair to say, is exceptional. Besides being a peace activist, a war-tax resister, and a humanitarian with an unflagging zeal to help people find and express the goodness in themselves … he is an art collector. He’s not super rich but, as he might say, “I have enough.” ( Yes, “enough.” Imagine that!) Enough to realize that the value of art is greater than its price. And so what ‘the exceptional Larry Bassett‘ chose to do with his good fortune was to support the arts in our local community by supporting its artists with the purchase of their work, lots of it — amassing an estimable collection of outstanding local talent. And then, rather than storing it away from view, he partnered with Riverviews Artspace to create a project called “Art to the People.” The idea? To make the experience of art large … to place artworks from his collection in a variety of community non-profits such as Lynchburg Daily Bread, Miriam’s House, The Arc of Central Virginia, the Lynchburg Department of Social Services, Rush Homes, and the YWCA (for starters). Every six months or so the artwork will be changed out so folks with otherwise limited or no access to fine art can enjoy the rich variety of inspiration from their own community.
Many collectors, focusing on ownership and the prizing of their collection, would worry about things like loss or damage. Larry is exceptional: “It’s more important for people to see the art than worry about it possibly getting damaged. It’s not even a risk … I didn’t buy this stuff to make money. I never expect to get my pieces back.” The value, he says, is in what art can bring into the lives of those who see it. And that is what he wants … for his art to enrich life, not just the lives of those who can afford it.
How refreshing in a time of greed and self-absorption.