Guest Columnists

Our art defines us, makes us unique

UI senior Peter Coloison, of Marshalltown, plays a song on the piano before heading to a bar in the Ped Mall in downtown
UI senior Peter Coloison, of Marshalltown, plays a song on the piano before heading to a bar in the Ped Mall in downtown Iowa City at night on Friday, July 16, 2010. Two different pianos have been set up by Marc Moen and Mark Ginsberg in downtown Iowa City to engage people in playing. (Julie Koehn/SourceMedia Group News)
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We have to ask, “What is it that attracts us, our families and our businesses to an area?” It is many things, there is not just one answer. But one powerful attractant is our culture, those things that distinguish us from other areas. That is, our people, customs, recreation, in a word our ART. What defines us and makes us unique is what make our lives exciting and creative. Not surprisingly this also has the ability to attract visibility and humans wanting and willing to engage.

I believe that ART makes the community. The beauty of life is in discovering things for one’s self. One must find their place, even if like Christopher Columbus it is not what we sought. We must love the things that speak to us alone. We have a tremendous opportunity to pronounce our downtowns, not just for its business opportunities, or its ingenuity but its CULTURE! We ought to have the courage to let our lives find beauty in the most unlikely things and places: An internationally recognized jazz festival, a working commune, some of the planet’s best writers or a rare Grant Wood. In this lies the wonder of accidental discoveries. They are the best of all. They are the true loves, the true marriages of sensibility.

But liking what we ought to like for cultural, tribal or class reasons is a sort of tyranny, a slavery of the intellect. A kind of marriage of convenience, an arranged marriage, things liked before encountered. So for me, the wise person doesn’t know the value of anything until after the encounter, when the love effect has begun to take hold.

Value is sort of an enchantment. Lilies have cast spells on millions. Tulips enraptured a continent. Compositions no one liked at the time became the adoration of the future. Novels that meant little to contemporaries meant everything one hundred years later.

Desire defies reason. It is an impassioned compulsion for which logic, prudence, or pragmatism offer but little solace. Desire renders the unreasonable, reasonable, the unthinkable worthy of serious thought. What attracts us to a place is the unreasonable and coincidentally (or perhaps not) makes us want to stay.

• Mark Ginsberg is the owner of M. C. Ginsberg, Objects of Art and Advanced Design and Manufacturing, 110 E. Washington St. Iowa City.

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