LOCAL ART HAS UNIVERSAL VALUE
Swedish farmhouse from Country Style by J&M Miller.
I can’t think of anything more exciting than something of value lost only to be found anew. Like the diamond earring I thought I’d never see again. After stooping under my couch to wipe up spilled coffee, lo and behold there it lay, sparkling, winking at me as if to say: “I’ve been here all along, if only you’d looked a little closer”.
The art world is full of lost treasure: the Chauvet cave art found in Lascaux, France, or the oldest art studio unearthed in the Blombos cave of South Africa. More recently, art from the Swedish countryside has been “discovered” by Unesco, no less.
In the 19th century it was not uncommon in the Swedish countryside for itinerant painters to decorate rooms in farm houses with paintings of idyllic local scenes in exchange for room and board. No one dreamed that one day an international cultural group would place the folk art on a world heritage list. This is exactly what Unesco (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recently did. The local art in provinces of Sweden has been “found” and elevated into the world of high art. Oh my!
What we think of as local Island art is of interest primarily to us because of our unique culture … but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that there is a universal, world wide appeal to what artists create in small villages, hamlets and yes, even little Islands in Puget Sound. Sometimes art in small communities is discovered and goes viral and sometimes it stays underground like the cave paintings, only to be unearthed by a future generation and preserved as one of the true treasure of humanity. Although our mind is always on our local community and local art, let’s not forgot how great its appeal could be around the world – just like those Swedish itinerant painters of the 19th century. That’s a pretty exciting thought if you ask me!