Monday, January 23, 2012

The Golden and the Mean

So, I'm not planning on making a habit of commenting on other people's commentary. Once we members of the chattering class start chasing each other's tails, we tend to miss all the important stuff that's going on outside of the flying fur.

That said, and acknowledging that I'm a few days late to the snark party, I have to say that I'm on the "art makes this city better" side of the recent Hampton Stevens/Chris Packham divide.

First, in the Kansas City Star's op-ed, ESPN/The Atlantic scribe Stevens wrote an unabashed hymn to the city, proclaimed its resurgence as of 2011 and piled most of the laurels on the arts (saving a wreath or two dozen for Sporting Kansas City's spiffy new home, Livestrong Sporting Park, which is certainly understandable).

Was it gushy? Oh, yeah. But hey, it's hard to fault a guy for being a bit starry-eyed over the arts community here, right?

Packham not only faulted Stevens' enthusiasm in a rebuttal piece for the Pitch, but went on to question Stevens' masculinity and his concern for anyone but white folks who live west of Troost. With people getting shot and other Very Bad Things happening in the metro, he reasoned, it's just foofy and elitist to be happy about that rich-people folderol.

Look, there are valid reasons to hate Hampton Stevens. I barely know the man, and I loathe his entire digestive tract for looking better in a hat than I ever will. Also, the guy's a known raconteur, which makes him a suspect character right away.

(Note: I don't really hate him, nor do I think he hand-embroiders anything.)

Point is, effusive though he might have been, he's right about the arts elevating the city -- and the visual arts are a huge part of that. Also, anyone who thinks art is just for affluent, pigment-challenged folks needs to get out more.

There's no socioeconomic litmus test required make the gallery rounds on an art walk, take in an artist talk at one of the local museums or even see art being made at street level.And on the art-making side ... well, let's just say that the creative community is just as diverse as the metro area itself.

Yes, things need to get better in all sorts of areas here. But acknowledging that doesn't mean we can't enjoy the good stuff, too.

And in the Kansas City area, there's no denying that art is some of our best stuff.

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