There is a general perception that there is no money in the arts. It’s cliché, but in most cases true.
That’s why many artists – particularly writers and visual creators – ply their talents unseen, unheard and, sometimes, unread. Your plumber may be an exceptional sculptor whose real dream is to exhibit his work in the National Gallery of Canada. Maybe your dry-waller has a back room in her house where paintbrushes poke out of glass tumblers and a multitude of paintings sit lean against the wall, ready for a showing in the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba.
Or there’s Neepawa’s Lenora Buffi and Brandon’s Renee Cronley, the winners of the inaugural Western Manitoba Regional Library Short Story and Poetry Contest. Both have part-time employment; Buffi is a library assistant and Cronley is a nurse; but their true passions have them sitting at home for a couple of hours daily with a pen in hand or their fingers on a keyboard.
The pair tell the same story. They have had a long-time urge to write, be it poetry, short fiction or novels. They work alone in their homes jotting ideas, fleshing them out, drafting, editing, editing again, submitting for publication, getting rejected, submitting for publication, getting rejected; a seemingly endless repetitious cycle.
And although both garner very little income for their work, writing plays an instrumental, if not integral, role in their lives.
Buffi and Cronley are examples of today’s artists; working in silence without complaint because they feel the need to create, to take a part of themselves and put it on paper, or canvas, or clay, or cloth. Most of their friends don’t even know they do it. Many of their families – particularly those of younger artists – believe it’s a waste of time. And even they question themselves at times about their need to create for so little recognition or compensation.
However, in the 21st Century, these artists are, for others wanting to do the same thing, heroes that deserve to be held up as an example of the benefits of chasing a passion. In general, they are the positive individuals you encounter who suggest you follow through on an idea you’ve been considering; be it in the realm of art, business, sports or any other area of conventional North American life.
If you know one of these artists quietly honing their skills unbeknownst to the general public, congratulate them. They are the people who make our world beautiful and interesting.