The arts, culture bring us together


When the world, nations and their inhabitants have been set upon by a darkness of spirit — whether that darkness is caused by war, political upheaval, hatred, bigotry, terrorism, financial distress, or disease and pestilence — it is the arts that save us by giving us hope with promises of better days to come.

It is a culture’s art that archeologists, historians and anthropologist study to learn more about ancient societies. The artifacts that are discovered provide significant information about the daily lives and interests of a culture. It is the art of sculpture, musical instruments, pottery, drawings and paintings that remain from ancient civilizations, even after their written history may have been burned or destroyed.

Art brings us together with a sense of community, even when we may differ in our responses to what is happening around us. Attend a music concert, a play, an art gallery or other places of artistic expressions and you will find people of all races, backgrounds and beliefs enjoying the experience with a sense of community. During this novel coronavirus pandemic and the results of social isolation, you will find people of all persuasions coming together on social media with jokes, art, music and poetry creating that sense of community over time and space.

Marshall McLuhan, Canadian philosopher and author, coined the expression, “The medium is the message.” Art in all forms demonstrates the truth of that quote. McLuhan predicted the internet almost 30 years before it was invented. He was famous for his studies in the 1960s of the effects of mass media on thought and behavior.

Art saves us! All forms of art build community, sometimes predicts the future, challenges us to think outside the box of tradition and limiting beliefs, calms us — and at the same time energizes us, makes us critical thinkers, provides new perspectives, begs us to be more inclusive and loving and compassionate, develops an appreciation for others and creates understanding, causes cognitive dissonance, inspires us to tears, brings joy and sadness and inspires us to grow and knock down walls of hatred and bigotry.

All great protest movements and times of great change have had their own form of artistic expression. A culture’s art includes, but is not limited to, music, theater, dance, poetry, literature, journalism and numerous varieties of visual art which today includes the internet. Art is symbolic of the passion of human beings to continually strive to become better than their innate nature.

As the famous phoenix bird rises from the ashes of its own death and shines brighter and greater, so do societies strive to achieve. Although most artistic events in Evanston have been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, those cultural events will rise again in 2021 and could be even bigger, brighter and more beautiful than before this world calamity.

Artists are brave, passionate people who, even in the darkest of times and often at great risk to their personal safety, have brought hope to the masses. Ordinary people doing extraordinary work just by following their passion and love of the arts make a difference in the world.

Carolee Bowen was that, an ordinary person doing extraordinary work, and she left the people of Evanston a wonderful legacy of cultural events. Carolee’s love of music and her desire to showcase her piano and woodwind students led to the first of many events that she organized and promoted. She also involved others, who also had a passion for the arts and desire to share with their community. Carolee gave 25 years of devoted service to bringing a wide array of art and culture to the place she called home.

Because of Bowen’s leadership and organizing skills, people will still come from all over the world to enjoy and participate in the Ceili at the Roundhouse Celtic Festival. Students will continue to come to Evanston from surrounding areas to learn and grow at MAT (Music, Art and Theater) Camp and participate in the Young Musicians Festival. The Arts Inc. Concert Series held in the winter months will continue to provide cultural entertainment for all ages.

Bowen had been considering retirement, so when her husband passed away suddenly and the pandemic hit she knew it was time to begin a new chapter in her life. As a good leader does, she found someone with the same passion and drive and began to train her to take the leadership role of The Arts Inc. so the legacy she and others have created will continue to thrive.

Evanston owes a huge thank you to Carolee Bowen and the members of The Arts Inc. Board of Directors for their contribution to the arts culture of our community.

Good luck, Carolee. We wish you all the best.

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