Art can take many forms, from paintings to sculpture to music. It’s unique in its ability to tell a story, to touch people in different ways, to create a connection and to make us human.

We all seem to be drawn to art, even as kids. When we are young, we start making art as soon as we can hold a crayon. Our creations might as well be next Mona Lisa in the eyes of our parents. Of course, no one else is likely to share that perspective, but that is the power of art.

I don’t have to be an artist to appreciate art. I can’t tell the difference between Renaissance and post-Renaissance painting. I wasn’t even sure this was a thing until Wikipedia said it was. The great thing about art is that knowledge of the subject doesn’t prevent us from enjoying it.

I for one have always enjoyed architecture and photography. One of the most talented architects and artist that ever lived is Frank Lloyd Wright. I’ve always loved his work. From the first time I saw buildings like Fallingwater, I was amazed. I’m in awe of what artists can conjure up in their imagination. Wright’s buildings are no different.

Fallingwater by Carol M. Highsmith

Buildings all share a common thread. They exist on earth’s landscape. Mother Nature might be life’s greatest artist. Improving her work is hard. Wright knew this and worked to create Organic Architecture. He believed that “human life is part of nature.”

In Fallingwater, for example, he kept a rock outcropping and allowed it to extend into the living room floor. He then went a step further by building the hearth of the fireplace into the side of this boulder.

When his work was done, he always wanted the landscape to be more beautiful than it was before. That is a high bar to clear when competing with Mother Nature.

We can trace the first art back 30,000 years. The paintings found on cave walls were for communication, not enjoyment. It’s no wonder art has such an impact on us, by now it’s in our DNA.


Chauvet Cave Paintings – Wikipedia

There is no one purpose for art. This fact might be its most unique trait. There are no laws either. What we view as artistic one day might fall out of style the next.

Art is powerful is so many ways. What other artifact can do all of this:

Art stirs emotions
When we see works of art, it makes us feel. It can provoke interest, confusion, hostility, and surprise. One person can react positively while another can have an adverse reaction. Art, as they say, is in the “eye of the beholder.”

Art connects
As humans, we are always looking for meaning and connection. Art can give us a piece of this. It can connect us to others in a room or join us to the past. How we interpret a piece can create a sense of meaning in our minds.

Art slows time
It’s impossible to appreciate a piece of art if we never pause. In that way, it helps us relax, to slow down our lives and just be. It encourages us to look closer and see what most might miss.

Art inspires
One of the most important influences I had was Brother Mel Meyer. During high school, I was surrounded by hundreds of his pieces. Ten years later it was his art that inspired me to create the Bee Cave Sculpture Park.

Art endures
The most famous piece of art of all time is the Mona Lisa. Leonardo da Vinci created it in 1503. There are not many things that last over 500 years, but art can.

Art opens our minds
It can teach us so much. We can learn about different places, people and times. Art can also give us a new perspective on the world. It may even inspire a movement. Never underestimate the power of art.

Art eliminates boundaries
Art doesn’t care how much money I make or where I live. Everyone can appreciate it, and I believe everyone should get the chance.

Art is symbolic
When I think of art as a symbol, the Statue of Liberty comes to mind. This sculpture took over nine years to build, shipped from France and assembled in New York. Today, it is a universal symbol of the United States and the liberty we hold dear.

Arts ads beauty
I can’t imagine a world without art. It would be lifeless in a way. Art is everywhere and it makes every day better. It might be a painting, sculpture, a song, building or nature. I for one would not want to live without it.

Art creates community
Art gets us off the couch and out into the world. While enjoying art, many chance encounters can take place. Two people may stop and stare at a piece. These strangers now have a shared interest and might strike up a conversation.

Art sells
Some products we buy are pieces of art. Apple is an excellent example. Steve Jobs took his art to a new level. He insisted that his products be beautiful on the inside and out. He was a real artist.

Art taps into our senses
We can hear it, touch it, see it and also taste it. Food, after all, is another art form. There is even an exhibit at the Smithsonian on scents. So now you can smell art.

Art tells stories
Every piece of art is trying to communicate something to the observer. As we take it in, our minds create a story. Humans can’t help it. We learn and teach with stories.

I love to create, whether I’m using words, images, or wood. As a creator, I can appreciate what others make. Their work often serves as an inspiration for mine. It helps me discover new patterns, principles, and concepts that apply to my endeavors. In other cases, art is just there for my enjoyment. I just need to remember to pause and take it all in.

This post is part of a series of letters to my kids. My goal is to reflect on and capture as many life lessons as possible. Here is the current list I am working from.