Art in Rome is ubiquitous. The Vatican Museum is a perfect example of this. The floors were works of art. There was so much art there, people sped past exhibit after exhibit. They were seemingly unaware of all of the items there. There was a small statue of The Thinker by Rodin in one room. Most people sped by without a second glance. I could have spent a year in the modern art collection of the Vatican Museum alone.
In college, I worked on the student newspaper with my friend Dan. Dan was the Art Editor, and one week he proposed an editorial urging more works of art on campus. Dan took me to task when I said it was a fluffy editorial. Over the years, I have grown to appreciate his point more and more. Most people have a dearth of art in their lives, especially in the United States. If you look at religious institutions, works of art are everywhere. The art works are generally religious, but at least they are there. Where are the great secular works of art in secular institutions?
When was the last time a corporate office park was decorated with stained glass windows or a mosaic on the floor? When was the last time you walked down the street and saw performance art? When was the last time you walked in a restaurant and saw an amazing painting? When was the last time you ran across art simply because it was there?
I am fortunate to live in New York City, where you see art more often than not. I have walked down the street to see a performance like Shakespeare in the Parking Lot. However, that kind of experience is generally a pleasant surprise rather than a regular part of city life.
We should fund the arts more in the US. It doesn’t even have to be a lot. Maybe next year we could buy ten fewer cruise missiles and give the money to arts organizations instead. Or maybe we could choose not to invade another country next year and give the yearly invasion money to the arts instead.