Have you seen some good art recently? When’s the last time you browsed an art museum? Have you ever toured a city to see what kind of public art it has to offer?

Hold on a quick second. Let me get up on my soapbox.

It’s not often that I’m invited to address the world in words. I am, after all, the Creative Director here at Forum and a mother of four kids at home. This medium, these words, do feel a bit weird. And sterile. And blank. Look at how final these words are. Look how they are forcing you to stop and consider them. Stop. Read. Continue. etc. It’s not what I am accustomed to.

I’d like to discuss with you the possibility of art as a more nimble form of communication. I will even venture to say it’s the superior form of communication – for me.

Yes, of course, it’s universal. Yes, of course, it’s emotive. Yes, of course, it’s subjective.

Most importantly, however, art is an invitation. To participate. To imagine. To play.

If you’re a parent, take your kids to an art museum. Any of them. Good art will be there. Good art will invite you to interact. If you’re a novice to the whole art-museum-with-kids scene, here are a few tips from an old pro:

  • Go fast.
  • Let the kids lead.
  • Talk in conversation about the things you’re seeing. Talk! Art museums are not libraries or churches or schools. Get excited about what you are seeing.
  • Don’t read all those placards that interpret the art for you. Remember, art is an invitation for you to interpret the image, the culture, the artist, the emotion, and yourself.
  • For the love of God, don’t read (or force your kids to read) those stuffy, droning synopses out loud. Remember, what we just said about words!? Words are commands. Art is an invitation.
  • Stop when the kids stop.
  • Listen to what the kids are saying.
  • Don’t worry if a docent starts following you around. That’s his job. And, honestly, if a kid is leading his parents through the museum that’s been the highlight of his shift.
  • Ask the kids, “Thumbs down or thumbs up?” Thumbs down – move on. Thumbs up – proceed to the next step.

Ask – “What’s so good about it?”

Ask – “What does it want us to know?”

Ask – “Do you want to act this out?” – Think about that. You’re asking a kid to interact with art by creating his or her own tableau of that work. That’s some higher order thinking. Way to go, mom! So meta!

You’ll know you’ve done a good job if you’re tired. Tired like finishing a half marathon.

If you are a client or business owner, go seek out art!

Art is a portal that invites engagement, imagination, and participation. Aren’t those the things that you hope your business will do? Isn’t that how you hope to promote your product or service?

Go, be inspired by the art in our region! Then, look at your corporate identity and ask yourself if your image may need recharging. Words are commands. Images are invitations. Have you balanced those concepts in your brand? Is your mark inviting participation? Your mark should be the one that makes people stop to consider the story it tells.

Like everyone else in the last days of summer, we, too, are squeezing in our final trips to the shore, and the amusement park, and the out-of-town auntie. But we are also prioritizing trips to art museums, public art exhibitions, and folk potters. I hope you’ll join me.