The arts offer joy, comfort, escape from daily cares and woes, not only during difficult times but always. However, difficult times bring that truth to the fore, reminding us of the power of art to transport body and soul to a better place, a magical escape from the hard realities of daily life for at least one brief shining moment. Artists themselves, innately compelled to create, often find motivation for their work in their own search for hope and beauty — which explains why iconic rock star Pat Benatar and her guitarist husband Neil Giraldo wrote “Together,” a ballad of hope for this time recorded in their home studio that you can view on Youtube when you need a psychic lift, an emotional boost, or just want to hear some good mellow rock music.
Benatar and Giraldo were preparing to tour this summer, doing what they were born to do and have been doing for decades now. But then — well you know what happened: the Coronavirus pandemic hit, putting the tour and pretty much everything else on hold. So they channeled their emotions about the current situation into a song with a message, stressing that by staying apart now, we all can be together in the future, then paired the music with stock footage of hospital workers and people celebrating milestones from a distance as well as together in better times to create an uplifting video.
“We wrote this because we are all hurting, struggling, grieving. We hope in some small way that this lifts spirits and heals hearts,” the couple told “Billboard.” The song’s lyrics state the obvious truth that staying apart now is the only way we can be together in the future: “Being apart is so very hard; it hurts my soul, it hurts my heart. We’ll be okay; we’ll see this through. We’ll find a way; we always do. But you know it’s the right thing, and distance will keep us together.”
During this intermission where live performances cannot safely occur before live audiences, performing artists of all stripes are using technology to perform “alone together” with others, creating outstanding and memorable odes to joy and hope and comfort that we can view on the Internet and TV. Children’s theatre producer TheaterWorks USA, which is currently airing a virtual performance of their popular presentation Bunnicula on Facebook and YouTube, issued an email stating that the company continues to strive not only to create experiences that bring audiences together — even virtually — to encourage empathy, empower young people, and give everyone a reason to look up with optimism and hope.
Now-closed art museums the world over are offering virtual tours of the beauty contained within their walls, often with added insight provided by highly-trained staff members who are not currently able to interact with those seeking the inspiration to be found by perusing in person the output of a vast array of artists whose work spans centuries, continents, and civilizations. Darke County’s very own Anna Bier Gallery has posted on-line the fascinating and joyous art produced by local kindergarten through eighth graders gathered for the Gallery’s annual Elementary Art exhibit, which was never displayed to the public due to restrictions required by the current health crisis. Needless to say, delight and hope abound in this virtual offering, which translates to uplifting spirits in real-life as well.
The arts reach out across boundaries of space and time, touching lives with hope even while people remain isolated from each other. The arts, in its many divergent incarnations, connect us to a vast array of others who through their creative work inspire hope and comfort throughout difficult days as well as joy in the present moment.
Marilyn Delk is the former executive director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.