local art + culture: a look into one of my jobs and how it makes me think of music and other big stuff, too

I am a creative through and through.  I feel 100%, and am constantly analyzing beyond face value.  I play internal monologue in my head like a movie narration.  Michael’s craft store is still one of my favorite places to go and the sound of ESPN makes me  have a nail-on-chalkboard reaction.


I, Samantha, despite all of my fighting to be cool-normal, super successful-seeming, and generally well-loved and admired, am a grade A socially strained “bless-her-heart” artist. somewhere in there i hit great strides of normal, successful, and likeable because of God’s grace and humor.  Overall, it’s kind of a perfect storm of awkward artist.  And i like it.


I think it will be a while until I’m really comfortable in my own God-given skin but, by His grace, I am growing so content in who I am.  Of course, the next step beyond that is realizing what that means for me, right here, where I am.


I work a few part-time jobs, one of which is helping a local designer to make and sell handbags.  It’s a small shop in downtown Raleigh, two doors over from one of my favorite coffee shops (their Sumatra is wonderful) and right in the middle of a kind of Raleigh Renaissance.  Holly, who grew up and went to school in Raleigh, began designing her own handbags out of vinyl 7 years ago and has since become a kind of local mogul.  She hits a few key points which I believe make her art a sensation.  It’s handmade in the store by a very small team of women.  Here we have local products, handmade design, and a sense of community and pride.  On any given day you may see Holly sewing in the store with her big lab ReyRey sleeping on the floor by her side.  Holly is an artist, and in being such in the way of her shop, she is changing the community around her.


So what does that mean of local art in a community?  I think it means a few important things.


Local Art begets Local Art

People like Holly give permission to others to make art, bet on it, and let others see and enjoy it.  This also means letting people not enjoy it, but either way, it is out there.  It is something that represents you and your surroundings, and it is art, no matter the tastes of the observers. Chances are, just the fact that you put it out there boldly will make people appreciate it.

Community Pride and Identity

Art is what makes people drawn to a community.  It is the thing we identify our city with.  What is there to do in Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Boston, Atlanta or Raleigh?  Or ANY city?  I believe so much of that comes from the art and the artists in a place.  Businessmen and women can do their work and enjoy the art around them, and be proud of it.  Families can enjoy the art in a community.  And artists can come together, encourage (or challenge) one another.  We’re in the middle of that here, and I love it.

Changing a culturally bereft area into a culturally rich one

This is the outcome of art in a community.  There is something starting in the Raleigh area that is giving me permission and motivation to write music here and connect with others doing their art, too.  I like that I can go to the coffee shop and see local artists with their sketchbooks or writing lyrics, or working behind the counter.  Raleigh is my home, and yes, I could live plenty of other places, but I’m here, now.  What am I doing to improve my art here?  Because it’s not insignificant.


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