Looking at this postcard sent by John Lennon and Yoko Ono to Meyer Schapiro, I can’t help but think of supporting the arts. In processing his correspondence, a portrait of Schapiro surfaces as a man who made every attempt to aid academics, artists, writers, and cultural workers.
For example, during the ensuing years of World War II, Schapiro worked emphatically to help Jewish German academics leave the rising intolerance of Germany. Intellectuals such as Theodor Adorno and Siegfried Kracauer would write to Schapiro knowing of his unconditional support in this matter.
Other artists, such as Maya Deren with the Creative Film Foundation, would also personally seek Schapiro’s assistance knowing of his uncompromised support of the arts. In another instance, Allan Kaprow would write to Schapiro seeking advice on art theory.
Indeed, Schapiro’s broad interests and knowledge of the arts made him a magnet of sorts in New York City’s cultural and artistic worlds. He also lived in a period that bridged Modernism with that of the Post-Modern and he never flinched when the tides turned.
Supporting the arts and artists is especially poignant in these dire economic times. Many cultural institutions are facing major cutbacks due to the sting of the economic meltdown. Artists themselves are also experiencing a harrowing loss in patronage, as collectors are tightening their purse strings.
Support comes in many forms that are not only financial (even though the ease of liquidity surely helps). It is showing support in visiting galleries, museums, and other cultural institutions that you mean to but never have time to or attending screenings at film organizations and viewing art works that support the work of emerging artists.
You can also volunteer at arts organizations too. In conjunction with President Barack Obama’s “United We Serve” campaign, Americans for the Arts is highlighting the work of volunteers at arts organizations.
Participatory action in the arts is not just confined to relational aesthetics, it is making a concerted effort to support cultural organizations that make the arts thrive for the current generation and those to come.