A health tip: Buy, visit or participate in the arts

in Health by

By Katherine Tandy Brown

During the 2008-era economic downturn, fear of another Great Depression caused many people who supported the arts on a regular basis to pull shut the purse strings for a while. 

A lot of folks took a break from purchasing books and visual art and from attending concerts and plays. A slew of the creatives who produced these works had to get even more creative, taking “real world jobs” to supplement the reduced income from their usual endeavors. 

I remember one day in 2010 walking into the Charles Street Gallery, a Beaufort institution beloved by art-appreciators and art opening-goers alike. On the counter was a bumper sticker propped up as a sign, “The Recession is Over … Buy Art.” 

Still today, that message rings true, perhaps now more than ever, for several reasons.

Obviously, supporting those who make a living beautifying the world through sight, sound and/or touch is a noble thing to do. 

Contributing to the life path of a talented soul who is enriching the world is one of those “feel good down to your toes” kind of experiences you can get whenever you acquire an intricate, handmade fiber wall hanging, buy a book penned by an as-yet unheard of, first-time novelist, or cheer for the actors in a community theater production. 

Not so obvious, but definitely as important as financial contributions, are the personal benefits of exposure to art of all sorts. To clarify “exposure,” I mean turning off the TV and taking in a bit of culture. You know, visiting a museum, rockin’ at a festival – Spoleto, anyone? – popping into a Beaufort art gallery on a First Friday evening, taking in a play, attending a Beaufort Symphony or chamber music performance, or supporting a writer at a book signing and curling onto your front porch glider with an icy lemonade for a good read.  

Here’s what might happen when you add art to your days. 

The serotonin boost the arts can give you will ease the blues and lift your spirits. 

Years ago, I attended an exhibit of Alexander Calder’s whimsical circus-themed mobiles and stabiles at the National Gallery in Washington D.C. The day was dreary – rainy and chilly – and the gathered crowds were wet-footed and grumbly. 

About halfway through the exhibit, I realized that my heart felt lighter and I began to exchange pleasantries with other attendees, complete strangers until that time. 

Afterwards, I sat on a bench that afforded a view of the exhibit’s entrance and exit doors. A noticeable number of people who carried stressful demeanors into the rooms of art left with wide smiles, laughter and light-filled eyes. 

Your perspective will recharge when you get out of your same old-same old daily routine, out of that comfort zone, to revel in the arts. One of the 12 Step program’s oh-so-true slogans is “If you keep on doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep on getting what you’re getting.” 

Instead of binge-watching after work, treat yourself to a play or comic performance at the USCB Center for the Arts. Your mind will appreciate your hitting the “Refresh” button.

Visual art can beautify and add personality to your home, inside and out. Hanging art in a house’s interior is a given that can add color and vibrancy to a room, including the bathroom. (Give your guests something to talk about!)

Going a step further, a historic home in downtown Beaufort displays paintings on its outside walls. Every single time I drive by, I smile. And you can enliven your porch or garden with an exquisite sculpture, or better yet, a silly one.

You’ll no doubt escape from the “troubles of the world” for a while, lower your stress level, and even strengthen your immune system. 

Take in one of the dozens of events hosted by the Pat Conroy Literacy Center. You’ll no doubt expand your mind, hear emerging and established writers, and have the opportunity to engage in heady discussions. Its Facebook page is a resource of ways to experience the art of writing, which I believe is exactly what our treasured bard Conroy had in mind.

The South Carolina Lowcountry’s abundance of nature and exquisite natural light are magnets for creative people who share their talents in a myriad of ways. Pick one, and treat yourself to a soul-healing dose of the arts.

Katherine Tandy Brown has traveled the world as a freelance writer for 25 years. She teaches memoir, travel writing and writing practice in USCB’s OLLI Continuing Ed program and in her downtown cottage. A certified writing coach, she is penning her first novel, “One to Go: An Equine Thriller.”