My friend Susan recently hired me to play at the opening of an art exhibit she’d curated. It turned out to be a beautiful gig, in no small part because my jazz trio was surrounded by so many vibrant prints and silkscreens from around the world. I fell in love with one of the pieces: a print of a woman in a turban by a Cuban artist named Choco. I couldn’t stop thinking about the piece and, after I got home, I called Susan up and bought it.
It is curious how we need art. In the order of food, shelter, clothing, it is understood to be pretty far down the list of primal needs. But maybe it’s not. Cavemen made cave paintings, after all, and Lord knows they had more pressing things to do, like fighting off saber-toothed tigers. Perhaps the need for art runs on a parallel track to our survival instincts. We can be hungry and still long to see beauty.
The print I love is now hanging on my dining room wall, and it makes every other piece of art in the room look brand new. And every time I look at it I am fed. As we go through our days making work to feed our families (and possibly our egos), it’s good to remember that we might be feeding the human spirit as well.