Saturday, August 30, 2008

Where have all the flowers gone?

Nope, this is not a post about the end of summer. With a birthday in mid September, I have long held to the idea that summer really does end at the autumnal equinox and not Labor Day. Late summer and earlier fall here on the Cape can be amazing. The light on the marshes and over the dunes is spectacular and the cranberry harvesting is beautiful.

Actually, my post today is about art as a means to move people politically and socially. I just got through re-watching the PBS American Masters special on Pete Seegar. His work to reacquaint the world with folk music and then using it to make people socially aware of the injustices around them was an amazing blend of love of his art and love of his country. That was the idea that struck me when they talked about his Kennedy Center award and used "Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There is a Season)" as the closing part of his tribute there (Ecclesiastes 3, verses 1–8) . I didn't catch who said it (I think his son) but they said the words of the song really described his life - from being black listed in the 50s to hailed as an American treasure in 1994. There is a time for everything and America finally got it that all he did he did for love.

Even today he uses his music to help make people environmentally aware. He used his music (and his sloop Clearwater) to help make people aware that the Hudson River needed to be cleaned. Today the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater organization he helped to found works with school children to make them aware of the environment issues and how they can help to make a difference.

I see a lot of pieces that artists - especially jewelry artists - make to sponsor a cause. But how many of these pieces actually make you think about the cause itself? Often we make art for art's sake, but Pete reminds us that art is a powerful tool for change.

- Gale

Turn, Turn, Turn (To Everything There is a Season) - Pete Seegar

To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time of love, a time of hate
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late