Public Art as a Yardstick

I love the fact that I’m now living in a city where public art is the norm. I often pass by sculptures and murals here in Seattle, and they never fail to make me smile. It’s always a pleasure to have a bit of beauty and humor or a dash of whimsy injected into one’s day. I love having my thoughts provoked and my perspectives challenged. And some of these sculptures kind of feel like a part of my family now.

I used to live in Jacksonville, Florida, where public art was rather thin on the ground. It was often viewed as too controversial, or not in keeping with family values. (Though I wonder if their statue of Andrew Jackson astride a stallion still stands? I bet it does.)

Some artists in Jacksonville have been known to go rogue, I think, out of sheer frustration. They’d paint any flat surface they could find. Sadly, they always seemed to be quickly shut down and/or painted over.

Allowing art in one’s city takes a certain level of political courage. (And I’m not talking about historical monuments and statues, here. That’s another debate entirely.) There will always be people who don’t like a particular piece, or they will misinterpret it. It is easier to offend than to delight or inspire, it seems. It’s a confident city council that allows self-deprecation and social commentary to be out in the open, for all to see. It’s a brave mayor that doesn’t see creativity as a threat.

I think one of the many factors one should consider when deciding where to live is the amount of public art in the city in question. That will tell you much about the quality of life that you will experience in that community. It will tell you a great deal about the maturity and emotional health of the municipality as well. These are considerations you should never overlook. The ability to express oneself is the hallmark of civilization.

Crane

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Hospice = Hope

Yet again the other day I heard of a family being offered hospice care for a loved one and turning it down. There seems to be this prevailing mythology out there that hospice means you’re giving up hope and trying to rush someone along into the afterlife before his or her time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Accepting hospice for someone who is terminally ill can be the kindest, most compassionate thing you can do for that person and for the family.

First of all, just because your relative is in hospice does not mean they can no longer receive care from their primary care physician. It also doesn’t mean that this person is necessarily going to die. It only means that there has been a diagnosis of terminal illness. If remission occurs, that’s fantastic! People can go in and out of hospice multiple times if needed.

Furthermore, hospice staff is not some type of death squad. They are quite often the most caring and dedicated medical professionals you’ll ever meet. They do not focus on death. On the contrary, they focus on quality of life for everyone involved.

Hospice offers a variety of services, including counseling, pain management, and palliative care. They provide dignity, comfort and emotional support. Their staff includes nurses, doctors, home health aides, social workers, chaplains and bereavement counselors.

At this, the most difficult time in your life, why on earth would you turn down any type of support? Your loved one deserves to live a dignified and comfortable life all the time, even toward the end, if that’s what this happens to be. Hospice means that you want the best for that person. Don’t pass these services up. I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t extremely grateful for them if they chose to take advantage.

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[Image credit: floridahospices.org]