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Being transformed by art

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Portland Sunday Parkways is dedicating the entire month of July to the theme Art is Healing. This week’s blog post highlights the array of ways we observe and create art and how art is essential to our well-being. 

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Fill yourself with art 

Famous paintings or poems may come to mind when you think of art. However, with a deeper look you may notice that art is all around. Noticing different types of art in our daily lives allows us to “fill our buckets,” that is, to receive all beauty that is presented to us each day. Beauty could be a dainty flower, the iridescent wings of an insect, a mural on an old, vacant building, or a radiant sunset. Each of us notices different things from our own perspectives. That makes being a daily observer of ordinary art even more special – you can become an art connoisseur in you very own way right where you are.   

While art is a source of joy, art is also a powerful tool for coping with and transforming the negative parts of our lives. Have you ever heard a song about heartbreak or grief that described your feelings perfectly? (And maybe you listened to it on repeat, just for good measure.) This type of art allows us to connect to our common humanity – the idea that we are not alone in our experiences. Films, music, or even a steaming hot cup of coffee can accompany us as we tap into our deepest and darkest emotions.  

Create and bring something new into the world 

We have already alluded to insect wings and a cup of coffee as art. And we are sticking by that. Art is something created, something new, and something unique. That means for those of us who do not consider ourselves creative, we just have to think outside of the box of what art typically means. 

Do you like to cook? Do you follow recipes (like classical music?) and go off script (like jazz?). That definitely sounds creative to us!  

How about gardening? Helping plants to grow certainly brings something new into the world. 

Let’s branch out further. What about gift-giving? Do you think of the perfect present for your loved ones on birthdays and holidays?  

Maybe you prefer sending a card. Even that is creative! You are picking the card that expresses your wishes and writing a personal note with your unique squiggle of a signature.  

From decorating your house to hosting a party, planning a vacation or simply making someone laugh, there are countless ways to create art. 

Share, connect, and inspire 

While we are living with a global pandemic, creative people around the world are sharing art and beauty in new, innovative ways. How can you share a piece of your art with the world? Find inspiration from these creative thinkers: 


In Italy, opera singers are serenading neighbors from their apartment balconies. One example features Maurizio Marchini, a tenor in Florence, Italy who sings the Puccini aria, Nessun Dorma. In May we got to enjoy this musical tradition with our very own Portland Opera Resident Artist Ricardo Garcia who delighted viewers with a beautiful performance from his home. 

Watch Maurizio Marchini’s balcony rendition of Nessun Dorma 

Acclaimed chef Kenji López-Alt is sharing tried-and-true recipes from his home in California. During quarantine, Kenji is encouraging people to use what they have and experiment with their own recipes.  

Try a recipe by Kenji, like late night popcorn with chorizo and pecorino 

Chelsea, a ten year-old girl from Connecticut, recently gathered and donated 1,500 art kits for youth living in shelters and foster homes. Chelsea started this project on her 10th birthday when she asked for art supply donations instead of birthday gifts. She said, “My dream is to meet every kid in the entire world and give them art.” 

Learn about Chelsea's Charity