We are big fans of the late great Anthony Bourdain's show 'Parts Unknown.'
If you aren't familiar with the show, Bourdain journeyed all across the globe, documenting cultures and life with the common threads being cuisine and cocktails. The shows are quite entertaining, but while Bourdain traveled all over the world, our favorite episodes are the ones documenting life right here in America. Perhaps the best of these involved Bourdain traveling to remote West Texas not too long before he passed away. During this episode Bourdain uttered a quote that stuck with us...paraphrased words to the effect of "they say everything changes when the artists show up."
The comment was made as Bourdain documented how artistry changed remote, middle-of-nowhere Marfa, Texas. There used to be very little in Marfa beyond tumbleweeds and heat. That all changed when nationally renowned minimalist artist Donald Judd showed up and made Marfa his home. What has followed is an artistry explosiong and little middle-of-nowhere Marfa has started to boom.
This brings us to our Sunday section front story about local artist P.J. Campbell. In our interview with Campbell she talked about envisioning the Ashland area as a mecca for artists. She sees a future ahead where Ashland can be like Paducah or better -- a hip place where artists from across the nation come to perform their craft. We think Campbell is on to something.
The fact of the matter is Ashland already has so much going for it, and there is already a great stable of local artists here in the region. This is proven by our recent Insight special section that offered more than 50 stories about local artists. Campbell -- who has traveled all over the nation learning a diverse set of artistic talents -- sees Ashland as a special place in part because of its unique lighting.
So what can be done to help push Ashland's artistic culture? The Highlands Museum is a leader in promoting the work of local artists as are several local galleries. The Project for Public Spaces cites a 2007 book The Creative Community Builder's Handbook which listed five steps. They are:
— Promote interaction in public spaces.
— Increase civic participation through celebrations.
— Youth engagement.
—Promote the preservation of your community's most cherished public spaces.
—Broaden participation in civic engagement.
We agree with all of this. We also agree with Campbell that the Ashland area could in fact be a future mecca for artists. We would like to see grants and financial incentives aimed at luring artists to Ashland. We believe the potential here is very significant and could only further the community's upswing.