Director's Corner

Rick Davis

Rick Davis is the Executive Director of the Hylton Center

Dog Days

I hope that you are reading this on the mobile device of your choice, in the tantalizing cool of the morning or the soft afterglow of the evening, on or near a beach or a mountain stream. If you are, please take my advice right now: put down your device and enjoy the moment. Take in the slanting light of morning or evening (look for Sirius, the dog star, if you happen to be outside at the right time); now maybe close your eyes and tune your ears to the sounds around you. Imagine their sources; let them trigger memories or images or emotions, or just be still and let them wash over you. I’ll wait.

Welcome back! That little exercise in looking and listening is something that artists do all the time, consciously or unconsciously. I think that many of the world’s great paintings and poems and pieces of music are responses to just this kind of heightened experience of the world around us. Some are descriptive, illustrative, even literal. Some are more abstract, inspired by observation instead of attempting to record it. But that sense of wonder, of seeing and hearing and feeling more fully than we do in daily life, and then bringing back the distilled results in a transformed fashion, is why we value art and artists in all media.

And why, I would claim, we value arts centers like the Hylton. Having a place in our midst that is itself a work of art, that reflects the aspirations and values and aesthetics of its community, allows us regular access to the kind of heightened awareness that great artists provide. I know that after almost ten years and thousands of passages through those distinctive doors, I still feel a lift when I enter the building. My imagination is engaged and my senses awakened. And that’s before encountering whatever performance or exhibition awaits within — then it gets really good!

We’re in the dog days of summer now, when things seem to slow down a bit. But when you’ve finished reading this newsletter (all the way to the end!) you’ll be eagerly anticipating the coming of the new season, with eyes and ears and heart and soul all tuned up and ready to be amazed. And after your reading assignment is done, enjoy returning to that summer sky, that beach, that mountain. Siriusly!

Rick Davis — Dean and Executive Director