Joshua Bell!
Born in good ol’ Bloomington, Indiana.
This grammy winning violinist is a world renown artist.

In 2007, The Washington Post arranged a little social experiment – “an experiment in context, perception and priorities — as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?”

Here is the gist of it – Bell appeared incognito at the L’Enfant Plaza Metros station and played 6 classical pieces for 43 minutes on a Monday morning at 7:30 am. 1,097 people passed by. 7 people stopped for about a minute to listen to him. 27 people gave him some change which amounted to a grand total of $32.17.

Here is the full article .

If we skim past the usual we’re-too-busy-to-watch-the-sunrise drone, the article makes some very interesting points that I believe are VERY relevant to what we have been talking in the class. Here are a few excerpts. (The article, IMO, is scholarly for a post!)

“IF A GREAT MUSICIAN PLAYS GREAT MUSIC BUT NO ONE HEARS . . . WAS HE REALLY ANY GOOD?
It’s an old epistemological debate, older, actually, than the koan about the tree in the forest. Plato weighed in on it, and philosophers for two millennia afterward: What is beauty? Is it a measurable fact (Gottfried Leibniz), or merely an opinion (David Hume), or is it a little of each, colored by the immediate state of mind of the observer (Immanuel Kant)?”

“Before he began, Bell hadn’t known what to expect. What he does know is that, for some reason, he was nervous.
“It wasn’t exactly stage fright, but there were butterflies,” he says. “I was stressing a little.”
Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?
“When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .”
He was, in short, art without a frame.

The last line in particular struck a chord with me – art without a frame . It is easier to simply brush this off by simply naming the passer-by’s as uncouth or preach about the values of slowing down or adopt a defensive stance about the fact that it was 7:30 am on a Monday morning. I think there lies a much more valuable observation for us to make, specifically in the context of this class.

Is there ever a right frame for art? Can art ever be without a frame? Is art in itself a frame?

Thoughts/comments welcome!

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