Reflections on Alberta Arts Days (CLC, Dr. Ang, Ted Bishop and Ted Blodgett)

So, it's Alberta Arts Days this weekend. I don't actually have classes on Fridays (though I did need/want to be on campus for a meeting and a session of sorts, among other things), but I went to campus early to attend several Alberta Arts Days events.

The first event I attended wasn't on campus, and didn't involve me going anywhere. CKUA is hosting an All-Alberta Music weekend from the 18-20th for Alberta Arts Days. I listened to these tunes from my favorite radio station before heading to campus.

Once on campus, I went to the CLC open house, where I met with one of my friends whom I hadn't seen regularly for years! I hadn't realized that she worked there, so that was pretty nifty too. The space, while remote (unlike their previous home in HUB mall), was bright and welcoming, and I rather enjoyed my cookie and juice.

Then it was off to the UofA Hospital where I saw a great noon-hour panel about the Artists On the Wards program. The following speakers spoke to us about the importance of art to the hospital community and, really to everyone.

Dr. Steven Ang spoke about the importance of not just medical health but mental and spiritual health as well. He said that painting gives blessings to the area where it hangs in addition to positively affecting the artist during its creation. He is a physician, recipient of the Order of Canada, an artist (painter), calligrapher (Chinese) and practicer of traditional medicine (Chinese).

Ted Bishop read from an excerpt of a draft of his book Riding with Rilke, which didn't actually end up in the finished published book. This was highly entertaining because of both the humor involved and the importance writing and reading had to his recovery from his motorcycle accident. He explained that being hospitalized gave him the chance to read in a different way. Whereas academics and professionals reading tend to read in about 30 page chunks, because they mostly read an article and then go on to the next one, while he was ill, he was able to read more for pleasure and appreciate reading anew from this angle.

Ted Blodgett was amusing in a different way. He spoke with animation about people's reactions to him playing his lute on the hospital ward. Partly because it is an unusual instrument (it has 19 strings), it garners people's attention in a different way than a guitar or a mandolin, but it is a suitable instrument for this environment because it is quiet/intimate. He talked about the importance of art to people in the hospital: a hospital without art is worse than a motel, even a motel will have some (bad?) art on its walls. He also explained that music is unique because you don't have to be conscious of music as you listen. This means two things: you should be selective when listening to music, as it gets into your imagination, and that people who are ill can appreciate music even if they don't notice anything else.

Two med students also spoke of their experiences playing keyboard on the ward. Ivan and Ryan spoke about the importance of giving back and the therapeutic effect of music. It also helps them, as future doctors, reinforce the idea of patient-centered care where one treats a person as a person rather than as a carrier of the disease that must be treated.

Today I'm listening to more excellent Alberta music on CKUA. There are other Alberta Arts Days events going on, but I've chosen to balance that enjoyment with homework, cleaning, board games, and research among others. That, and of course, I ought to come up with a proposal for a SSHRC grant.