Just for fun, let’s take a quick look at Wikipedia’s definition of art. Then we’ll jump into it on our own, and introduce you to a great person!
Art is a diverse range of human activities and the products of those activities; this article focuses primarily on the visual arts, which includes the creation of images or objects in fields including painting, sculpture, printmaking, photography, and other visual media. Architecture is often included as one of the visual arts; however, like the decorative arts, it involves the creation of objects where the practical considerations of use are essential—in a way that they are usually not for a painting, for example. Music, theatre, film, dance, and other performing arts, as well as literature, and other media such as interactive media are included in a broader definition of art or the arts. Until the 17th century, art referred to any skill or mastery and was not differentiated from crafts or sciences, but in modern usage the fine arts, where aesthetic considerations are paramount, are distinguished from acquired skills in general, and the decorative or applied arts.
Art has been characterized in terms of mimesis, expression, communication of emotion, or other values. During the Romantic period, art came to be seen as “a special faculty of the human mind to be classified with religion and science”. Though the definition of what constitutes art is disputed and has changed over time, general descriptions mention an idea of human agency and creation through imaginative or technical skill.
Okay, but what is art? Some think it is anything “creative”… a tangible thing which is created in a spontaneous moment. Some say it is an intangible thing which is created in the idea form, then brought to tangible form through understandable techniques. I would submit that art is any work which combines improvisation, creativity of thought and expression, collective vision and attachment of heart and mind to produce a tangible work simply for its own sake.
In that spirit, I want to tell you about a person I know. There are several reasons why… for one thing, she is an amazing person. For another, she’s an inspiration to nearly everyone she meets. For yet another, she’s a fine artist who would be the first one to tell you that she isn’t an artist at all. Interested yet? Good. You’re gonna like this story.
Her name is Betty Johnson, and she is my lady love. (I call her “B.”) So yes, of course I’m prejudiced. But give me a minute to tell you about her and see if you don’t agree she’s a remarkable person, not only worth writing about, but worth trying to emulate the life she has led and continues to lead.
To even come close to describing the magnitude of this woman requires a short biography. She has raised her two children and 5 others. She worked for King County in Seattle for 21 years. She’s been married twice, lost her recent husband to leukemia after a 20-year battle. She has traveled extensively – Italy, Spain, Africa, Nepal, China, … and she’s just as much at home in this little burg of Virginia City as she is in a fancy restaurant in Venice. She is city-wise and sophisticated, yet can go camping, kayaking & picnicking in the mountains on a moment’s notice. She has snowmobiled with me for two winters now, and is getting better each time out.
Camping & Kayaking
Cruising Bourbon Street in NOLA
Okay, so much for the cliff notes of her life. Let me share with you what she does (that I’m aware of) really well. She cooks – omg how the woman can cook! Fancy stuff, simple stuff, all delicious stuff! My favorite story about her is that when we first met here in Montana I took her camping. Instead of my usual brats over the fire and some potato salad for the evening meal, she whipped up some Fettucini Alfredo with a Caesar salad and some fruit for dessert… camping! And, “Can I get you a little more wine, dear? I have another bottle in the truck…” Oh, my heart.
Along with everything else she does well, B is an artist. She is a fine photographer, has a great eye for the unusual and unique. She sees style, grace, movement, color, and finds a way to make them work together effortlessly. She’s a music lover and an avid reader. She has knitted for years, sweaters & such. She’s a fine seamstress and has made pillows for the cabin, curtains for all the windows, slip covers for the couch and chair, blankets to wrap up in on the cold wintry nights.
B recently recovered this chair & ottoman. She made the blanket, too.
She made the seat covers for our 4-wheeler, too.
When I look on in awe and finally have to say something, she just smiles and says “Oh phooey… anyone can do this stuff.” No, B… not everyone can do that stuff. Especially the way you do it – with thoughtfulness for others, with a careful eye for detail and quality, and with love.
Knitting my new sweater last winter in Seattle.
The finished product!
Notice the detail – just beautiful!
Recently she decided our cabin needed a new screen door, which it truly did. She had a friend of ours build a special, unique screen door which looks great on the cabin. But then she decides the new screen door needs a stone walkway up to it to balance the whole look of the entrance to the cabin better, and wait… while we’re at it, let’s also make a small stone patio connected to the walkway, a patio where we can put a fire pit for those chilly summer evenings. Turns out she’d already done one stone patio in Seattle with the help of her grandson Garrett, so she had a good idea of how to go about it. All I did was help her get the rocks, she did all the rest in less than two weeks. Have a look.
She bakes cookies with little girls, she bakes all kinds of tasty treats for her grandsons. I’ve been observing her over time now, and what I see is someone living a selfless life, doing thoughtful things for others every day, and making it appear effortless.
Yes, she’ll probably be unhappy with me for posting this. But her kids won’t, and her family and friends won’t. And know what? She’ll forgive me. Cuz that’s B.