Back in the day, which is an expression I use when I don’t want to specify dates, Artsy Fartsy was occasionally used as a disparaging remark. Usually from those that believed somewhere along the line you had to pick whether you were going to be an academic (aka: successful) or Artsy Fartsy (aka: wears drawstring pants).
Shamefully, I can’t say I remember much happening academically in my elementary years. Jimmied into a two room school house it did happen, it just wasn’t memorable for me. There were workbooks for each of our grades. Hard parts on the chalk board. For the most part though, I recall the creative. Not only did we have art, we were free to move our desks to wherever we wanted so we could be comfortable in our creative space. I dragged my desk into one of the cubbies regularly leaving nowhere to go except the page in front of me. Years later I do my best when painted into a corner creatively. Weird.
Further to Fartsy development, each year every last kid would be cast in the Christmas Concert. As a student and as a town, we we’re all in. Would have been a great night to steal a fish smoker because all the houses sat empty. You picked what you felt you could do and you did it, ability be damned. My brother, the academic prodigy, stood in the choir and sang next to me. He wasn’t put out to smarty pants pasture on that night. It was unheard of to not be a part of this end of the road arts gala. It was the social kick off to the much anticipated prawn season.
I was asked recently to donate some of my particular art, comedy, to help raise funds for a Parkdale school that has had theirs yanked by someone that I suspect didn’t have much fartsy in their upbringing. Who decided art isn’t a thing? That music isn’t team building as much as football would be? That learning to think with the whole other half of your brain doesn’t makes good sense? Why the F-ity-F would you only focus on half a kid head when the kid is still becoming who they’re going to be? Grrr.
When you’re young and exploring what you want to do with your life, you’re presented with what’s out there. Much like growing up in a small town, your choices are limited if you’re only shown a small picture. What’s it going to do to a vulnerable bunch of kids to have critical thinking and strategic skills taken from them? Choices will be made for them. Sometimes by awful people. Good job politics.
As a kid in the seventies, creativity was tantamount to being a free range chicken. Running around, happy as can be but still capable of providing an egg when needed. I knew there would be hard work but had the tools to enjoy it. Having art in my life didn’t mean I was going to jump the chicken wire and run crazy for the rest of my life. Not going to say this didn’t happen with the odd chicken in my school. That’s why there are life coaches now. I didn’t want to be in the place that I was in and it was, without a doubt, creative, strategic thinking above all that got me to a successful place where I have many pairs of pants now. Drawstring and smarty. Long live Artsy Fartsy!!