Art for the heart at Route 22

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, August 6, 2020

Cochrane-area artists’ works at Route 22 gladden the heart.
Photo collage by Warren Harbeck

Feeling downhearted lately and in need of something to lift your spirits? How about dropping by Cochrane’s recently opened Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery?

That’s exactly what I’ve done, and I’ve not been disappointed. Indeed, the experience has illustrated the healing wisdom of Dostoevsky’s words, “The world will be saved by beauty.”

Located in Cochrane Town Square, Route 22 is a volunteer-based project of the non-profit Cochrane Integrated Arts Society (CIAS). Its purpose is to showcase our community’s visual artists.

“Art feeds the soul for our artists as much as, or more, as it does for the viewer,” says member artist Ele Davis. “Being able to retreat to the studio in these lonely COVID- isolating times is really a retreat, indeed. It is a place that creates infinite space through its possibilities. Then the gallery allows us a venue to share our joyful expressions with the community and each other.”

These diverse “joyful expressions” that grace the gallery’s exhibits testify convincingly to Dostoevsky’s wise words that I first encountered in Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Nobel Prize Lecture.

“Beauty has ennobled and elevated, yes, but whom has it ever saved?” the Nobel Laureate asks.

The answer, he says, is to be found in the very nature of beauty itself. There is “this characteristic in the position of Art: a truly artistic work is completely, irrefutably convincing and bends to its will even the heart which resists it.”

In this sense, then, he sees Dostoevsky’s words as prophetic of the restorative role art plays in today’s world, as witnessed to at Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery.

Just before visiting the gallery the other day, I had been contemplating a passage from the Bible (Philippians 4:8–9 NIV):

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent and praiseworthy — think about such things…. And the God of peace will be with you.”

And yes, I came away with a heart at peace after visiting Route 22 Artist Collective Gallery.


© 2020 Warren Harbeck

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