Natalia Naman Temesgen: Spring brings art in bloom

March 15, 2014 

I write this as I gaze at a fleet of blooming Bradford pear trees lining the pond at my parents' house. They're old, large, fanning their blossoms like peacocks over a backdrop of lanky pines.

I saw them all over the city last Tuesday. I was struck not only by their beauty, but also by their unified presentation. It was as if they collectively decided to stop the residents of Columbus in our tracks and make us take notice. I did -- from the driver's seat of my car at a stoplight. Then I drove on to a lunch meeting, taught my class, picked up my kid, and so on.

This past Thursday, Artbeat of Columbus kicked off the third year of its two-week celebration of local art with performances and exhibitions by area dancers, musicians, actors and visual artists. It was topped off by a firework display over the Chattahoochee, scored by the Columbus State University Orchestra. I meant to go, but my to-do list caught up to me. I know I missed out. But I plan to do better.

"Just Drop In with Latino Colores" features educational art activities with a Latin twist this afternoon from 1-3 p.m. at the CSU Riverside Theatre. Sounds like a stimulating, low-cost event for my 1-year-old and me. Then on Saturday between 11 and 4, I'll drop by the Broadway and 11th Street stage for a few minutes (or hours) during the marathon reading of Carson McCullers' novel "The Member of the Wedding," because even with a diploma from Columbus High School I have never read this book and would rather hear others do it for me.

I'm excited about these events, but I know when the time comes to head over something may get in the way: errands, a fussy baby, or even my compulsion to stalk friends on Facebook rather than share a live event with potential strangers.

The subtext of the Bradford pears blooming the same week that Artbeat kicks off is not lost on me. In a couple of weeks, their blossoms will give way to as many green leaves. We won't enjoy them again for another year. And in a couple of weeks, the Columbus art scene will go on, but in a slightly more predictable fashion. We'll see a play, enjoy a museum exhibit, or attend a concert in the safe confines of our routines, and with the same friends and family we're always with. We won't see this unique, diverse and galvanizing celebration of local artists for another year. And art, unlike your favorite Netflix original series (wink), cannot be duplicated. You were either there, in the thick of it, or you simply were not.

This week, I entreat you to check out the Program Guide at artbeatcolumbus.org and take a chance on something that strikes you. Because it's one thing to catch a blooming pear tree from the front seat of your car in passing. But it's entirely another to sit for an hour before one, its branches heavy with blossoms like cotton, and reflect on its beauty. You can keep that moment with you well after the leaves turn green, remembering that you were there, in the thick of it.

-- Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at nataliadian1@gmail.com or on Twitter @cafeaulazy.

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