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I'm not breaking any news by suggesting that one of the very best things about living in Northwest Arkansas is our access to amazing works of art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I've got to admit that it's a little weird having a world-class art museum in Arkansas of all places, but I'm not complaining. My family visits often.

Whenever, we do, I love to stop and look at one of my favorite pieces that is often on display, Round by Kenneth Noland. It's a relatively simple work -- four concentric circles on a tan background. The colors are simple, too -- red, white and blue.

On several occasions, while I've been looking at this piece or another, I've overheard someone say, "I could have done that."

And I always think to myself, "Yeah, but the artist did do that."

The difference between the critic and the artist, assuming the critic has some talent, is that the artist has actually done the work. He or she made the thing. He stopped dreaming, stopped planning, stopped imagining and actually did the thing.

The artist pulled out a paintbrush or pencil or whatever tool he uses and got to work. She didn't wait for someone to give her permission to participate. She didn't make endless plans that would never be delivered on. She didn't merely post about stuff on social media.

Creating something takes work. It takes discipline. There are emotional ups and downs associated with trying to birth something new into the world.

The last thing an artist needs is the critic minimizing and diminishing their accomplishment. It's easy to sit back and criticize, to give notes about how things can be improved, to Monday morning quarterback. It's much, much harder to get in the game, to put your own reputation on the line, to do the thing.

The critic doesn't realize how special the work is.

I have endless respect for people who do the work of creating something new. Some creators put their efforts into art. Others found new businesses. Some tackle needs that no one else seems to be meeting. Others try to move the needle through advocacy and activism.

If you spent 2019 trying to birth something new and beautiful, I want to celebrate you -- no matter if your effort is hanging on the walls of Crystal Bridges or your mom's refrigerator. Regardless of what success you've had, if you have put all of the love, creativity and passion you can muster into your art, you deserve to be recognized.

And, as we all head into a new year, let's remember to spend more time as artists than as critics. Let's do the work. And let's make it beautiful.


Robb Ryerse is the co-pastor of Vintage Fellowship in Fayetteville. He is the author of the upcoming book Running for Our Lives: A Story of Faith, Politics,

NAN Religion on 01/11/2020

Print Headline: 'Just do it' great plan for 2020

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