They tell me Medium readers need images or, better, animated gifs to be captivated by an article. (This article has none.) You’re better than that, right?

Batteries not included.

Some assembly required.

Just add water.

For me, a work of art is raw material until it engages individuals and communities and sustains conversations with them. (If a painting or song falls in a forest, it indeed makes no sound.) When these conversational relationships emerge, the work truly becomes art.

If you want an illustration of my philosophy, there’s one close by.

In summer 2019, as part of its “Revolution 1989”…


A “little free library” at the African American Museum of Iowa; Cedar Rapids.

Batteries not included.

Some assembly required.

Just add water.

This work spans two exhibitions, links four organizations (two cultural centers, two schools), brings dozens of individuals into direct or indirect interaction, and offers a new treasure to the community.

For me, a work of art is raw material until it engages individuals and communities and sustains conversations with them. (If a painting or song falls in a forest, it indeed makes no sound.) When these conversational relationships emerge, the work truly becomes art.

If you want an illustration of my philosophy, there’s one close by.

In summer 2019, as part…


Photo by Fachry Zella Devandra on Unsplash

Notes for the dear reader:

This is my fourth article on cultural substrate: the infrastructure of community attitude and practice that engenders a robust artsphere (arts ecosphere) in which artists and arts enthusiasts can thrive. You may read the first, second, and third articles by clicking on their links. If we want to bring more prosperity to the arts, we need to get serious in developing a supportive artsphere for them.

If the arts want to get more attention and support in their communities, artists and presenters may want to ask themselves how the arts can have a greater presence…


Photo by Highlight ID on Unsplash.

Introduction

Cultural substrate is a new concept with which every artist, creative, and arts enthusiast should become familiar and help propagate. Cultural substrate is the nourishing neural and circulatory system for a regional or community artsphere (arts ecosphere.) Where there is a robust cultural substrate, artists will find their communities more supportive of them. And artists will find themselves in communities where they can practice their creativity more successfully.

Cultural substrate can change the conversation football fans have with their town and get many more people engaging with the arts.

This is my third conversation on cultural substrate. You may find…


Photo by Stanislaw Zarychta on Unsplash.

Introduction

Last time I introduced you to “cultural substrate” — a meta- or umbrella-level of support for artists, cultural organizations, and all the arts enthusiasts (that’s all of us!) and communities that benefit from the arts. You can review that article here. In that introductory conversation, I provided examples of painters, musicians, and museums. I didn’t show what a vibrant and vigorous cultural substrate could do for writers. Since Medium is first and foremost a forum for writers, I’d like to correct that.

We will also assume the writers/readers on Medium want a community where the reading life is taken very…


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We all know the saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Well, as fertile soil grows better plants, a vibrant and vigorous cultural substrate nourishes a prosperous arts industry.

Introduction: Defining Cultural Substrate

Are you interested in the arts? (You write or read, don’t you? So, I’ve already snared you!) Are you interested in community building? Creativity? Dreams? Doing? Informed and civic conversation?

Then I would like to introduce you to a term I’ve coined: cultural substrate. Cultural substrate is the attitude and practice in a community that advocates for and supports the arts and those practicing creatively — either individually or as part…


Photo by Karim MANJRA on Unsplash.

The ending to this story won’t surprise anyone who is open-minded and curious like myself, expecting to find enrichment and insight anywhere. Yesterday, I went to New York to find treasure in my backyard in Iowa. I didn’t literally go to New York and the treasure has not materialized. The insight has been gleaned, but I expect a monetary return someday.

Here is the story.

A friend of mine from college works for a TV station in New York. He makes shows dealing with art or human interest stories of the region. …


Photo by Joseph Ngabo on Unsplash.

Four Districts and Sixteen Towns

Let’s start with the premise that I have no idea what I’m talking about. That will temper your incredulity and mitigate your meltdown. I don’t what you to get an ulcer or have a transient ischemic attack. I’m offering just one facet of a complex dynamic, but the facet has useful insight.

The desire to have Democrats win seats in rural Iowa cannot wait until voter registration numbers begin to become competitive for Democrats and will not happen even with advantages in fundraising. The conversations, messages (ones that can resonate with rural voters), and culture needs to change.

I propose…


Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash.

Weekends are a great time to relax and recharge and be productive. Here are some interesting reads I have found I would like to share with you to make your weekend go a bit better. Have a great weekend.

The Little Flower That Could

Please indulge me. I always start and end these posts with my own contributions. Consider this the bread of a very fulfilling sandwich. This little inspirational post has been one of my most popular stories according to Medium fans. I hope you like it.

P.S. You can find more of my work at the publication, So Good Social Media.

Yuck! But There’s Nowhere to Go But Up!

Did you…


Photo by Unseen Histories on Unsplash.

For the November 3 General Election, I served as an elections tech for a drive-thru early voting initiative in Iowa. Because of COVID and the heightened interest in the Biden-Trump tussle, record numbers of voters wanted to participate in early voting. In our case, the voting was conducted in a parking ramp. In four weeks, we moved 18.061 voters through that parking ramp! There were many first-time voters — both natives and naturalized citizens, both young and old. It’s fantastic that so many people were voting and that so many novices were voting. Hopefully this act of voting in this…

Patrick Muller

Making the arts essential to everyone every day while exploring new models for meaning, mattering, purpose, belonging, understanding, and conversation.

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