The Art of Change

December 26, 2004

Was there any art just for art's sake this year?

In a year of war, divisive politics and debate over "moral values," popular artists across the spectrum seemed to abandon the notion of reflection to clamor for attention and immediate change. From Sean Combs to Bruce Springsteen, Michael Moore to Mel Gibson, many artists made their work urgent and political.

Behind all the tumult of 2004, other, less conspicuous kinds of change were happening in and through the arts. They were by turns silly, profound, mammoth and barely perceptible. But all may ultimately affect how we consume, enjoy and comprehend the arts: high or low, fine or pop.

Today, The Sun's arts staff takes note of some of those changes -- and the people behind them. It is an idiosyncratic list, not meant to be complete but emblematic. It includes one artist who created a symphony orchestra composed entirely of African-American musicians. Another who redefined the notion of the romantic male lead in film. And others who banded together to make a difference by preserving a building they valued.

Each of these shifts and twists within the vast realm of the arts couldn't be more different, but each in its way is a new beginning, and every new beginning implies hope.

Happy New Year.

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