I have always believed in erring on the side of generosity. I give people the benefit of the doubt when it appears that less than their best judgment is in play. I give of my time, energy, and resources to organizations that I believe contribute to the good society. I give my friendship and infinite loyalty to those that are my friends. I give guidance to my children and offer them advice on how they too can participate, contribute, and give as well.
In 2003, I organized an exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum entitled For your pleasure. The premise was that "a new conceptual approach has been emerging in art since the turn of the millennium: a spirit of generosity toward the viewer.The three installations that make up the exhibition utilize nontraditional forms and cutting-edge technology to offer values long sought and found in art: glimpses of beauty and moments of pleasure."
Cai Guo-Qiang: Installation View of MATRIX 204 -- MACROMATRIX For Your Pleasure, (April 23-August 3, 2003).Image courtesy of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Archive.
Five years later, I asked Jim Hodges to create a work to be placed on all of the ski lift tickets for Aspen|Snowmass in collaboration with the Aspen Skiing Company. Jim asked himself: "What do I bring to this experience through my work that can touch each of these viewers?" He decided, as he phrased it, "to ask a question in the form of a statement: give more than you take." He went on to say, "Art is life. It isn't a single thing. There are no guarantees. It challenges and rewards. We get what we choose from it."
Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, 2008. Image courtesy of the artist.
Another "lesson" we can learn from art is that our lives are filled with choices. I choose generosity. I want people to give of themselves so that they can take something away. What do they give? An openness, a willingness to engage, to go for it, to jump in. What do they take? The experience, the opportunity, the transcendence, the dialogue. And then, to whom do they give it in turn? You get the idea.
Give more than you take. Now, more than ever.