Leaving the bleak Post- Communistic country I lived in and entering the United States has been an experience that managed to change everything, from me beliefs to my perceptions, from the perspective on art to the way I saw art, the art process and all the new currents I had discovered in the new country.
Of course, the first notable thing that happened to me was that I discovered, with some surprise, that there is more to art than what I had already experienced during the Communist regime. The immense Communist buildings gave way to the marvelous masterpieces of the Renaissance, including the incredible European churches. The Communist movies, some of them art forms themselves, but always gloomy and reflecting the reality surrounding us, were replaced by the American sitcoms and comedies. Indeed, shows like Seinfeld and Friends reflected the entire American attitude. Free and easy, without the general preoccupations about what one would eat the next day or whether the political police would follow their every move, they were the perfect recipients for such shows.
Liberty, democracy, freedom, a better life altogether meant that I now had the time and spiritual space to enjoy art forms that abounded in the Western civilization and that I now could properly study and enjoy.
Fiction could be summarized with two names: Tolkien and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The former represents perhaps the best example of what popular art is all about. Easy to read, without ambiguities or philosophical deviations, Tolkien's works are keen to surprise traces of humanity and of human actions, even if he uses elves and dwarves to do so. Wars between empires, as presented in some of Tolkien's works, are elements with which our own history has been populated throughout times.
Of a completely different nature are Marquez's works. High art by excellence, they are the best example of philosophical literature. Not only his philosophical message is worth mentioning, but the entire way his books are constructed. Take, for example, his best known work, "One Hundred Years of Solitude." Presenting the evolution of a family in a local village is just a pretext that the author uses in order to give way to his inner thoughts and ideas, as well as to some of the surrealistic images that seem to populate his mind.
A hadn't had much previous contact with Shakespeare. The most famous playwright of all times, Shakespeare is also some one who is keen on presenting his own times, as well as bits of history from England's troubled times (like his historical plays, "Henry V," "Richard III," etc.). One of the most amazing things about Shakespeare, however, is that he always seems so actual, no matter what the times portrayed are. Indeed, Romeo and Juliet are not only heroes of medieval Verona, but they portray the lovers' drama from all times.
Amadeus is somewhat of a different style. First of all, it is meant exclusively to portray and praise the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, boy genius and one of the best musicians of all times. The play obviously addresses someone who is already familiar with Mozart's life, with the existence of his rival, Salicetti, and with some of his works. However, it is still an excellent way of learning about him.
One of the best projections of the American society is the movies. From Star Wars to The Hours, there is something for everybody. Indeed, if you want to see excellent special effects and technology, Star Wars is definitely the choice. Spaceships, spectacular guns and space battles- all will guarantee that you enjoy yourself for the full hours you will spent at the theatre.
On the other hand, The Hours is the type of movie high art. Presenting the life of Virginia Wolf, it is to be assumed that you are somewhat familiar with the writer, at least with what her psychological troubles were and what her books were about. Of course, there is always something in between, namely The Blues Brothers. Relaxed and casual, not quite a comedy, though with many funny moments, the movie is all about the band reunion that seems to follow you obsessively throughout the picture.
Of course, in the United States you always have a choice. You can prefer to stay at home at watch a TV show rather than go out to the movies. Bugs Bunny is a choice for all ages, even if it may rather be perceived as folk art. The funny and sometimes annoying rabbit seems to always win his disputes. No matter how much you may dislike him at times (I must admit I do), you can't help to notice his ingenuity, so characteristic to the American people.
Seinfeld and Friends are shows that have left a mark on the 90s. The show about nothing, as Seinfeld was often referred to, Seinfeld surprises aspects of everyday life that we generally face ourselves in time. The idea of the show, perhaps, is that any of us could have a story which is similar to the episode in Seinfeld. The show is a reflection of our own lives. Friends is much more relaxed. The belief that friends will help you out of any troubles plays its part here. You may have had a bad day, but coming home to a smiling face and a joke across the hall is something that can always bring up your spirits.
You don't necessarily need to refer only to visual arts, because there is always the music. Vocal music can be choral, pop or high art. Everybody is familiar with the choral music. In the United States, this may take original forms, such as gospel, which in turn evolved into jazz. The advantage of choral music is that you may discover that going to church is actually less of a burden and more of a recreation.
If you are not into choral, you can always listen to pop. Pop seems to be everywhere, because the recipe is quite simple: take 1 to 3 young, pretty girls, get a composer to write some songs for them and there you have it. Of course, they don't always have a successful voice, but, hey, with the technology nowadays, you don't really need it. Pop is however cheerful and, even not always too deep, it is something you like to listen to.
If pop is not deep enough for you, then you should try Sting. From his days in The Police to the present solo career, he has never left the lights. I am not sure what it is that makes him great. It may be his voice or it may be his sometimes transcendental music. However, he is always a choice of high art to be considered.
Still in the high art category, we have the instrumental music. Classic guitar, played in clubs, is an excellent way to enjoy true music. Ranging from medieval music to modern pieces, you are in for a real acoustic treat that will sure make it a night to remember.
On the other hand, the United States is the place where you can virtually "dance the night away." The popular genre is represented by disco music. With its beginnings somewhere in the 70s, disco music has been carried to the stars by the likes of Bee Gees or Donna Summer in the 80s. The decade has been called the disco age and it has been carried on, with intermissions, to this day. Of course, nowadays we no longer have the octaves of the three brothers from Bee Gees, but acceptable tunes are still present.
If you are into more sensual dancing music, you can try tango. The traditional Argentinean dance has been successfully imported to the United States and you can enjoy it in many American clubs. In my opinion,…