"There's nothing to do around here!" & lt;span class= "dropcap " & R & lt;/span & epeated often enough, soon this whine seems like a convenient truth. Next you're curling up with the Ding Dongs and the Friends reruns.

Strolling through an art gallery, schlepping yourself to a live concert or play ... these things take planning and money and time. Why bother?

& r & After all, the remote control beckons; so does the iPod. It's easy to live in an artistic niche of your own devising -- whatever you want to watch and listen to, whenever you want. Convenience: It's what cuts us off from the bank teller, the grocery store checkout clerk, our neighbors, our families.

& r & You can use the iPod and the remote to construct a little pop culture bubble of your own, and no one will ever challenge your tastes or your beliefs. Or you can scan our listings, pick a few events and go rub shoulders with people who are different from you -- different, perhaps, except in their willingness to spend profitably some of the time we all claim we don't have.

& r & In a mass-produced world, the arts are handcrafted and slow. This is worth lingering over, artists say; these creations are worth all our time.

& r & Reality TV? Pass & eacute;. Scripted. You want real, genuine life? Look intently at an abstraction's thick daubs of paint; listen to an auditorium's sniffles during a tragic final scene; feel the heft of a new biography; watch for the film director's visual quotes and match cuts; study the dancer's reach toward an unseen ideal. In theaters and art galleries and concert halls, precious and holy things happen.

& r & If you hear yourself saying that you don't go to museums or concerts or plays "as often as I should," then stop thinking of it as a "should." Think of it as essential to a life worth living.

& r & So browse our listings. Risk an experience that's beyond your individual control. Pick one event you'd like to investigate. (A lot of 'em are free!) The anticipation is half the reward.

& r & Or if you're a frequent arts attendee (you are reading The Inlander, after all), then experience one more sculpture or aria than you'd intended. Stretch your boundaries. When scenesters grow silent at the symphony and graybeards are freaking at Club Fusion, then we'll see it: There's plenty to do around here. & r &


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Pickup a copy of the Fall Arts Preview Pullout on stands now!

Golden Harvest: Flour Sacks from the Permanent Collection @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 15
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