• John-Michael Scurio

Aesthetics of joy | Chapter 1

In the age of Instagram, how to influence joy is of utmost importance. www.iloveureka.com is my place to influence more joy and bring more awareness to the joy that is around us.

Our home, Eureka Springs, AR, is brimming with one might call "aesthetics of joy." All around this wonderful town the beauty of the natural environment joyfully surrounds you and when you sprinkle-in the many things created by the residents and visitors - aesthetics of joy are everywhere here in Eureka.

In this blog series, we will explore these aesthetics of joy, understand them and learn more about why we are drawn to them. Most importantly, we will learn what they do for us.

Aesthetics of joy is a simple, powerful idea: our greatest source of joy is the world around us.

At one time or another, the words above have all been used to describe Eureka Springs, AR. As we explore these colorful descriptors and understand more about them, I encourage you, as you journey about in and around Eureka Springs, to take a joyspotting adventure to seek out these wonders that make our homes, our connections and our lives very joyful.

In Chapter One, we will explore the first two aesthetics of joy - Energy and Abundance.

An emerging body of research shows that there is a clear link between our surroundings and our mental health. Yet nearly all the advice on how to find happiness ignores this fact.

Designer Ingrid Fetell Lee sheds light on the relationship between our environment and our emotions, and share inspiration for living a more joyful life through design.

Let's delve into the art of finding and creating more joy in the world around us.

Joy is high-energy happiness, and the energy aesthetic is the visual manifestation of this energy in our lives: bright color and warm, sunny light. As the German painter Johannes Itten once said, “Color is life; for a world without colors appears to us as dead.”

Pops of color and light can be like caffeine for the eyes. Turn to this aesthetic when you want to revitalize dull spaces and energize the people in them.

Local chrochet artist, Gina Rose Gallina, does exceptional work with yarn, color and energy. The final product is most always infused with energy and/or motion.


The trees at Music Park on Main street are covered with knitting and crotchet all over this little park. 

The practice of yarnbombing is believed to have originated in the U.S. with Texas knitters trying to find a creative way to use leftover and unfinished knitting projects, but it has since spread worldwide. Houston artist Bill Davenport was creating and exhibiting crochet-covered objects in Houston in the 1990s, and the Houston Press stated that “Bill Davenport could be called the grand old man of Houston crocheted sculpture.”

Artist Shanon Schollian was knitting stump cozies in 2002 for clear cuts in Oregon.  The Knit Knot Tree by the Jafagirls in Yellow Springs, Ohio gained international attention in 2008.   The movement moved on from simple ‘cozies’ with the innovation of the ‘stitched story’. The concept has been attributed to Lauren O’Farrell (who creates her street art under the graffiti knitting name Deadly Knitshade), from London, UK, who founded the city’s first graffiti knitting collective Knit the City.

The ‘stitched story concept’ uses handmade amigurumi creatures, characters and items to tell a narrative or show a theme. This was first recorded with the Knit the City collective’s “Web of Woe” installation in August 2009.  The Knit the City collective were also the first to use O’Farrell’s term ‘yarnstorming’ to describe their graffiti knitting, as an alternative to the more popular term ‘yarnbombing’.   Yarn bombing’s popularity has spread throughout the world. In Oklahoma City the Collected Thread store yarn bombed the Plaza District of the city on 9 September 2011 to celebrate their three-year anniversary as a functioning shop , and in Australia a group called the Twilight Taggers refer to themselves as ‘fibre artists’.  Joann Matvichuk of Lethbridge, Alberta founded International Yarnbombing Day, which was first observed on 11 June 2011.

So, all that being said, Eureka Springs Gina Galina and friends have been caught in the yarn themselves. Music park is a joyful sight. Head down Main Street and you can't miss it on the left right before you get to the Eureka Springs train station.

The aesthetic of abundance is the “kid in a candy store” feeling, and it stems from the joy we find in quantity and variety. But abundance doesn’t necessarily have to mean material abundance and the accumulation of stuff. Just as powerful is sensorial abundance, achieved through repeating patterns like polka dots and stripes, the layering of textures, and the use of multicolor palettes. Using these aesthetics can help create a space that reveals the truth of Mae West’s famous maxim: “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”

We can never get too much art. In this artist-town, Eureka Springs has art in abundance. This is a true aesthetic of joy and brings about a tremendous surge of creativity, tourism, revenue, and, of course, joy to our town.

"With a background in found object assemblage, and a former eight-year photojournalist with the Lovely County Citizen in Eureka Springs, it felt quite natural combining both mediums to create my recent works. I have always had a deep fascination with objects. This current series of photographs is my attempt to breathe symbolic life into the inanimate, addressing social, political and spiritual themes." - Local Artist, John Rankine

John's work is now featured at StoneHouse, 82 S. Main Street, Eureka Springs, AR 72632 as one of the many installations for the annual May - Eureka Springs Festival of the Arts.

Another joyful festival that offers abundance is the annual Kite Festival.

A Kite Festival is an exceptional example of sensorial abundance. Each year, in Eureka Springs, in March, the annual Art With An Altitude Kit Festival at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Eureka Springs, AR.

“Making and flying kites is a ‘green’ sport’ families can share. It’s wind-fueled and gets kids away from sedentary activities like TV viewing and video games,” said Steve Rogers, KaleidoKites co-owner. “It’s a great photo-opportunity with world-class kites worth over a thousand dollars flown during the event. These kites are works of art, which is only fitting for an artist’s community like Eureka Springs,” added Rogers.

The event is one of the refuge’s most popular events each year. Admission is free for kite flying; regular admission prices apply to tour refuge wildlife on display. Proceeds finance rescue and ongoing care for over 135 tigers, lions, cougars and other wildlife that make the sanctuary a life-long home.

Seeing colorful kites in the Eureka skies is sensorial abundance and it brings out the joyful kid in all of us.

Aesthetics of joy is a blog-series of five chapters where we seek to discover joy all around us. Joyspotting is real, it's a thing and there is much joy to spot and experience here in Eureka Springs. In this series. we will take you on a joyful journey around Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Take a moment to check out the different chapters in this blog-series on www.iloveureka.com


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