Laurie Fendrich is a painter who teaches at Hofstra University and I regularly read her blog which unfortunately seems to be on hiatus since last August.
Art is not the icing on the cake of civilization. Art is one of the bases of civilization. In the beginning were cave paintings, not cave hedge funds, or cave economic texts, or departments of “Cave Studies.” And after the rise and fall of any particular civilization, who (other than historians) still thinks about its economic system, or even its military might? What mostly lives on for people in succeeding civilizations are art and ideas. Those civilizations which made no art, or spurned philosophy (think Sparta) quickly turn to dust and become only the stuff of legend.