The Washington Post recently sponsored an experiment with Joshua Bell, the most talented classical violinist in the world. When I was 14 or 15, I got to see Joshua Bell in concert back when he was still a teenager, too.
It's a though-provoking piece. How many of us, in our harried day-to-day lives, can really appreciate what's around us? How many of us take the time to look at the world? Pay attention to the other people around us?
I do agree that art, in all forms, is enhanced by its context - physical, historical, geographical, etc. But there are some fundamentals that stand out as beautiful outside of any context.
As a former violinist, I would hope I would have been one of the passers-by who recognized Bell's genius in the incongrous context. But even more, I would hope I'd recognize the genius simply by being human. He's so good that it's really hard to miss.
But in the context, would even I have missed it? It's disturbing that I can't say for certain.