The Gift of Art Nov24

The Gift of Art

Thanksgiving is near and after its festive celebration with the family, comes the horrible onslaught of pressure to buy gifts for the Christmas holiday. Ads on television, radio and the web tell us of the savings we’ll have if we buy wares from this store or that. “Spend, spend, spend!” is the holiday jingle that echoes like an earworm in my head and it makes me wonder, if my generation is the last to recall a time when gifts for the holidays were hand-made instead of purchased; a custom that seems to have slowly died away. Holidays were a simpler time. People purchased art or crafts for their loved ones if they didn’t make the items themselves. Craft fairs were abundant after Thanksgiving, people selling one-of-a-kind, hand-made items. I recall spending afternoons, walking the fair, eating holiday cookies and drinking eggnog or cider and looking for special gifts for family and friends. Now, there’s hardly a craft fair to be found; another custom that has gradually become extinct. People don’t want hand-made items. They want electronics and designer names; products that are mass-produced in countries where slave-labor is cheap and the profit margins are high. They’re not interested in one-of-a-kind items, lovingly created especially for them. Or are they? Is this just an illusion created by marketeers to get people to shop ‘til they drop each year? Every time I’ve ever given my art or a hand-crafted item, I’ve had great response. Not only was the receiver delighted with the item, but those around asked if they could have one as well. The holidays have, and will always be a time when I make gifts for those I love. As an artist, this is a no-brainer. But if I weren’t talented in this area,...

Supporting the Arts from the Ground Up...

“The future belongs to young people with an education and the imagination to create.” –President Barack Obama The news is full of stories of hard economic times causing funding cuts in arts education. More than a few schools have slashed support of the arts; some have eliminated them entirely. For artists this is alarming, for most others it’s a non-issue. Why should we spend our sparse education funding on painting and music and writing? Our math scores trail many other developed countries. Many students leave school barely able to read and write at a first grade level. Artists know the answer to this question. The arts exercise the mind in ways that the mere ingesting and regurgitating of facts can never do. Unfortunately, the ones who make the decisions on where to spend the money rarely see it that way. It is our responsibility to educate them, so they will educate our children. When people talk about supporting a school’s football team, they don’t mean for people to sit around and hope that the school will come up with the funds to keep it going. They’re talking about putting butts in the seats. They’re talking about an enthusiastic demonstration of support and good will. Why should we approach support of arts education any differently? How successful would a football program be if the only people who showed up for games were the mothers and fathers of the players? And yet, when a school music ensemble has a concert, or the theater department is presenting a play, they’re lucky to get as many people in the audience as they have on the stage. One big problem that arts programs have is, frankly, that the teachers rarely have the time or know-how to promote their programs...

A World Without The Arts Aug04

A World Without The Arts...

Try to imagine if you will, a world without art. No music, no theater, no books to read other than those that teach you math and science. Your walls are blank; nothing hangs in your home to stimulate your visual senses other than possibly a clock to tell time or a certificate saying you’re accomplished at some task. Every building looks the same, made from the same mold, as architecture is mainly for function, form has no consideration. Every car looks the same; every piece of clothing, utilitarian. The world lacks imagination, for creativity has been starved out of existence. I for one, find this imagining an unpleasant task to accomplish. The thought is so repulsive that my imagination rebels and I find myself not wanting to venture down that path. For weeks now, I’ve been trying to write a fictional story on just this topic, but the words will not form. In the telling of this story, I wanted people to discover just how important the Arts are to humanity. Every day, we take for granted the creative stimulus that helps us become more interesting, more inventive, more diverse people and yet every day, we lose the very incentive that nurtures our creativity. It’s the first thing that’s cut in school programs when the budgets are overtaxed. Art, music, theater; they are expendable, those in power say. But are they? How inventive would this world be without creativity? To quote Albert Einstein, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.”  But where would imagination be without the creative forces that stimulate it? Would it wither and die, leaving us a world so drab and boring that nothing would inspire us to create? Would we only be able to...