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Art & Culture
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|Published in the Columbia Daily Tribune 20 November 2005|
Giving ThanksThere's a long and time honored tradition for columnists to write about what they are thankful for at this time of year. Who am I to buck tradition? But let me put my own spin on it . . .
Here are some things for which I am thankful, and things for which I'm, well, not so much:
Thankful: For all the artists who still produce, show, and share their art in spite of the near impossibility of making a full-time career out of doing so. This is an incredible gift these people are giving to anyone who sees their work, and they don't get the thanks and recognition they deserve.
Thankful: That we live in a town with enough public support for the arts that we actually have an Office of Cultural Affairs that does things like the Fall Festival, provides grants to area arts organizations, et cetera. This extends to the "Percent for Art Program," which is administered by the OCA. Yay!
Thankful: Same goes for Lorah Steiner at the Chamber of Commerce, and the good people at the Columbia Art League. Their "Art Purchase Pledge" gets the right idea across: that in order to support the arts we should actually buy art from local artists.
Not so much: Anything called “art” at big discount stores. Hint: if it was reproduced in the thousands in some sweatshop overseas, the best it can be called is "decoration," not art. Yes, I am being an elitist snob. You expected something different?
Thankful: For Naoma Powell and Access Arts. ‘Nuff said.
Thankful: That the folks at Poppy Art didn't listen to my advice, and had the optimism to actually open a new, REAL, commercial gallery in this town. It may be the triumph of hope (theirs) over experience (mine), but I'm glad they did it. We all need a little hope, and some good art, now and again. Good luck to them.
Not so much: Businesses that use artists for free decor, with the rationale that they're doing them some sort of favor by giving them "exposure." Exception to this is those participating in the Art League's Community Exhibits Program, which actually does a lot to promote their artists.
Thankful: For the excellent art collections (much of it local) at Boone County National Bank and First National Bank, and both of their support for the arts generally. Good on them!
Thankful: Arts educators who sculpt young minds. There really is more to life than learning to be a good worker drone. Learning to appreciate the arts quite literally gives life color, texture, music, and beauty.
Not so much: Elvis impersonators. Yeah, I know, not a visual art. Nonetheless, um, no, thanks. I mean, the guy's been dead for over 30 years. I like great Rock as much as anyone, but c'mon, how many John Lennon impersonators do you see?
Thankful: For the University and college art departments. Their students inject a vitality into the local art scene we'd be much poorer without. The faculty members are some of the most talented artists in the community. And they attract special shows and exhibits. What's not to like?
Not so much: People who look at modern art and say "my 6 year old daughter/grandson could do that." Um, no. People have been saying this sort of thing about modern art for at least a 100 years. If it were true, we'd have plenty of examples of these child prodigies. We don't.
And of course, I'm thankful for having the opportunity to write about art and artists here in the area and for the two or three people who are regular readers of this column. With a little luck, and the forbearance of the editors at the Tribune, I'll continue to do what I can to promote the arts in the coming year.
Follow-up to my last column, concerning auctions: VSA Arts is indeed hosting a benefit show and auction of art at Boone Landing 109 Keene Street, Columbia, on December 3 from 11:00 to 5:00. It sounds like they're trying to do it right, and are still looking for artists to participate. If you're interested, contact Rebecca Sastry at VSA arts of Missouri at (573) 875-2872. I can also pass along emails sent to me.
all work © James T. Downey, 1993-present
photos © Martha K. John, 1994-present
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