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Art has always played an important role in my life. Though I didn’t inherit the art genes, I have always loved art and the world that surrounds it.
Art has had a prominent place in our family. My grandfather believed in exposing his children to culture and my parents passed on this tradition, taking us to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, and plays. As a child, I survived eight years of classes that often bored me in Catholic school by drawing everything around me. My brother was a photographer in San Francisco, until he had to retire due to injuries received during the Vietnam War. My older sister has extensively remodeled every house they’ve moved into, putting in old fireplace fronts, tin ceilings and artistic, quirky touches that when finished have been her works of art. I remember my mother drawing on every scrap of paper nearby as she talked on the phone. She drew faces of women that were quite good and designs, sometimes detailed, depending on the length of the conversation. Later, she enrolled in art lessons and became quite good at painting as well.
In college, I met an art major and married him. After a short stint of owning and designing the art for a silkscreen business in Colorado, my husband decided to get his masters in business. However, he has always honed his art skills. Today he specializes in pottery, creating beautiful, yet functional pieces, that I cherish using and displaying.
When young, our daughter drew houses in a triangle, with endless variations of colorful patterns that delighted our eye. Today, a framed house design hangs on one wall. Our granddaughter is interested in art, and I encourage her innovative side. Art is not only a wonderful pastime, but also good for the brain and soul. Research has shown that art, as well as music, wires the brain for learning and is therapeutic as well. In a tight economy, it is tempting for school boards and legislators to cut the art and music that often nourishes and enriches our lives.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year to encourage art. When our children were young, I had a list for Christmas gifts that did not include the expensive “must have” toys of the season. Instead, I found gifts to read, create, invent, and spark the imagination, toys the children used long after the battery-operated ones given to them.
We are fortunate to have the Lanesboro Arts Center, Rochester Arts Center, and the Studio Art Tours in our area. For a small gallery, the Lanesboro Arts Center has a talented, eclectic mix of juried artists, high quality exhibits, and recently a poetry reading by Christopher Robinson and art demonstration by Joni Finnegan. Barbara Keith’s mosaic art, on display currently, is a visual feast for the senses. Each design is formed from intricate pieces of stained glass, placed to shape people in motion, animals, landscapes, and my favorite, a train. Her Mosaic Zoo in ABC’s graces the children’s wing of a hospital in LA and can be purchased as a book, Mosaic Zoo: ABC, from www.brownianbe.com
As Franklin D Roosevelt once said, “Art is not a treasure in the past or an importation from another land, but part of the present life of all living and creating peoples.”
Recipe for a Christmas Memory
Read a book to a child, or create art, or build something, or bake something or just be silly together. Make tea and cookies, and invite a neighbor over, or visit someone who is unable to get out and would love your company. Invite someone to share a Christmas show or music or a children’s concert or play. A Christmas Carol is playing at the Commonweal Theater at present. Instead of endless Christmas shopping and decorating, spend some time with someone special; creating a memory that will be remembered long after the season is over.