A very dear friend (you know who you are– we actually met in my local art museum!) sent me an interesting article by Terry Teachout, drama critic for the Wall Street Journal, about the problems that the arts are having these days. Major orchestras, like the Atlanta Symphony, are struggling with huge debt. Opera companies have “gut[ted] their operations to the point of unrecognizability”, previously successful and much admired performing companies have folded and many museums and art galleries have had their budgets cut (or even eliminated) by cities and states.
While there’s little we can do about the recession directly, it did strike me that there’s quite a lot we can do to show how important our museums and art galleries are to us. If politicians often don’t recognize the value of good public education, how much credence will they give to the importance of the arts? So one thing we can do is visit the our local public art galleries and museums and show them how much we care.
Go regularly. Make a point of going to see what’s new or visiting art works you love at least once a month. Go at least as often as you go to the Mall! Know where the special pieces are that really speak to you just as easily as you know where to find the tea in the supermarket. Make a short visit – say half an hour or so – part of your errand-running routine.
Looking for inspiration? Go and see which pieces really have an impact on you. Which pieces call you from across the gallery as soon as you enter the room? And why? and how? And use those strategies and devices yourself!
Meet friends there – many museums have snack bars or coffee shops – stroll around the galleries together discussing which pieces are your favorites and why (great eye-training exercise!) and then enjoy a well earned cafe au lait or cream puff (now you know what to order for me!).
Take the (grand)children – it’s important to introduce kids to art early – and they love it. Many museums now have special labels, or leaflets or programs for children. My local art museum, http://georgiamuseum.org, has several signs especially for children in each gallery. Kids love the “treasure hunt” sense of finding these special labels and then reading the information and looking at the art to see if they can spot the dog or whatever is described. If you then reward them with a trip to the gift shop and a couple of postcards of a painting they really liked, then you’ve doubled the effect!
Base your next quilt guild challenge on the art in the museum. The guild could select a particular painting, or a particular gallery, or even the whole museum as the inspiration for the challenge.
Attend classes Many museums offer classes and discussion groups. Make a point of supporting them.
Open Drawing Hours If classes aren’t available, ask when the open sketching hours are – or ask if you can go any time that’s convenient for you. Most museums are very happy to accommodate sketchers, and often have folding stools available. There’s no better way to learn!
Rent space for a special event How much more pleasant to have a wedding or a retirement party in an art setting than in an anonymous generic hotel “ballroom”!
There are probably other ways too to support your local public art gallery – so please comment if I’ve forgotten something obvious!! We need to really show those budget cutting politicians that ART is more important than more (and frequently unnecessary) traffic lights!!
And now, I’m off to see my favorite Charles Burchfield!! If you have been, thanks for reading!