Arts or No Arts…That is the Question

Art. A word that often conjures up visions of large pieces of canvas covered with paint in a manner from which only the artist or those who fancy themselves connoisseurs of the arts can derive any beauty or inspiration. Those of us who aren’t as cultured as these occasionally uppity and snobbish folks stand back and mock them for being bamboozled by the “artist” who appears to have not had a haircut or shower in some number of days if not longer. That may be an unfair characterization of the artsy set, but it is a characterization that is probably more prevalent than the artsy may care to admit. I grew up in the country. There weren’t a lot of museums or concert halls in Slapout. There is a Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts but it is located in Washington, D.C., not Kennedy, Alabama where my dad was a pastor in the late 70s. As such, I didn’t have the opportunity to be exposed to “the arts” the way some folks who spent their formative years in larger, more populous areas did. What are “the arts” anyway? Congress, in the United States Code, defines the phrase like this:

The term “arts” includes, but is not limited to, music (instrumental and vocal), dance, drama, folk art, creative writing, architecture and allied fields, painting, sculpture, photography, graphic and craft arts, industrial design, costume and fashion design, motion pictures, television, radio, tape and sound recording, and the arts related to the presentation, performance, execution, exhibition of those major art forms, and the study and application of the arts to the human environment. 


Congress’ recent and numerous shortcomings notwithstanding, I think that’s a pretty solid explanation of the arts. I can only speak for myself, but I wish that I had had more opportunities to learn about and be exposed to various forms of the arts. My wife grew up dancing and singing and still does both of those things regularly as an adult. My son takes piano lessons and sings and my daughter takes violin lessons as well as dances under the tutelage of my wife who owns and operates a dance studio. I want my children to grow up with an appreciation for the beauty that can be found, not only in the performing arts they are involved in but in other forms of art as well. Larger cities like Montgomery and Birmingham provide a means for them to do that but I’d love for them to be able to have that sort of experience right here in Wetumpka as well.
With the growth that Wetumpka and Elmore County have experienced in the last several years I have to believe that there is an ever growing segment of the local population that would like to see the arts have a larger presence here. The Wetumpka Depot Players provide a number of high quality, award winning productions each year and our city is also home to The Alabama River Region Arts Center. Among others, there are art classes offered by Stephanie Burdick Harrison at The Jasmine Hill Art Gallery. My desire is to see more opportunities afforded Wetumpka residents to be able to both view and enjoy as well as actively participate in all forms of the arts. Perhaps a civic choral group of some sort or more emphasis on arts in some of our civic events. Even though I had to step away with the declining health and subsequent death of my mother there seemed to be much interest in having a music and arts festival in Wetumpka. I still think that is a very real possibility and hope to revisit trying to make that happen in the coming months.
Art is a broad term and a particular art form that one person enjoys may not be something that someone else does. That’s okay. Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. We would all do well to follow my high school literature teacher’s advice to me when I said that reading Shakespeare was stupid. She said that just because I didn’t like it didn’t make it stupid. It just meant that it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. Don’t like what someone else is doing artistically? Do something different! Your preferred medium not being represented? Be the catalyst that gets it started! I think we are limited only by our own imagination and ideas. One thing I think that true art doesn’t do is inspire hatred and vitriolic behavior. I believe that at its worst, one might find true art benign, perhaps based upon personal preferences. I think that true art can certainly inspire a vast array of emotions but at the end of the day is not harmful or damaging when taken in context. That’s my opinion anyway. I digress.
So, what do you think can be done in Wetumpka to promote an interest in the arts, whether performance, visual, or literary? Are there things you are aware of that the rest of us may not have heard about? Do you have a talent or gift you could share with our community to promote the arts in some manner? Am I waiting for a ship that has long-since sailed or will never leave port? I hope not. I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s an election year here in Wetumpka which means it might be a bit easier to get some things done since politicians will be looking to please voters and secure their support at the ballot box. What do you think?
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5 thoughts on “Arts or No Arts…That is the Question

  1. I really love this thought pondering blog…ART… where to begin, Therapy is one word that comes to mind… It's relaxing and art can be any and all things. Why not have an intrest that takes you away from your problems, worries,and fears (atleast while you doing it).Art to me has so much to offer a person, especially a young person. The confidence it can bring to a child is amazing… It can make every different in their lives, the paths they take, the way they feel and the happiness it can give when they see their art hanging on moms wall. This was not the path I was on when I was in college, but this is the path God has lead me to now and everyday I see His work. An art and music festival is a wonderful idea. In fact I am co-chair person of the Riverfest Arts Festival in April.. which I hope to be great… But music as well would be awesome.Art has so many different meanings,different areas that can be traveled and can make an impact on so many lives.

  2. There are arts programs often in the background and unknown to the busy populace. Whether it is apathy, ignorance, being too busy, or a rotten economy, the "extras" often suffer in these times. I put a plug in for something the current Mayor initiated. The Wetumpka City Pops is a band program that regular everyday average people with a music background can participate in. If you were in the band in High School or College, we are looking for you to come out and play with us on Thursdays at 7:00PM at the city hall. I believe grass roots involvement in arts programs is the foundation. In this area, athletics tends to be at the forefront. You can see it with the band programs at the local schools which are lucky to have even 75 total performers. One thing for sure, Government expenditures into the arts is often a mistake due to the politics that ends up getting into the mix. This would be where I saw way back that someone urinated in a jar with a crucifix in it. That isn't art, that is sick. As Stephanie said, where to begin. Indeed!

  3. As a teacher of art, I believe that EVERY student should be exposed to the arts in as many forms as possible. Elmore County only has one Elementary Visual Art Teacher. I think this is something that sould be changed, and soon! I believe that art education is an invaluable part of a student's school experience and can bring a lifetime of knowledge and enjoyment to anyone who has the privilege of having an art education. I think we as parents should speak up and let others know that we want our children to get the chance to be exposed to the arts in school.

  4. As I get older, I have started to have a greater appreciation for all the arts, especially literature. I might enjoy a symphony concert now, whereas it wouldn't have had a draw in high school. Art is the expression of deep beauty that separates us from the animals, and that beauty can be expressed in music, painting, literature, and many other forms–but certainly not in a jar of urine with a crucifix. To me those uglier expressions are unwisely mocking the One who created us with a sense of beauty beyond the animal realm.

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