Reaction to Art Center column was strong

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Column: Pothole Prairie

The response from the local arts community to my column from last week has been stronger than I expected.

I have had calls, cards and email messages saying they agree with me 100 percent. They are glad someone finally said it publicly, and they hope it is a wake-up call for change — or perhaps something new altogether.

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What I said last week, in a nutshell, is that the Albert Lea Art Center needs to move out of its building and establish a grand vision for the future, so it can become like so many community art galleries — a community leader. I showed what a community-oriented nonprofit art gallery in Ellensburg, Wash., was able to accomplish by having a grand vision.

I have had at least three or four conversations a day since the column printed last Tuesday. What I have discerned from these conversations is this: There is a large arts community in Albert Lea and in the surrounding towns that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Albert Lea Art Center. People — even past board members — are frustrated at the lack of vision. They are frustrated by how change is blocked. They are frustrated by how decisions are made to show which kinds of art and whose art gets shown and how outsiders and newcomers are treated. They are frustrated at silly notions that get floated, such as proposing to not allow artists on the board. Huh?

All this is in addition to the legal troubles the Art Center faces with its landlady.

What needs to happen, many say, is there needs to be a brand new community art gallery, one without the baggage and one without the bad blood.

Artists aren’t always prone to getting along, and squabbles can get in the way. But artists are dreamers who will unite behind a grand vision. If an art gallery is chasing a community-minded vision for the future — a true goal — that can bring various segments of the arts community together. In other words, successful organizations always are shooting for something great, something inclusive. This creates a sense of team.

The Albert Lea area has an arts community, and it deserves a good arts organization. Perhaps something new will sprout.


‘What’s a section?’

Ever notice how many young people don’t know what a section is? The other day I asked, “Aren’t there 640 acres in a section?” The response was, “What’s a section?” The responder grew up in rural Freeborn County. How is this possible?

I said more people should join FFA when they are in high school.

OK, for the people reading this wondering what a section is, here you go: A section is a square mile. If you look at any map of America west of the original 13 colonies, the land is divided up into square-mile sections. There usually are 36 sections in a township, but not always. In fact, across much of the Corn Belt, the gravel roads often are built on section lines, giving county road maps the look of lots of little squares.

Yes, there are 640 acres in a section. The FFA kids know this. They know Albert Lea High School is in Section 33 of Bancroft Township.


Seahawks deserve break

Everyone was freaking out over the bad call the replacement NFL referees made in the game between Seattle and Green Bay. I am glad the union referees are back because of their superior overall management of the game and its participants, but going off the deep end over one blown call is uncalled for.

Sure, sure, I get it. It wasn’t just that call. It was the culmination of multiple officiating problems that reached its zenith — or nadir, as it were — with that one error.

But I cannot help feel it is bittersweet for the Seattle Seahawks, who suffered blown calls during Super Bowl XL against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They had an early touchdown pass called back for a nitpicky pushoff. On an interception, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselback was penalized for an illegal block when he was clearly making a tackle. And a deep pass was called back for holding an offsides defender.

What was truly bad about the officiating, to Seahawks fans, was that the nitpicky stuff didn’t get called on the Steelers. For instance, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisburger scored without getting the ball across the goal line before his knee was down. The refs just seemed to give the Steelers loose interpretation of the rules and the Seahawks a narrow interpretation.

Nearly every fan outside of Pennsylvania agrees it was the worst officiated Super Bowl ever. The Seahawks, I’d say, deserve any game-winning breaks from the referees until they get back to another Super Bowl.


Tribune Managing Editor Tim Engstrom’s column appears every Tuesday.

About Tim Engstrom

Tim Engstrom is the editor of the Albert Lea Tribune. He resides in Albert Lea with his wife, two sons and dog.

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