Bev Jackson-Cotter: Show will give a tour of different travels

Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 29, 2016

Art is . . . by Bev Jackson-Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center, 226 W. Clark St. in Albert Lea.

Wow! Where do I start? The June exhibition at The Albert Lea Art Center is called “Art Works From Our Travels,” and when I think of the folks participating, my mind goes to the variety of locations they have visited. Another wow!

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This member show will provide a tour of locations around the world, where people have purchased, painted or photographed scenes and mementos, moments to remember. I can’t wait to see what items they chose to display.

These thoughts bring my own memories — a picture taken of a door knob on a store in Munich, Germany, when I was wandering one Sunday afternoon; the collage I painted of Egyptian monuments after returning from a cruise on the Nile; a drawing of a dilapidated, wooden dock near Waterville, while waiting for my family to come back from their fishing excursion.

Bev Jackson-Cotter

Bev Jackson-Cotter

I have had some unusual travel opportunities — sometimes I think that all was needed was the courage to say “yes” — and it seems that each of them involved art.

I wonder how many chances I missed for wonderful travel photos — the farm buildings all built of logs that we saw as we wandered the back roads of South Dakota; the little stall in Mexico where we purchased candy made of goat’s milk; the Canadian women in January dressed elegantly and wearing knee-high snow boots; the calving glaciers in Alaska; or the Rome’ Trevi Fountain where my granddaughter’s tossed coin made her wish come true.

I was in my late 30s when I attended Austin Community College, now the Riverland Community College campus in Austin. Each year the art department sponsored a trip to a special exhibition — the Vatican Collection in Chicago, the Matisse Exhibit in St. Louis, the London Dash with eleven days of wandering, sightseeing, viewing, contemplating and journaling. These opportunities were once-in-a-lifetime happenings.

I am was lucky to have a husband with a sister he wanted to visit during an exhibition of Egyptian art that took place in New Orleans. No matter where you went in the city, art was a part of your experience — murals in the hotel parking ramps, statues in the squares and gardens of art museums, and Dixieland music in the restaurants.

Recently, we spent some time in Gettysburg. The outdoor sculptures, the paintings on the walls in the motels and restaurants and the history museums all brought the horror and bravery and beauty of the people affected by the Civil War right into the present day. We felt like we had gone back one hundred fifty years, and it all happened because of the incredible art in the community.

I have often said, “Albert Lea needs a Blarney Stone,” and people look at me like I am losing it.   Some very creative thinking has gone into that Irish tourist attraction. While a few of the people on our tour were definitely not interested, my response was, “How can you visit Ireland and not kiss the Blarney Stone?” They were not impressed. I was.

In order to “kiss” this stone, you must first pay an entry fee to Blarney Castle, climb a spiral tower staircase, carefully walk along a narrow interior wall, and after waiting your turn, lie down on your back with your head hanging over the edge of the wall and kiss the unsanitary stone overhang, all the while being held at the waistline by a stranger and photographed by another stranger. Then you make your way along another wall, down another tower staircase, and open your wallet again to purchase the picture of yourself looking extremely foolish.

Now why would you not want to do that?

I’m sorry.  I must apologize to you for my memories and meanderings.  I’m blaming the Art Center’s new exhibit.