Bev Jackson Cotter: Is art a part of your life?

Published 9:00 am Sunday, February 19, 2017

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.

Is art a part of your life? Yes, no, maybe?

Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter

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There is a great picture on my computer’s home page. It is of Noah’s ark with all of the animals staring incredulously at a woodpecker. Noah is wielding a bird catching net, biting his tongue, determined to stop the woodpecker from doing what woodpeckers do. The ark is full of holes and the woodpecker is working industriously on another one. All of the animals are staring wide-eyed at the action. I love the picture. I smile every time I look at it.

Is that art? What do you think?

On my dining room table there is a 750-0piece puzzle of the three largest pyramids on the Giza Plateau in Egypt. All I’ve done so far is the border, the title and the corner with the darkest part of the sky. February seems like a good month to do a puzzle. After the bustle of the fall season and holidays, a little travel in January and the pressure of grant writing for the Art Center, this month slows a little and since I don’t have a major project to work on, I pulled out a puzzle that I had never done. I’m caught up in the problems of differing sky blue colors, almost identical shapes, light tan desert vs. reddish tan desert and tiny pyramid steps vs. teeny-tiny pyramid steps.

Am I solving art problems? I think so.

Recently the Socrates Cafe discussion revolved around the word “free.” What does freedom mean? Are we really free to do whatever we want? When does my individual freedom affect yours? Am I free to do something that will hurt you? Who determines what that means? With 20 people involved in the conversation, some talking and some listening, we were forced/encouraged to think about the definition of the word, and while we had lots of questions, we also had very few definite answers.

Did we ever come to a resolution? Not really.

Were we getting pretty creative in our questions and possible answers? Yes.

A friend of ours recently purchased a smart phone, and he was frustrated with all of the icons on the home page. There was so much clutter, he had a hard time finding the programs he wanted. He was able to simplify the images and now is much happier with his phone.

Was he using art skills to improve his phone? I would say so.

When I painted a wall in my living room dark green, I questioned whether it was a good decision. I first painted a lighter green — after emptying the display cabinet and moving it, the sofa and two end tables with lamps) then put everything back together. I went through the process again with a little darker color, and then for the third time moved the furniture and painted the wall with an even darker color. I finally got it right. I was looking for a shade of green that would not only enhance the other colors in the room, but one that was warm and inviting.

Was I counting on my own interest in color to create the atmosphere I was looking for? I think so.

My husband is a storyteller. When he starts a story with, “Hi. My name is Michael Cotter. I am a third generation farmer from Austin, where the land is flat and the soil is black. Many of those farms have been in the same families for a hundred years, and ours is one of those farms,” can’t you just see the land in southern Minnesota with its cornfields stretching on acre after acre after acre, and a farm house and barn tucked in amongst the trees planted as a shelter from the wind?

Is Michael painting a picture with words? My mind’s eye sees it clearly.

Art is all around us. It is so much more than the elegant paintings in a big city gallery, or the print hanging in the living room purchased at a local chain store. The design on your Viking sweatshirt, the logo on that bag of potato chips and your kindergartner’s drawing on the refrigerator all require creative thinking.

Is art a part of your life?

What do you think?