Art Is: Art belongs everywhere; you can run from art, but you cannot hide

Published 9:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

Art Is by Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center where the “Fiesta del Arte” will be on display through Sept. 16.

Where is art?

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On the wall over the sofa? In a gallery? On a shelf in a chain store? On an artist’s easel or a commercial artist’s drawing board? On the stage in a theatre or in a concert hall? In the manuscript of a new book? In the style of a dress or a piece of jewelry or the design of a new Harley Davidson? In the clouds in the sky? Yes. Art is part of our lives, every minute of every day.

Bev Jackson Cotter

Maybe because looking for creativity is second nature for me — I find it in the most unusual places. Let me explain.

When my husband died, our family and friends shifted gears and while the rest of the world went about their regular business. We gathered to say our sad farewells and plan for the upcoming days. Art was never considered to be a part of the planning, but it crept in, as if it belonged there.

As a part of his story, we displayed a photograph of the farm during tornado season, a poster designed for a program Michael gave in Mount Ayr, Iowa, and an American Gothic painting of us done by our neighbor. Art at a funeral? It was so fitting.

We listened to the words, “For everything there is a season…” signifying the importance of spring planting, summer caring, fall harvest and winter resting. The inspiration in the music, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…” seemed written for our guidance.

The roses and the fresh cut corn stalks placed in his grave were all symbols of God’s creative handiwork.

For more than 30 years, he entertained people with the stories of his growing up on the farm purchased by his Irish immigrant ancestors who came to Minnesota by wagon train, his strict Irish Catholic upbringing, his understanding of animals both tame and wild — all mixed with his delightful sense of humor and a little Irish blarney. When it was suggested to him that Austin needed a storytelling festival and that he would be the artistic director, he laughed. For its 24-year life span, he laughed about his title.

The creativity in his words touched the lives of so many people, and they came to share a little story of their own. They said that, because of his belief in them, they also knew that their lives contained stories that were worth remembering and sharing.

Where is art? It is everywhere, every part of our day, in the happy times and the sad.

One of the stories Michael told is about a village in ancient China that invited a rainmaker to come and end the drought. He compared that rainmaker to a man who worked for him for several years, always giving his best to whatever task he was assigned. He ended the story with, “I believe rainmakers are sent. So watch for your rainmaker. They make barely a ripple when they come.”

The storytelling in his life, the art in his words, was also Michael’s rainmaker.

The same is true of the art and the creativity in our own lives. Be watchful. You never know when it may appear.