Art is: Art plays an important part in the waiting game

Published 9:00 am Saturday, October 14, 2017

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center where the show “Art From A to Z” will be on display until Nov. 4.

Art is by Bev Jackson Cotter

I had a most unusual conversation recently. I had emailed a friend who lives in Key West, Florida, concerned about his well-being during and following the hurricane. He sent a quick reply stating he is OK and promising a phone call when things were somewhat back to normal.

Bev Jackson Cotter

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The day he called they were allowing tourists back on the island.

Some of you may remember Eric Anfinson, an artist who did a show for the Art Center several years ago. He was originally from Austin, was seriously injured in a high school football game and has been wheelchair bound since that time. He found a new life when he discovered oil painting. His portraits contain an emotion that catches you unaware — be it sadness or joy or contemplation. In viewing his works, I find myself caught in the mood of the painting and I have difficulty moving on. There is something about his art that makes you want to stand and ponder the subject, the action, and the meaning behind it. I am a devoted fan, and I am not the only one. His pieces are in homes and galleries worldwide.

During the hurricane, Eric stayed in a hotel on the island, four days without electricity. For a while he questioned the wisdom of staying when most of his friends and neighbors left, and there were some scary moments — a big understatement — but when he was finally able to return, his home was undamaged except for some downed trees in the yard. The severe destruction was only a few blocks away.

Even though he had just been through this horrendous experience, his first questions were about me — how I am doing and how I am adjusting to a new way of life.

From there the conversation moved to “finding oneself.” Finding a purpose when life throws you a curve, and you don’t know how to adjust to a new future. We talked about waiting, about how when the right time or situation occurs, you will be ready. We also talked about what an important place art plays in this waiting game.

You cannot have a surface conversation with Eric. He has learned that our lives are more important than the trivialities around us, that there is a deeper place within each of us that needs satisfying, and when the possibility of that satisfaction faces us, we must be brave enough to say “Yes.”

It’s interesting how, when you visit with someone who is involved in the creative arts, it doesn’t matter if they are doing a detailed colored pencil sketch or combining kitchen utensil parts to make fun and frisky dolls, their conversation always includes comments like “I don’t know where the time goes. I get so caught up in my project.”

Speaking of sketches and dolls, you must stop at the Albert Lea Art Center to view the current show, “Art From A to Z,” by Ann Oliphant and Bonnie Wedge.

I was going to spend most of the time in this column talking about what delightful artists Ann and Bonnie are, how enjoyable their works are and how you must plan on looking closely at each of their pieces and examining the details and artistry in each work. After all, how many of us can look at a jello mold or the presser foot on a sewing machine and see the beginning of a doll creation, or find an artistic composition in a pile of apples?

But, I can’t get my conversation with Eric out of my head. There is deep meaning there for all of us.

Bonnie’s enjoyment of combining mismatched objects into fun sculptures, Ann’s ability to make an unusual drawing come to life with something as simple as colored pencils, and Eric’s finding joy in bringing the emotions of his models to his canvasses — all of these artistic endeavors define a human need to satisfy the soul.

How lucky we are if we can reach that creativity inside and find the peace that it brings to our lives.