Art is: We’re keeping busy at the Art Center

Published 9:00 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

Art is by Bev Jackson Cotter

Bev Jackson Cotter is a member of the Albert Lea Art Center, 101 S. Broadway, where the Festival of Trees will take place from Nov. 25 through Dec. 29.

Wow! Almost three months have passed since The Albert Lea Art Center moved into its new home, and we’re still getting settled — painting horizontally slotted display walls, cleaning carpeting, building two new bathrooms and a fire wall, installing a sprinkler system, arranging and then rearranging the library, the store and the lounge area, remodeling the classroom/meeting room — some projects complete, others on the way.

Bev Jackson Cotter

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Meanwhile, we have sponsored the Albert Lea Select Foods exhibition, our fantastic and well-received grand opening, two Dorothy Godtland Lectures covering such diverse topics as tattooing and Spanish Christmas traditions and dance, and we have hosted two English as a second language classes, the Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours, a costume sale, almost 500 Halloween trick-or-treaters, and many curious long-time members and numerous first-time visitors, some of whom have asked about getting involved both in the store and the activities. Meanwhile, plans are underway for the annual Christmas tree showing, classes for adults and children and several events for 2019. Wow!

So, what is the reason for this interest, this enthusiasm?

These busy, busy three months are a wonderful reminder of how important art is in our lives and in our community. It’s as if people want to get involved, to connect and to satisfy that inner voice that is saying to them, “Hey, you, too, may be an artist. Maybe not a Michelangelo or Van Gogh, but there is a spark inside of you that wants to be recognized. Give it a try.”

Steven Pressfield has written a book called “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles.” It’s all about listening to the part of you that is saying, “Grab a piece of paper, put a dot on it, and then go from there.” Maybe you want to write your own life story, or draw a picture of your horse, or even design a more efficient grill for cooking over a campfire. You won’t ever satisfy that longing if you don’t start, if you procrastinate, if you find an excuse to delay the process. The dirty dishes will wait, the autumn leaves will still be under that tree in the front yard tomorrow, and the dust on the coffee table can settle one more day. These important jobs are not more important than your satisfying that inner voice.

I believe that I have mentioned this before, but its well worth repeating. Adolph Hitler wanted to be an artist. He applied to two different schools and was not accepted at either one. What would have happened if he had been. Maybe he would have realized that he was not as talented as he thought, and then found a different direction, but maybe he would have gone on with his interest in architecture and landscape painting and satisfied that inner self, that unfulfilled need that later, in a crazed and disturbed fashion, changed world history.

Seventy-five years earlier, Germany’s King Ludwig II, another artist of sorts, satisfied his inner voice by building castles — Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, Neuschwanstein, castles that still today attract millions of visitors annually.

Getting into a creative project, causes an immersion that is all consuming. Time flies by, other ‘duties’ wait, problems fade, and, in the end, there is a satisfaction and a curiosity that brings peace.

When my sister, who was dying of cancer, wandered out to her ceramic studio, she would stay for hours. I’m sure that her interest in art brought a measure of peace into her life, and it gave her loved ones a reminder of her personality and her talent.

Is art the answer to fulfillment? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe you’d rather play football, knit sweaters, manage money or go duck hunting. But the variety of possibilities that art brings to our lives is endless.

The overwhelming response from our community for the new art center tells me that there is an enthusiasm and a desire here for additional opportunities to nurture that inner voice. We hope we meet your expectations. We’re sure going to try.