According to latest research, marketing research as well as medical research, art is for all and being an artist does not have to be a career. We are all artists. It is one more milepost on our quest for a holistic life. In her article “We’re All Artists Now” author Laura M. Holson says, “Our best selves are merely one doodle away.” Adult Coloring Books, Zen Tangle, and the availability of art classes on-line, in community centers and in art centers make it ever more accessible for people to develop rudimentary skills and, best of all, confidence to “just do it!”
Art with Seniors
I think what is most important is need to slow down and to connect, to redefine ourselves in a more holistic way. Connection is essential and we are losing it. We can connect through creativity.
Art with Seniors
Yesterday I volunteered at a senior center, One Care in Wayne, NJ. I did not know what to expect. The attendees were all seated in a circle and some were singing along with the music, some were staring into space and some were sleeping. They were not volunteers for the program, but since they were all in wheel chairs they would be staying. The project wasn’t much, painting ceramic fish and piggy banks with tempera paint. Some did not want to paint, but before long they were giving advice from the side lines. What I found most interesting was that they wanted to talk. They wanted to tell their stories and they wanted to tie-up the loose ends they felt were out there. They drifted in and out of their stories but the art seemed to keep them a little more focused.
Coney Art Walls: Under the Sea Summer (Brooklyn 2015) Student murals. Art Direction: Chris Daze Elli
Making Murals and the Flower Show
I am a Master Gardener in training and part of the program includes volunteer hours, so I agreed to sit at the Flower Show at the NJ Convention Center in Edison, NJ. I had not been to the Flower Show in well over 15 years and it seems to have changed into a quasi flower show with a lot of crafts and people selling solar panels, “Bathfitter” conversions and pillows. But that is not where I am going with this. I want to talk about murals.
Artists and Others
When you sit at a table at a public interest venue, you meet all sorts of people and so it was that this 60 something man came to talk to us. His wife had a booth selling jewelry and he was just checking things out. He claimed that while his wife was an artist, he was not, but simply a supporter of art, one who pushes it forward.
He was, he said, very much involved with a program called 20/20, which grew out of a need for NYC’s under performing (read under funded) schools to bring art back into the schools, where it had been lost due to budget cuts. This was accomplished through partnering with community organizations and churches and artists. It started with the visual arts and bringing murals into the school buildings or, I should say, on the school walls and buildings. Now called Thrive Collective, it includes music, media and mentoring.
Thrive Collaboration: Bringing Art To Schools
All murals are student designed under an volunteer artist. It is all about encouraging collaboration and building community and in the end the completed mural stand as public art for everyone.
The process is a step by step process. Beginning with a concept and design, to surface preparation, design transfer, coloring and completion.
When I was younger I embraced the idea of the “starving artist”, but I could never afford it, so I went to work. First I worked in the color photo industry in NYC. It was a commercial operation and the clients were advertising agencies. I was a negative stripper, which meant I constructed photo composites before there was a Photoshop and, yes, there was a time we did it by hand with single edged razor blades and chemicals in a darkroom. Then, as with many who could no longer stand the chemicals and hours and all nighters for rush jobs, I went into teaching. So there were lean times during transition, but no starving going on here.
“It’s a good thing not to go back in your life.” -Robert Frank, 2016
Robert Frank and The Americans
A retrospective of Robert Frank’s work is now at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. At 91, I have to agree with his thoughts about going back in your life, there is just too much and not enough time.
I have always admired his book The Americans (1958). Born in Switzerland, he came to America in 1946, after WWII and with the perception of America as “the” place to be. Robert Frank was greatly influenced by Walker Evans and in 1955 he traveled across the United States photographing its people in their places. What Frank found was the contrast of wealth and culture with poverty and race. His work ended up being much like Walker Evan’s view of America chronicled in American Photo-graphs (1938). Although his style was very different, since he deviated from traditional photographic constraints and was much maligned in critical reviews. This style soon became the norm for photo-journalists, made possible, in part by smaller cameras.
The retrospective runs until February 11, 2016, There will also be screenings of his documentary films.