2010 Year in review | Arts and Leisure | Sign of the times

Citizens protested city budget cuts to the arts and humanities sector.   - Brad Camp/ For the Review
Citizens protested city budget cuts to the arts and humanities sector.
— image credit: Brad Camp/ For the Review

Mark Tobey, Guy Anderson, Morris Graves, Kenneth Callahan… new Bainbridge artists? No, but Bainbridge Art Museum’s new executive director Greg Robinson can tell you all about them. Their work is the cornerstone of the collection at the Museum of Northwest Art, where Robinson was director for several years.

What’s important to consider about their work is that much of it was created in some pretty lean times. Tough times. Troubling times.

Graves, on another island, tucked himself into low-overhead digs so he could focus on his art. Anderson turned to painting on (relatively) inexpensive roofing paper so he could create large scale works.

With the support of patrons and an occasional WPA project, the artists created work so deeply authentic that it carved a recognizably new aesthetic.

What will become of the arts on Bainbridge now that city funding has been cut? Quite possibly even more brilliant works of art.

The arts may be a line item to the city, but not to the community and certainly not to the artists themselves. Plays will be staged, music will be made, dancers will continue to leap in the air with abandon (and a lot of practice). Paint will be spread, clay will be formed, poems will be scribbled in the middle of the night.

It might even be a good thing to reclaim creativity from municipal jurisdiction and place it back into the realm of the human spirit.

Money may lubricate the machinery, but money has never been the wellspring, the impetus for the arts.

Art is more than just a business endeavor. A community poised to erect a museum to art undertands that.

Art’s value is to inspire us, to expand our imagination, to help us see, to appreciate life as it is or as it could be. Art’s value is to quicken our spirit, remind us of beauty and truth and wonder. Creative people who provide that will continue to thrive.

The human race’s desire to expand, to imagine beyond what has been before, is innate. It’s primal, instinctive. And artists, over centuries, have been the change agents, the risk takers, the ones willing to go to the edge to see what’s over the horizon.

Raw creativity, borrowing words from commerce, is “too big to fail.”

If ever there was a time when this community, and the world, was in need of visionary minds, courageous spirits, perseverence – qualities artists have in spades – it is now.

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