By B. Scott Crawford
Nestled in the heart of Montgomery County is one of the nation’s more prestigious universities: Virginia Tech. Tech has grown tremendously over the past few decades, morphing from having a predominantly male student body, with an emphasis on the corps of cadets, into a rich and diverse learning environment with students representing almost every major demographic group in the world! In no small way, we can almost look at Virginia Tech as a microcosm of the world – a far cry from its prior existence as the Preston and Olin Institute, as pictured below, ca. 1870.
However, Virginia Tech also represents something else. Through its incredible research projects, funded by both industry and the government, what we see in Tech is a model that UVa professor Olivier Zunz explores at the national level in his book Why the American Century. Zunz argues that over the course of the late 19th century an institutional matrix emerged that allowed the United States to quickly gain economic power that eventually translated into super power status. This matrix, involving the interplay between the university, government, military, and industry, created a unique environment nearly perfectly aligned to help a rising industrial nation find economic success. Virginia Tech, a land grant college, was born and came of age as this matrix emerged. As noted, to this day the matrix is still evident within the university setting.
But here is the rub: globalization, as it has matured over the past thirty years, has created an economic climate that is quite different from the one in which the United States found such success over the course of the 20th century. Arguably, the United States is in a post-industrial economic stage that is increasingly driven by service – the nation is
increasingly becoming a service-based economy. In this climate, yes, innovation will still come from Tech, but innovative products will increasingly be produced overseas. The infamous Apple statement “Designed in California, made in China” highlights this phenomenon.
Interestingly, Montgomery County offers a model for good service, just as Tech offers a phenomenal model for gaining economic might in an industry-based economy. Lewis Miller, who lived in York, Pennsylvania, and then Christiansburg during the last couple of decades of his life, was both a folk artist and artisan. His life and work is celebrated in the Montgomery Museum, located in Christiansburg, Virginia. Miller was clearly proud of his work as a carpenter and artisan, and there is one drawing he created that suggests he was focused on good customer service.
In this drawing, Miller depicts himself hard at work on what appears to be a door or a chest of some sort. A pride in his work is evinced as Miller depicts himself focused on the task at hand, hard at work, with wood shavings flying into the air and falling to the ground. Miller includes the tools of his trade, all neatly arranged along the wall. Dominating the drawing, however, is not imagery but words. Miller indicates he has been a carpenter in York for over 30 years and then proceeds to list, by name, the many people from his community for whom he has completed projects.
Through this simple drawing, I think Miller reminds those of us working in an increasingly service oriented economy something very important: the work we do is important, but it is worthless if we do not provide good service for our customers. It is the customer and the relationship the business has with its customers that will ultimately determine the level of success the business can attain. In a sense, we as a nation are morphing away from building products to building relationships. Lewis Miller’s simple drawing suggests that he understood this concept very well.
Perri Mason at The Electric Company
Mason’s “Reflections” Featured in The Electric Company Artists’ Co-op
Second Friday May 10, opens a month-long exhibit of Perri Mason’s most recent watercolors called “Reflections” at The Electric Company Artists’ Co-op.
“My daughters served as models for several of the paintings, which represent reflections both literally and figuratively,” says Mason. “There are two still life paintings, the subjects of which reflect light and things lost in time.” She also includes a cat because “that’s what I do.”
“The smallest of details are what attracts me to my subject matter for paintings. The reflections in an eye, the tiny wisps of hair at the nape of a neck, the play of light on glass, fur or skin, are all things that catch my eye. These are the small details that are often missed by others in their busy lives.”
Involved in art all her life, Perri Mason majored in art education, taught art, sold art supplies and designed graphics for a silk screening company. Although Mason has worked in many media, including graphite, colored pencil, and acrylic, her favorite medium is watercolor. She notes, “I love the softness and translucency of watercolor. This medium is very challenging and requires you to see things in layers, so I usually paint with a lot of water and use several glazes of color to give my paintings a realistic depth.”
Mason, a Bedford native, is no stranger in The Electric Company. She has had studio space in the building since its opening in 2007. She is an original member of Artists on Depot and a member of the steering committee which created TECAC, the artists’ cooperative. Currently she is manager of both the Co-op’s gallery and The Artisan Shoppe. Many know Mason for her commissioned portrait work of animals and children as well as a familiar face at The Well, health store in Bedford.
The Electric Company Artists’ Co-op, an artist owned and operated gallery located at 207 East Depot Street in Bedford, features work by nearly 20 local artists and craft artisans. The gallery is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11:00 am-5:00pm. For more information, call (540) 491-2585 or see www.facebook.com/TECAC207.
If you are someone who enjoys coffee or music, this email is for you!
Dear Music/Coffee Enthusiast,
Do you enjoy listening to a variety of music? Have you ever been to a live concert and felt the energy of the performance? Did you ever wish there was coffee/tea involved in your musical experience? Well, the Piano Studio of Virginia Tech is proud to present PianoWorks at CoffeeWorks!
This revolutionary “concert” is far from the average performance, consisting of classical piano pieces and high audience involvement. From extensive research, we have found that while many students listen to classical music, they rarely attend concerts. Live performance is one of the best ways to enjoy other genres of music, so why not enjoy live classical music? Perhaps, it is the stigma that these concerts are dull and lifeless, or that live music will sound the same as recorded music, or maybe the advertising lacked excitement. For these reasons, we have decided to take a new twist on the traditional concert style.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need to know anything about music?
Nope! As long as you enjoy listening to music, expressing your opinion and drinking delicious beverages, this concert is for you!
Will I be able to stay awake?
We sure hope so! Half of the brilliance of this method is that you get to purchase highly caffeinated products. Also, we will be giving thrilling insights into the pieces; therefore, you’ll know what to listen for. We tend to play with feeling and excitement (we are very human), so sleep should be avoidable.
Do I have to sit still the whole time?
That’s hardly possible when caffeine is involved, so No! We will have breaks in between sets of music so you can socialize, buy coffee, or express your thoughts about the music.
What should I expect during this concert?
-an exciting performance by VT piano students
- the chance to express your opinion on whiteboards (markers provided)
-to purchase coffee, tea, pastries, etc. (Starbucks brand!)
- a relaxed and casual atmosphere (Warning: some of the tables have wheels)
- to discuss music or just socialize between sets
- light education on the works performed
State Tourism Office Selects Montgomery County as a New LOVEwork destination
-Two sites in Montgomery County are among the 16 chosen as part of Virginia is for Lovers social media marketing campaign
(Montgomery County, Va.) The Virginia Tourism Corporation has chosen two sites in Montgomery County to stand among 16 new sites across the state to build and promote a giant LOVEwork for 2013. One LOVEwork is located at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center and the other in Downtown Blacksburg. The LOVEwork structures are the focal point of a social media campaign to share the message that love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. The Blacksburg and Christiansburg sites will join 20 other LOVEwork sculptures found across the state featured on www.virginia.org/LOVE as part of the Virginia is for Lovers tourism marketing campaign.
Visitors to Montgomery County will be encouraged to take a picture with the LOVEwork and share on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Photos taken by people from throughout the world can be seen at www.Facebook.com/VirginiaisforLovers and on Twitter by searching #LOVEVA.
“Virginia is for Lovers is about love – pure and simple, and has been for more than 40 years,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation. “This program uses the power of social media to promote Virginia as an ideal destination for families looking to completely connect on a Virginia vacation.”
The Blacksburg and the Christiansburg LOVEworks will receive up to $1,200 in reimbursement funding from the state tourism office. Design and construction began earlier this year. Christiansburg will unveil its LOVEwork at 10 a.m. on April 15 and Blacksburg will unveil at 1 p.m. on April 17.
The LOVEwork in Christiansburg consists of six-foot aluminum letters and was constructed by a local metalworker, John Long, of Giles County. The items attached to each letter are meant to be representative of what everyone knows and loves about Christiansburg: shopping, dining, and recreation. The sculpture is located on the front lawn of the Christiansburg Aquatic Center, 592 North
Franklin St., Christiansburg.
The Blacksburg LOVEwork project was a joint partnership between the Montgomery Regional Tourism Office, the Town of Blacksburg, the Blacksburg Partnership, 16 Blocks Magazine, Blacksburg Regional Arts Association, and Blue Ridge Real Estate LLC, for the Cranwell and Frizzell Trusts. The mural was designed by local artist Den Bento, who is a Mexican-Brazilian graphic designer, artist and art teacher who came to Blacksburg in the fall of 2011 to help promote ConviviumNRV, a community building project. Bento’s mural, located on the building adjacent to the Armory Gallery on Draper Road, is about love of community, nature, and the New River Valley. Incorporated into the mural is the Love Where You Live emblem, which brings attention to a campaign to engage Virginia Tech students and encourage them to embrace Blacksburg as their home. The unveiling event will take place in the Armory parking lot.
“Montgomery County is excited to share the LOVE with our residents and visitors,” said Lisa Bleakley, Director of the Montgomery Regional Tourism Office. “We’re delighted with the response from the towns, artists, partners, and property owners who came together to produce these wonderful pieces of art. These attractions will draw people to them for real time interaction and encourage the recording of those experiences for sharing with others, a true tourism win for everyone.”
Visitors will be encouraged to view the artwork, take a picture and post to www.Facebook.com/ VirginiaisforLovers or on Twitter and use the hashtag #LOVEVA.
A complete list of LOVE artwork locations across the state can be found at www.Virginia.org/LOVE.
Tourism is an instant revenue generator for Virginia. In 2011, Virginia tourism generated $20.4 billion in revenue, supported over 207,000 jobs and provided $1.32 billion in state and local taxes.
In Montgomery County, tourism generated $121.8 million in revenue, supported over 1200 jobs and provided $2.1 million in local taxes in 2011.
Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Visit www.Virginia.org to learn more or call 1-800-VISITVA to request a free, Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.
MUSICIANS AND PERFORMERS ENTERTAIN FESTIVAL GUESTS 5th ANNUAL BLACKSBURG FORK AND CORK FESTIVAL
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Presented by WSLS-10 Platinum Sponsor Cumulus Broadcasting
Blacksburg, Virginia, April 10, 2013 –
Get ready for sipping, sun, and high-energy performances at this year’s Blacksburg Fork and Cork, a food, wine and art festival at the First and Main Shopping District. Two of the region’s favorite bands are slated to take the Main Stage on Saturday, April 27. The Floorboards get the party started at noon, and PolyChrome returns for the second year to close out the day from 3-6pm.
The Floorboards marry rock and roll and country roots with the sights and sounds of southern mountain towns. In their first year as a band, The Floorboards quickly have become a regional staple and are branching out with purpose. Formed in 2009 in Southwest Virginia, Polychrome has created a loyal local following and racked up numerous regional awards in 2012. They complement their original blend of melodic groove-infused rock with a live show filled with song selections that entertain audiences from young to young-at-heart.
The Art Stage returns for the second year in a row, with an eclectic mix of performers taking the stage. Be on the lookout for interactive belly dancing, juggling, and clogging performances. The Indian Run Stringband also takes the stage to entice festival guests to cut a rug along with them. In between acts, the Chocolate Brothers will spin dance hits to maintain the energy.
For complete festival information, visit www.blacksburgforkandcork.com, call 540-443-2008, or email email@example.com. “Like” us on facebook (www.facebook.com/forkandcork) and follow us on twitter (@BBForkandCork) for exciting updates.
The Blacksburg Partnership is a non-profit, independent economic development organization formed by the town, business and university communities. The purpose of the organization is to bolster the vitality of Blacksburg through projects that attract visitors and retail prospects. Partnership projects include development of property, the revitalization of retail districts, special events and the creation of marketing programs. For more information visit www.stepintoblacksburg.org
Title Sponsor – The Fork- Kroger,
Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill, Carilion New River Valley Medical Center, First and Main Shopping District, Rackspace, The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center.
BathFitter, Beliveau Estate Winery, Draper Aden, Heyo, Moog Components Group.
Ameriprise Financial- Smith & Associates, Susan Anderson, BCR Property Management, Brambleton Deli, Courtyard by Marriott- Blacksburg, Main Street Inn, VCOM, VPT, Inc.
Wine Racket & Host Winery
Motor Mile Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram
Volunteer T-shirt Sponsor
Sal’s Italian Restaurant
U S Foods
Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech
Wine Holding Tent
Smith’s Landing Apartments
Mountain Lake Lodge
Pressure Checker Station
MedExpress Urgent Care
New River Valley Magazine, NextThreeDays.com, NRV Bridals and Events, Out & About Advertising, The Valley Blend, Valley Business Front
A Cleaner World, Amodeo Photography, Best Buy, Blacksburg Country Club, Chocolate Brothers, Holiday Inn- Christiansburg, Home Depot, iVolunteerOnline.com, Lowe’s, NRV Exposure, RYP Marketing, Tidy Services, Town of Blacksburg
“Dancing on the Edge” has Radford University Dance Majors on Their Toes Annual Spring Concert features the choreography of guest artist Mikhail Ronnikov
The RU Department of Dance annual spring concert incorporates a wide spectrum of movement styles including classical ballet, modern, and jazz dance technique.
Since early February, 40 dance majors have been in rehearsals preparing to perform new dance works by the dance faculty and professional guest choreographer Mikhail Ronnikov.
Ronnikov, originally from Moscow, has his dance roots with the Moscow Choreographic Academy of the Bolshoi Theater. He has performed with the Moscow Classical Ballet, the Moscow City Ballet, the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Colorado Ballet and is presently a principal dancer and choreographer with Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina.
For this concert, Ronnikov created a contemporary ballet piece on pointe for eight dancers. The concert will also include original dance works by dance faculty danah bella, Bob Boross, Margaret Devaney and Deborah McLaughlin. Music includes selections by W. A. Mozart, Bruce Springsteen, The Piano Guys, Martyn Bennett, Experimental Audio Research, The Manhattan Transfer and Ryuichi Sakamoto.
“The RU Department of Dance prides itself in providing its dance majors with diverse instructional and performance experiences in a variety of dance techniques,” Department Chair Margaret Devaney said. “Dancing on the Edge beautifully showcases the department’s breadth, creativity, and professionalism.”
“Dancing on the Edge” will be performed in the Bondurant Auditorium of Preston Hall, April 11 through the 13 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $6 for the general public, $3 for children, and free with an RU ID. Tickets are available at the Hurlburt Hall Information Desk (540) 831-5420 and at the door.
B. Scott Crawford
At its heart, Romanticism, as a movement in the arts, reacted to and against the ideals tied to the Enlightenment. Beginning in the late 18th century, and spanning much of the 19th century, those tied to Romanticism rejected the notion that through reason man could tame the world around him. Similarly, the movement rejected the classical leanings evident in so much of the art and architecture that was a product of the Enlightenment. As an American, I need look no further than national icons such as Monticello, the Capital, the White House, and the Supreme Court Building, to witness architectural influences of Rome and Greece, reflecting the impact the Ancients had on the founding of the nation – a founding that rests on the thought of the philosophers and philosophes tied to the Enlightenment.
As Romanticism took root in America, it centered heavily in and around the state of New York. Thomas Cole helped usher in this movement as he became a key founder of the Hudson River School, a movement, even force, in American art that reflected the key tenets of the Romantic movement. Rather than depicting a classical and heroic portrayal of man, with the human subject, possibly in a tunic or toga, dominating the canvas, the Hudson River School artists depicted grand representations of nature. Nature, an untamable force, dwarfs depictions of human subjects, if any humans appear in the scene. With the 19th century American landscape appearing monolithic, open to allow American expansion, Romantic themes were almost a natural fit for American artistic creativity. Thomas Cole’s The Oxbow, 1836, pictured below, reflects the movement nicely!
A beautiful series of five paintings Thomas Cole created over the course of 1834-1836 nicely captures some of the important themes of Romanticism. The five paintings chronicle the life cycle of a civilization, and, in the spirit of Thucydides, reflects a cyclical view of history: the course of history bears witness to the continual rise and subsequent fall of civilizations and empires! The series, pictured below, takes the viewer on a journey from a primitive state, where a hunter-gatherer “society” interacts with a hostile environment. Barely discernible to the right mid-ground is a small primitive village, suggesting that man is just starting to have a significant impact on the environment. The next painting reflects a pastoral state where civilization is beginning to take root. A much more peaceful scene reveals for us more permanent structures, the possible introduction of more organized religion (a temple is evident, with burnt offerings being made to a God or gods), a sexual division of labor, and an agrarian state as domesticated animals are evident.
From the peaceful state the viewer is taken to the next evolutionary stage: empire! Here we find a thriving city, with classical architecture reflecting the economic and cultural might of this civilization. Ships suggest contact with other cultures, allowing for trade to add to the overall healthy economic climate. However, the next painting indicates the presumed fate of empires as a scene of utter and total destruction unfolds across the canvas! The city burns as its inhabitants are massacred. In the end, the once thriving city lays in ruins, as evinced in the final painting in the series. What was once a healthy civilization is now a landscape of ruins, with nature having overtaken the remains of man’s creation. If in doubt that this is the story of a specific civilization, Cole includes a mountain peak in all five paintings, detailed below. The peak shows that, while from different perspectives, the viewer is watching a cycle unfold on a specific landscape. In a possible slap to the face of the Enlightenment and Neo-classicism, it is a classical civilization that has met this violent end – Cole could almost be suggesting that in the end, reason, the fuel that drove the Enlightenment, failed to break the tragic cycle of human history.
In another striking series, completed over the course of 1842 and shown below, Cole explores the life of man. Titled the Voyage of Life, Cole reveals in four paintings the four stages of man’s life. In a manner somewhat similar to the Course of Empire, we find in these four paintings man’s life moving from birth, and a somewhat chaotic state, as suggested by the movement of the baby from a dark cave (the birth canal) that is covered with storm clouds; to a peaceful, pastoral state (early childhood); through a period of aggressive
and optimistic personal growth and expansion (youth); into a period of instability, chaos, and uncertainty (adulthood); and finally reaching a peaceful end (old age and death). Yet note that in all of these paintings, unlike during the Age of Enlightenment, the dominant theme on the canvas is nature. Natural landscapes dominate the composition while human subjects appear dwarfed by the magnitude of the natural world around them. In the case of The Course of Empire, even when man seems to turn the tables and dominate nature, in the end, man fails and nature takes back what was once hers!
However, while Thomas Cole is tied to the Hudson River School, and many artists tied to American Romanticism are associated with this particular movement within Romanticism as they depict landscapes, some real, others imagined, that are representative of the 19th century northeastern United States, there is one natural subject that some 19th century artists turned to in order to embrace the Romantic movement. Natural Bridge, located between Roanoke and Lexington, Virginia, offered 19th century artists a wonderful subject to explore within a Romantic context. The natural wonder is quite majestic, and at one level it truly is awe inspiring.
Just a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were fortunate to make our second journey to this site this year. While we have visited Natural Bridge several times over the course of our marriage, this is the first time that within roughly one month we visited the site and spent the night at the Natural Bridge Hotel two times! Our first visit this year was during Valentine’s while our second visit revolved around our twelfth wedding anniversary – so both visits were related to a romantic get-a-way. What better time to reflect on the Natural Bridge and its relationship to Romanticism than during a time of romance?
Natural Bridge was captured on canvas and in print several times during the 19th century. Three examples below include John Henry Hill’s depiction from 1876, Edward Beyer’s 1858 version, and Frederick Edwin Church’s creation from 1852. In these works, the dominant themes of Romanticism are evident. The landscape dominates the canvas, with the Natural Bridge dwarfing man if he even exists in the scene. In this case all three artists capture the sense of awe visitors to the bridge experience when seeing it in person.
Hill and Church capture the bridge from the perspective a modern day viewer sees the bridge just after walking down the 130+ steps or getting off the shuttle to reach the site, as reflected in a photograph I took just a few weeks ago found below. Beyer, it appears, chose to capture the bridge from the opposite side. For one, with Beyer and Church painting the bridge within just six years of one another, the tree line on top of the bridge would not have changed much. However, when looking at the two paintings, the tree line appears reversed, as reflected in the detail below. Second, the water is wider in Beyer’s version than in Hill’s and Church’s. Third, the left face of the bridge, the “support” of the bridge, is wider and has
growth on it not depicted in the other works. Finally, and what I find catching my eye in Hill’s and Church’s version, is the discoloration of the rock at the bottom center of the bridge. This discoloration is not evident in Beyer’s depiction of the bridge.
For whatever reason, the discolored rock found in Hill’s and Church’s representation of the bridge interests me. Maybe it is simply how the discoloration pulled my eyes to this section of the bridge, or maybe it is the element of realism that impressed me; I really don’t know. However, I found myself reflecting on these works as my wife and I stood at the bottom of the bridge, looking up at it from approximately where Hill and Church stood as they began to capture the bridge for us to enjoy today. As when looking at their works of art depicting the bridge, my eyes were drawn to the discolored rock, pictured below. However, and most importantly, as I stood their gazing at this amazing natural structure, I felt at some level the essence of what the Romantic painters of the Hudson River School were trying to capture: that sense of awe that nature offers and how dwarfed I truly am in relation to something as majestic as the Natural Bridge. As the weather finally begins to warm, I hope you will consider taking a pilgrimage to this beautiful spot and commune with the bridge, with nature, and with Church, Hill, Beyer, and the other American artists from the 19th century who were so taken with the American landscape they found their own unique niche within the larger movement of Romanticism.
Blacksburg is well-known as a college town, but it is also the location of one of the most vibrant old time and bluegrass music scenes in The Crooked Road region. This is thanks in part to their Market Square Jam, which creates a bustling scene for traditional music lovers and folks who just like a lively downtown atmosphere.
At 7:00 pm on Thursday, March 28, 2013, the Blacksburg Market Square Jam from Montgomery County will be the featured Venue Showcase at Heartwood.
The Market Square Jam began in 2011, not long after the Town rebuilt our Farmers Market and created a wonderful gathering space called Market Square Park. Their goal from the beginning was to engage the Old Time music community in Blacksburg and the surrounding region and to host a weekly Jam in the market and they are thrilled to now be a part of the Crooked Road region. “When the Jam first began, we had also just launched a program called Sidewalk Stage (www.blacksburg.gov/
In 2012, the Town solicited the sponsorship of two local non-profit organizations (The Blacksburg Partnership and the Blacksburg Museum and Cultural Foundation) to help fund the program. This sponsorship allowed them not only to increase their marketing of the Market Square Jam, but to pay a host band a nominal fee to lead the Jam each week. This small change to the program was very well received among the musicians, and it guaranteed that there would always be a playing presence in the market on Wednesday evenings in the summer. Last year, each jam brought out anywhere from 20-40 musicians each evening, as well as an engaged audience out for a fun evening in the park. Going into our third year, they are fortunate enough to have the same sponsors on board, and a great group of hosts making each Jam a success.
Blacksburg’s Market Square Jam is a weekly jam session that takes place in the warmer months on Wednesday evenings from 8-11 pm at the site of the Farmers Market on the corner of Draper Road and Roanoke Street. The Jam, catering to traditional old time and bluegrass music, brings musicians together to pick a tune, enjoy some fun times with their friends and family, and take in all that downtown Blacksburg has to offer.
The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail (TCR) music series at Heartwood in Abingdon showcases communities of the region through their traditional music venues and their youth music.
The Crooked Road’s mission is to support tourism and economic development in Southwest Virginia by celebrating and preserving this Appalachian region’s unique musical and cultural heritage. The 19 counties, 4 cities, and over 50 towns and communities in Southwest Virginia that make up The Crooked Road region represent one of the richest sources of traditional heritage music in the world.
Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway is located of I-81 at Exit 14 in Abingdon, Virginia and features food, music and craft of Southwest Virginia.
Admission is free but donations will be accepted for the series performances.
Our goal as Southwest Virginia Artists’ Association has, as its core concentration, the integrated and comprehensive communication of all things Arts related.
We gladly offer a line of communication for the Arts. It has been our experience that volunteering to do more proves to be incredibly difficult in this geographical region. (Many others have echoed this sentiment, but we speak now only from our own experience.)
We have recently, and not for the first time, come to the understanding that some art groups in the region, formal or informal, will never allow us into their inner sanctum. Especially, we find, in the arenas of decision making, and any resultant, public recognition of the work done. We feel that we have repeatedly been used as laborers or glorified clerical assistants.
We have been working with one specific group over the past two years. We felt very interested in making some serious contributions to this group. There are many issues here, but after almost every meeting or workshop, we came away with the feeling that they did not want us there at all. We felt that they were not interested in our opinions and that we were intruding into their territory. In hindsight, we felt we, perhaps, should not have gone at all and be put through the ordeal. Perhaps it is that folks just don’t like us. Maybe they think my husband is too perfect. Perhaps it’s just that we are “not from ’round here.” But too many others experience the “Closed Shop” door being slammed in their face, for it to be aimed at us, personally.
We feel we can say this, because of our decades of direct involvement in just this sort of activity in, and support for, the Arts. We, and an organization that we chaired, received National Government accolades for our work in Community Arts. We discuss this here for no other reason than to illustrate that we do speak from experience. We prefer to work at the grassroots level, these days. We do not look for any event or organization to supervise.
On more than one occasion, this group discussed going for drinks after the meeting. We felt deliberately ignored. Now, we do not expect to become fast friends all of a sudden, but an invitation would have been pleasant, if not polite.
In another instance, this time involving an educational facility, we had a similar experience. We had been working on this region’s contribution to an international arts project. We labored hard, as did many others, recruiting and publicizing. This was in addition to offering ideas and introductions to complimentary areas of art that could become part of the ultimate celebration. We accomplished our tasks very quietly and without creating interference.
Happily, we discovered that one of the things we had been most excited about had come to fruition. We received no notice of this accomplishment from the organization, except by happenstance on a postcard inviting us to the reception. But we did receive a phone call telling us that they did not need a jazz band that we are associated with and had volunteered, for the event. The organizers said that they had no venue for the band. They would not require any assistance with anything else. We had not felt confident enough in our relationship with the organization to book the band definitely, so there was no problem there. But we felt that the reason given, that there was no space, was simply insulting, and perhaps meant to be. They were done with us. We were discarded with the respect one might give to a soiled paper towel.
It hurt us deeply. We no longer feel that we can return to that College for art openings in the future. We could not even bring ourselves to visit the exhibition we had worked on. Many of you know how tirelessly we worked to promote this event, not to mention our participation in as many art activities in this region as we feel able.
We just expected to be kept in the loop. We do not expect or want to share in the glory or to be mentioned in the publicity. Just a smile to acknowledge that the help was appreciated and perhaps, a little respect. If help was not wanted, we feel they should have made that clear up front. Then time and money would not have been wasted and bridges would not have been burnt.
We are saying these things now, as many of these issues get swept under the table, and so it goes on. Too, when this happens, cliques are created and the barriers to entry are maintained, if not exaggerated. Organizations that scream out that they are open to all become just like the ones they seek a difference from.
We speak to try to change conditions. Can we not try to be open to the thoughts of others? Must we always be guessing at the motivations of volunteers? Perhaps any who volunteer simply love art and want to include more of it in their lives. Please consider embracing those that want to volunteer. Help them understand the organization’s aims and ambitions. Allow them to grow.
These concerns come about as we are now contributing to a larger work: we are looking at accessibility and other barriers-to-entry issues for events, and Strata Migration Patterns and Limitations. As stated before, we may be quiet when it comes to our education and experience, but we do have tangible academic and real-world experiences to contribute to such work.
We can say that our experiences in this area have been unfortunate. Regrettably, these issues are not contained to us. We try not to take it personally. But when we care as we do about the arts, the folks involved, and those that may be touched by art, this treatment hurts us on a personal level.
We want to say farewell, but we are not leaving just yet. We are simply in retreat from volunteering for anything else until we forget the lessons learnt here.