Arts Minded: It’s not too late to enroll in Poetry on the RiverI haven’t had much opportunity lately to observe the local arts scene, but I saw a great deal of art both visual and in music in Peru and Ecuador.
By: Sue Beckham, Columnist, River Falls Journal
I haven’t had much opportunity lately to observe the local arts scene, but I saw a great deal of art both visual and in music in Peru and Ecuador.
One of the most gratifying experiences of that 3 1/2-week trip happened the last day. On a whim, we went to the Museo de Arte Precolumbino (Museum of Pre-Columbian Art) in Cuzco, Peru, which had not been stressed in our guide books.
We found one of the best art museums we have ever seen. It was not large, but it was ART with capital letters. Not anthropology. Not history.
The museum, with commentary from the great 19th and 20th century artists and art critics, was an example of how art should be exhibited. There were few pieces in each gallery but each was an exquisite example of the human desire to make art.
Here among pieces of pottery intended for practical or sometimes ceremonial use we found the artistic impulse in Moschica, Nasca and Inca potters from 500-2,000 years ago.
What we observed and what the museum emphasized was that potters making pots for the ovens, plates for the table and amphora for the religious rituals were not content with functionality. They needed to add their individual artistic touch.
There was a set of pitchers shaped like ducks that reminded me of American artist Winslow Homer’s “Right and Left.”
There were two bowls, obviously by different artists that had fish “swimming” around the bottom. The best of these two bore an uncanny resemblance to a bowl in my dining room. My bowl was made by a 21st century artist in Silver City, N.M. She based her design on those of a Southwestern Native American hundreds of years ago. The Moschican potter made his or hers also centuries ago but on a different continent.
Whatever the exact date and the exact use, we today are fortunate that those ancient potters were allowed the freedom to create functional works that expressed their own artistic impulse.
And we are even more fortunate today that our children, when the school board can afford to pay for art instruction at all, are encouraged to express their own artistic ideas regardless of ability or talent.
I grew up when “coloring in the lines” was emphasized, when only the “best” works got on the school room walls, and “best” meant most representational, most accurate, and neatest.
Today’s teachers know that children, like the potters of ancient Peruvian tribes, thrive best when their creative spirit is encouraged, when we look for the beauty in whatever they do, when we let each of them create his or her own idea of beauty.
And on that note, the note of encouraging each child to express beauty in her or his own way, there are still spaces in the 2008 Poetry on the River Workshop for several more young people to try writing poetry with published poets to encourage them.
In case you haven’t heard, Poetry on the River is the annual Community Arts Base-sponsored poetry workshop where young, would-be poets can work with published poets, biologists and river experts to express their poetic impulses.
Offered along the Kinnickinnic River, with that river and all rivers as a theme, the workshops provide persons enrolled with the inspiration and motivation to find out what they can do. The young people work in nature and with nature poets and artists. This year they are Bryan Mulrooney, Ken Olson, Thomas R. Smith and Thea Ennen among others.
To enroll, all a young, potential poet has to do is to call Mulrooney at 715-222-1321, Elise Gregory at 273-4006) or me at 425-7243).
The workshops are at Glen Park, the Kinnickinnic River and places in between, July 14-18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The cost is only $20 because the Wisconsin Humanities Council is shouldering much of the cost and a great deal of the time is donated.
And, of course, many more arts endeavors are happening in our area over the next couple of weeks. Below are samples that haven’t been included in other sections of the Journal.