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Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Art Class

Updated on September 28, 2012

Proud Moment: My Daughter Admiring Tara McPherson's Work

Return Trip: Art from the Boneyard Project and Nose Art at the Pima Air & Space Museum Tucson, AZ
Return Trip: Art from the Boneyard Project and Nose Art at the Pima Air & Space Museum Tucson, AZ | Source

Art is optional for some but not for me. Ever since I was a toddler I have entertained myself by drawing. My brother tells me I always liked to doodle and my family would calm me with a pencil & paper. As I grew I liked art in school. In elementary school and junior high I was able to participate in shows at the San Diego Museum of Art called Young Art. It was really enthralling to see my creations alongside the classics in a venerable institution like that! I went on to become the first in my high school to receive Advanced Placement credits for college via the classes I took before graduation. Art wasn't just a subject in school to me, it was how I expressed what I saw around me and it was the way I and other students processed our life experiences. It never occurred to me how much went on behind the scenes to make this all possible.

Art & Economics: What I Didn't Know Hurt Me...For The Better!

One event that stands out in my memory from high school that forever shaped my understanding of the limits of art's value to many. Our high school was a CIF championship school which meant that our football teams did very well and would go to statewide playoffs. Our football teams drew big donations and generated a lot of income for the school that purportedly went to technology, improvements and school programs so, when the school decided to turn the spacious art room into the school's weight room and move the art room to the old and much smaller weight room, I guess shouldn't have been surprised. But as a kid, I was shocked. How could something that meant so much to me and the other art kids be relegated to a sweat impregnated, bare sheet rock lined room while our beautiful art room became a gymnasium?

In hindsight I am thankful for that experience for two reasons: It was economics at work & It showed me that what matters to me is not always the most important thing in society and that I would always have to be fighting for what I hold to be valuable. I needed to become a torch bearer for art in my life and my future family's life.

Are You A Torch Bearer?

Though art has always had some place in most modern societies. Art is something that in ancient times took place after many other needs like food, water, health & shelter were being successfully met. Petroglyphs, for instance, were made after hunting, gathering and shelter had been secured and as a means for recording the history of the tribe, yet it still had a significant place. If art is to be sustained it requires its own funding and people to "carry a torch" for it. Art in schools and society depends on taxes and private funding to be maintained.

If you value art or have children who are artists it is up to you to keep art alive in America today. There are plenty of people asking for donations these days. Here are a few organizations that I like & think are doing an admirable job of bearing the art torch for everyone:

  • PBS - It seems everyone in our society from the cradle to the grave watches PBS sometime! I was raised on Sesame Street & still love shows like NOVA and local stuff broadcast from the local college. You know it's money well-spent.
  • OMA: Opening Minds through the Arts - A Tucson, AZ institution that brings art & music to our kids. They thrive on tax free donations made at the end of the year.
  • SABER: Defend The Arts Skywriting Campaign - A fun way to bring awareness to the topic of arts. Many street artists face incongruously heavy prosecution for their craft everyday. Saber brings attention to the importance of art of all forms in America.
  • YOUNG ART - Each year during Young Art, 150 student pieces are displayed in the Museum’s galleries alongside works of art from the Museum’s permanent collection. The Museum partners with libraries, community centers, and local businesses in the County to set aside display areas for an additional 150 Young Art submissions.
  • KICKSTARTER - Did you ever dream of being an Angel Investor? Donate online to numerous creative projects like ph7labs Camilo Bejarano's Bearycalm Toy Venture. Each and every Kickstarter project is the independent creation of someone creative.

If you're still asking yourself, "None of that looks that great and I still want to know what else I could do" then, know this: Supporting the arts is simple. On any given day in any city throughout the country there are opportunities to shop local. Galleries, boutiques, museums and festivals that celebrate the arts are open for business. By choosing to dine at a great local restaurant a chef is celebrated, Christmas shopping at a boutique shop sustains an artisan, and so on. By being mindful of your local artist many options will become available to you.

Modern Art Master Saber's Defend The Arts Campaign

Is Your Child A Gifted Artist?

If you have identified your child as a gifted and talented artist, don't let their celebrated art habit stop at graduation. The best and brightest artists today continue their education in the arts at colleges and universities all over the world.

Don't be afraid of the antiquated myth of the "Starving Artist". My parents always said "You'll never make any money as an artist". As an example of someone disproving this theory, our local art great Daniel Martin Diaz is a world-renowned art giant. In his native Tucson where I live he has designed and executed large, mural-sized punched metal plates for our Rio Nuevo Parking Garage in downtown on Congress Street. Thousands view his functional works of art daily and they serve a great purpose benefiting the community with beautification. Additionally he and his wife Paula run a gallery and a band. I love their example of how talent, hard work and determination is a recipe for success in art!

If you are interested in your children's future in art but, don't know where to start after high school, then consider the following colleges amongst the best and most illustrious who have high school outreach programs and summer camps.

What Is Your Favorite Artist, Painting or Movement? What Advice Do You Have For Future Artists?

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