Saturday, December 10, 2011

About Christmas

It’s so common we forget about it. Those of us who are museum members do it twice a year. It never even makes a dimple on our consciousness.

We give away our art to help support the only art museum on the Oregon coast

So why is it that it never occurs to us that the gift of art might just help other charities? Have you asked? Maybe they don’t accept art. It is hard to set a value on and what the artist thinks it is worth is not what the charity will be able to get for it so why even bother?

Well there are a whole bunch of reasons. The first one is selfish; it gets our art out there. Now maybe you are so successful and have your work in several galleries and don’t need any more exposure. Congratulations, you’ve made your mark, now all you have to do is stay there.

There’s an old story about Diana Krall the Canadian bombshell jazz pianist and singer, she was asked if jazz music was a safe place for a person’s child to aspire to. She laughed and said, “Encourage your daughters to be jazz singers, they’ll spend ninety-nine percent of their time looking for work and the other one percent practicing so that when they get work they can perform. There’s no better way to ensure virtue!”

The story was told in good humor, but there is a lot of truth in it and it holds up for all of the arts, you spend most of your time striving for work and the rest practicing your craft so that when the work comes you’ll be able to deliver. So if you aren’t getting your work out there how do you know if you are ready?

Well you could be like Kim Wurster who sells everything she produces and can’t even enter all of the shows she could win because her back stock is so limited that there just aren’t pieces to show. Would some local charity like a Wurster or two to sell? You bet your bippy, but the cupboard is bare.

Now if you have the same problem then you’d be silly to keep reading this, get up and get back into your studio and get busy. But if you don’t why not check around and see if a donation of your work might just fill some charity’s Christmas stocking.

Maybe you have closets full of art just getting dusty. This is a lot closer to my own problem, so I know what I’m talking about, dig it out. Art in the hands of a charity is better than art in a closet. And if it is freely given to a certified charity you get a deduction on your income tax.

You didn’t make any money on your art this past year? If you had gotten it out where people could see it maybe you would have.

Still there is a chance your art won’t be accepted by a charity, do you give up in disgust and go off to pout?

No don’t be a dunce, get busy and find another way to get the gift of your time working for someone besides yourself, the museum, that’s right, our art museum always needs volunteers. How bout you give up some of your time to work for the museum?

Your art isn’t the only thing you have to give. Artists have to learn a lot of stuff just to get by. Have you given any thought to sharing what you’ve learned? Sure some of the art community makes its money teaching and that is a vital part of our community, no one is asking you to forfeit your income stream, but you’ve learned all sorts of things, why not share.

It can be as simple as visiting the folks who make up our community. We have lost of people well past retirement age, who’s looking in on them? Who’s making sure they have the basics? Anyone checking on their health? I have the Long Suffering and she does too good a job keeping me in the right line so that I don’t blow my blood sugar or eat too much or smoke or chase after slow moving women, she doesn’t really approve of that sort of thing and it’s bad for my heart even though I did try to convince her it was cardio. The point is there are people in our own circle who might need something, not money nor goods, but simple human contact. Have you considered giving of yourself in that way?

We have a new BAAA president. The job is like the labors of Hercules, clean those stables fight the monsters, change the course of rivers, she makes Wonder Woman look like a slacker. Have you called to congratulate her? How bout offering to help her turn the tide and make the organization work for the community, all of the community? Maybe she could use a hand? Think about it.

I promised to suggest gifts for artists; they don’t have to come from a store. Do something for the community and have the charity send a card to the deserving artist for work done in their name. Take food out to the High Tide for the Charleston Food Bank.

We have a show for the wonderful artists of Charleston, Charles Edmunds and his gang; why not donate to the food bank in their name or in the name of the Monday Plein Air group? No, they don’t need the praise, but they do deserve it, and you can give it to them.

Take this window of time between the frantic shopping and tree decorating and the joy of Christmas to go out into the community and give of your skills for the benefit of those in need. You’ll get rewards beyond the short-lived cash you get for work and better still you’ll share hope with someone the world at large has overlooked.

Then you’ll know all about Christmas.

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