Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Uncle Sam Wants You or at least CAM Does

In this community of less than thirty thousand we have accomplished one of the most unique and rare things any small community can, we have an art museum.

Not just any art museum but a real, dedicated, innovative, engaged art museum. And we are doubly fortunate that the people who run it, the staff and volunteers are as dedicated, engaged, innovative and real as their museum and they work like slaves to keep the light on and the doors open.

The Director, Stephen Broocks does more than his fair share in the door keeping and light onning and he is burdened with the same difficulties that most non-profit organizations have, pleasing the Board and begging for money in the form of grant writing and he does all of this with good humor, patience while still maintaining the highest standards and the critical eye so necessary to the integrity of an art museum.

Not so bad for a tiny coastal community at the edge of nowhere.

Just attracting this sort of talent is a major coupe and then finding that the gent has the Moxie to do the job well and still keep his standards up is one more notch on the community’s belt.

And yes, this is not idle flattery or empty praise. I come from a community of thirty-five thousand, ole Gravel Pit, Texas where culture comes in two forms, the Uptown Theater where Disney movies, (Before Miley Cyrus),  played and parents allowed their children to go and the dreaded, forbidden Wings Theater where only old men in raincoats went to see, gasp, shock, foreign films.

Yes, brethren, films in black and white, which was no different from the way films were at the Uptown except these films were in that black and white, and were filled with people doing things you can only see on cable now days. It was a regular Sodom and Gomorrah!

Which made every teenager in town want to get in to the Wings almost as much as they wanted to be able to get a fake I.D. so that they could buy beer at the county line, (Texas was a Local Option state at that time so each county could vote wet, where alcohol could be bought but not served and the businesses could flourish or dry where nothing harder than Welchaide could be sold or served and business was lost to the wet counties where you could serve adult malt beverages and those made from grains and where guys could actually buy a drink if they knew the local politician and could get nominated to the Country Club where all of the wet and dry rules were unimportant cause in a private club you could do what you liked and that made Country Clubs a hot ticket in the suburbs.)

So the second most important goal in the minds of Gravel Pit’s youth, you know what the first most important goal which involved Mary Lou and her Poodle Skirt and just how far would she go in the backseat of the Plymouth, was getting a fake I.D and buying beer.

And you wonder why there was no push to find the backing for an art museum.

Then there was Preacher Odom, the fiery minister of the Calvary Baptist Church who have an open-minded view of art and culture, it was all damned and hell-spawned and would given half a chance drive the youth straight into the arms of Satan and make the country fall from grace and the Soviets march down main street waving the Red Flag and driving those huge Stalin Type 23 tanks.

The preacher thought Norman Rockwell was a pornographer and that even the Pangburn’s Girl was agent of lust and would surely drive the whole country into the flesh pits of Arlington. (The town on the other side of the county line where they could sell and serve beer)

The good preacher once started a campaign to outlaw women wearing shorts on the streets of downtown Gravel Pit.

Located twenty-three miles from Dallas and nineteen miles from Ft Worse you can imagine what downtown looked like and making it illegal for anyone to wear shorts in a Texas summer is a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment. (You thought it was the Fourth Amendment didn’t you?)

So in this atmosphere of cultural openness and diversity there was no way anyone would suggest that the city much less the hard working citizens give away their money for something like an art museum. Such silliness was for the rich and places like Dallas and Ft Worse where they had no decency and common sense.

So imagine my surprise when I moved to Coos Bay, a hard working, blue collar community on the coast or Oregon and found that the good folks had the brains, the insight, the courage and the will to have an art museum in their community. It was heaven.

And the Director, even though he has to daily struggle with the light onning and the door opening doesn’t resort to those annoying pledge breaks like NPR or OPB, no, once a year the museum has a fund raiser and they depend on the art community to get up off their collective asses and support it.

And no, the museum doesn’t ask artists struggling with their own door opening and light onning to give up the few pennies they have scrounged out of the sofa cushions, no the museum asks only that the art community donate works of art so that the museum can sell/auction/raffle them off.

That ought to be enough to get the artists off their booties but wait there’s more. If you want you can donate work to be sold for a 50-50 split with the museum. What are you waiting for? The closet is never going to sell all of the stuff you have hidden away in there. Why not bring it out and let the museum get some much needed funding and giving the man in the carpeted office a break from all of the groveling and bowing and grant writing?

Now here’ the final sweetner to the deal, if you donate art work to the cause you get a ticket to the Fall Fling for the Arts. You were going to go anyway and rub shoulders with the big-time important artists and bask in their reflected glory, so why not get the ticket for work you have already done and have stuffed in the closet/workshop/shed. The rainy season is on us and all of that paper, canvas and Masonite is just going to mildew, so get up, get busy and donate.

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