Kathleen Norris on Creativity, artistic genius

By | January 12, 2014

“It doesn’t help that others often encourage artists to think of themselves as more special, sensitive, ‘creative’ than other mortals. This is false doctrine. There is but one creator, and ‘creating’ is the very thing that artists cannot do. The gifts of the human imagination that artists employ operate equally in science and scholarship, teaching and philosophy, business and mathematics, ranching, preaching, engineering, mothering and fathering. Still, it can’t be denied that artists interact strongly with their world, and that there is a measure of suffering involved as they come to a mature understanding of their communal role.”

— Kathleen Norris in The Cloister Walk

Book club announced

By | September 7, 2013

The first scheduled event at the art center is on the calendar!

A book club will take place on the second Tuesday of each month in the Scissortail Art Center’s 207 space at 207 W 3rd Street in Grand Island. It will begin at 7pm.

The first book will be Sara Zarr’s How to Save a Life.

From Goodreads:

Jill MacSweeney just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she’s been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends—everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she’s somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Hardcover, 341 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Going after it: Scissortail207

By | June 2, 2013

Remember this?

It’s happening. A year later, after some drama that shall not be revisited, we’re moving forward again with the use of this space as an art center. Since it’s at street number 207 (and not out in the countryside like the ideal we have in mind for the Scissortail Art Center), it has been branded as follows.

Scissortail banner FB

Below are a few scrappy photos of the scrappy space. As the afore linked-to post mentions, it has some electrical, plumbing and HVAC challenges, but we’ll overcome those as we’re able. Artists aren’t picky anyway, right?

Tax incentives and the arts

By | February 10, 2013

While I’m not convinced tax credits (or deductions or inclusions or . . . ) are a good thing to begin with, this is very interesting:

” [In Canada] parents get a tax credit for money spent exposing their children to arts, recreation, or culture . . .”

[Preceded by] “A couple of years ago, I compiled a list of my favorite books for a friend. I went through all the books I’d read for the past five years, and pulled out the ones I most loved.

I was shocked to realize about one-third of them were from Canadian authors. One-third. Not of the books I read, mind you, but of the books I loved.”

Via Stone Soup

Art in the most unlikely place

By | November 2, 2012

The return trip from an annual work conference resulted in the accidental discovery of an art gallery in a town of 200, give or take. The Most Unlikely Place is in Lewellen, just west of Ash Hollow in western Nebraska (pictured below).

The Most Unlikely Place also has a frame shop and serves lunch — the lady serving rolls around on roller skates while serving soup and sandwiches. The town of Lewellen also boasts a small winery and an inn. With my coworkers, I spent a significant lunch hour talking to the family/owners of the business who also own (at least) two other buildings in the small downtown, one of which they’d like to see become an art center or something similar (the other, a former Post Office, they’ve turned into a swanky apartment). I toured it with the owner and his friend, a musician, who wants to put a recording studio in the currently gutted structure.

Each family member has their craft, be it painting, music, woodworking or culinary art. Each wants to see the arts help revive the small community. They want Lewellen to be the Taos of Nebraska.

It was fantastic to meet people acting on this kind of ambition. If you’re ever driving through western Nebraska, be sure to stop their for a long lunch and encourage them on in their vision!

On beauty and aging

By | October 27, 2012

A thought for discussion:

Is one reason that beauty is attributed to youth and not maturity because aging (leastwise death) was not a part of God’s original design?

More than one right answer

By | September 21, 2012

Creativity is nurtured by freedom and stifled by the continuous monitoring, evaluation, adult-direction, and pressure to conform that restrict children’s lives today. In the real world few questions have one right answer, few problems have one right solution; that’s why creativity is crucial to success in the real world. But more and more we are subjecting children to an educational system that assumes one right answer to every question and one correct solution to every problem, a system that punishes children (and their teachers too) for daring to try different routes. We are also, as I documented in a previous essay, increasingly depriving children of free time outside of school to play, explore, be bored, overcome boredom, fail, overcome failure—that is, to do all that they must do in order to develop their full creative potential.

Read more here.

Art Center: Going after it

By | August 19, 2012

My wife and I are working to turn a vacant space I have access too — which has had a couple renters over the past couple years that just didn’t stick — into a downtown art center. With a newborn in the house and the necessity of a full-time job, at this point work on or in the space is only occurring every other weekend (or thereabouts).

Helping cobble together a table for the space.

There are four rooms, along with access to a large mezzanine stairway landing and a small bathroom. The largest room is about 20’x30′, second largest 9’x22’and then two smaller rooms that were originally built as safes in this former bank (by former, we’re talking turn of the Twentieth Century). Roughly the square footage of a small American house. I have visualized the entire space, now I just need money for electrical, plumbing and HVAC projects!

Where this idea goes is still up for grabs. We’re taking baby steps, so the idea is less about creating the Scissortail Art Center at this point than, perhaps, just taking a step in that direction if we can.

Wendell Berry on accepting local responsibility to affect change

By | August 12, 2012

Via this YouTube video:

I don’t think that I know anything that’s reducible to a last word. Our people like to trade in that kind of stuff, but it’s stuff. It really doesn’t amount too much.

What’s really interesting is the possibility that we humans can make sense. This is an issue, this is a formal issue [of] the greatest urgency and gravity. What are the conditions within which we human beings can make sense? Within what limits can our minds be effective?

I’ve been griping about this to some of my friends lately. We’ve had two generations of college-bred people now who have really been indoctrinated now that every big problem has a big solution, and I just don’t believe it. The big problems we have now are going to be solved, if they ever are solved, by hundreds of people accepting local responsibility for small problems. They ain’t never gonna get famous, they ain’t never gonna get tenured for this. But this is the way it has to work.

We’re not really very smart we humans. And the idea that someone could come up with a big solution to a big problem is always dangerous. It always come down to the simple, the simple solution. People who make simple solutions always make trouble. And they’re always surprised by the trouble they make.

So, to hell with the last words. Let’s try and make one sentence that’s rightly positioned within a manageable context so that we can utter it to somebody else and they’ll understand it. And then we would be on the way to define a job of work that we can actually do.

Our passion for artist centers

By | June 12, 2012

Four months back or so an Internet acquaintance also interested in the work of arts centers emailed me a link to an academic paper titled Artists’ Centers: Evolution and Impact on Careers, Neighborhoods, Economies. The paper examines the history and success of artist centers in the Minneapolis/St. Paul region, where they are plentiful. Putting significant time and energy towards preparation for the birth of our first child, I made my way through it very slowly this spring, and recently came to the conclusion that I was already aware of everything it presented.

This didn’t occur to me at first. Considering my passionate interest in the idea of an art center, I began reading the paper eagerly. I expected to learn a lot, having no formal experience working with an art center. Yet.

I realized after reading the introduction (the remainder of the publication profiles the numerous Minneapolis/St. Paul art centers) that all of the thought and research my wife and I have thus far put into the Scissortail Art center idea had already brought to light all of the ideas and challenges presented in the paper. The financial challenges, the cultural challenges, the reasons behind establishing a center or retreat in the first place and so forth. In one respect this was surprising, then again not so much.

I’m not sharing this to boast. If I was able to do the research and critical thinking to plan for an art center without having first-hand experience, anyone interested in such a venture should be able to do the same. I’m sharing this simply to express the depth of my interest in this idea.

Hat tip to Shannon Newby for sharing the paper with me earlier this year.