Monday, December 20, 2010

Appreciation takes practice

The Culture Club;
These ladies help me appreciate art.
(from left, Kristi and her daughter Lauren, me, Clove, Janna, and Anne at
Celebraciones de la Gente.)
   Mission:  Accomplished.

  After 17 weeks of my semester-long resolution, I have fulfilled my goal of attending one cultural event per week (and writing about it on Monday.)  In fact, I've taken that goal to the moon and back.

  On average, I attended 1.6 events per week this semester, for a total of 27 events.  This is in comparison to the statistics from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2008, 65% of Americans were unable to make it to a cultural event such as an art exhibit or performance even ONCE!

  And what have I learned?  I realized that getting to the events was the hardest part.  Once I was there, I was able to relax and get swept away by the music, or the art, or the theatre performance.  I also realized that music and art are great ways to break down the generation gap.  People of all ages were at these events.  They were easy to meet and they were always pretty happy.  (Perhaps being surrounded by beauty reminded people of their higher selves.)

  I also learned to look for the "sparkle." Sometimes it took persistence; I would have to come back to it again and again until I could find the things that sparkled just for me.  Just so you know, not everything in every performance was enthralling to me.  Sometimes I was tired, stressed out, frustrated, and completely unhappy to be there.  But if I kept reminding myself to listen, to watch and to feel for the moment of beauty, I would eventually find that clarity of recognition.  Because of this persistence, I became better at appreciation.

  And so, I think it has been worth it.  I'm appreciative.

  I think it's almost time for a new resolution.  Coming soon.  But first I'm going to hibernate for the winter break.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Putting our money where our heart is...

My son Isaac (on right) and his best friend Roman, continuing the tradition of attending the Parade of Lights together.

  The holiday season is a great time to introduce culture to the young ones!

  Among a slew of holiday parties last week, I also got to attend the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra's Nutcracker on Friday AND Saturday, and the Parade of Lights in downtown Flagstaff.  And I saw many kids at every juncture; they were skipping, holding hands, waving.  They were wearing holiday dresses, bows and ties, and often up-staged their parents with their fanciness and excitement.  It was pretty special. 

  I'm a parent too.  I value the arts and one of my favorite things has been engendering a love for the arts in my son.  I feel very lucky to be able to do that here.  We are so blessed to have a vibrant arts community in Flagstaff.  We have a premier performance hall with Ardrey Auditorium, we have the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, we have the Coconino Center for the Arts, Theatrikos, and even a large and thriving downtown art scene.    There's even a new local songwriting mentorship program called Bold Moon Music--just one of the many ways that our community gives back.

 And don't forget about my alma mater, the entire College of Arts and Letters, at NAU.  The college provides film, theatre, art, music and lectures to everyone in the campus and Flagstaff community.  It's pretty cool that we're able  to provide all of that cultural opportunity for our children (and ourselves.) 

  It's pretty cool that the people of this town value the arts enough to sustain it all.  Because, let's face it folks.  The government is not going to be able to take care of the entire bill.  We need to advocate for more arts-spending, but we also need to step up and take responsibility for it ourselves. 

  Tradition brings beauty to the holiday season.  To me, tradition equals culture.  When you are busy getting all of your gifts for everyone, don't forget the special gift of a cultural experience, and the people who provide that experience for us!  Please consider making a donation to one of your favorite cultural entities.  Give the ultimate gift of the season, one that keeps on giving throughout the whole year.

  Let's put our money where our heart is!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Fashion as Art

Jenn Jones does alterations.

     You may start to feel a little out of place in downtown Flagstaff if you decide to rock the mom jeans, white reeboks, and fanny pack.

     Personally, I couldn't be happier about that.

     As if proof of my hunch that fashion is (perhaps at long-last) becoming more of a priority in the Flagstaff consciousness, last First Friday I was glad to see that Sundara: House of Beauty had local fashion designer, Jenn Jones of Red Thread Sewing, as their featured artist. I've known Jenn for around 10 years, and she has always had such an excitement towards creating wearable art.  She started with bags and purses (I once had an extensive conversation with her about the beauty of the hobo bag) and now she designs beautiful evening dresses with a vintage feel. Our girl has grown up!!

     I'm meeting with Jenn this week so that she can seriously modify a black-tie dress for a New Year's wedding with a bunch of uptown New Yorkers.  I'm looking forward to flaunting some serious local pride when I tell my old college friends - who all wish they could have stayed in Flagstaff-  that the dress is from a local designer. 

     I think that being fashionable is about appreciating beauty and creativity, and being a living canvas.  It doesn't have to be expensive stuff--goodwill and thrift store shopping is more fun and goes farther creativity and money-wise.  Taking your quality pieces and having them tailored is the smartest fashion step I've ever made.

     Jenn's designs make sense in all the ways that clothes should.  They're designed by a home-town girl, who knows what swings in this place (and yet she pushes the envelope in the right ways.)  She'll create a dress template, and after you buy it, she alters it for free, so you really are getting something that fits you perfectly.  In so many ways, you are getting a personalized fashion quality product that keeps your clothes in your closet for 10-20 years.  I think that's smart stuff!

    For Flagstaff to be the place it should be (such as stylish, welcoming to the arts, creative and vibrant) it's our duty to support the local designers and artists like Jenn Jones.  Beauty makes us happy.

  Jenn says it on her webpage, but let me just say it again.  Fashion IS art.