State of the Arts
BY MELINDA CHILDS
Director, ArtStart Rhinelander
My three-year-old daughter performed in the the Nutcracker for the first time this year. She was an angel and really didn’t do that much dancing. But that didn’t matter! The blur of sweet smiles, little fuzzy white tutus, and sparkling angel wings did a great job of setting the stage for the holiday season, along with the glorious costumes and music of this classic ballet. The Northwoods School of Dance and all the performers gave a beautiful gift to our community–the young dancers worked for weeks and put their hearts and souls into this holiday tradition.
As I write this, I am getting ready to attend my son’s holiday concert at Northwoods Community Elementary School. This is another example of artists of all ages spending time and energy studying music, lyrics, and performance to express the joy and meaning of the holidays while their families proudly look on. The music teacher, Ms. Karsten, the children and everyone at the school are showing us firsthand the importance of the arts in the lives of our families and our community during this time of year.
I am sure your family has these and other holiday traditions, as well. From homemade ornaments and gifts to singing traditional songs and hymns in places of worship, our culture embraces holiday traditions from many countries and traditions. Most are connected to the arts in one way or another. For everyone who’s said to me, “I am not an artist,” or I’m not into art,” I can think of 10 examples of things they enjoy doing or seeing that are indeed art. This is especially true in the holiday season as many of our favorite traditions are tied into the arts: films, songs, culinary creations, decorations, cards, performances, light displays, and the list goes on.
I am saddened by the fact that time is running out for our family to create Christmas cards, and I even put a reminder on the calendar in October! Holiday card making is where artists really shine. For every photo card there is a photographer behind the lens, amateur or professional. For every store bought card there is a room full of designers and artists creating warmth, humor, beauty, and meaning that we can share with one another across the miles. We are excited to share what we created or selected with friends and family because it is one more way to connect. And, as more and more handwritten messages are replaced with a signature, the importance of the visual image of the card is underscored. Selecting or making the perfect card is a way acknowledging that, yes it is a busy time of year, but I am thinking of you.
I have written in the past about bringing the arts into your holiday shopping and gift giving. This year I ask you to notice the art and artists around you, past, present, and future. Appreciate what a difference a sense of the aesthetic can make to our traditions and celebrations. What would this season be without Tchaikovsky or Norman Rockwell or Burl Ives or Bing Crosby. Can you imagine the holidays without those precious handmade ornaments from years past we still hang on our trees?
In this spirit, I also encourage you to celebrate the artist within yourself. Whether your talent is baking, decorating, wrapping, writing your Christmas letter, or singing carols, embrace it! Become the snow sculptor that will spend hours in the yard with the little ones in your life building a snowman or the family photographer who will document this year’s festivities. In fact, you could even display a photograph or two at ArtStart’s community photography exhibit in February-the theme is “My Hometown” (details at www.ArtStartRhinelander.org ). And, if you haven’t discovered your talent yet, give yourself an opportunity to explore! I find gingerbread is a great medium for beginners!
ArtStart wishes you and yours a warm, safe, and very happy holiday season! We look forward to sharing more artists, exhibitions, music, film, and community with you in 2017!
ArtStart, located at 68 S. Stevens St., is open Wednesday-Saturday during the winter. Melinda Childs can be reached at MChilds@ArtstartRhinelander.org.