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The Scope of Our Creativity

May 6, 2007

What an honor it was to read in The University Daily Kansan, the other day, that the annual museum student night at the Spencer Art Museum  continued our idea of Destination Postcards and Art themed gatherings with food, music and discussion.   This encourages us to think that the scope of our creativity as individuals travels beyond the borders of our small living room and studio gatherings to the hallowed halls of learning establishments, to museums, to individual lives, to the community and beyond.   The hallowed halls then echo back to us, and we continue the dialogue in our creativity.  This is an inclusive “we”, since many are creative who may not consider themselves artists.  We embrace being part of a dialogue that is bigger than ourselves.

Seeing documentaries of Picasso mingling with Paul Cezanne, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Henri Leger, Frida Kahlo, Henri Mattise, Dora Maar, and others on the beach, in their art studios, in academic settings, eating and living tandem with each other at times reminds us that small circles create bigger ones in art and life.  Jay Alexander, a local sculptor, commented that Thomas Hart Benton, our reknowned and beloved Kansas artist, studied with Picasso at one point in his life, and was influenced by him and his work.  A friend described our first gathering affectionately as a “circle of art and friends”.  That is what we hope to be, simply, and it sounds rather insignificant at times.  In doing so we wish to carry on the tradition of many artist groups, official or unofficial,  to echo and create new echoes in our world, to be shaped by and shape community and culture, to be personal and yet somehow globally connected and significant in our endeavors.  In our grandest hopes, we want to join the ranks of the best of Stieglitz and his bunch, the Ashcan Painters, the Beatniks, the Hippies, and let our small relational gatherings  be a part of the larger creative process of the community and the history of life.    

The Univ Daily Kansan article you may read below was published Friday, May 4, 2007 (just over one month after our Destination Postcard Gathering occured) and can be found at http://www.kansan.com/stories/2007/may/04/spencer/:

“The sound of international music, the smell of catered snacks and the promise of a free T-shirt lured a soulful crowd to the Spencer Art Museum on Thursday night. The party was the museum’s student night, an event held every year.

Photo by Sarah Leonard

Jon Simon, Lenexa sophomore, and Cassie Sines, Linwood senior, sit in a room adorned by african art. The exhibit was titled “A Saint in the City: Sufi Arts of Urban Senegal.

KJHK kept the turntables spinning with “cross cultural jazz and soul” played loudly over speakers while students mingled, explored the exhibits, ate nachos and sipped on iced tea.

“Travel the art world,” the theme of the party, showcased exhibits in Asia, Europe and Africa. The newest addition to the museum, the 20/21 Gallery is still under construction. The curators of the night previewed the new exhibit by showing videos of international artists.

“We chose about 10,000 of 20,000 pieces of art to be in the 20/21 Gallery,” Graf said. “We even had an impartial artist come from New York to help with the exhibit.”

Sally Birmingham, Spring Hill junior, said she’s not a stranger to the museum.

“I’ve been here for lots of things, like openings and lectures,” Birmingham said. “I think if events like this bring in more students than would normally come, then it’s a success.”

That was the goal for the Spencer Student Advisory Board. Megan Graf, St. Louis senior and volunteer for the Board, said the point of holding events like student night was to attract students who normally wouldn’t visit the museum.

Kim Brook, president of the Student Advisory Board, said the museum strived to reach the University campus to attract them to things like lectures and gallery openings. The student night and party was one effective way to do this.

“We’d like to make the Spencer a second home to students,” Graf said. “We want students to know we are accessible.”

That was the goal for the Spencer Student Advisory Board. Megan Graf, St. Louis senior and volunteer for the Board, said the point of holding events like student night was to attract students who normally wouldn’t visit the museum.

Graf said the low number of classes offered in the museum and its out-of-the-way location were reasons why few students visited. She said she didn’t think people realized how many pieces of art the museum has, estimating there to be “tens of thousands” of pieces.

“The only classes here are art history classes,” Graf said. “Students who come are art history students.”

The 20/21 Gallery is slated to open in July.

Kansan staff writer Bethany Bunch can be contacted at bbunch@kansan.com.

— Edited by Will McCullough”

BALM ANNOUNCEMENT: We are showing our DESTINATION POSTCARDS in a gallery in October or November and interested in other interactive public venues to continue this dialogue. 

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