Every culture has elements that link
people together in common interests. Obviously there are sports,
and in our area that means the Packers, the Brewers, other professional
teams, the university rivalries. One need not be a star football
player to be involved at some interest level with a sport. Wisconsin
also has its cabin culture, the fishing and hunting, the landscape
and farming environments which further link specific areas,
like interests and which spur discussion and a sense of community.
There are commonalities, those collective interests and a sense
of camaraderie, binding the areas inhabitants,
publications respond to these interests and promote further attentiveness
by reporting about them, commenting on results, examining personalities
and the whole milieu. There is a cycle, one thing leads to more
things...more talk, more discussion, more interest...more reporting
and therefore more publication about the shared interests.
One obstacle we may be facing concerning our regional art culture
stems from the smaller percentage of citizens that have interest
in and support of the arts...visual and performing. We might
suspect that visual art finds a smaller audience because it is
not the same sort of interactive entertainment that one expects
from performance art. (It seems appropriate to mention that Dan
Keegan, the recently new Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum,
recognizes that the meaningful and enjoyable experience in MAM
and other museums is what will impress and draw a larger audience...and
therefore feed the cycle for more support and recognition.)
The generally smaller audience for visual art likely also has
to do with breakdowns in arts education, due to lack of funding
and local support (another cycle) as well as what might be weaknesses
in some methods of teaching, drawing more students to appreciate,
understand and participate in art making, their support and growth.
One need not be highly skilled in draftsmanship or the refinements
of art production to participate, appreciate and gain from it
...just as one need not be a star athlete to have fun with sports
as participant or observer.
But, no matter what else, the regional community of citizens
needs to be made aware, to be informed, and to become convinced
that there are entertaining, meaningful, educational, economic
and personally enriching reasons to pay more attention to our
visual arts. This is a job for anyone who is in a position to
inform the public...and that does mean the regional media! Printed
hard copy, Internet publications, radio and TV must be made to "get
it", to recognize that creative acts of art making have
a positive effect on the self view and economy of our region.
Interest in art culture can link us and strengthen our communities
just like sports and politics.
It seems that along side of increased interest in the many
outlying cultures of Earth due to flow of information on the
Internet and in the media, there is also a national awakening
of interest in “things regional”. These include such elements
as area cuisine, characteristic food production, local film and
cultural events, a drawing together of smaller economies and
group marketing, a seeking of distinctive regional color and
character. In regional interest areas, including art making,
are we all to be alike, to look, act and think like persons from
outside our communities? Where should we blend and where should
we remain unique?
Instead of travelers and the curious merely seeing the same major
artists in the cookie cutter collections of large museums, there
is always the interest in finding unique and distinguishing specifics
of regions. What sets them apart? What can we learn that is different
and even inspiring? After all, do we travel to find the same
thing that one can find back home?
To those who visit us from the outside, we are the exotic and
interesting...unless we ourselves are cookie cutter creations.
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