Tonawanda News


March 7, 2013

KEPPELER: Art can take you places


Tonawanda News — More than 30 years after I bought that little notebook, I’m a writer. I’d probably one of the few people in this world who can say she become what she wanted to be when she was 6 (and probably one of fewer who’s happy about it).

But in a way, it was art that got me there.

We all know that, in these days of school aid cuts and focus on testing, it’s often the arts that get the ax. Positions aren’t filled. Teachers are required to run from building to building, juggling (sometimes physically) projects and gradebooks and mentoring hundreds of students. Things you can’t quantify or test for — like, perhaps, the effects of the arts on children’s lives — can get the short end of the stick.

I spent some hours this week both at the Carnegie Art Center, watching North Tonawanda art teachers ready the “Creative Visual Arts Student Spotlight” exhibit that opened Wednesday night, and at North Tonawanda Middle School, where I talked to a number of students about their feelings about the arts. It got me thinking about that 6-year-old girl, who would have been so thrilled to have her art represented in a real gallery. OK, it would never have made it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Louvre, or even the Abright-Knox.

But it was art, nevertheless.

We all know that those who go on to make a living strictly in the fine arts are probably relatively few. But you never know what will start a dream that may take years to pay off.

Maybe that painting got one student thinking about a story. Maybe researching the history of the Day of Dead, or so-called “ugly mugs,” caused another to start reading a new book, and touched off a fascination with history. Maybe the process interested another in the business aspects of running a gallery, or the organization necessary to pull off a successful exhibit. 

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