This morning, while I wouldâ€™ve rather spent my time catching up on sleep, I found myself paint-waitressing for a Starry Night Studio painting class. And though it took a chunk out of my precious weekend, it also gave me a chance to get up-close and personal with Arts Center programming, which serves as a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.
And I need remindingâ€”working a 9 to 5 job in the upstairs of the Arts Center removes me somewhat from the action. Classes and events often happen after-hours and on weekends, and even when they happen during the day, I often donâ€™t see or hear them in my upstairs cocoon. I can type, write, or say that Starry Night Studio is fun and important all day every day, but by virtue of repetition it becomes a trite fact, stale and empty.
Luckily, all of that changed this morning, when I got a whiff of the sharp, heady scent of fantastic Arts Center programming!
Nearly everyone at todayâ€™s Starry Night Studio was a first-timer, and as such they started out cautious and unsure. When Nora showed everyone how to make the first circle for the snowmanâ€™s head, I could see everyoneâ€™s trepidation at actually making a mark on the canvas. However, as the painting came to life step-by-step, people began to relax a little bit and have fun.
As I walked around refilling paint and switching out frayed brushes, I noticed that every single personâ€™s snowman was unique; the young girl in the front row let her snowman take its own swirling dark shape, while several women in the back row were painstakingly recreating the exact details. On the other side of the row a woman was making her snowflakes red and orange, and another, after mastering the tiny bird in the snow, was considering adding another. As the class wrapped up, one person dabbed twig arms onto her snowman, which sparked a rash of hasty additions by her neighbors.
In just two hours, I witnessed a radical transformation, and not just on the canvasses. This small group of people, all of whom were nervous and intimidated by art, had become people who were effortlessly creating, engaging with art rather than shying away from it as something beyond them. This is why the Arts Center exists. This is what the Arts Center is trying to do for everyone. We want art to be an everyday part of life that anyone can take part in, not something relegated to a coffee-table book or a fine art gallery. And I saw that today. What a rush!