"…and not for five minutes will I be distracted from the wonder…"

The Westdale Monument

Deeper South,The Wonder — d-ashes on April 18, 2008 at 8:19 pm

Only a few days after the publication of the article that I linked to in my last post and Baton Rouge is facing a pretty big community art crisis. It’s a rather lengthy play-by-play, so I’ll just link to The Advocate’s article on the matter. Wgo had told me about the school board meeting and I had planned to attend but just ended up watching the meeting on public access. I turned off the proceedings before the vote on the matter, thinking that there was no way that anyone could argue with the substitute motion that was filed. Alas, it only garnered a 5-5 vote, and so the Baton Rouge school board has cleared the way for the demolition for a student-built sculpture that is listed on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s inventory of American sculptures. Culture Candy sent out a call to action, where Wgo summarized the issue as such:

Culture emerges from community; and the various artworks and attitudes that comprise culture sustain and inform the very context in which they arise. Authentic art arises from authentic community, and this art in turn models authenticity to the community. Education is one of the more conspicuous of the means by which culture is communicated and sustained; it is certainly the most conspicuous guardian of a community’s intellectual health, and in a healthy community, this intellectual well-being includes the arts and humanities.

And this is why citizens who recognize the central role of culture in a healthy community must take notice when its school board votes to destroy a public sculpture on the Smithsonian list of monuments, a sculpture built by its young people through the process of education, an artwork that has authentically arisen in the community through the very process of acculturate that community. This is more than deeply troubling. The system by which the Baton Rouge community is educated has chosen to authorize the destruction of one of the few public displays of arts in education in this town. This is pathological; this is an animal eating its own heart in an attempt at sustenance.

I’m not sure what can be done or who is going to do it, but take a look at the full Culture Candy email for their immediate suggestions (I’ve reposted it here it because their site is down right now). If education, art and community are something you value in Baton Rouge, be on the lookout for ways to help out with this. I’ll post more as I know it.

Sweet Tooth: The Art of Being Baton Rouge

Deeper South — d-ashes on April 14, 2008 at 8:45 am

My submission for the second issue of Culture Candy‘s Sweet Tooth:

“The existence of a unified, art appreciating community brings with it the notion that there is some adhesive that binds the group together, a mutual concern or vision that provides the foundation and the impetus for further growth. Both here in Baton Rouge and in my previous home of Jackson, MS, the formulation and communication of this idea seems to have been the most major obstacle to overcome in art community growth. Beg, plead and cajole the larger community into taking a more active role in appreciating the arts and many of them are going to ask a very good, necessary and deceptively simple question: why? There are innumerable ways for us to answer that question, and such is the beauty of art: there are a myriad of avenues by which one can come to commune with and appreciate it. The challenge to us is to answer it in a way that communicates a real and concrete reason across the gulf of the disconnect between our art community and our larger one.”

Read the entire article.