The Bay View Arts Guild strives to integrate art into the lives of those in the Bay View area. Through a dynamic interaction between artists and the community, BVAG provides a resource for artists while increasing appreciation and support for all the arts through education, entertainment and community involvement. Visit our web site for more information.
Every year at this time, it happens. With a short bankroll, this artist’s life feels too sparse. Being a lover of beautiful things, I always want to give exquisite, well-made stuff at this time of giving, but no… ho, ho, ho, I have the proverbial Dom Perignon taste and a Budweiser budget (and I don’t like beer!). It’s a juxtaposition that pulls me in many directions. My thoughts are of giving exquisite jewelry, or finely made boxes, beautifully crafted ceramics, fine oils, detailed fibers, gorgeously sewn quilts, all put together lovingly and with years of skill by those with clever creativity. My bankroll makes these dreams laughable. I don’t get it. Why did I choose a life of meager compensation (art therapy doesn’t pay much), instead of doctoring, lawyering, accounting, business, or so many other more lucrative options that I poo-poohed during my years of choice? Over and over again, I opted to do what I do no matter how little the wages…
Then I have to go back to my roots:
My first memories of “art” were very early, “real” school was not there yet. The peaceful times come to mind.
My dad and I spent time at the kitchen table while I had my bedtime snack and my mother readied my little sister for bed. I’d say, “draw me a picture” and he would take the back of an envelope or scrap paper and draw our dog or one of the flowers he always had on the table - freshly picked from his beautiful garden. Some Saturdays, he would take me on his calls and to keep me occupied, he would model a form with his plumber’s putty and give the wad to me, encouraging me to try my hand at it.
My mother let me decorate the Christmas cookies with unpracticed and uncoordinated fingers, to turn her delicious nutmeg laced sugar cookies into somewhat messy, amateur works of art. Even the last year of my mother’s life she impressed upon me the necessity to finish off her prized Stollens with a poinsettia flourish (made from cut maraschino cherries) instead of just a sprinkling of nuts.
My Aunt Marge, too, painstakingly coached me through strands of colorful yarn until I could, at the age of seven or eight, crochet all by myself. I watched with great anticipation for the results of carefully placed petals which would in turn cover the “doll” cake she made for my sister and me, turning our birthdays into occasions fit for princesses.
My Uncle Felix would patiently help my dyslexic brother build from wood and would help him with his model cars—turning each one into a gleaming gem he could be proud of.
And I see my clients today…
Marge, age 92, who eagerly comes to my sessions with her best friend Gertrude, age 93, working diligently so she can go to California with gifts for her children because when she comes back she will decide when she will put an end to her painful dialysis sessions she dreads so much.
Moses, age 47, who paints, the only way he can, with his mouth, to relieve himself of the incredible boredom of a quadriplegic, with over 20 years of constantly waiting for others to do for him, he gets a chance to make choices and be the navigator.
Pam, age 52, who fights the ravages of her MS by keeping her fingers and arms strong and her brain healthy by making her exquisite gifts of handmade beads and jewelry. Each one painstakingly created with patience and thoughtfulness, making changes in her old life as a nurse that she never wanted or expected to.
Rene, age 43, who had a severely disabling stroke at the age of 38, who struggles with developing her non-dominant side. She begs others to save their aluminum pop-tops, so she can cash them in to pay for ceramics materials, the only therapy she receives now that her benefits have run dry. In turn, she dutifully saves her yogurt containers for the art room as payback, and delivers them in a borrowed wheelchair, propelling herself with her “good foot”.
O yeah, now I get it.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and may God bless you with the “I get it” moments.
~ Alice Steuck Konkel