Guest column: Exciting time for the arts in Tahoe
May 25, 2017
Recently I was confronted with an objection to the floating Tahoe Public Art piece proposed and approved to be off the beach at the Ski Run Marina in South Lake Tahoe, Aug. 22-31 (preceded by its presence off the Commons Beach in Tahoe City, Aug. 4-13).
The objection was that lower-income folks wouldn't be able to view the installation, and therefore it should be off Lakeview Commons Beach. I totally agreed in concept, but stated there are many factors involved, like legalities, scheduling and practicalities (required depth for the barge, viewing distance, etc) that Tahoe Public Art can't control but must manage.
Being a strong advocate of the arts for 32 years in Tahoe, I am accustomed to opposing viewpoints on all issues, so I did my best to find out why the objection wasn't neutralized with "better some than none" get to experience the work and its consequent edification.
Unfortunately, this objection was firmly planted in the premise that everyone must be able to view the artwork or it shouldn't be made available. Even the facts that funding is private and from grants, the installation is temporary, and the space is being donated to some degree (if not fully) by Ski Run Marina (and the list goes on), there was no swaying the opinion.
The idealism of "all or nothing" might be noble but wasn't rooted in anything tangible, and that's frightening when it comes to even broader issues than this local installation offering a unique presentation of environmental concerns, cultural enrichment and unique creativity.
What ultimately concerned me was the lack of understanding that this installation and the arts, in general, have real power to inform and inspire and that a personal animus toward those who have "more" is separate from what matters for education, inspiration, courage (risk taking) and wisdom that all develop from such free presentations. Mandating that everyone be able to visit and experience something or it won't be made available is frightening.
How about museums that are free but not in a great location? Not one can claim 100 percent attendance from its own local populace. The objection is lost on me.
In any case, I encourage everyone who hasn't read the article referencing this floating installation to read the Tribune story (http://bit.ly/2recpqj) and just consider how amazing it is that such an exhibit is coming to our shores for free (and is viewable via the beach, marina, paddleboard or swimming) to expand our imaginations on a multitude of fronts and potentially inspire our kids and visitors to take the arts, science and culture seriously, especially here in Tahoe.
Reading the complete article will also update you on other related art movements and happenings in the area that are open for all willing to engage. It's very exciting to see the arts reaching across and around Big Blue once again!
Robert Schimmel is the publisher of Lake Tahoe Art Scene (laketahoeartscene.com/), co-founder of Tahoe Arts Alliance and a board member of the Tahoe Art League (www.talart.org/).