TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — I was fortunate to have been raised in a family that appreciated art in many forms.
My parents took the family to San Francisco several times a year to visit the Museum of Modern Art, the de Young Museum and to many small art galleries around the city.
We also were able to see performances such as Camelot and Cats, to name a few. It was important to my mother we three children were introduced to culture, being raised in a small town with little opportunities for art viewing in the early 1980s.
It was important to my father we be exposed to the creativity of art, since he was raised by a mother who lived and breathed art. My brother, sister and I went along fairly easily to all of these outings. After all, we were in San Francisco, and there were so many great things to look at on a minute-to-minute basis.
Looking back at those trips, from my adult/parent perch, I realize what was instilled in my mind at such a young age. I was truly able to walk through these huge galleries and museums, standing and viewing art pieces. I wasn’t bored. I could just stare at a Kandinsky painting until I understood it. Or look at a Pollack and love the texture the canvas held. I didn’t need extra stimulation or flashing lights to pique my interest.
I was able to sit through an entire opera or stage performance that was, often times, a bit over my head, and walk out of these performances singing the songs and discussing what we saw. I give many kudos to my parents for “forcing” my siblings and me to go to these culturally rich events and not give us a way out. This was expected. They were so excited by what we were able to see, I think it rubbed off on each of us children.
We traveled as teenagers to Europe and took in as many museums and fascinating cultural experiences as we could. As we aged, we learned to appreciate these trips more and more.
When I finally decided to major in Art at UC Santa Cruz, I had already been exposed to so many mediums it was hard for me to narrow down my focus. I enjoyed so many elements of art, which I credit to my parents and grandmother. Without this continual exposure I might have walked past this artistic path and not taken it. I majored in liberal arts, but emphasized in photography.
So now, as a parent of two artistic girls, I see how much I want to expose them to not only the traditional artworks of the likes of Matisse and Picasso, visiting the MOMA or de Young. But also have them view the off-beat art works of local artists, musicians, performing artists, lesser known artwork so they may see the variety of life. I realize how continually seeing different work gave me a broader appreciation.
It helped me be less of a critic and more of a supporter of the arts.
Fortunately, in the Tahoe-Truckee area, we have a lot of opportunities to view great art: From sculpture to paintings to performing art to music. This is a great community that supports something that is a necessity to growth for all people, from birth to death.
Give your children a chance to see a different perspective. Let them stand in awe of an art piece and digest what it means to them. Let them dance.
This is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our children.
Get your kids excited about getting out and seeing a lot of great art and performances this summer. It will be well worth your efforts for now and for their future.
For more information about Arts For the Schools, click here.
Bethany Lund is a member of the Arts For the Schools board of trustees.
“My role in society, or any artist’s or poet’s role, is to try to express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all.”