Friday, March 20, 2009

Daydreaming on a Street in New Orleans

Ever since I was a little girl I would pass by abandoned building and dream about what kind of art center could be there. Anything bigger than a outhouse was fair game. I am still not over those fantasies.

While in New Orleans, walking to the Historical New Orleans Collection everyday, we passed by this lovely building for sale.It was around the corner from our B&B 1870 Banana Courtyard where we stayed. It was just down the street from another beautiful B&B where lots of famous people stay, like Oprah and Brad Pitt. I know nothing about it except after peeking in a Realtors window downtown, I can only guess it costs a couple million or so. This building appears to be enormous and majestic I noticed, just walking by.

Isn't it time for another artistic utopia? Here is my fantasy. The artists responsibility would be to produce art they want to produce and not worry about money during that time.

We build a new art center that is all inclusive. It is non profit (that part is easy, I know someone who has one and is looking for a good project and want to know what artist in Oklahoma want).
Well, we want a place to go and work in one of the most exotic cities in the United States.

The center is for all types of artists. Potters, writers, painters, woodworkers, actors and play writers, sculptors, weavers, musicians, film makers, chefs or want to be chefs. Any kind of "art"you can think of. The only requirement is that it be used by creative, ambitious positive thinkers with lots of ideas and the enthusiasm to make it happen.

It is for all level of artists where information can be exchanged, passed on and discovered. There would be all kind of information exchanged between the arts. Everything inclusive and communication encouraged. Art/business workshops could be held to help artists return to the real world.

There would be absolutely no discrimination of any type. Old, young, all races, all countries, all levels of all arts. Except for negative nellies. No whining out loud, no dumping on others without there permission.

There would be an incredible art library. Books, videos, computer access and an assistant to help you figure out how to find the info and maintain it. That person would also be a community resource person to tell you what is going on in the community now and also a historian who knows the history of artists of all types who have lived and produced in New Orleans.

The food would be fantastic, leaning on local chefs, giving them a chance to enjoy cooking and be paid and teach a bit as well. Emphasis would be on healthy food with occasional gluttonous desserts and or fine wines and cheeses. Again, part of our zest for life, learning and living well.

Yoga, stretching and meditation available and encouraged once a day or more.

Community outreach would also be necessary. Local kids who don't know about art could come and learn with us on a regular basis. Mentors, just a few at a time. And, artists doing a payback going out to the poorest of schools in New Orleans with big cans of paint and lots of canvas. Or clay or food to cook. Or all the above.

Workshops of course in every area scheduled continuously. Writers of all sorts. All arts areas, all levels. And all possible financially for artists to afford, either by in kind service or grants or if you have it, cash.

We could make this a refuge for artist in Oklahoma. We need the inspiration and the freedom and the colors you feel when you come to New Orleans. The place looked big enough to house lots of people at once and what a great escape it could be in the winter and lovely sweat time in the summer.

I always wanted to participate as have many in art experiences like the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald had. In college, hanging out in the art departments and with creative writing students I expected this to happen eventually. Well, you have kids and jobs and no trust fund and you give yourself to your art life and make a little cash, enough to get by and then time flies. If we don't dream of these things they will never happen and I am getting old as dirt, said the potter.

I have had many wonderful art experiences and I want more. I love the connections between the visual arts and literature. I would also encourage art groups to come and work at the art refuge. People could work individually or as groups or both. There could be time for quiet thinking and time for the group interdisciplinary ideas as well.

I have many more ideas out this lovely building and there is not room for by laws at the moment or mission statements or any of that stuff. It is just dreams, day dreams, visions and positive thinking.
I guess you gotta start small and I will go back to my funny little garage in the ally and work with my friends and students and hang some mardi gras beads outside my front door and paint the pick nick table in some really wild colors and make more art.

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