Shaping the art and soul of my community

“Bit by bit, putting it together…
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art.
Every moment makes a contribution, every little detail plays a part.
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution:
Putting it together – that’s what counts!”

sculpture CCP Madeline WienerSondheim. What a wordsmith. And any actor who’s done a Sondheim piece knows the unique meter of his words – as I read the lyrics above (“Putting It Together” from “Sunday In the Park With George”), I did it note for note (Sondheim fans will get the joke).

OK, enough about writing for the micro-audience. I’m on a much bigger mission here.

I want you to think about art.

What does that word say to you? A picture on the wall? A sculpture? A song? A live stage drama? An interpretive dance? A humorous blog?

Now let’s take it a step further. What does art do for you? Inspire? Calm? Recharge? Provide an escape? Amuse?

Let’s all agree that art has an effect on every soul it touches. Books have saved lives, songs have captured moments and emotions, cartoons have expressed political rebellion, dance has given us grace, portraits have invited compliments. All have prompted thought and conversation.

Now let’s visit a much darker scene.

We could be living in a place devoid of art.

Mural Aquatic Bob HernandezTheaters could go dark. No stages would mean no dances or recitals. Roundabouts would be flat. Walls would be boring. And the only singing might be the occasional National Anthem, a beautiful song, but not to replace the wide variety of music we’re used to.

There are those among us who believe every penny of municipal money should be spent on public services they consider important, such as streets, housing, traffic, infrastructure and taking care of the poor. All noble services.

But what the blinder-wearing critics don’t see is that all of those services benefit from an art component.

When you’re driving down the freeway, do you notice the subtle patterns stamped into the concrete sound walls? You can tell where you are depending on the art. And housing? We paint buildings different colors, but a splash of something nontraditional really catches the eye and lifts spirits. Infrastructure? Doesn’t that mean a foundation for the best quality of life we can get? And stewardship for those less fortunate should be a given, from not just city sources but from our own pockets, to make sure everyone has a place to life and food to eat. Sometimes art is the only bright light for those struggling to get through life.

But an equal responsibility for all of us, and most of all, our leaders is to also support the aesthetics of our community. Sculptures at the trailheads. Murals in the downtown gathering places. Music at every assembly. Colors and sounds, emoting and creating is essential to human growth and nurturing everywhere.

Southern HotelWhat many fail to see is that in the tangled web of municipal finance, arts funding is very small, but traditionally spent to get the best benefit for all. It’s also funding that doesn’t impact other funding – money spent on art doesn’t deprive roads or food pantries or senior programs. And if the funds come from grants, they may be restricted only to arts and are not available for those other purposes.

Now you may not think that those voices can influence the decision makers, especially if they are small in number.

Wrong. They killed the art in the Newhall roundabout.

Short-sightedness like theirs makes arts administrators cringe when a creative, locally-sourced project is killed because of squeaky wheels and not the project’s merits.

Artists of all disciplines are not without fault. They did not fill the Council chambers to stand up for their fellow creatives.

Lucky for us, we have a second chance. The Santa Clarita City Council has brought a consultant aboard to assess the arts picture (pun intended) and listen to the people express what they want to see in our city. All of the people, squeaky wheels, starving artists, creative musicians, enlightened painters, singers, dancers, actors, comedians, poets and artistic types. Everyone.

“Small amounts, adding up to make a work of art.
First of all you need a good foundation, otherwise it’s risky from the start.
Takes a little cocktail conversation, but without the proper preparation,
Having just a vision’s no solution, everything depends on execution.
The art of making art – is putting it together
Bit by bit…”

There are two ways you can add your voice to support the arts – express your opinions by taking the survey online at this link: http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/

It doesn’t take long and offers the opportunity to add ideas that may not be listed in the options. Most of all, it will give you a chance to say if you want more art, less art, where you want the art, how you want to experience it, and what art you appreciate now.

This would be a good time to remind you that there are several nonprofit arts groups in existence that give of their hearts and souls to make Santa Clarita an artistic place. A few that come to mind – the Canyon Theatre Guild, the Santa Clarita Master Chorale, the Santa Clarita Artists Association, the Santa Clarita Concert Band, ARTree, the Santa Clarita Symphony, the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Festival, the Repertory East Playhouse, the Santa Clarita Youth Orchestra……well, I promised a few, but there are many more, trust me. Many of them don’t get paid to create their art and do it out of passion and the desire to make their community a better place.

The other thing you can do is come to the Arts Summit (again, info at http://arts.santa-clarita.com/arts-master-plan/), it’s on Monday, April 6 at the Activities Center (above the Aquatics Center on Centre Pointe Parkway) from 6:30 to 8. There will be a panel discussion and breakout groups to narrow down what is important to all. It’s a one-night, short time commitment to improve the arts outlook for our future – and the future of our children, grandchildren and visitors.

Oh yeah, tourism helps pay for some of those essential services too – so let’s make sure there’s some culture for people passing through and stopping for a day or two.

Join me and do something to make sure we’re not living in boring beige concrete canyons, please?

And thank you for reading while I express myself artistically.

“The art of making art is putting it together” (jazz hands)

Above: art commissioned by the City of Santa Clarita. Girl and dog sculpture at Canyon Country Park by Madeline Wiener, Aquatics Center mural by Bob Hernandez, Old Town Newhall mural by Frank Rock

 

 

Third time’s the charm, right?

February 11, 2015

Beginning again.

It’s like getting back on the bike or the horse or behind the wheel after a disastrous crash in which you were the casualty. But the muse within can only stay inside so long.

I am a writer. Not just because I have this uncanny ability to make fingers match keys that make things found in dictionaries and more often than not, fall into an AP style cadence.

Not because I made a living (kind of) as a working journalist and news director for 20 years.

Not because I embrace sayings like “punctuation, then quotations” or “people who, things that” as my mantras.

No, it has something to do with my love affair with words. They express. They embellish. They soften. They comfort. They confront.

“Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” is another literary tattoo. That and “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Yeah, I’ve always been a skeptic, long before my English teacher in high school said that I was a pretty good wordsmith. That character trait helped me when I embarked on a non-writing career arc of trying to be a cop. I studied law enforcement when I started college in 1971. Worked for LAPD for a while as a police cadet (the first female to do so, btw). Added pre-law to my studies when the physical part of trying to be a cop challenged me. Stopped chasing sirens and dead bodies for several years as an academic and instead pursued them with a reporter’s notebook. Decided to finish the college thing after a 32-year hiatus and got a degrees with a focus on writing.

Yup. Took that long to come to my senses.

This isn’t my first blog. I used to despise bloggers because I was a newspaper columnist, which I thought held me to a pretty high standard. I had followers. Some have become close friends. To me, bloggers had no accountability and I was responsible for my media outlet’s credibility. Captain America wasn’t the only one with a big shield and superpowers.

I softened my stance when my daughter became engaged the first time, launching a blog named “MOB Mentality” – as in Mother of the Bride. It was a way for me to wax poetic about a special time in our lives and hopefully let others know that if I could laugh at my experience, so could they. You might think that it was a freeing experience and in many aspects, it was, but it was also confining. In difficult situations, I refrained from expressing my true feelings so as to spare those people creating the problem. I found that to be more confining than enjoyable, so when the nuptials took place, I closed down the blog.

The kids divorced a year and a half later. Thankfully, the blog had nothing to do with it.

I stayed out of the blogging game with two subsequent engagements – that of my son and my daughter’s second engagement. Both of them are now married to people who make them blissfully happy and that’s how I want it to be.

During my degree pursuit, I had to blog for a class (a limited audience). Being fond of attention, I didn’t get nearly enough to make it worth my while, so that one was abandoned too. What can I say, sometimes I can be like the people I used to cover.

That’s not what I have planned for this blog. Bring on the world.

Thankfully, blogs today have evolved into credible and helpful sources. As newspapers, radio and television resources consolidate, thanks to America’s corporate greed, blogs have risen to fill the void. I find myself reading many of them daily, taking bits and pieces of knowledge, humor and life.

The title, Rockbottomreminders, is homage to my former newspaper column, which was entitled Rock Bottom. The reminder part is another attempt to let people know that my observations aren’t too far off from what they might be thinking or believing. It’s also close to the name of a defunct musical group, the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose musicians have included amazing writers Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Matt Groening, among others. They played their last gig in 2012. Their rock and roll lives forever on YouTube.

That said, I hope this gives me a little more discipline, something freelance writers struggle with constantly. At least I do. It will give me a chance to poke the bear with the proverbial stick while letting the muse pour forth her thoughts, opening the common jugular vein that pounds life into every writer. Hopefully people will comment. I promise not to use bad language if they don’t.

To this table, I bring the perspective of a baby boomer; raised in the ‘50s and ‘60s, I am AARPs favorite target. I am poised at the corner of Reinvention and Renaissance and know now how my mother’s perspective changed when she reached her 60s. You tend not to care quite as much about being careful, filters don’t work as well as they had to in the past and your audience learns more about the real you.

I’m going to cover politics, arts, consumerism, lifestyle and, one of my favorite phrases from junior high civics, “man’s inhumanity to man.” Sadly that’s still a daily dilemma.

I may make peace with the Oxford comma.

I might touch on religion (disclosure: lapsed Catholic with some great stories), will definitely mention Disney and I am an unabashedly proud pittie mama.

I abhor breed-specific legislation, discrimination and lima beans.

I believe we should have a reasonable expectation that our elected officials will do what we ask them to and be held to the consequence of being removed from office if they don’t.

And I can’t wait to hear what interests you.

Let’s make this a mutual learning experience, shall we?

Here we go……