Thursday, May 17, 2007

Beyond the Job, Part 4: Arts and Crafts

Crafty Brian Tolle
Brian Tolle gets crafty
This is the final part to my report on the Leadership Ann Arbor Quality of Life Day. You might want to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 first.

In the final part of our whirlwind tour of the vast cultural and entertainment possibilities in the Ann Arbor area, we first stopped in at The Ark. The Ark is a music venue right on Main Street in downtown Ann Arbor. It specializes in acoustical presentations and, as such, is a haven for traditional and folk music in the area.

According to our host, Barb Chaffer-Authier, back in 1965, a group of churches decided to set up a haven for students in the community free of drugs and alcohol which would expose the youth to music poetry and art. Over the ensuing forty years, the Ark has gone through many incarnations, but has remained true to the ideal of presenting great music to the Ann Arbor community. The 400 seat venue has performances almost 300 nights a year. Remarkably tickets range between $11 and $30. Some shows are even free.

Check out their website for more information about upcoming acts and opportunities to volunteer your time. What? Yes, I said "volunteer". After all, the Ark is a nonprofit organization and much of what they accomplish is partially due to the over 200 volunteers who help with everything from concessions to sound production.

After we left the Ark, we headed around the corner to the Ann Arbor Arts Center. I had probably walked past this place a thousand times without it coming to my notice. I'm glad Russ and Ron finally led me through the door!

The Center, around since 1909, has as it's mission "to engage the community in education, exhibition, and exploration of the visual arts." It houses an exhibition space, an art store, and, upstairs, a series of classrooms where students of all ages get to learn about the visual arts and to explore their own creativity. In our case, we were given the opportunity to express ourselves through glazing ceramics.

What a lot of fun!

Bree Jacobs: Art teacher
Bree Jacobs, our teacher
I haven't had an art class since high school. Sitting there with the other Leadership folks and chatting as we worked on our personal masterpieces, I was, for a time, transported back to my childhood. Our teacher at the Center, Bree Jacobs, gave us some brief instruction on the technical issues involved with adding color to plain, white ceramic, but otherwise stepped back to let us do our thing.

I'm not going to tell you what I did. I'll receive the finished piece in June when I graduate from Leadership. Then I'll present it as it should be presented -- visually.

So, that was it for our final full day of Leadership. We will still get together next month for our graduation, but this session is basically done. After that I will have to take some time to look back at the process to see how I've changed. For now, though, I'd have to say that the whole thing was definitely worth it. If you have the opportunity (and you do) I'd highly recommend you check it out.

So, when was the last time you had "art class"?

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