The Way I See It: The arts make life sweeter

The arts, as well as sports, make a community a better place to live, and enriches all of a community's residents

I am a big fan of art. On a small scale I would call myself a collector and have paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs in our home that bring immense pleasure. Art feeds my soul and my travel mementos always include a piece of art.

As time goes on I become clearer on what I like, which influences purchases. As a young woman I didn’t want to offend anyone with my comments so said I liked everything, but that is not so.

That is what is great about art, what one person sees in a painting may not be what the other does.  The emotions that art can stir for us can be comforting or disturbing  and the range between and all of that is healthy.

I was disappointed that our recent arena referendum did not include the art gallery and museum. The cultural plan is to be in place first, then an advisory committee will begin their work.  To me as a citizen it feels like it is taking an exceptionally long time.

The arts can be like that for many — secondary, perhaps fluff.  Arenas, hockey, sports, people can easily identify with that need but art?

The Performing Arts Centre has been a tremendous success for this community. The group behind its development fought hard to get on the referendum years ago with what is now Kal Tire Place. And the Performing Arts Centre proved to be viable.

The beauty of life is we can have many likes and passions. My darling loves hockey, is a former player and a crazy Canucks fan.  He also loves art, and we visit the gallery, always check out artists’ displays in the local shops, on our travels and find great pleasure in enjoying many forms of art from music, photographs, written word, etc.  Art is in our world in many forms. Dance is a great artistic form and there are some athletic endeavours that would rate up there with their sheer beauty of movement.

My darling and I are average citizens and we average citizens benefit from arts and culture and healthy living opportunities, in that healthy living is art feeding our creativity, our intellect and pleasure.

Years ago I was really struggling with living in Vernon; this community was not my choice to live in but Gord’s. A couple years after he died I thought, “what am I doing here?” I looked to moving to Nelson and to Victoria. Both would require starting over, and worse, packing and moving, and fitting into a new community both personally and professionally. So I decided I needed to find ways to like Vernon.

The arts community made a huge difference for me. I would attend Headbones openings in the original gallery above Brenda Hala’s studio, then go over to the Vernon Public Art Gallery’s opening, as they occurred on the same evening. I started going to more concerts, music jams, attending the gallery and feeding my “artistic soul.” I made some great friends who continue to be a part of my life today.

What was missing was colour in my life, and that’s how the arts in Vernon helped me to appreciate what a great community this is.

I really hope that we make the cultural plan a real focus for 2016, and a big thank-you to all the artists and those behind the scenes who are committed to improving arts and culture in Vernon. You are very much appreciated.

Michele Blais has worked with children and families in the North Okanagan for the past 29 years. She is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star, appearing every other Sunday.



Vernon Morning Star