MICHAEL HARVEY: Programs’ future shouldn’t hinge on one wordI have some concerns over the Grand Forks City Council’s debates about the role of art in our community.
By: Michael Harvey, Grand Forks Herald
GRAND FORKS — I have some concerns over the Grand Forks City Council’s debates about the role of art in our community.
As I understand the question, some people are questioning the regranting of funds through the North Valley Arts Council to other organizations.
The question appears to be about the sense that “art” is not a part of the grant recipients’ mission statements. Mountainbrooke Recovery Center, the LISTEN Center and facilities for older people in Grand Forks were mentioned.
I have personal experiences with these organizations.
Our daughter, Wendy, was diagnosed in 1977 with juvenile Batten disease, a degenerative brain and nervous system disease. Batten disease first gave Wendy seizures, then took her sight, gait, speech and mobility before leading to her death at age 22 in 1988.
But while Wendy was alive, LISTEN’s Drop In center gave her an outlet through their various art programs and projects.
Wendy brought home many pieces of her homemade art. Her pride of accomplishment superseded anything we had experienced with her for some time.
One woman, Kathy, at LISTEN Drop In took Wendy under her wing in a one-on-one relationship.
The thought that other families of children with special needs might be deprived of this opportunity for their children to learn, grow and express themselves through art because the word “art” does not appear in their mission statement is beyond my comprehension.
Art is more than a painting hanging in a museum. Artists do not have to wear a beret and speak French to benefit from the satisfaction of accomplishment.
I spoke with people and their art at Mountainbrooke during their showing at an Art and Wine Walk.
With every word they spoke about their art and what it means to them, I heard our daughter’s voice before disease took that ability away.
Even when totally blind, Wendy experienced tactile arts with sculpture and fabric.
Now, the council is thinking of denying that joy of discovery and acceptance through art to others?
Recently members from Tufte Manor and Valley Memorial Homes were engaged in an art project headed up by Susan Hanson and Terri Berg.
The reception for these older artists drew a big crowd, with family members expressing how much this meant to their older relatives and to themselves as well.
At 73, my wife and I would hate to miss a possible chance to follow in our daughter’s artistic footsteps because of the lack of the word “art” in a mission statement.
NoVAC is a wonderful organization. The Grand Cities Art Fest draws artists and art lovers from a wide area. The Art and Wine Walks provide a tremendous venue for artists and draw people to our restored cities
And the North Dakota Museum of Art gives everyone a chance to view renowned art.
Now, what about budding artists with special needs or who are entering a new time in their lives?
Will they be denied an artistic outlet for the lack of a word?
After serving in the Army, Harvey worked in sales and created his own software development company, Dakota Shores. He is now retired.