artists only

    from theCommunity Arts Center
March 2014

Art in Schools: Why is Mediocrity Acceptable?


I sat down to help my daughter Jillian, an artistically inclined first grader, with some math homework. This particular task had me more than a bit baffled. To solve a subtraction problem, the assignment had her first removing ten from the larger number and then splitting up the smaller number into two smaller digits and then subtracting each of those numbers from ten... or something like that. It was a VERY roundabout way to solve a fairly simple subtraction problem. I could hardly wrap my head around the concept. It slowly began to sink in: the kids of first grade are doing pre-pre-algebra.  

Algebra. I can only think of a few times in life where algebra has actually been of use. I'm sure there are subtle ways in which algebra has weaseled its way into my life skills, but I'd be hard pressed to point them out. I personally feel like knowing how to fend off an attacking shark or how to position myself to survive lightning strikes might come into play more often than algebra. And don't get me started on calculus, algebra's evil cousin.
Should this be acceptable for high school students?

Don't get me wrong, I do not have an anti-math agenda, but I am curious as to why such a high level of mastery is expected of mathematics students, while most arts classes in the public education system are based on an " 'A' because you tried," system. When asked to draw a self-portrait, a stick figure alongside a square house with triangle roof (chimney smoke optional) will more than suffice. When asked to play an instrument, a botched and squeaky version of "Hot Cross Buns" on recorder will take the cake.


I personally feel that math is held in such high regard among educators because it is easy to quantify. The answer is either right or wrong - there is no gray area. There are no points given for almost getting it right. Art, on the other hand is more subjective in nature. Although one can "almost" draw a tree, it is rather easy to see if the artist has succeeded in observing and drawing a convincing tree or if they have simply drawn a rudimentary symbol of a tree. In our "everybody wins" society, we want to make everybody feel good. Except in sports - because winning still matters there. And math - because you obviously have the answers right or wrong. I am afraid that we have slipped culturally (and aesthetically) to a level where we are no longer comfortable with pointing out good art, music, and writing, because most of us aren't so sure ourselves. We can't figure out how to keep score, so any attempt is a win. If everyone "succeeds" in art simply because they did the minimum amount of effort, no one will strive to rise above stick figures and smiley faces.  


Artists are perceived by the general public as "talented," a word that might as well be replaced with "magical." In the minds of most people, artists have special powers that allow them to somehow succeed in their endeavors. Some people attribute these magical skills to genetics, and that may play a small factor in their abilities, but I feel that most of an early artist's development has to do with exposure. If you show a child that art is important, that art makes a difference, and that their ideas and imagination have value, they are likely to invest more time in developing their skills. More time spent developing skills equates to (surprise, surprise) a higher level of skill. As long as we perceive artistic skill as a genetic gift, no one will ever strive to better themselves beyond their own interest level.


Of course, creativity plays a large part in what makes an artist an artist. Being able to realistically render the world around you doesn't make you an artist unless you have something more to say. Even if we had kids mastering the still life and painting like Rembrandt by third grade, we'd still be lacking art if we didn't place a value on creativity. We need to see that young artists can come up with their own ideas, provide their own voice, and reveal themselves through their work. Starting with a strong grasp of the fundamentals of the arts would allow young artists to better interpret their vision instead of reverting to ideas and concepts that fall within their skill level.


Creativity is at the forefront of most emerging careers. Creative people see the world differently from others.  While most people may see a clear solution to a problem and become frustrated and ultimately lost when their solution fails, a creative person will see any number of solutions - some logical, and some on the verge of ridiculous - and be able to choose from among the lot. When a creative person fails, they usually dust themselves off quickly and have several backup plans at the ready.


I'm not advocating that we minimize the importance of other subjects in school, but that we rather elevate the arts to the same level of expectation that we have with such intricate subjects as math or history. The arts present a skill set that is valid and essential for survival in today's job market and developing basic skills can assist young artists in their quest for self-expression.

Brandon Long 
Brandon Long
Programming Director

Dear Friend of the Arts Center,  

Welcome to Artists Only, a newsletter produced by the Community Arts Center in Danville, Kentucky with the artistic audience in mind.
We'll keep you posted with tips from working artists and gallery curators, exhibition opportunities, and must see exhibits - all within a short drive of the bluegrass region. 
Please let us know what you think about our topics and what you'd like to see in upcoming newsletters! Email your feedback to

If you've got a great idea for a work of art that you've had stored in the corner of your mind for a while, you should make it sooner rather than later.  If you wait too long you'll see it in an art magazine with someone else's name on it..


"It's easy to attack and destroy an act of creation. It's a lot more difficult to perform one."  

Chuck Palahniuk


"It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure."  

Albert Einstein


"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you, the less you know."  

Diane Arbus


"I make art for one person and one person only. And as soon as I find that one person, I sure hope he has a lot of wall space, because he'll be getting a lot of art from me."   

Jarod Kintz


"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable."   

Robert Henri

Re: Rethink Recycling
The Community Arts Center's current exhibit, "Re," encourages our community to rethink recycling. The exhibit explores art made from recycled or repurposed materials and the impact its creation has on the artist, the arts world, our community and our environment. 
Professional artists exhibiting include but are not limited to: Connie Estes Beale, Cynthia Carr, John Dixon, Sam Greenwell, J2bad, Brandon Long, Kathleen O'Brien, Wayne Thurman, Mike Welch, Paula Whitaker and Mark Wilhelm.
Re: Rethink Recycling  


The Community Arts Center is now seeking quilters to participate in "Bluegrass Patchwork," an exhibition of wall quilts! Entries are due Saturday, May 3. Download the prospectus and entry form now.

Sculpture Trails Outdoor Museum in Solsberry, Ind. invites sculptors to submit a piece for consideration for installation at the site. Learn more.
Artists in the Danville, Ky. area are forming a plein air painters group to capture the beauty and splendor of our surrounding landscape. If you are interested in joining the group or attending any of their upcoming paint outs, please contact Pat Fretz at 859-319-2008.
Louisville Visual Art Association 
LVAA offers a micro-loan program to artists who are seeking funds to further their professional and business development. Any visual artist over 18 living in Jefferson County may apply for a loan for any purpose that furthers the applicant's professional career. Learn more

The Gloria Singletary Gallery at the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington, Ky., invites a variety of artist proposals for 4 - 8 week exhibitions. Independent curators, collaborative teams of artists and individual artists are encouraged to submit proposals for exhibition. Learn more.

The Louisville Visual Art Association (LVAA) announces the launch of Artebella, a new website and daily email that features a different Louisville-area artist's work for sale each weekday. Artebella offers an innovative program to help educate the public on visual art, build international awareness for local artists, and connect local artists to prospective individual and corporate art buyers. Artebella is about more than the individual; it has the power to change the way Louisvillians view art and how the world views Louisville artists. Any media, size, style and subject may be submitted for consideration in the program. Learn more.


In conjunction with Bluegrass Greensource and as part of a celebration of the watersheds in Lincoln County through The Watershed Festival to be held in Stanford, Ky., on June 14, 2014, First Southern Community Art Center in Stanford, KY is issuing a call to all visual artists in all media to explore the theme of Water. What inspires you about water?  Use your chosen media, (both 2-d and 3-d works are encouraged) your creative ideas and

There is a $10 fee for each entry and a maximum of 4 entries. Learn more 


The process and materials used to create a work of art are always of interest; with mixed media they are central to the work itself. The essence of the mediums, their texture and look are important parts of the message conveyed.This juried competition seeks to find the best of the layered process of "mixed media" be it paint, drawing, photography, clay, wood, found objects, fiber or whatever. Learn More

More calls to artists can be found on the Kentucky Arts Council's website.

M.S. Rezny Gallery 
Through March 29, 2014

"Fab-ri-ca-tion", a play on words in this exhibit of fabric collages by Constance Grayson. Each artwork is composed of literally hundreds of bits of vintage, hand-dyed or commercial fabric.   By layering the fabrics pieces Grayson is able to convey the impression of shading as a painter would do with paint. Her fabric "paintings" are bold interpretations of color, form and texture observed in nature "..."Fabrication" is descriptive of both the end piece of work and the process by which it is made-that interplay between a word as a noun and the same word as a verb." Learn More




University of Kentucky Art Museum

Through May 11, 2014

A selection of works on paper depicting a range of subliminal subjects-from angelic dreams to violent nightmares, and everything in between. A wide variety of styles and media by international artists working in the late nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries are included. Admission is free. Learn more

Frist Center, Nashville
Through May 11, 2014

The Frist Center will be the first museum to present Looking East: Western Artists and the Allure of Japan. The exhibition explores the fruitful encounter between East and West by showing Japanese ukiyo-e prints and decorative arts alongside the paintings and prints of Mary Cassatt, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch and the furniture of Frank Lloyd Wright. The exhibition is drawn entirely from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which has one of the finest collections of both Japanese art and American and European art of this period in the world. Learn more.  



Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati

February 28 - August 18, 2014

Buildering is a term coined for the unsanctioned use of architecture - fusing the words "building" and "bouldering" to describe a rapidly growing movement that reformulates how we live the city. Beyond acrobatics, vandalism and occupation, this practice becomes a metaphor for the creative misuse of built structure - denying the assigned/intended function of urban structures to re-open the possibility of alternatives. If we believe the premise thatideologies are implanted through the public's navigation of the city plan, then actions associated with buildering break the hypnosis of ritual and cultivate new freedoms - both physical and psychological. Learn more




Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea
March 1 - Sept. 6, 2014

As today's world mass produces more and more goods, there are increasing amounts of discarded and leftover items and materials. Artists often see these discards as a great source of materials and inspiration, and use them to create new and exciting artwork. Learn more.  


Georgetown College 
Permanent Collection
The Dr. Donald L. and Dorothy Jacobs Gallery at Georgetown College includes modern and contemporary works of art by international, national and regional artists, along with an outstanding collection of antiquities. Visitors will enjoy works of art by:
* Djawid Borower 
* Louise Bourgeois 
* Dale Chihuly 
* Christo 
* Thornton Dial 
* Helen Frankenthaler 
* Ernesto Gutierrez 
* Jasper Johns 
* Judy Pfaff 
* Robert Rauschenberg 
* Frank Stella 
* Andrew Wyeth 
* Georgetown College students, alumni and faculty 
The gallery includes antiquities from China, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Indonesia, Liberia, Palestine, Peru, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. Learn more.
Community Arts Center Danville
401 West Main Street
Open to the public:
Wednesdays - Fridays: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturdays: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. 

Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Find us on Pinterest

Kentucky Arts Council

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, provides operating support to the Community Arts Center with state tax dollars and federal funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Copyright � 2013. All Rights Reserved.