|A docent discusses a work by Alma Thomas (behind) at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. |
Photo courtesy of the Nasher Museum of Art Flickr.
Happy nearly spring! Most of us "sprung forward" this weekend, meaning we'll be out of the winter doldrums soon (though I know my colleagues this blog's sponsor, Davis Publications, may not feel that way, having received almost two feet of snow a few days ago. Sorry guys.) In honor of the most hopeful time of year, here are several uplifting stories that will make arts advocates smile.
- Last November the city of Portland, OR voted to implement an arts tax to support art education in their city. The tax has now gone into effect; it will collect a total of over $12 million a year that will go to art teacher salaries and nonprofits supporting arts education. The tax will cost Portlanders $35 per year - not much considering all the benefits of arts education. Bravo, Portland - this investment in your future will pay significant dividends for years go come. I hope other cities will follow suit!
- Are you familiar with the work of artist Alma Thomas? Her punchy, colorful abstract paintings are some of my favorites. Behind her painting and her successful career as an artist were 35 years as an art teacher in the Washington, DC public schools. From 1924-1960, Thomas taught at Shaw Junior High, and worked to incorporate African American History into her art classes. Today we know this as arts integration, but considering that she retired from teaching in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement her practice must have been radical at the time. (If you'd like to see Thomas' artwork, here's a painting from The Phillips Collection; one from The Studio Museum in Harlem, and one from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)
- By the way, I'm not the only one who is a fan of Alma Thomas. In 2009 the Obamas selected two paintings by Alma Thomas to hang in the White House during there residence at our nation's most famous address. This New York Times piece from 2009 has more information on Thomas' trajectory from art teacher to famous artist, as well as images of other works the Obamas selected to hang in the White House.
- Finally, a friendly reminder that Arts Advocacy Day is coming! April 8-9 arts advocates will descend on DC to speak up for the arts in the halls of Congress. Cellist Yo-Yo Ma is giving the Nancy Hanks Lecture on April 8. Ma is a member of the Presidents' Committee on the Arts and Humanities, a public-private coalition that seeks to advance the arts nationally; he is participating in the Committee's Turnaround Arts initiative that uses the arts as a tool to transform schools in need.