It was about half way through our Opening Party at the Pointe-St-Charles Art School that I happened to notice my friend Oswald. He shows up at most arts events in town but it is not always easy to spot him. He has a way of blending in with the crowd. Although he has been away for some time, I was half expecting him, and I must say it felt particularly good to see him there because it has been so long.
Slipping through the crowd – and it was a big turnout – I found myself once again in the company of one of my dearest friends. He was neither drinking nor eating, although there was plenty of refreshment on hand, but quietly watching a few people working on a group mural that our program director, Barry MacPherson had started for everyone to join in on.
It seems he had been there quite a while because he said he had speaking with Barry. He liked our new space and all we are managing to do here. “You do land on your feet, don’t you?”
I blushed – he has seen some of my more spectacular “somersaults” but also knows that I don’t give up easily when I’m involved with a good idea. “This is wonderful and it is going to succeed”, he said. “The Pointe needs this place – Montreal needs this place – the world needs this place. Ghandi said (he loves Ghandi), ‘Be the change you want to see in the world.’
“That is it, Oswald!” I relplied with fervour. “We, all of us here at the school, want the world to be beautiful and civilized and kind and just and refined and mysterious and lovely and deep and graceful and exciting and truthful and real and always remain a little unknown. And we know that even though that’s a tall order, art is one of the best ways to get even close.
Oswald replied, “It appears to me to that is what’s going these days among the best artists I come across. And from the sound of things, it seems like you’re on the same track here. It’s not going to be easy to begin with – you have to be bold and brave to start a venture like this but once it gets going, it will have a life of its own – like the best art does.” He glanced around, “Everyone looks so happy in this place, don’t they?”
My daughter Elizabeth who had been helping me all day tapped me on the shoulder to tell me she needed help keeping up with the wine glasses and snacks. I turned my attention to our guests – some laughing and smiling – others deep in serious discussion, all enjoying themselves.
When I looked over my shoulder to add one last thing, Oswald was gone. I didn’t have time to think again about our conversation until much later when I was driving home. I realized, after a busy and delightful evening in conversation with so many people, that many had said much the same thing but in different words.
Parents expressed how they wished for interesting and stimulating art instruction for their kids, knowing how important it is to capture their imaginations early and teach them the value of art and the expressive tool that it is. People who hadn’t done much art in years were saying they wanted to take it up again – people who said to me they really wanted to learn something, not just splash around. Others said they wanted to find out how to express themselves through art. Teenagers who siad they wanted to learn to draw so they could make graphic comic books.
There were so many people there, art critics, art students, local artists, teachers and professors, dear friends and neighbours, movers and shakers in the neighbourhood offering their enthusiastic support. It was wonderful.
Here are a just a few photos of our inaugural event – our plan is to have many more – parties, film nights, workshops and more. You can find more on our Facebook page. Stay tuned to this blog and our website for lots of exciting news, ideas, information and thoughts about art.