Several of my high school teachers made lasting impressions on me, and one of them was the band director — even though I wasn’t in the band. However, he did teach two “zero hour” classes that each lasted six weeks, and one of them was on music appreciation. Another was on art appreciation.
He applauded those of us who got to school an hour early to enrich ourselves through these elective classes, which also included segments as diverse as philosophy, anthropology, comparative religions, and drafting.
But in art appreciation class, our band director stressed that it is important for every adult to have a basic understanding of how and why talented folks express themselves through art. It’s not good enough, he said in a soundbite that lingers with me 50-plus years later, to say, “I don’t know a thing about art, but I know what I like. That’s like saying, ‘I’m ignorant and proud of it’.”
I’m fresh from a morning spent at the 21st annual Stars of Texas Juried Art Exhibit at the Depot Civic and Cultural Center, and I must say, “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” I’m sorry, Mr. Ramsey. Please don’t turn over in your grave. I should know better, and I realize it.
The Stars of Texas exhibit is 21 years old, and I covered a majority of them as editor of this newspaper. The rest of them I’ve enjoyed as a member of the community. Each show has a character of its own, and occasionally the juror brought in to judge pieces submitted for the exhibit has a distinctive concept regarding what type of art is top notch.
It’s one artist’s opinion. I’m not adverse to expanding my horizons, because I’m woefully under-educated on a subject so vast.
However, many more things seem to have fallen into place under the Stars this year. Not a single award winner, and not a single piece chosen for the exhibit, had me wondering what the juror saw in that. Kudos to the artists, and kudos to the juror, for understanding what kind of art I like, even though we’ve already established I don’t that know anything about art. But remember, I do know what I like.
I am pleased to see that these pieces won prizes, and I’m just as pleased to see that these works made the show. I’m even more pleased that it wasn’t up to me to choose which ones received cash awards. That couldn’t have been an easy task.
And because there’s room for only so many entries inside the Depot, I plan to stop by the Art Center downtown to see the Salon des Refusés exhibit, featuring works that were considered for the Stars of Texas but not chosen. I’m told that just as in previous years, you shouldn’t be surprised if you can’t discern any drop-off in quality. If you’re in the market for a special work from a local or regional artist for your home or office, you might find just what you need at either exhibit.
Over the past two decades, the Stars of Texas exhibit has helped secure Brownwood’s position as an artist-friendly community. It could not have happened without the donations of numerous sponsors and without the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers.
Supporting them is the best way the community can say “thank you.”
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.