An art museum as a place of meaning in a time of senselessness

An art museum as a place of meaning in a time of senselessness

 

Hussan Martin, Husana Martin, Alex White, Autumn Jones, Kaden Jones

• August 29, 2015

Last week, I wrote a little on the senseless shootings outside the Boys & Girls Club. I learned some heal through spiritual community. A ray of light on 595 Frost Avenue While others find respite in the camaraderie of basketball. Back to normalcy at Cobb’s Hill basketball

Last week, I also enjoyed a delightful evening of fine art, soft jazz, and white wine at the Memorial Art Gallery. Thoughts on why the carousel panel belongs in the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia  The two worlds–the rougher part of Genesee Street and the elegant part of University Avenue–may seem like planets apart.

But not today. In response to the shootings, the MAG opened its doors free of charge. Instead of admission, the MAG collected voluntary contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Rochester.

Director Jonathon Binstock interviewed by Channel 8 News

As explained to me by Director Jonathon Binstock, art (like basketball and faith) is an expression of what it means to be human. A way for people to communicate sympathy, hope, fear, anger, and transcendence. As Binstock says, “In times of joy and in times of tragedy, art museums can offer communities a beautiful and peaceful setting in which to gather.”

At about 450, today’s gathering was quite large for a pleasant Saturday afternoon. Most people told me they specifically came to support the Boys & Girls Club and those victimized by the tragedy. A group of Canadian tourists said the event was incentive to add the museum to their itinerary. And donations were generous (over $2500).

The Sherman family from Fairport (pictured) came to show solidarity, noting the sad irony that a shooting would happen outside an organization designed to help children. Two Girl Scout leaders from the Lincoln Library Avenue D troop brought two Daisies for their first ever museum visit.

The Sherman’s from Fairport

Also a first for young Hussan Martin, taken by his mother Hasana. Hasana grew up in the Jefferson/Colvin area, now living for 6 years on University Avenue. She ruefully observed that most kids from the Boys & Girls Club don’t even know the MAG exists, adding that “all city kids should get to see the museum.”Autumn Jones, who learned of the day from the UR’s Council of Diversity, wanted her son Kaden to gain exposure to art at an early age. Having grown up in the 19th Ward and now living in Greece, Autumn wished more people from the directly effected neighborhoods had come.

Alex White, Green Party City Council candidate for the South District that includes the Boys & Girls Club, made a lengthy appearance. White appreciated the MAG opening its doors to all.  And, the outpouring of moral support and monetary contributions that can only benefit his (hoped for) constituents. Channel 8 and Channel 10 were there. At six and eleven catch an interview with Dr. Binstock. Green Party candidate Alex White offers plans to reduce violence

It was an uplifting afternoon, a kind gesture on behalf of the MAG that hit the mark. And the new exhibit, Jacob Lawrence:The Legend of John Brown Portfolio excellent.

Contributions to the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester

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About The Author

dkramer3@naz.edu

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, and the CITY.  My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.

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