Chances are, when you think about the J, the first word that comes to your mind is probably not “art.” But, perhaps it could be.
Art is all around us.
First stop: the ECC. They are art-a-holics down there! The amount of art these young people create is astonishing. The moment they can sit up unassisted, they are finger painting. As they grow, so does their artwork. Paper cuttings, hand-painted prints in the style of author, Eric Carle’s The Hungry Caterpiller, Dr. Seuss and Cat in the Hat themed crafts . . . our young artist’s tackle them all. Entering the ECC lobby, there is a beautiful graphic of a tree with two young readers underneath. Also, just last year, a beautiful installation led by Program Specialist, Nicholas Tavares, was created on the window of the lobby. It was also of a tree, but in the style of Tim Burton, with black swirls of branches dotted with vibrant, decorative colors. Using trees to fill an Early Childhood Center is an ideal metaphor to me of what the ECC represents: children, growing their roots in a nurturing environment, which will eventually extend into branches, embodying Judaism, community, and a lifelong love of learning.
Next, I strolled through our beautiful rotating ArtSpace and Showcase exhibits, located just off the main lobby. The ArtSpace is one of my favorite parts about the J, which taps into community artists. When the ArtSpace was created, I thought I knew nothing about art, and I was nervous about working with the talented and knowledgeable artists on the ArtSpace committee. Six years later, I have come to realize that art is for everyone. We are all knowledgeable about art, because we see it and internalize it in our own ways. I may not be able to talk about this artist’s point of view and how it is reminiscent of a famous artist, but I can look at a piece of art and share what I see, and more importantly, how it makes me feel.
I then walked down to the fitness center. I thought about how earlier this year, the fitness center received a facelift. I remembered several discussions about the colors for the wall, and the mood those colors invoke . . . Hello, Art! Choosing the words and phrases to keep us engaged and motivated while we are exercising . . . yup, there’s Art again. Art doesn’t always come framed. Sometimes it comes in orange and grey stripes or large vinyl letters in the background, reminding us to keep going and to achieve our goals.
Inspired now, I walked back to my office, but stopped in another hallway full of art. About two years ago, a long rectangular package arrived, with a wonderful gift inside – gorgeous posters, each with a Jewish quote and a drawing of what that quote means to the artist. It’s a gift that keeps on coming; we now have about two dozen posters lining the wall between the fitness center and the main lobby. I encourage you to read a few on your next visit.
Then, as I made my way back to my desk, I saw a group of three-year-olds from the ECC entering the ArtSpace. The class walked all around, pointing out the different colors and talking about the art. I loved listening in as they talked about what they saw and engaged together around the art. Their imagination, creativity, and joy was contagious. Here at the J, art is all around us.