I few weeks ago I attended a dramatic reading of a theater piece at the Selma Arts Center.
I went for the same reason I always do. I love the theater — the literary and scenic creativity; the dramatic lighting, pacing and dialogue; the intensity and humor; the costumes and music and all the other reasons that draw millions of people to live theater from New York’s Broadway to London’s West End to the Selma Arts Center.
I didn’t know what to expect from a dramatic reading of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” What I got was actors in their best voices, reading a script. No set designs, no props, no costumes. Just dramatic voices. It was riveting and emotional.
What I also didn’t expect when I entered the theater was an art display. Boy, was I surprised — and happy.
Rewind several months. In June I wrote a column calling for more emphasis on non-theater arts in Selma. We have built an active theater program, promoted and backed by an Arts Council filled with theater supporters.
But to my thinking, the visual arts haven’t kept up — despite the efforts of folks such as Vicki Filgas and her tireless work on a mural project that has brought color to our downtown.
After that column appeared, I heard from some local arts supporters taking me to task for under-reporting the number of non-theater events that have taken place at the Arts Center or elsewhere downtown. Events such as authors forums, art exhibits, dance events, concerts.
So, to be fair and accurate, it hasn’t been only theater that has been presented in downtown Selma. It just seems that way at times because the theatre program gets so much well-deserved recognition.
(And I have to give credit for the Arts Center staff for including visual arts pieces in the theater lobby for theater performances.)
Last week I was pleased to hear from Nicolette Anderson, Arts Center Coordinator, with an explanation about the genesis of that theater/art mix a few weeks ago. Anderson said the host of a private art exhibit featuring the work of local artist Tom Wilson agreed to let the Arts Center keep the display in the theater for the dramatic reading of “The Curious Incident.”
We loved how the barrage of images in the theatre spoke to the barrage of images in the mind of the main character in the play,” Anderson said. “And we had several audience members tell us that they also enjoyed seeing the artwork during the intermission and before/after the show.”
Anderson pointed out, that, in the past year, the Arts Center has hosted dance companies, concerts, the Fresno State Opera department and Selma High theater productions.
As we often shout after good work in a theater, “More! More!”
And that’s what I got.
Over the weekend, I learned through Facebook about an exhibition of art by Fresno artist/author Larry Hill from Oct. 9 through Nov. 10 at the Arts Center. Hill will meet the public during a reception at the Arts Center on Oct. 12 to read from his published works and answer questions about his art.
To which I shout: “Bravo!”
It is probably naive of me to wish we had an equal amount of visual arts events to theatre, music and dance events. I'm not sure the public interest is the same for art as it is for performances.
So while we praise the theater program, those of us who love the arts will continue to push for — and seek out — more gallery exhibits, literary events and other non-stage artistic endeavors.
And when those events are presented, we need to support them. To show up, represent, show some love.
We will continue to advocate for artists to be represented on the Selma Arts Council. Anderson said the Council is, indeed, seeking artists to join the group but has not yet been able to get a commitment from individuals they have contacted.
The Selma Arts Council serves an important role in our town as the city of Selma’s overseer of the arts. And to be fair, it is not exclusively their role to bring art to town. Many art exhibits, concerts and murals have been promoted by local arts supporters and groups such as the Selma Arts Foundation.
It behooves all of us who value quality of life in Selma to help promote art, music, theater and literature. And it is the Arts Council’s role to support and help promote those activities, including making the Arts Center available.
My hope — call it a dream if you wish — is for visual artists and art supporters to join the Selma Arts Council. And for all parties involved to reach out to artists to let them know Selma welcomes them.
A guy can dream, can’t he?