Where the Arts are Alive

Music and Visual Arts Building at Austin College
Music and Visual Arts Building at Austin College

Craig Hall at Austin College

Do you remember when you first experienced the arts as a living, breathing thing? I do.

I was visiting Austin College in Sherman Texas as a high school student. I had been invited by the chairman of the music department to tour the campus. He took me on a tour through the music and visual arts building. What I saw and heard there was simply amazing to me.

 The practice rooms were on the second floor. These were a series of small rooms with pianos where students practiced their craft. There were pianists, singers, and instrumentalists all rehearsing whatever they were working on at the time. It was a great noise. It was the sound of many individuals working alone, yet they were all doing the same thing.

The sound itself was like an orchestra just before they begin tuning for a concert. Everyone playing their own thing in their own time. Some repeated short phrases over and over while others ran through longer passages.

This wasn’t a destination. This was the process and it was interesting. I wasn’t hearing a concert. I was listening to artists developing their craft.

The ground floor housed a student art gallery in the main corridor and it was one of my favorite places on campus. It was located in a busy corridor, so there was always activity around. It was not a quiet and reflective space, but rather it was alive with the bustle, noise, and mess of art being created and artists being developed.

You might hear an orchestra rehearsing while you watched one exhibition taken down and another hung by the artists themselves. You could see a brief but heated argument between colleagues while dodging a pallet of clay or scrap metal being wheeled through to one of the studios. It was life, art, and creation happening all at the same time in the same space. 

I knew that in this place, the arts were alive. They were being developed and shaped by other artists who loved the process of creation. I wanted to learn in an environment like this.

Now, many years later I relish finding similar places. Sometimes I find them in museums or galleries, but more often I find them in theaters, public spaces, concert halls, or even here in my own design studio.

They are places where the arts are in their natural environment. Where artists and craftsmen go about the messy business of creation. They are where actors squabble, dancers perfect steps, musicians find phrases, designers throw fits, and somehow wonderful things are created. 

I would love to hear about places that you have found. Send us a message to share your living, breathing, creative, inspirational space.