Archive for November, 2010

California Arts Education and the Need for Advocacy

Be the Bird!

by Celeyce Matthews

Growing up in middle class California during the 1970s and 80s, I never had an art class in public school.  Proposition 13, passed in 1978, created a loss of 200 billion dollars in property taxes over the decades following its enactment which devastated social services and especially education.  Art and music programs were the first to be eliminated as education funding was drastically cut.  The repercussions of this and other complex, short-sighted economic decisions, extend far beyond my public school years; currently, California is ranked absolutely last in spending on the arts per person in all 50 states and US territories.  In 2009, California spent a mere 12 cents per person compared to the highest per person arts spending, in the District of Columbia, of $11.11 per person.[i] And in education funding, Editorial Projects in Education and the National Education Association rank California around 46th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2009 (Utah was last and Vermont first).[ii] [iii] This year, California’s education spending is at its lowest level in the last 40 years, compared to the rest of the US, and further education cuts are in the works due to the ongoing state budget crisis.[iv] How does arts education survive in California’s economic climate?

After Prop 13, arts education non-profit organizations stepped in to attempt to fill the void left by the severe education cuts.  My own lack of early art education due to these cuts inspired me to become an art educator and advocate; I now teach art for one of the country’s most successful and comprehensive arts education non-profits: the Community School of Music and Arts in Mountain View.  CSMA reaches more than 40,000 children, teens and adults in the South Bay through art and music classes, free concerts, artist talks, exhibitions and performances this year.[v] Funded by big local tech corporations, philanthropic foundations, local school districts and PTAs, other local arts organizations, the City of Mountain View, the California Arts Council, individual schools, individual donors, and parent groups, this year CSMA has a budget of $4.4 million.   CSMA offers scholarships to low income students and two of the public schools it serves are supported by federal grants as part of the No Child Left Behind program to improve their schools through incorporating art classes.[vi] Silicon Valley is a relatively wealthy area and able to vigorously support art education through CSMA  and other local arts organizations, classroom teachers and schools without much state or federal funding; unfortunately many poorer regions in California have little or no art education at the elementary school level.

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Mediated Senses – Pantea Karimi

Posted by erin on November 26th, 2010

The Artist in a Cyber-World: Mohr Gallery, Finn Center

by David Santen

Pantea, Karimi’s Unlinked, watercolor and silkscreen, 2010

The latest series of works from Pantea Karimi, recently featured at the Mohr Gallery in Finn Center in Mountain View, are a passionate exploration of high technology’s effects on human experience.  In this series of mixed-media prints called Mediated Senses, Ms. Karimi expresses her wonderment and excitement with high technology but also portrays some of technology’s dangerous illusions and traps. In creations that are subtle, balanced, highly original, and quite lovely, she portrays themes that range from circumspection and fascination to a concern for the negative effects of technology on contemporary humanity. Importantly, she focuses on the viewpoint of the individual rather than more nebulous and sinister notions, such as the Surveillance State that is enabled by high technology.

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” wrote Henry David Thoreau. From that 19th-century remark until now, the fundamental human conditions of isolation, dissatisfaction, loneliness, and the hunger for meaning—or even simple-minded escapes from these feelings—have persisted. (Those who doubt such an assertion need only ask: If this were not so, why are an enormous number of solutions being aggressively marketed?) Even after the Free Speech Movement, Sexual Revolution, and the Hippie Move­ment of 1960s America, followed by the Anti-war Movement and the Feminist Movement of the 1970s and into the post modern era, people are still searching for ways to make life meaningful and to bridge the gap between self and others.

Auditory Datum, 2010, at the Mohr Gallery, Finn Center

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