Artist Jerry Gates grew up in Bay City, where he drew on his passion for art by having the opportunity to take four years of art classes while in high school. As he prepares for an exhibition and an artists reception November 15th at Gallery Fifty that will include more than 80 works he has created over the past 20 years, he reflects on the state of art in the schools and the community.
I was fortunate to be in school at a time when taking art classes and music classes was encouraged and valued, said Gates. In general, today we dont look upon visual artists with the same esteem other countries do. I think this has somewhat to do with the dummying down of our appreciation for art.
Gates isnt angry and he doesnt want to appear too cynical, yet his observations over the years have led him to believe that to a certain extent, the arts are headed in the wrong direction.
Visual art takes concentration by the participant, unlike going to a concert or listening to pop music; no thought is really required for those things, said Gates. Most people today are unwilling to stand in front of a painting and spend the necessary time appreciating it and understanding what the artist has captured. This appreciation for art is not being taught like it used to be when I was growing up.
He chuckles at the attention that pop musicians and actors on the big screen are given by society while many other great artists practically go unnoticed. However, he feels fortunate to be working as an artist in Northern Michigan, an area that he feels is one of the pockets in the country that does have an appreciation and willingness to celebrate its artists.