BETTY STEIN: We should love and appreciate fine art everywhere

Betty Stein

I’ve been in touch with Sachi at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art to see about more programming for Memorial Park Middle School, where we concentrate on the fine arts and where the visual arts are so important. Our principal is eager to enrich our students’ lives even more, and he is also celebrating student and teacher successes during the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.

I can only applaud this. The fine arts have been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. I remember vividly seeing Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” for the first time, and no trip to Chicago has been complete without a visit to the Art Institute to say hello to the original. Former editorial page editor Leo Morris had a copy of “Nighthawks” in his office at The News-Sentinel. Close by in Chicago is a Chagall I especially relate to. Hopper is wonderful! His “New York Movie” depicts a theater and an usher standing quietly by the curtain, and there is something so poignant about it. But then “poignant” is a word I usually associate with Hopper’s work. Isn’t he wonderful?

Then there was the time I walked into Long’s Book Store close to the Ohio State campus and saw a print of Rousseau’s “The Sleeping Gypsy.” I was caught. I’ve never fully understood why Rousseau’s paintings grab me so, but they do. And that print left the store with me that day and stayed with me until recently. It hung in my office at Memorial Park school until a rehabilitation of the building got underway and a custodian put it away for “safekeeping,” along with Picasso’s “Guernica” and a Winslow Homer. But there’s a postcard of it on my desk at home. It hangs in the Museum of Modern Art in New York — and on my desk. We all respond in our own unique ways to art. I remember so well how upset my husband was when we entered the Sistine Chapel and it was alive with people’s conversations. He thought it should be viewed quietly and privately — with no distractions. He wanted to marvel at it in silence. The noise didn’t bother me; I was just thrilled to be there to see it and enjoy it. Then there was the time when my granddaughter and I were in Firenze (Florence), which is so full of treasures and beauty. But I told her I was saving the best for last. That day came and we trudged through the heat and into the dull building that housed the Medici Chapel. We climbed the steps and she opened the door and stood there mesmerized. Then finally I heard, “Oh, my God! Oh, my God.” What a tribute that was! I took her sister to London, and it was there in the gallery that she stopped in front of Van Gogh’s “Irises” and stood there and stood there. I only got her to move on by promising to buy her a poster of it before we left the museum. It hangs in her home in Rochester, N.Y.

I could go on and on. And yes, my refrigerator is adorned by artwork by both of my great-grandchildren. Isn’t yours by your children or grandchildren? We love fine artwork everywhere.

Betty E. Stein is a resident of Fort Wayne