Making art accessible
New director seeks to bring art to the masses
Thursday, March 13, 2014 9:54 AM
“Just play in the clay. Just come take a paintbrush and figure it out.”
Lauren Lane works in her office at Arts Place in Portland Monday afternoon. Lane recently moved from Missouri to take the position of visual arts director and begin working on the upcoming Arts in the Parks program. (The Commercial Review/Kelly Lynch)
Missouri-native Lauren Lane, the newly-hired Arts Place visual arts director, wishes area residents would overcome their preconceived notions of what art is or should be.
In a quest to make art less intimidating, Lane looks to her first big program, the upcoming Arts in the Parks, to help keep art education a pivotal part of local lives.
“People see art, and they’re like, it’s not really my thing because you think you have to be Picasso if you’re going to make anything,” said Lane. “Well, Picasso started with crayons just like everybody else so it’s just breaking down those barriers and making it accessible.”
Lane admits to feeling idealistic about what she can offer the community, hoping to bring her own perspective to “make (programs) better and … make them work well in the community”, but executive director Eric Rogers has no doubt about what Lane can accomplish.
“She is remarkably talented. That was one of the reasons she was hired,” said Rogers. “I’m looking for people who are skilled technically, artistically … but good organizers. That’s what caught my attention about Lauren.”
Having raised more than $40,000 last year as lead organizer for her non-profit organization Skepticon and earning her Masters of Fine Art in interdisciplinary studio, Lane offered the combination of artist and organizer. It’s a skill set that is pivotal for a job that includes organizing Arts in the Parks, coordinating exhibits and arranging fall-to-spring classes.
But it’s Arts in the Parks that has been the real test so far, as the program has grown to include more than 12 communities in five counties and doubled its number of teaching artists. Just stepping into the job in February, it’s been a steep hill for Lane to climb. But she feels up to the task.
“So far, so good. I haven’t run away. Learning the ropes has been quite an adventure because we have Arts in the Parks coming up … so the learning curve is very steep on that,” said Lane. “(I’m) taking it all in stride. Kind of planning in a pinch is not something I’m totally unaccustomed to because of the organizing I’ve done before. So it’s got it’s own unique challenges, but it’s nothing I can’t overcome.”
While organizing is a well-honed skill, it’s her love of art that keeps her interested in such programs. Lane has been a lifelong artist, proclaiming to have the “stereotypical story” of always being involved throughout her childhood, which snowballed into the career she has today.
It’s simple for her — art makes life better.
“Other than the fact that the arts are becoming less and less valued in our standard educational systems and we kind of have to pick up the slack for that, art is awesome,” said Lane. “Art is everywhere. Arts brings meaning and color to your life, and I feel like a life without art is not a life worth living.”