This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 9, 1990

May 9, 1990 - Art

When my daughter Maddy was about 18 months old, she startled me with her raw artistic perception. My wife had just made a quick sketch for her. Maddy glanced at it and shouted, "Cat!"

So the next night, I made my own sketch of a cat. "What's this?" I asked Maddy proudly. She gave me a look of profound sympathy. Even pity. "Rabbit?" she hazarded.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But that one word summed up a lifetime of my drawings. I admit it. I am artistically disabled.

It's taken me a long time to come to grips with this. When I was a kid, I spent many hours in the local public library, enthralled by the sculptures of Rodin, mesmerized by Van Gogh's wild, unrestrained paintings. I wanted to be a Great Artist.

In turns out that you can't be a great artist unless you have great talent. Artistically speaking, the best I can hope for is to be a Great Appreciator. On the other hand, for appreciators, libraries are great places to hang out.

So I find it fitting that the Philip S. Miller Branch of the Douglas County Public Library System is hosting an art exhibit. The artists are the students (K-12) of the Douglas County School District. Until May 12, we'll be exhibiting about 500 pieces, and some of them are absolutely stunning.

At the opening reception on May 1, I was delighted to see literally hundreds of people roaming through past display boards and down library aisles. I saw primary students standing proudly next to their works, and parents taking snapshots. I heard people getting into friendly arguments about artistic techniques -- then running out to the reference desk to look up the facts.

I believe the basic mission of any public library is books. Literacy is the essential skill for survival in what has been dubbed the Information Age.

But eventually books lead to everything else. Libraries, if they are to survive and flourish, must serve as gateways to the entire universe of human culture.

Depending upon the community, sometimes libraries must do more than just buy books, magazines, and videos about art. Sometimes, they must also serve as community showcases, linking up with other community organizations to highlight the burgeoning ability of their citizens.

Judging from what I have seen in the School District art show, Douglas County has some remarkably talented young people. It wouldn't surprise me if there are even some talented grownups around.

In the months to come, the library will be looking for more ways to lure talented Douglas County residents into the open. If you've got an idea for something exciting -- a writer's contest, a senior citizen's craft display -- then we've got an invitation. Go to your nearest library branch and tell us about it.

You'll find us to be an appreciative audience.

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