Art lives at “Poetry and Art Series”

Richard Freeland

After examining Stegosaurus bones or the constructions of ancient man, most people assume museums are collection of extinct artifacts. Balboa Park’s San Diego Art Institute Museum of the Living Artist, however, defies extinction.

On Sept. 26 the museum hosted an event catered to all senses. The energy of a concert, the elegance of an art show and the camaraderie of a family all fused together for one night at the “Poetry and Art Series.” Art not only lives and breathes at the San Diego Art Institute—it thrives.

Even though music, film and TV flourish in the west, other types of art aren’t always popular.

“Most people don’t care about poetry or other forms of art. They think it’s unnecessary,” 2012 San Diego State Master’s of fine arts student Dean C. Robertson said.

Another graduate of the MFA program agrees.

“What kind of jobs out there are specifically poetry-based, for example?” MFA student David Rhei said.  “What can you really do?”

Both alumni work in fields entirely unrelated to the arts, despite their poetic prowess. The “Poetry and Art Series” provides an opportunity for both to return to the creative realm.

Robertson and Rhei were not the only MFA students in attendance.  The poetry-passionate graduates publish their work in Poetry International.

“Many people have this apprehension toward poetry, that it’s tough to understand or too intellectual, and they’re wrong,” MFA graduate and Poetry International copy editor Carly Miller said.  “You can access poetry through its music; even finding one line you enjoy or relate to in a poem can cause you to fall in love with poetry in general.”

Kathleen Miller, mother of the ambitious poet, is equally nonplussed about her daughter’s prospective career.

“When you do something you really have a lot of passion for, it brings success, a quality of life, joy, contentment,” Kathleen Miller said.

The “Poetry and Art Series” is hosted in a venue covered wall-to-wall with eccentric art and booming music.  The event was free to those who brought wine or snacks, both of which were in ample supply.

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The “Poetry and Art Series” has a 12-year-old history of hosting various art events.  One memorable evening involved Mexican wrestlers, covered in paint, body-slamming a wrestling ring-sized canvas.

“We keep it fresh,” SDAI Poet Program Director Michael Klam said. “(The event) changes every time.”

The night of Sept. 26 felt like less of a show and more of an intimate profession of poetic passion.  Along with MFA students, award-winning Macedonian poet Nikola Madzirov performed. After a long period of music, mingling and art examination, attendees migrated to chairs and sat patiently. Utter silence filled the room, colorfully loud portraits now seemed quiet. The SDSU MFA students performed poems with names such as “Kissing Psycho-paths” and “How to Make Groceries.” Then Madzirov took the stage.

However, the evening did not end there.  The open-mic portion of the event showcased just as much talent, including a profound spoken-word piece by the event’s DJ, Gill Sotu.

“It’s a lot more appealing to have multiple elements,” Klam said.  “Audiences appreciate the beauty. Plus, it’s natural for artists to come together and share their work, and to appreciate others’ work.”

Klam has no qualms about his program’s future or art’s practicality in today’s economic climate.

“There’s no reason why you can’t do both (art and another profession). Whatever you choose, passion should make its way into your daily life,” Klam said.

After witnessing the spectacular “Poetry and Art Series,” one may believe art is back from the dead and no longer a museum display, no longer a skeleton to be locked away every night with the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Neanderthals. Then again, maybe art never died.

All photos by Jenna Mackey, staff photographer

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