Besides, there is plenty of art to experience in my own home town of Sacramento. That’s right. I said Sacramento…the cow town capitol of the great state of California. Our claim to fame is that we are within easy driving distance of places like South Lake Tahoe and San Francisco. We also happen to have quite the theater/art scene. Who knew?
Chances are, you live in the heart of a cultural mecca too. Here are some suggestions on finding the hidden Louvre in your home town on the cheap and getting the most out of the experience…
Do your homework:
· Sacramento has an annual FREE museum day, monthly art walk opportunities, and numerous cultural events throughout the year. We also host the County and the State Fair. Many of these can easily be found on “things to do” type websites or in the local free papers. What does your home town offer?
· Research historic land marks, parks with statues, sculptures, beautiful landscaping, etc. One of my all-time favorite cheapie adventures was a 3-day road trip with one of my girlfriends to see all of California’s Missions. We reserved a couple of cheap motels, packed a cooler full of food, and off we went.
· Check out newsletters, e-groups, blogs, and apps. And be sure to ‘like’ Facebook pages that will keep you up to date on cultural opportunities. I feel artsy just picking up my iPhone!
· Don’t forget about those local high schools and college campuses. Many have student art exhibits and cultural events.
· Redine what you consider art or a museum. When my son was very young, we would spend hours in little trinket or antique shops admiring everything from salt/pepper shakers to pewter dragons with gemstones. Art is everywhere.
· Volunteer for creative/art programs such as Destination Imagination, PTA’s Reflections, local festivals and parades. Some local theaters and museums offer volunteer opportunities as well. You’ll experience culture/art in a whole new way as a volunteer.
· When you travel, do your research and plan ahead. I had a total of 3 hours of free time during a recent work related trip to Washington DC. I made the most of it though and was able to enjoy the last 45 minutes at the only Smithsonian Museum that stayed open late that day and was then able to hop on a fantastic nighttime bus tour of all of the monuments. If you ever get the chance to see Washington DC by night, do it! The monuments are so peaceful at night, they have fantastic shadows when lit up, and everything seems to glow from within!
· And speaking of travel--airports, hotels, and road trips often include art and cultural opportunities. Many airports are free museums (well not counting the cost of the trip).
Make it happen:
· Nothing stimulates/reenergizes you like being around kindred spirits, especially face-to-face. Art supply stores offer classes, often for free. Sign up. Go. Talk to other humans. You’ll love it.
· Don’t have an art buddy or an event to go to? Create your own! Talk about your interests with family, friends, co-workers and pretty soon you’ll find someone that shares your interests. Start meeting regularly to work on projects together, take day trips together, etc. Our office created a lunchtime craft club. We all bring a current project and chat while we work, share ideas, and sometimes teach each other. This has led to invites to each other’s homes, outings, etc.
· Schedule time on the family calendar to give them an opportunity to experience things YOU like to do. How much time, energy, and money have you invested in the interests of your loved ones? Pull the “my turn” card and do it together! Who knows, they might even like it?
· Getting some resistance? Ease your loved ones into your world by combining your love of culture/art with their interests. For example, take your teenager on a hunt for interesting graffiti downtown, take your rock star hubby to an old record store to admire old album covers and rock concert posters, or take the family to an old car show (old cars and those paint jobs!—that’s art on wheels, isn’t it?). Spend time experiencing and sharing in the history, culture, and art/artists surrounding their interests. Bonus points if you can then find an art exhibit that showcases similar work (graffiti, old cars, etc.).
Getting the most out of each experience:
· Have dessert first. When you show up at the museum, figure out where your favorite art is on exhibit and start there. For me, it’s either abstract/modern art or any children’s/student art they currently have on exhibit. Soak it up while you are fresh. Spend as much time there as you can. When your spirit is renewed, then go see all that other stuff until you get bored, tired, or hungry.
· Linger near any work that captures your interest. Take a seat. Journal. Sketch. Take notes. Read the little plaque. Write down the Artist’s name. Observe from numerous angles, observe others in the space. Be present with the work, with the moment, and most importantly--with yourself.
It doesn’t really matter if I ever make it to see Da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ at The Louvre Museum. I’ve got the Louvre right here in my home town and Mona Lisa’s smile can be found around every corner.
What are some of your home town favorites?