This article was written several years ago, before my Grandpa and Grandma Barrick and Grandpa Gaines passed away.  My Grandma Gaines, at 95 continues to make an influence on me today.  We as arts administrators also have opportunities to work with programs which will create memories, strengthen our sense of community and bring joy to life!


Creative Outlet – Michael Gaines

On a recent visit home I was able to spend some time with my Grandpa and Grandma Barrick and Grandpa and Grandma Gaines.  I’ve been fortunate to grow up with awesome parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Each of them has touched my life in profound ways.  It was great having a close family to grow up in and even better as an adult to call them friends.  My grandparents are cool.  I have traditions with each of them.  I always seem to show up at my Grandpa and Grandma Gaines’ just about mealtime.  Imagine that coincidence!  Even if I’ve eaten, they always convince me to eat again.  I always save room for a Popsicle, a Gaines family favorite.  We never get too old for Popsicles.  At Grandpa and Grandma Barrick’s house, my grandmother and I have a tradition of enjoying hot tea together.  I used to love going to their house just for that tradition.  The last time I visited she added homemade bread and peach butter.  It’s getting better with age.

Memories of our childhood mold us. Traditions shape us.  Families nurture us.  What a great foundation and what a great legacy.  Underlying all the many memories of growing up are some memories related to the arts on many levels, another legacy I cherish.  I don’t have a degree in art, art history, or even arts administration, but art was an underlying part of my life since an early age.  My family had a role in that.  I only have to look as far as my family to see where the arts played a role in my life and memories of growing up.  I’ll bet you could do the same.  When we take art out of the museums, stage, written works, etc. and look at them in terms of daily living we can still see, hear and feel it.  I hear my mother playing the piano and singing in the choir at church.  I hear my father pulling out the old trumpet he played in high school and playing a tune.  I heard my brother learning to play the guitar, my sister playing one of the only tunes she remembers from learning piano, and I hear myself attempting to pound out tunes on the old upright piano in our house.  I see the graphite portrait that always hung in my Grandpa and Grandma Gaines’ upstairs bedroom and the woodcrafts my grandmother makes.  I feel my Great-grandmother’s presence when I read her poetry and remember hearing her play the piano, banjo and harmonica and I feel warmth when I think of another Great-grandmother’s hand-knitted afghan wrapped around me on the couch.

None of those experiences were fancy.  None of those experiences involved people who were well-trained in their art.  Art was just there, adding to the memories and legacies that still affect me today.  We can all appreciate the small things in our lives.  Think back to your family.  Are there any art-related experiences that make up your memories?  What are we doing to create memories for those around us?  Appreciate and make the arts a part of your legacy and memories.  The arts bring joy to life!