We are plastic. Our brains are malleable and develop based on our experiences.
This is not new information for me or many of you reading this, but it has been lingering in the forefront of my mind for months since seeing a film at this year’s Durango Independent Film Festival called “My Love Affair With The Brain.” This documentary is about Dr. Marian Diamond’s groundbreaking career as a prominent female neuroscientist and her discovery of the brain’s capacity to grow and change with stimuli, known as plasticity. Both of these achievements broke barriers of what was thought possible at the time. Through the process of discovering the brain’s ability to evolve, she uncovers five keys to maintaining a healthy mind: diet, exercise, newness, challenge and love.
As I look at this summer’s arts and community events, I see all of Marian’s keys available in Durango. Our town is well known for its culinary and athletic offerings, and I am grateful for the way they enrich our lives. And thanks to our many interesting, artistic and creative neighbors and visitors, we are also rich in opportunities for newness, challenge and love.
Opening tonight in the Durango Arts Center’s Barbara Conrad Gallery, we have the 41st annual Juried Exhibit, presented with premier sponsorship by Maynes, Bradford, Shipps & Sheftel LLP. This year features a few updates. In its fourth decade, DAC shifted the submission process from a “stop and drop” of bringing actual artwork to DAC, to an online platform, thereby allowing for ease of multiple submissions.
The online platform also opened up the Juried Show nationally, which, of course, yielded several new out-of-area submissions for our community to enjoy. In total, DAC received 297 submissions of creative work, giving guest juror Benjamin Hickey a challenging yet engaging task of winnowing the field. Hickey, who is curator of Collections and Exhibitions of the Masur Museum of Art in Monroe, Lousiana, was up to the task and succeeded in jurying down to 61 diverse pieces, and in the end, I was not one bit surprised to see the deep well of creatives in our local artist community held the vast majority of the selected artworks.
This year’s Juried Exhibit was also open to all media beyond 2- and 3-dimensional. Digital art, installation work, interactive proposals and video art were all accepted for jury. The final compilation of 61 artworks truly has something for everyone to enjoy!
And Love. Durango Pride Festival is this week. For the first time and opening the same evening as the Juried Exhibit, DAC is hosting a Pride Art Exhibit in the Entrada Gallery. Some visitors will see this as newness, challenge and love. For many, it will be some combination of the three. The value of art is not always measured in dollars but in the opportunity for creative expression to those who have not always been allowed to express themselves honestly and openly and ability to help us and our society to grow in acceptance and understanding – to grow love.
Arts and culture are here for all of us to have the ability to live healthy and contently. As you plan your summer activities, for your brain’s sake, consider – in addition to diet and exercise – pursuing something new, to do something difficult or out of your comfort zone, and don’t forget to show love to those you find around you.
Peter Hay is the exhibits director at the Durango Arts Center.