I recently began at the Durango Arts Center as the new marketing coordinator. I hit the ground running without too much reservation, save for pretending to understand what the word docents meant.
I tried to indirectly ask questions about who and what the docents are, without wanting to admit my ignorance I just had never heard of them before working at DAC. I finally gave in and whispered to a co-worker, What are docents?
I grew up visiting museums and galleries with my parents in Chicago and Detroit, and on road trips to family reunions cross-country from Michigan to California.
I also grew up taking art classes at our regional museum, the Muskegon Museum of Art. Looking back, I remember being helped and guided by similar folks of a similar age at all of these marvelous and inspiring places.
Docent is a title given to people who serve as guides and educators for the institutions they serve, usually on a voluntary basis. The DAC Docents is an all-volunteer committee that offers two programs.
The first is Art in the Schools, a program for children from kindergarten through fifth grade, and that is presented in the classroom with information about the artists and their work.
The docents guide children to develop an art project that reflects the artist who was the focus of the presentation Georgia OKeefe, Vincent Van Gogh or another famous or not-so-famous artist.
The other main focus of docents is to provide guided tours of DAC exhibits in the Barbara Conrad Gallery. This program provides students with an orientation to gallery behavior to help them gain a level of comfort in attending gallery exhibits throughout life.
It provides a way for students to engage the art that they see and experience; the docents help the students learn to look at art. The program provides interactive learning experiences and hands-on art projects. Docents also visit local senior-care facilities to host art education and instruction.
Docents share the joy and beauty of the arts with all ages. And not only do docents teach art, but most are artists themselves. Currently, there are 17 docents, all of them women, except one courageous man, Steve Walker.
The more I get to know the docents and understand more what they do, I find an increasing pride being a member of DAC and therefore a supporter of what they provide in our community.
Several of the DAC Docents have a show at ENO (723 East Second Ave.), displaying their wide range of talents in a mixed-media presentation. The exhibit will be displayed for six weeks into early May, so make sure to stop by to check it out over a glass of wine or coffee.
You can join DACs Docents at 3 p.m. every Friday for a tour and discussion of the current exhibit in the Barbara Conrad Gallery. These tours are free, and the public is invited to attend.
For more information about the DAC Docent program, call 259-2606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a date and time for a docent visit.
email@example.com. Elsa Jagniecki is the marketing coordinator for Durango Arts Center.