Wander and Wonder

Pardise Valley

Paradise Valley (Il Paradiso) near Assisi, Italy

One of my favorite things is to watch emerging “Aha!” moments. Whether it is a moment in myself or in another fellow human, being around when the “Aha!” hits is wonderful. It’s like turning a dark corner on a rainy country road, to suddenly see a bright green field lit by the low-lying sun. It takes me by surprise. Sometimes it takes going down a road less traveled. Perhaps it’s wandering around in a new city, or an unfamiliar part of your own hometown. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “…not all those who wander are lost…” and I would add; it is in my wandering that I sometimes find the most wonder.

Bringing it all home My middle hannahdaughter Hannah is a senior at Royal High School in Simi Valley. In a recent English assignment, she was asked to write a personal statement. In it, she talks about a week-long summer retreat that she went on to serve families affected by disabilities. The camper she was assigned to was a young boy with Down’s syndrome. She writes, “As the families began to arrive, I stood with my camera ready to capture the first glimpse of Brycen… I picked it up held it to my right eye, my pointer finger on the button, and I stood there in amazement with a new perspective.” She concludes with, “I hope that with my photography I can touch the lives of people who are uneducated on social matters around the world. If I can capture just one moment-in-time that others would not have seen, but that could change their outlook on life, it will be the accomplishment of a lifetime. I want my art to change lives as it has changed mine.” When I read that, it was my own “Aha!” moment – a moment that made me understand that both her upbringing and her education gave her the gift to want to make a difference – through art. Where am I going with this? OK, it’s actually all about the kids. Our schools are full of students with “the-sky’s-the-limit” potential. They are like the sculptures called “The Captives.” These unfinished works of Michelangelo are caught at a point where they are emerging from the stone that they have been encased in from the beginning of time. The sculptor saw in them something that no other did… he slowly revealed the figures, but stopped short of completing the task. Arms and legs emerge from rough marble. They are struggling to free themselves. Like Hannah’s photos, they are a snapshot frozen in time. We can see the potential of the now, and the yet-to-come. Michelangelo saw in them this potential. Each student in our schools is filled with this same potential that must be nurtured, lest they be left behind like Michelangelo’s unfinished works. Sadly, the photography program at Hannah’s school has been canceled this year due to budget cuts. We must continue to support the arts in our schools and help these emerging artists and musicians to be complete in their education. One of the things I am most proud of is ACCV’s sponsorship of the educational music programs in the Conejo Valley. We are working hard to continue funding for this program and to develop more. Please support the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley. We continue being the “Voice of the Arts”, so our emerging leaders – our poets, prophets, painters and performers – have their own “Aha!” moments. With our support, they are the change our community and our world needs.



Rich Brimer
President and CEO
Arts Council of the Conejo Valley