Letter from Suzi Hudson, Executive Director
Ten years ago, I was fortunate to go to Paris with my mom. While our week included breathtaking art and world renowned museums, we still agree the highlight was a quiet afternoon having tea with George Whitman, owner of the historic bookstore Shakespeare and Company. The shop, originally opened by Sylvia Beach in 1919, soon became a haunt for artists such as James Joyce, Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many other literary icons. In 1941, it was forced to close by Nazi soldiers. It was eventually reopened by Mr. Whitman in the late 1950’s. On its well-worn steps are painted three simple words: “Live for Humanity”. George was well known for his support of down-and-out artists, providing typewriters and sleeping pads in the nooks and crannies among the books where artists could write and sleep in exchange for a few hours of work. He claimed the shop was really a utopian society masquerading as a bookstore.
Today, I am grateful to be part of an organization like White Bear Center for the Arts that stands behind the importance of a safe and inclusive community, built on genuine respect for the creative, social, and cultural spirit of each individual. While WBCA may not yet be Utopia (or providing places to sleep), we see how people forge new relationships when they feel safe and supported, encouraged by the creative spirit of one another. Little by little, one by one, art transforms us. Stories expose our humanity. It’s what a friend calls the drip method: a series of small actions that over time create great change. It’s not a singular effort that creates a safe, inclusive community; it’s a collective.
This spring WBCA hosts several free art experiences, sharing stories and art that highlight our diversity. In partnership with Center for Hmong Arts and Talent we’re offering a series of films by Hmong filmmakers. Northern Starz Children’s Theatre Company will perform: “I Never Saw Another Butterfly,” the heartbreaking and hope-filled story of Jewish children interned in Terezin concentration camp during World War II. In April, we welcome the return of Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, and in May, WBCA shines the spotlight on young adults through their visual art and writing.
AND! We’re offering over 200 classes that will blow your mind. Just look inside.
So, I hope you’ll join us. Utopia needs you.