- Letters to the Editor
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Last week’s letter titled “Poetry Matters” raised questions about Stay Gallery, the “Poetry Matters” column in the Patriot, and in particular the activities of Lorine Parks. I’d like to share my observations on these topics.
My observation is that Stay Gallery hosts a wide variety of worthwhile events that feature many different art forms, and has in particular engaged young people in these programs. If Stay Gallery is in any sense a “hang out,” it is for young people drawn to such activity. This is absolutely a benefit to the community.
Last week’s letter referred to Stay Gallery as a “hang out” of Lorine Parks. Those who know Lorine Parks know that her many community activities allow her no time to “hang out” anywhere. Among other things, she is a past president and serves on the board of the Downey Symphonic Society, she is a long time member of the YMCA board, and she has been an active member of the Downey Rotary for many years.
Lorine Parks also curates a monthly poetry reading called “Poetry Matters.” This event is now completing its third year, and has been held in several venues downtown and around town Downey including Mari’s Wine Bar, Rives Mansion and the Epic Lounge. Currently it is graciously hosted by Stay Gallery on the second Thursday of each month, and is generally announced in the Patriot beforehand. There is always an open microphone session, and anyone in Downey interested in poetry is welcome. Many “new” poets, young and old, have stepped up and shared their poetry for the first time in front of this appreciative audience.
Regarding the “Poetry Matters” column in the Patriot: there are as many opinions as to what constitutes “good poetry” as there are people. Lorine Parks has taken on the task of bringing to the Patriot established and interesting authors who are generally published and whose work is recognized in the poetry community. If their work is sometimes harder to understand than the average Hallmark Card and if they cause us to ask “what is this about exactly,” then we have been challenged to think. As is often the case in life, we can choose to embrace this challenge, or we can just turn the page and stay within our comfort zone.
My name is Roy Anthony Shabla. I am the director of collections for the Downey Museum of Art and a career artist. I am sure you know my work.
I host a monthly salon – a gathering of artists, poets, musicians, and other creative people – to support the arts community and stimulate conversation about the arts. Most of my home and life are dedicated to the arts.
I was born and raised in Downey have lived here longer than most. And I have seen this city transform itself in many ways.
The hibernation of the Downey Museum of Art – the first modern art museum in the state of California – is one change that has not benefited the city. In fact, it is a great loss. As an artist, my work has been exhibited across America and Europe…but is hardly shown in my hometown. The Downey Arts Coalition organized a wonderful solo show of my work more than 2 1/2 years ago but that venue is no longer available.
Stay Gallery has provided exhibition space for my large paintings and my sound performance art. Visitors came from the farthest ends of Los Angeles and Orange counties for both events. And non-local newspapers published notices and reviews.
Without a fully-functioning art museum, an art gallery is the last chance for this city to have a soul. Yes, we have an excellent symphony and other cultural endeavors but those are occasional. Stay Gallery is open most days of the week offering art and other exhibits and arts and cultural events. There is something for everyone.
It is a vital component to the life of the city and needs to continue.
Roy Anthony Shabla
Published: July 24, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 15