Respect for art and artists

The front yard of Becky Mate’s home Friday afternoon was filled with colorful paintings and balloons in celebration of International Art Day.

Alice Asmar and Kristina Tashjian’s paintings were among those lined along the sidewalk as artists and patrons entered the courtyard on Lexington Drive.

“There is so much negativity in the news and politics today, art is uplifting. Art, any art — paintings, writing or music — can be an escape from the negative,” she said.

Unfortunately, art seems to have been overlooked by children, Mate said.

She recalled taking art class everyday when she was in school, and has seen how art education has diminished over the years.

“And people don’t seem to appreciate art here like they do in Europe,” Mate said.

“Alice Asmar is a painter. When she was in Italy she got into an elevator and had her paint brushes in her hand. The elevator operator kissed her hands. That was respect.”

Wanting to do something to bring attention to art and to honor artists, Mate created the International Art Day 11 years ago.

She started with a simple celebration in her backyard, which is still a tradition, but on some years it has expanded to other areas in Glendale.

In 2007, there was a display of art that included a live model and artists at work at the Glendale Galleria. A year later, the Americana at Brand celebrated the day.

But those events never replace the celebration at Mate’s home, where friends and fellow art lovers commingle.

New Castle Remodeling company employees grilled hot dogs and made snow-cones for the kids. Mate supplied chocolate for dipping fruit.

“We added chocolate to the art celebration to bring in more people and it worked,” she said.

She also included an art scavenger-type hunt for the kids.

Mate envisions the celebration will one day be as common as Father’s and Mother’s Day.

Although the holiday began in Glendale, it has reached people around the world, and more are becoming involved everyday thanks to Twitter and Facebook.

“These are letters we’ve received this year from Canada, Virginia and Massachusetts,” she said.

People have also contacted her from France, Italy and Barcelona — all of them telling her about how they celebrated the day.

This was Asmar’s second year of bringing her paintings to Mate’s home. Throughout her career she said she has sold more than 6000 paintings.

Asmar said she liked the idea of a day that honors art.

Mate has received recognition and proclamations from the Glendale City Council, Rep. Adam Schiff, and has gained the attention of the Glendale Art Assn.

Art Racklin, president of the association, said the holiday was an important step in recognizing how art affects our lives.

“Art shows us another side of life,” he said.

The gathering of artists and art is exactly what Mate wants the holiday to be about.

“I would like to see cards sent to each other reading ‘Happy Art Day’ and posters reminding people of the holiday,” she said.

Novelist and poet Richard Coanda, and his wife, Lori, have been coming to Mate’s home almost every year since the holiday began.

“Just the fact that this day celebrates art and artists — it’s exuberant,” he said.

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