Have you ever written something and then thought, nope not going to publish it? Well I did originally think the below should be kept as a diary entry, but I have decided to share it. It is a little about me and a little about the Columbia Museum of Art, particularly my friend and museum docent Bauer Westeren. So here you go a little about one of my favorite days, the day after Christmas sometimes referred to as Boxing Day…enjoy.
Since December 2014, I have spent December 26ththe same way. My day would be filled with loading my car or most often my friend Stephanie’s car with luggage and poetry books. Then driving approximately 1.5 to 2 hours to various South Carolina State Parks where we would spend 5 days in the woods writing poetry.
This year is different. I became a graduated fellow of The Watering Hole Poetry Organization in 2016. And I returned in 2017 to work on my poetry manuscript (still in progress). However, I decided to take a hiatus from my usual hiatus and find inspiration in other forms. My current focus is on visual art and one of my favorite places Columbia Museum of Art located in Columbia, SC.
I was happy to find our Bauer Westeren a museum docent and friend was doing a special tour. Encouraged by the museum docents are giving focal point tours, which highlight their favorite or unique pieces of art. Bauer chose to focus on pieces that centered around disability. Pieces either are include subjects who are disabled or the artist themselves are disabled. And the work also includes inanimate objects such as pottery repaired with gold.
When asked what made him select pieces around disability he stated, “he went with what he knew.” Bauer has spina bifida a medical condition that impacts use of his legs, resulting in use of walking sticks. I’ve known him for a number of years and know that he lives a full life. During the tour he mentioned that it bothered him when people said he was an inspiration, specifically when it came to regular daily activities.
It wasn’t initially clear the reason for some of the artwork he chose and how it related to disability. However, viewing them through Bauer’s eyes you saw humpbacks, cracks, foggy vision, mentally disabled subjects or artist dealing with illness. My view of some of the pieces was broadened and also how I would describe them to some one visually impaired gave me a new insight.
I’ve told him this so it’s safe to write it. I find Bauer not just inspiring for everyday things but for living a full life. Many without disabilities restrict their activity. Sharing his love of art as a Columbia Museum of Art docent and on the theatrical stage are indeed inspiring. So thanks Bauer for helping start a new December 26thtradition.
Here is a summary the pieces we viewed during the tour. Check them out and see what you can find in the various work.