We celebrate National Art Day on October 25 — the birthday of Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. Art as a creative human expression encapsulates myriad things. It portrays the beauty of life or a bitter reality. It records history, revolutions, rebellions, and sometimes is a means to escape them. In short, there is no history or culture without art. This day celebrates all forms of art — paintings, sculpture, photography, architecture, music, and more. Through this celebration we show our respect for the passion and creativity in all artists.
History of National Art Day
In the summer of 1961 President Kennedy made an effort to settle a salary dispute between the Metropolitan Opera and the American Federation of Musicians. He succeeded. Kennedy’s actions signaled his passion for the arts. Congress, in the mid 60s, designated the National Cultural Center, launched in 1958, as a “living memorial” to President Kennedy and authorized $23 million to begin construction. It’s now simply known as the Kennedy Center.
The following year President Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts & the Humanities Act, which created the National Endowment for the Arts.
By 1970 focus on the arts increasingly spread to television and cinema. Mobil Oil committed more than $1 million to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for presentation of Masterpiece Theatre on PBS — and for 5 million copies of new Sesame Street magazine to be given free to preschool children in low-income neighborhoods. This was the largest gift to CPB from the business community to date.
A decade later President Reagan, himself a former actor appointed a Presidential Task Force on the Arts & Humanities to review the purposes of the National Endowments; broaden private support; engage more non-government professionals, private groups & individuals; & recommend ways to strengthen the overall structure of both agencies.
Still another president would show his support as well. Bill Clinton, in his 1997 State of the Union Address, asked Congress to maintain support for the arts — and urged citizens to make the year 2000 a national celebration “so that we can remain the world’s beacon not only of liberty but of creativity, long after the fireworks have faded.”
Recently the Museum of Modern Art in New York City reopened after a $400 million renovation — adding over 40,000 square feet for galleries (including two at the street-level)— inside the new West 53rd St. tower. They are free to the public.