01 Oct 2013

Culture 101

01 Oct 2013



Lori Hope Baumel

Originally appeared in Around Wellington Magazine on October 1, 2013

01_Abstract of Head in The Clouds

Abstract Panorama photo of Head In The Clouds installation by STUDIOKCA at Governor’s Island, NY    iPhone Artistry by Lori Baumel © 2013

For more information about Head In The Clouds see studiokca.com

“Earth without art is just eh.”

– Clayton Cubitt

Everyone needs an introduction to the arts. If you’re a novice whose upbringing consisted of other interests, like sports, then there probably wasn’t enough time in your youth to concentrate on both. Although, personally, I notice that there is a strong correlation between those who enjoy sports statistics to those who have a solid knowledge of musical pop culture. Maybe it’s the “rock concert in the sports arena” attraction. I don’t know. That is my own personal observation.

What I DO know, is that there are people who have never picked up an instrument, never entered a museum and haven’t drawn a picture since kindergarten.  There are more people who would recognize the iPhone marimba alarm tone than recognize the first four notes of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. This is not a crime. It’s simply a question of exposure. Once you are exposed to the arts, the interest often follows.

Being well rounded or “cultured” does not mean acquiring season tickets to the opera or symphony or annual passes to the all the museums. The first step toward expanding your cultural spectrum is a willingness to expose yourself to the simplest aspects of the arts. If you are old enough to read this, then it is important to be aware of and embrace the artistic tools you have within reach.

Becoming Well Rounded


For example, most of us are now fortunate to have a camera (and video camera) in our cell phones. Poof! You are now a photographer. Do you find yourself taking more photos than making phone calls lately? If there is a moment you want to remember, like a beautiful sunset, do you photograph it? If so, then the artist within you is stepping out. Did you know that there are hundreds of photography apps that can help you crop, edit and enhance those pictures? If you further expand your knowledge by learning more about the tools in your camera you are on the way to becoming an artist. Let us begin…

Three simple steps for taking a better photograph:


1: If you are photographing people, make sure that there are no poles or trees directly behind your subject. Otherwise it looks like those objects are growing out of their head(s).

2: Don’t always place your subject in the center of the photo. Put your subject slightly to the right or left of the center. It often looks best to include some background in the picture to help tell the story. On most cell phone cameras, you can often tap on the screen to make sure your subject is in focus. It’s worth the extra second to do so. Experiment with your camera. Take photos at unusual angles. Have fun with it.

3: Always save your photos to a back-up device. Then, get creative. In this digital age, photo and video editing software is extremely easy to use. You can pop together a slideshow or video right on your cellphone, tablet or computer. Then, you can post your video to a PRIVATE link on YouTube and share it with your family. If you are not sure of how to post a video on YouTube, ask any 15 year old, they’ll show you how to do it.

Read something new


Intellectually stimulate your mind. After you are done with the business or sports section of the newspaper try looking at the arts section. See if there’s a film, concert or free festival coming up that you might attend.

If you like to read and you predominantly read nonfiction, toss it up and try some fiction for a change or vice-versa. Books are “mind movies.” They relieve stress; take you to places you never dreamed of. Digital publications and eBooks are becoming just as popular as paperbacks.  The library has eBooks that can be borrowed and downloaded to a tablet at no charge. Check out your local library website or visit one and a librarian can help you set up the eBook download process. Finally, if you like to multitask, download some audiobooks or podcasts to listen to in the car or at the gym.

Listen to a type of music that
you normally wouldn’t listen to


Again, the library is an excellent source for borrowing CD’s. If you’re a country music fan, perhaps you might give some cool jazz a chance. If you like film scores or game music you might want to try listening to some Stravinsky, Rachmaninoff or Phil Glass.

I often play a musical roulette game. Every time Starbucks offers a free music download, I add it to my iTunes library regardless of whether or not I think I would like it. You can always delete it, right? Well, I can’t tell you how much those free tunes have expanded my horizons. Upon hearing Starbucks freebies by Florence and the Machine, Bruno Mars and Zoey Deschanel, I went ahead and downloaded their entire albums.

Museums are not limited to just paintings…


Most museums have traveling exhibits from around the world. I’ve seen marvelous exhibits on furniture design, automobiles, fashion and most recently, Legos! Museum curators are aware that social media is tough competition. The often-humdrum practice of moving from painting to painting has changed. Many special exhibits are paired with apps containing information to further enhance your experience.

If you haven’t been to a museum since you took a field trip in the third grade you might want to give it another try. Both adult and children’s museums have become more interactive. My children used to love the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. It was always worth the trip down there. Locally, The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium will be undergoing a 4.9 million dollar expansion that is sure to dazzle Palm Beach County residents of all ages. This month, there are new exhibits starting in venues from St. Augustine to Miami. Cultural sites have changed over the years. Do your homework! Find a traveling exhibit that will interest you. All it takes is a willingness to get out there and have an open mind.

Learn An Instrument


This is a subject that I will delve into more detail in another column. But for now, consider learning a musical instrument at a local music studio like Village Music or the nearest community school. If time is limited, take an online class or simply buy a “how to” book (i.e. Kazoo for Dummies). Please remember that the human voice is considered an instrument as well. In my opinion, mastering a musical instrument is the ultimate achievement in becoming a culturally well-rounded individual.



However you can do it. Take a car, an RV, bus, train, plane or boat. Just travel. Don’t wait. Set a budget. If you have children, go with your children or leave them with a sitter.

Visiting other parts of the state, country and world has changed my perspective on every aspect of my life. When you experience the customs within other cultures; how they dress, what they eat, their history, how they treat their fellow citizens, it ties everything together. Travel has enabled me to “get it.” After all, what do painters paint? What do we photograph or draw? Why do they create? Creativity is a reflection of an artist’s cultural surroundings and how they perceive it, or it is a commentary on how they wish to improve it.

There you have it. The suggestions above are the first semester of Culture 101.  This semester does not have a four month or four year timeline. You can take whatever time you need to complete the course. Personally, I hope I never complete the class. It is a life long task that makes each and every day a true cultural adventure.

Live… Go… Do!

Top Five List For October 2013

1) Read:

Wired Magazine


For over 20 years my husband and I have subscribed to every issue of WIRED magazine. WIRED is a full-color monthly American magazine, published in both print and online editions, that reports on how emerging technologies affect culturepolitics and the economy. It also covers business, lifestyle and thought leadership. Thought leaders are individuals or firms that are recognized as authorities in specialized fields and whose expertise is sought and often rewarded. Aesthetically, I particularly enjoy the feel of the magazine and the beautiful paper it is printed on. It’s available at Barnes and Noble and most newsstands. Peruse at least one issue. I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

02_wired Logo

“Wired has put a smorgasbord of images on its cover since issue 1.1 hit the stands in May 1993. They’ve run the gamut from Stephen Colbert to Lego figures and deep thoughts on the end of the web. The one thing they’ve shared in common is innovative, eye-catching design — from the loud neon hues of the 1990s to the quiet minimalism of the 20th anniversary issue. To commemorate that anniversary, community editor Brian Mossop worked with Wired’s video team to compile every cover — nearly 250 of them — in a 30-second video celebrating our first two decades. Enjoy!”

– Wired Magazine Website

To see this incredible video go to:



There is plenty of fine entertainment coming into town. It is important to get your tickets to your favorite performances now; otherwise you’ll end up in the “nosebleed” section of the theater. Plus, you’ll get the best seats for your money. Last month’s article included the brochure to the Kravis Center (see the September 2013 Cultural Corner article in the archive at the bottom of the page). This month I’d like to focus on more affordable, yet top notch 2013 – 2014 season performances at:

The Duncan Theater


03_Duncan Brochure

Classical Café, Juke Box Music, Comedy, Children’s Theater and more…

This season also includes the following internationally renowned dance companies:

Pilobolus, Koresh, Ririe-Woodbury & Paul Taylor

Check out the Duncan Theatre brochure at:


For more information go to:


3) There’s so much variety and talent at…

04_LW Playhouse Logo
05_LW October events

The Lake Worth Playhouse

Featuring Theater, Independent/Foreign Films and more…

View the entire 2013 – 2014 season calendar of events at:


4) Explore:

The Cultural Council of the Palm Beaches

06_CC Logo
07_Culture Council 1

WOW. What a calendar of events! Fully explore the Cultural Council’s outstanding website and view all there is to do right here in our own county.

Go to:


5) It’s a whole new world at…

Mickalene Thomas - Photo: Ms. Thomas
Mickalene Thomas                                   Photo: Ms. Thomas

On September 14th, 2013 I was privy to view the installation of the Norton’s new lobby mural by Mickalene Thomas. Not only did I get to slip in through the back door (the museum was closed due to the setup of new exhibits), I was able to get an inside look at the artist at work. Thomas explained that her lobby collage is a combination of mixed resources: photos, paints and other materials that help her bring her “hand back into the art.” At the time of this writing, the collage was a work in progress (yet untitled). We will all have to visit the Norton museum to see the finished product!

Rather than try to explain further, I assembled a video of photos I took at the press conference preview. In addition, I scored the video’s music soundtrack. Enjoy!

Mickalene Thomas Installation Video soundtrack scored and performed by Lori Hope Baumel © 2013

September 17, 2013 – August 31, 2014

“The third site specific artwork for the Norton Museum lobby has been created by Mickalene Thomas (b.1971, Camden, New Jersey). She is best known for her elaborate figurative paintings, which expand ideas of beauty through compositions inspired by sources as varied as popular culture, 19th century French painting, and the collages of Romare Bearden. Following a residency at Monet’s home and garden in Giverny, she has continued to examine the elements and complexity of both domestic interiors and landscape through fractured perspectives signaled by patterning and seductive, decorative materials.  Thomas has consistently worked with deconstructing and reassembling photographic images in her own collages, which often serve as reference for her paintings.  This will be the first mural-sized artwork Thomas has created outside of New York. The installation is made possible by the generosity of Vanessa and Anthony Beyer.”   – Norton Press Release
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