Catharsis in a beer

Melissa Treolo

While in high school many years ago, and I won’t admit to how many, I took my first trip to a major art museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I arrived on that windy, rainswept afternoon with a camera, a book-bound collection of Ansel Adams photographs (the only major artist I cared to know about at the time) and a head full of preconceptions about what art was all about. Being as I was just a young tyke and being as I was raised in a family that was sure the few anonymous landscapes hung on the beige walls of the house were pieces of artistic genius, you can imagine how ignorant I really was.

Thankfully I walked inside and learned much more about what being an artist really had to offer. Which, on that particular occasion, was an elegantly done replica of the menstrual cycle complete with certain Tampax-related accessories. I don’t remember everything I saw, but I do remember an Andy Warhol screenprint of a Campbell’s Tomato Soup can that completely changed my life and has, to this day, made me a devout Warhol fan. I have since been to many art museums and like to think that, while I don’t know every major artist that ever painted a canvas or took an amazing photograph, I am a little more evolved than I was back in high school.

In honor of the approaching month, we are recognizing our own artistic community (what February has to do with artists I have no idea – it just seemed like a good idea at the time). Unbeknownst to many living in Topeka, there are things to do in Topeka and we would like to show our appreciation to those businesses and individuals who are helping to bring this concept about. And, since I am so much more evolved, I like to think that artists don’t always come in the form of a painter wielding a brush. Sometimes they take the shape of a business whose bottom line isn’t a bottom line at all. Sometimes they are in the form of a person who is generous to a fault or one who shows us a world beyond our own back door.

Our series is a list of seven but there are many more than seven groups of people and places promoting arts and entertainment in Topeka. I encourage you to look for them and maybe even redefine some previously held notions of what art is all about. A bar is a bar, after all, but a bar that serves your favorite, hard-to-find beer may just be the artistic catharsis you’ve been looking for.