In celebration of the Rembrandt inside all of us

“It keeps me active, so I am not on the couch chewing potato chips all the time. Art is one of the greatest learning experiences.”

George W. Bush,

43rd President of the United States

The phrase “Rembrandt in the attic” has come to mean discovering value in forgotten places and can be applied literally or figuratively. A family in New Jersey found a painting by Rembrandt in the basement of a departed relative. George W. Bush, in discovering his talent in painting remarked, “I found the Rembrandt in me.” People of the Sunrise Side are discovering talents and organizations are leveraging arts, culture and history to attract visitors and growth opportunities.

Some mystique is in the artist, Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606 – 1669), a painter of the Dutch Golden Age, known for realism in portraiture. His work has been described by Dan Rockmore, mathematician: “It’s like seeing actors backstage without their makeup, drinking beers, and smoking cigarettes.” Rockmore’s knowledge of Rembrandt is not casual. He is involved in a project with the Metropolitan Museum of Art to authenticate paintings by defining visual stylometry with mathematical formula derived through digital photography.

The presidency of George W. Bush was caricatured by the landing on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, dressed in a flight suit and declaring, “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, a war that would continue for eight years. He took up painting at age 66 and has developed his talent through instruction and online courses.

Philip Kennicott, art critic describes his work as “curiosity, compassion, the commitment to learn something new and share with the public.”

For those who want to experience art, programs are available through Art in the Loft. Those that need to lower inhibitions might try “Cork Screws and Canvas.” Several artists have taken their art to higher level, participating in juried exhibits to gain exposure and reputation. There are guilds and councils organized from Standish to Cheboygan for promoting arts.

Art is entertainment, attracting visitors and heightening visibility with hope for economic growth. ARTown – Michigan Arts and Culture Northeast was organized to promote the region through collaboration. The statewide organization, Creative Start Michigan, completed a survey in fiscal year 2015 that determined the arts in Michigan provided $1.25 billion in direct expenditures, attracted 17 million visitors, and provided 17,000 jobs.

The recent recession put art education in the attic and the buzz word “accountability” has allowed it to collect dust. Although great thinkers from Plato to Einstein stress the importance of arts in developing critical thinking skills, art education has been subjected to the same measurement standards as science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Let us not leave a Rembrandt in the attic for future generations to find!

The Student Art Show at Alpena Community College is an opportunity for the public to share the excitement of producing and displaying art. This spring’s show will he;d be May 4 from 7 to 9 p.m.

“In my own philanthropy and business endeavors, I have seen the critical role that the arts play in stimulating creativity and developing vital communities – the arts have a crucial impact on our economy and are an important catalyst for learning, discovery and achievement in our society.”

Paul G. Allen, Co-founder,

Microsoft Corp.


Tom Brindley grew up in Iowa, and studied journalism and accounting. He is a retired controller from Alpena Community College and has been active in local non-profit organizations. He can be reached at bindletom@hotmail.com.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today