Fine arts

A middle-aged couple exploring the possibility of relocating to the Bangor area asked me about the availability of musical arts, and arts in general, and whether they are well supported here. I enthusiastically listed the Bangor Symphony Orchestra, the Collins Center for the Arts, Minsky Hall for chamber music, the School of Performing Arts at the University of Maine in Orono, the Penobscot Theater, the UMaine Museum of Art in downtown Bangor, the Gracie Theater at Husson University and plentiful venues for rock, country, fiddling and other musical genres.

My response prompted me to think about the importance of cultural arts to a community. Culture adds richness and dimension to life. The cultural arts – sometimes called “fine arts” – are not so fine that they are designated only for an elitist group; they are available to all in our society who care to learn and grow with what can become an elevating, enriching experience.

Even when an artist returns for a second or third performance, it is as new an occasion as every Patriots or Red Sox game is for New England audiences. When we don’t balance arts offerings with other popular events, our society loses an integral piece of its diversity and variety.

As a new season of cultural arts performances begins, I encourage all of us to attend something new to us at least once – a play at the Penobscot Theater, a showing at the Museum of Art, or – my personal recommendation – a chamber music concert at Minsky Hall.

Patricia Stowell


Thank you to all the dedicated Salvation Army volunteers who do bell ringing at Christmas time. The weather has been pretty cold, and I really appreciate the kindness and caring of these volunteers. Over the years the Salvation Army has touched the lives of many Mainers in need.

Have you ever thought to ask one of these blessed people why they are volunteering to ring the bells? It’s amazing how many people have been touched by hardships in their own lives and chose to give back by volunteering.

If you take a moment and say hello to them instead of just walking by you’ll meet some of the kindest and most loving people. If you take a moment and ask why they are ringing the bells, you may hear the story of a brave person who overcame tragedy and hardship with the help of Salvation Army.

The thing is most people really appreciate this trustworthy organization and the great good they do in Maine.

Perhaps the rare grumpy grinch who complains about the bells simply has not been touched by the generosity and kindness of this organization. Chances are, most likely, these are some of the same grumpy grinches who seem to have lost touch with what the Christmas season is all about.

Fortunately most of us remember the true meaning of Christmas, and we are grateful for the kind bell ringers. Keep up the great work, Salvation Army volunteers. Thank you again, and merry Christmas.

Lisa Hunt


Budget deal

The budget deal has passed. I would have expected something like what it entails from the Democrats, but Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., really caught me by surprise.

Retired and disabled military will lose part of their pensions to make up for a $7 billion dollar shortfall.

Sen. Tom Coburn’s wastebook shows $30 billion wasted on absolutely ridiculous congressional pipe dreams just so they can keep their special interest groups happy.

Now it looks like the maimed, blinded and burned returning home will have part of their disability pay going back to the Middle East in the form of foreign aid, so our broken soldiers can pay our enemies for mutilating them.

John W. Gray