Marielle Argueza is a staff writer and calendar editor for the Weekly. She covers education, immigration and culture. Additionally, she covers the areas of Marina and South County. She occasionally writes about food and runs the internship program.

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Art is essential and, by the looks of it, it’s in good hands. 

Good morning. 

Marielle Argueza here, thinking about all the ways having an arts education has impacted my life. No surprise here. I didn’t become a world-famous violinist, nor did I become the next Imogen Cunningham. I’ll leave the future of art-making to the Joyce Kims and Kellin Hanases of the world

Kim attends Youth Arts Collective and is making moves to become a storyboard artist, while Hanas was a trumpet player for Monterey Jazz Festival’s Next Generation Jazz Orchestra for 2019 and 2020. They’re the ones who found their talents guided and then amplified in art exhibitions and international concerts. They’re the ones who put in the work to keep the legacies of their respective disciplines alive and well, and found a new sense of productivity and meaning while practicing their crafts during the pandemic.

Hearing their stories has made me think about my own arts education: two years in a free Lyceum program where I learned violin, four years in the orchestra at Los Arboles Middle School, two misguided weeks painting and drawing in high school and moving on to two years of film photography. I remember attending those classes completely immersed. It was a good break from looking at numbers, words and Scantrons. 

But not only was it a good respite from the standardized testing and regular classes, it also gave me a competency that I saw in other parts of my life, even today, as an adult. In high school, I knew what the Baroque period was before we even started the section in history class. Fractions and decimals were a breeze because I had been dividing notes on sheet music since I was in fourth grade. I knew the names of the stern Victorian-era men posing in black and white portraits in our textbooks because I studied daguerreotypes and other types of photographic processes. And most of all, I saw the effect this knowledge had on kids of all backgrounds.

The thing with arts education, even if you don’t pursue it for your life’s work, is that it gives you a cultural literacy that can’t be taught in standard math, social studies or literature classes. It gives people the tools to think outside of the box and outside of the discipline, allowing its students to apply those skills and lenses to their world, making the world a more expansive and dynamic place.

This is not lost on leaders who run local arts programs for young students. They see the necessity of exposing all kinds of students to art. They see it as valuable and worth saving and adapting to the virtual experience because students will never get these lessons anywhere else. My cover story for this week’s Monterey County Weekly is all about how these programs, and the artists they serve, are staying active and vibrant during the pandemic, despite the challenges the pandemic presents.

Art is essential and, by the looks of it, it’s in good hands

-Marielle Argueza, staff writer,

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