Dale Sinderson has made a career out of visual arts and guitar, but it’s not hard to imagine that people are his true passion.
Sinderson, from Harvard, spends time at a couple of local schools, educating young ones on an area they wouldn’t otherwise get to learn. And he takes in people of all backgrounds at his Harvard studio, giving lessons to the vulnerable – recovering alcoholics, youth in distress.
“I’ve had struggles, too,” Sinderson said. “I’m not going to say I reach everybody, but once in a while if you can elevate somebody, it’s well worth it.”
Sinderson, who grew up in Harvard and now owns ArtTunes, studied at Illinois State University in Normal. That experience got him “close to normal,” he jokingly points out, and then comes back to, in a different form, when talking about what it means to be an artist – or just to think like one.
The trick is to use the crazy for good, not evil, he said.
“If you’re creative, you’re essentially insane,” he said. “You see something that’s not there. ... That’s the textbook definition.”
Music and art helps people express themselves and gives them an outlet for emotion, Sinderson said.
His belief in its power is one reason he got involved in the schools years ago. After District 50 cut art programs, the local organization H’ARTS gathered local artists to be a part of a new program called the Visiting Artists Elementary Art Program.
More than 14 years later, Sinderson still is spending several days a week at Jefferson School and Crosby Elementary.
“A lot of times, students can’t really show creativity,” Sinderson said. “If you do a math problem, every kid in that class has to have the same answer to be right. With art, there can be 24 different answers and they can all be correct.”
At the studio, it’s a different setting but a similar focus on growing through a creative medium.
Sinderson’s wife, Francine Sinderson, has watched her husband take a special interest in “at-risk” individuals through the years – those who might need the outlet more than your average person.
“I just think he relates to people,” she said.
“He’s from humble beginnings himself, so when he sees someone struggling he tries to help.”
Sinderson doesn’t know where exactly he finds these people – “they kind of get in touch with me” – or why they seem to be drawn toward his style. Word of mouth, possibly. Either way, he takes them in with open arms.
“All they need is to be told they’re OK,” he said. “I’ve had some kids that are a little stressed and aren’t thinking like others.
“I just say, ‘Join the club. We’re all like that.’ ”
He’s made these efforts for years without searching for recognition, Francine Sinderson said.
“He does so much behind the scenes and never really gets recognized for it,” she said. “He does a lot of volunteer stuff, taking from his own time and his own business.”