We visited the city last week. It had been so long since we roamed the art museum, that I thought it was time to take these country boys to town! (For they ARE being raised as country boys really, despite all evidence to the contrary – namely their suburban home.)
Anyway, on this visit, each boy had a clipboard and a goal… But wait, let me back up…
We recently read in, I think it was Usborne’s Introduction to Art, that there are a handful of main artistic genres. This was a revelation, that a thing so big and varied as “art” could be categorized. Something nebulous began to take shape in their minds – the idea that art is more than just a collection of pretty things, it has purpose and meaning.
We spent a good while paging through our small stack of Mike Vanezia’s Meet the Great Artist books and tried to categorize our favorite works. We noticed that certain artists have strong inclinations toward one or two genres. We did the same with a set of Child Sized Masterpieces. This became a game… every time we saw a painting or drawing someone would shout, “Still Life!” or “The Genre Genre!” trying to beat his brothers to the punch.
So cleary, it was time to revisit the museum. It’s the same one that we’ve visited before, but armed with new knowledge I felt it was sure to be a fresh experience. With clipboards in hand then, my guys set out to take a sort of census. (There’s a great deal of census taking going on here these days). It was their mission to collect data about the number of holdings in our museum that belong to each genre. At first, there was a lot of giddy shouting, “Ooh Ooh! That one’s a portrait!” and furious making of tally marks.
It was a great plan, but before long the tallying gave way to just being in the moment.
There was heated debate over what is and is not art. (And some whispered words about how it was not especially polite to loudly voice your opinion on this matter while other museum goers were nearby, quietly coming to their own conclusions about said piece.)
There were declarations of “this one is my absolute favorite!” and then, “no THIS one is my favorite!”
There were nervous guards having palpitations over statements like, “Wow, look at the globby, curly paint on this one! Doesn’t it make you just want to rub your hands all over it?” and “That sculpture looks like it would be SO good for climbing!”
And my favorite part – moments when the creative energy just spilled over and they had to sit, or even lay, right away, to sketch out something that they particularly liked. Ryder sketched the EXIT sign. He thought it was neat and that he might want to remember how to spell that one day. 🙂
There were many, many questions – so many that MY clipboard was used for keeping track of them.
“How come these paintings look kind of the same, if two different people made them?” (About the two nearest ones, pictured above – terribly astute question, I thought.)
“Why is that art when I could paint it?” and just as often, “How did he make it looks so real? I could never do that!” (How interesting it is that we seemed to be hardwired to assess art this way – by deciding wether or not we feel that we could have done it ourselves.)
What on earth is THAT supposed to mean?”
“How come all the ‘new art’ doesn’t fit into the genres very well?”
“Why is it bad to use flash cameras or touch stuff?”
“Are the bones real?”… and on and on.
Mama even had some questions for them… and it totally blew their minds… “Is the Exit sign art? Well, how about Ryder’s drawing of the exit sign then, is that art? What if I take a particularly good photo of the exit sign? Would THAT be art? How about if a famous artist recreated an exact replica? ” They are still thinking on their answers to these questions, which is okay because I am too. I’m going to let them ponder on it all a while before I introduce them to Duchamp’s “Fountain”
Neat isn’t it, how museums are like the best kinds of books – the kind that you read several times at different stages in your life, and with each reading it touches you in a new way?
The city does have its charms.