Docent She Know?


y’all do know it’s march IN INDIANA, yeah? 😛

I volunteered to chaperon Moo’s field trip to the Indianapolis Museum of Art today. As I’ve written before, Moo is frequently an errant child, so I do try to accompany her on excursions where other adults might not expect to find her hanging from a skylight or milking a distant goat, whereas when I can’t find Moo, I always ask myself, “Where would Curious George be?”
Does Moo love Curious George? Yes, of course she does.

Also, I love art.
My mother instilled the love of art in me when I was quite small, before she abandoned me for Florida and then unbelievably, I sought it out in classes and studies.  I am not surrounded by art lovers here. Although I was once a frequent visitor of the IMA, I had not been there since we returned to Indiana almost two years ago. Only recently did I mention that perhaps Sassy would like to go. Perhaps Sassy will be my art-loving child?

Moo is not an art lover. At least not yet. She’s currently enrolled in an art class, so I don’t know why we’re payin for that…Maybe she only likes her own art…

At any rate, as the docent showed us around the museum, I found myself growing increasingly frustrated. Our docent was a perfectly lovely person, truly. Nevertheless, my internal dialog was sorta like this, “fuck all, are we seriously discussing richardson’s use of light while we stand right next to a hopper? and why are we discussing three other pointillist works while our backs are turned to the seurat? isn’t she even going to allude to the seurat?”

While we were in the portrait gallery, the docent asked which portrait jumped out at us. All I could think was “are you freakin kiddin me? the bloody rembrandt!” but I didn’t say so, because not ten years old.
Moo asked me if a painting to our right was Queen Elizabeth and I said, “No, but she’s wearing the same fashions, which are since called Elizabethan, and so that’s quite a good guess for someone your age,” and I found the docent listening to me prattle on about the queen’s court, hairlines, eyebrows, and collars.


Also, just on a personal level, I don’t like Frederick Remington bronzes. I’m sorry. I know I probably should, because American icon, but I simply cannot. They’re fucking everywhere. There are just too many of them. They’re like the Thomas Kinkade of sculpture. I know, I’m terrible. I wouldn’t have stopped to look at one, let alone for five precious minutes.

We spent a fair chunk of time in front of a Norman Rockwell, and to my surprise and dismay, my child claimed to know nothing about Norman Rockwell. Never you mind that there are THREE Norman Rockwell prints hanging in Moo’s house and that one of Moo’s mother’s prized possessions is a Norman Rockwell art book, passed down from her grandma. Clearly she’s not to be a third generation Rockwell lover. My heart bled out in realistic, agonizing detail.


When we split up to go our own way, I asked the docent, “On which floor is the room that makes you think you’re looking at a painting, but really as you get closer, —?”
Her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh! Shh, don’t ruin it! We’ll go do that now!”
So we did. And that was a big hit with everyone in our group.
(Fourth floor. Unforgettable. I will not ruin it.)


I didn’t learn a single thing from the docent. I was so sad. I thought it would be super groovy to have an actual tour guide. Then maybe I could call my mother with some interesting tidbit, and then we could marvel together over this new knowledge, or it would lead us to do more learning — but no, it was not to be.

My education came from the lil kid in our group who said, “There’s way too many white people paintings in here.” Yes, I must agree.
That kid loved all the paintings of Jesus, asking, “Is that supposed to be Jesus?” and I don’t think that was a coincidence.


It was hours later, while ranting to The Mister about the fact that the docent seemed to omit how every minute detail of the entire Jesus painting was intricately highlighted in red, saying, “Surely she knew that! Surely she just didn’t want to discuss religious art! Surely she knew! She just had to know! Right?!” that I realized I would have been the docent I wanted.

Kids love installation art.
They love sensory and performance art.
They think mobiles are awesome.
They like to look at modern sculpture and think, “I can do that!”
That’s how to get kids engaged and excited about art.


As is typical of me, I am completely qualified for yet another unpaid position. Passionate and knowledgeable about art, with a teaching or public speaking background. Check, check, check, check — no paycheck.

Tell me what art you love?

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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34 Responses to Docent She Know?

  1. I could just book a flight right now for Indiana to give you a hug over that Thomas Kinkade comment.

    OK, now that I got THAT out of the way, where do I start? Impossible to narrow down but I have to ask if you have ever been to the Gardner Museum in Boston? If not, you must find a way to go there at some point in your life. It is breathtakingly beautiful and Isabella Stewart Gardner was a goddess, IMHO. You would have loved her, I think.

    I was surprised when I visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Massachusetts just how much more he was than a mere illustrator. Yes, indeedy, a convert I became when seeing his work in person.

    My favorite artist is Adolph Menzel. I will write a post on him someday when I get up the energy to do him justice. The man painted and drew everything….everything from every angle. His faces are inexpressibly alive. I was posting a Menzel each Monday on my IG account for a while there – just did one yesterday. You’ll see what I mean. Now I will stop because I could go on…..and on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have not been to the Gardner. I will put it on my list.
      I am not familiar with Menzel, or at least I don’t think I am. I’ll Google.
      I haven’t been good with IG lately, but I’ll look there, too.
      I’m glad we’re together on the Kinkade 🙂


  2. Dan Antion says:

    I like just about any form of art. Our daughter was a huge art fan, eventually went to art school and obtained a BFA. We took her to many museums and only on rare occasion did I want to leave before she did. I went to graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh. I was a commuter student, so I was stuck downtown on days that I had large gaps in my schedule. I spent many of those days in one of the Carnegie Art Museums which were free to students. I became very familiar with the exhibits. If you forced me to choose though, I’d sit in the room with the dinosaurs. I know, technically, it’s not art, but….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Norm 2.0 says:

    I feel like such a doof when it comes to art. I can admire/appreciate it but I’m not always sure I understand what I’m looking at. I really wish I’d payed closer attention and asked more questions back in high school.
    However, since getting seriously into photography a few years ago, I feel I understand painting better. Framing, structure, patterns, rhythm and repetition, and of course the use of light are things I understand and recognize now.
    But when you show me the abstract stuff or symbolism, I feel like Homer Simpson: nodding and grinning politely 🙂
    Maybe one day I’ll take a course and pay attention this time!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. markbialczak says:

    I don’t know what I’m liking, I just know that I’m liking it, Joey. I go to the Eveson Museum of Art here in Syracuse and soak it in for the pure emotional gut of it. I should step up the intellectual end to match, I know. We had a big, travelling “From Turner to Cezannes (sp) three or four years ago, and I went with my arts reporter colleague and graphic artist friends from the big daily, and they really knew their stuff. They both loved my eye! I was amazed at how small some of the famous paintings, like the Van Gogh, were. Thanks for this post. Another true confession: What the hell is a docent? Fancy word for a tour guide?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. hollie says:

    I wish I had taken Art History, or Art appreciation or anything of the like. I felt that since I couldn’t create art (well, not like paint or draw or anything) that I’d do poorly. I experienced real art at the Met in NYC for the first time. My professor wanted a print of a Pollack painting, he didn’t care which. I didn’t get it…I thought, anyone could do that. I was incorrect. Seeing it in person was amazing. One of my favorite painters is Degas, I love the ballerinas. Dance is a form of art that I connect to, so seeing that grace and beauty in a painting speaks to me. I am not well versed in art, though it is something I’d like to become well-versed in. I am drawn to paintings that feature red as a main color, or a bright splash of color. I love paintings representing night time, with twinkly lights, or street corners where a lamp lights a brick street. I am not, however, a Thomas Kincade fan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sure sounds like you know what you like! 😀 If you’re ever in Indy, please let me be your guide at the IMA!

      Liked by 1 person

      • hollie says:

        That would be awesome! I would like a docent that knows what the hell she is talking about. I’m a history person, so the different art movements intrigue me. My family is from Indiana, so I probably should visit at some point.

        Liked by 1 person

        • OH? Wherebouts?
          History is definitely helpful.


          • hollie says:

            Jeffersonville. My dad was from Lousiville and my mom Jeffersonville. My step-grandma still lives in Jeff and my crazy grandma (dad’s mom) that I don’t speak to lives in Henrysville, IN. I would like to see my aunt and uncle, though, that are still in the area.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Trippy! Good to know!

              Liked by 1 person

              • hollie says:

                The first time we visited when I was a girl (I lived there briefly as a baby though I was born in Manhattan when dad was at Ft Riley) I was like. Wait…there are trees? Right on the side of the road? Kansas is pretty flat and desolate, Indiana provides better scenery to drive through!

                Liked by 1 person

                • Kansas is long and flat. Me in Kansas, “Ooooh, sunflowers!” Me four hours into Kansas, “Still just sunflowers?” I mean, you know, there’s corn and stuff, but well, you know.
                  I’m partial to farmland, but yeah, we’ve got a lot of forest. Between us and your kin, we have the Hoosier National Forest, so yeah, lotsa trees 🙂

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • hollie says:

                    There are also lots and lots of cows. The sunsets are pretty awesome here, because of how flat everything is and no buildings for miles, but we lack in the greenery department.

                    Liked by 1 person

  6. I don’t know a lot about art, but I do enjoy taking it in.

    I’m initially drawn to things that are whimsical and colorful. But I find myself spending the most with pencil drawings. I am amazed at the life-like detail that can be brought forth with just a pencil and shading.

    I’m a huge fan of photography, too. I have worked with some amazing photographers over the years and love seeing them capture that perfect scene/moment/emotion.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jewels says:

    Sounds like fun, I would have loved that field trip! I’m a huge fan of art, all different types of mediums, but I must admit I know almost nothing about it, intellectually speaking, I just know what I like. 🙂 I live in a very artsy neighborhood, it wasn’t like this when I grew up here, but I love how it has evolved into such. We have tons of art events going on throughout the year, but I have yet to attend any since moving back – I may love art, but I’m not really a fan of crowds. The other day I came across an article that my neighborhood was ranked as the #1 arts district in the US by USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Awards or some such thing like that, and I thought that was pretty cool. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. mummyluvs says:

    It could be worse…when the elder’s class toured the zoo in second grade there weren’t any volunteers to give tours. There were suppose to be. Enter Mommy, a former zoo volunteer-at that zoo. Enough knowledge came back even it had been ten plus years since I was a tour guide that I ended up acting as tour guide for our group and another.

    Also-forget paychecks. Volunteer as a docent. Volunteering for something you love is super rewarding. I should know, as my current “job” is unpaid, full-time, horrible hours…but I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am woefully useless when it comes to art. Not only can I not draw, but I am shamefully uneducated with regards to artists and their works, apart from maybe a few of the more obvious ones. However, I can only say there are many things that I like and appreciate. My favourite ar would have to be the art of putting words together! (Sorry it’s a bit of a cop-out)!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. cardamone5 says:

    Abstract all the way. I have actually been able to fill my house with actual paintings/art by going to estate sales, and waiting for the half off times. These are artists featured in Buffalo’s Albright Knox museum, so of course I feel special and privileged. But the kicker is these pieces only cost $100-$200 dollars, which is a lot of money but for original art? but I have also been lucky enough to see some top notch art museums including MOCA, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate. I fell in love with the preraffaellitis.

    I would love to go on a tour where you are the docent.


    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sherry says:

    Now see, I see you renting yourself out as a freelance art docent…Really, seriously. You could indulge your passion, while getting paid…Advertise on Craig’s list…see? I’m always lookin’ out for ya Joey..


  12. Sammy D. says:

    I like many kinds of art although I’m not schooled in art history or art processes. Altho I should be willing to become educated, I prefer wandering museums and galleries without a docent or a tour group (altho I’d let you guide me!). I have favorites from backyard kitsch to Monet.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Faith Simone says:

    I enjoy art and even took an art appreciation course at one point or other, but I’m far from as knowledgeable as I would like to be. Interpretation: I don’t know swat about art, but it sure is nice to look at.
    I haven’t been to a museum in years *hangs head* but when I do go I like to spend just a little while with a tour guide, then do a run through on my own. That way I can linger and stare and daydream in front of whatever catches my fancy for as long as I want to!
    I’m sure you’d make a great docent Joey! And I learned a new word today. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I mainly just love wandering around museums. They’re quiet, open, and they always smell good. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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