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?