Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Bad Day at the Art Museum

Oh, the ranting in my spirit today…I’m still trying to calm down. I ranted over the phone both Linda and DH, and still…it won’t quiet the storm. Sigh. Here we go.

Many of you know that we’re a home-schooling family, at least in part. My sons go to a cooperative school, which means they go to a traditional school 3 days a week and I home school them the other two days. So, Tuesdays and Fridays are generally educational and adventurous, as we have the luxury to add in whatever extra activities we please. I found out that our local museum of art now has free admission all day Tuesday (it used to be free on Tuesday evenings only), so I thought we would have an art appreciation field trip today.

We walked in the doors and signed in at the table, where the helpful docents sat, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the next browsers. They informed us of upcoming events and invited us to look at the website to stay on top of new exhibits, etc. The boys walked off to look at a large aluminum sculpture, while I picked up some info and then we made our way into the first exhibit hall, where there were lovely furniture and lighting pieces designed by Stephen Burks. We’re a modern furniture kind of family, so I was eager to see this “art as furniture-furniture as art” exhibit…but I tell you we didn’t even get into the doorway before one docent stepped in front of us and proceeded to tell us everything about the works before we even walked in the room.

Now – I should explain that I’m a hunter and gatherer of information – I love to peruse the displays and glean information for myself…to form opinions and hypotheses and decisions regarding what I am observing, and I’m trying to infuse that into my children. I strongly believe that the nuggets of knowledge that we mine for ourselves are the jewels of intelligence and logical thought. That’s not to say that others don’t have information that we might need – but I prefer to try and sort through it myself, FIRST, and ask questions that might develop later.

Now that you know my philosophy of education, I’ll continue…After she had blown all the surprises in that room, we still meandered through and I tried to educate, but it really was a bust, I’ll tell you. As we wandered back out into the lobby, the boys spotted a large abstract oil painting on the wall and were drawn to it – it was lovely, really – but there again…before I could even swing around enough to see the whole thing (it was probably 8 feet square) here comes Ms. Know-It-All Docent to tell us everything about it again. Aaaarrggghhh. I’ll tell you – I don’t even remember the name of the painting because she told it to me. Had I investigated it myself, I’d remember…I’m sure.

One more room exists downstairs. Yes – it’s a tiny little museum, but we’ll cover that in another rant. This one is reserved for artists who are having their very first solo exhibit in a museum, and it looked interesting. The artist is Seonna Hong. She’s an animator, and the paintings were all on wood, but done with cel paint – the stuff they use on the animation cels for cartoons. They were interesting and it was very apparent that they had a lot to say to us. We had escaped the eyes of Ms. Docent, so I had great hopes that things were looking up. However – no sooner had we walked in and started to gaze at the works…in she comes. She told us the whole story of this woman’s life in art and what her art was saying before we could say boo. It was only saved by the fact that someone else walked in and she had someone to focus on other than us.

Now – you may be asking – why didn’t I ask her to leave us alone? Well, I try to treat people with the respect I think they all deserve, and I did make it very clear (at least it was clear to me) that we were not looking for all that information. I smiled at her and said “thank you” and moved deliberately away from her at least 3 times. C’mon…get a clue! I don’t have anything else to say about it…except this – if you act as a docent in an art museum…or any museum for that matter…greet people, let them know you are available to help, and then fade quietly into the background so they can be alone with their own thoughts. Thank you. Have a nice day.

We did manage to sketch one lone item upstairs away from the docent’s eyes…a blown-glass trophy “head”. I did mine in my little 5x5” hand*book journal with a 6B Derwent graphitone and added a little water when we got home. The boys worked in Ebony pencil in a composition journal. You can find their work over in Abderian Adventures - the link is in the sidebar. It may take a day or two to pry them out of their hot little hands to scan, so check back often!