Quote of Inspiration

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Atilla and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fig #9 - The Art Museum

This week, I'm doing something I've wanted to do for a while now: I'm taking my daughter to an art museum.

My desire to do this began about two years ago, when I was sitting at the computer one day looking at art.com. Maggie came up to me, and I put her on my lap and we started looking at the art. I asked her which pieces she liked and which she didn't like, and even though she was 3 at the time, she had clear preferences and opinions. On top of just her likes and dislikes, I began to ask her about the art itself, about the paintings, and she started to tell me what she thought of them, why she liked them and what she thought about the subject matters. It was fascinating and enlightening and thrilling. We do it still; though I admit to being lazy about it recently. We do have a few Renoir books downstairs, and we sometimes flip through those, and Maggie tells me which ones she likes and why she likes them and what she thinks about them. It's all so wonderful because it makes me look at the paintings in a new light and I realize how powerful and compelling art is for all of us.

Maggie's favorite painting (thus far, obviously) is by Hopper. Her two favorite artists so far are Edward Hopper and Degas. She loves Degas because she loves ballet. But Hopper is her true love, and there hasn't been a painting of his that we've seen so far that she doesn't like. Well, but her favorite is entitled "Hotel Room."

I asked Maggie what she thought of this painting, and she said that the women in the painting looks sad to her. I think that's such an interesting observation and comment, and every time we come back to this painting, she says the same thing: that the woman is sad.

Interestingly, I was in Madrid a few months ago, and a friend suggested I go to see the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, a fabulous collection of art that is really staggering in that it was collected by one family. Anyway, I went, not knowing a thing about it, and low and behold, I walked up face-to-face with Hopper's piece, "Hotel Room."

I thought of Maggie and vowed to take her there one day, to show her the original piece of art and to see if she felt the same way about the painting in person.

So, this week I am taking Maggie to her first art museum. It's a small museum here in town, and I wouldn't have thought to take her here except for something that happened last week. I was getting the mail and I received a large envelope from a relative I rarely hear from. In fact, I'd not spoken to her in years. Inside was a small note and a newspaper clipping from the New York Times about a new exhibit at our local gallery from a famed local artist. I myself had never before heard of him, but when I read the article I was intrigued, and I vowed to take Maggie with me.

The artist is Wayne Thiebaud, and below I'll post a few of his pieces. Maggie and I are excited, and I think that while I'm there I'll sign her up for art classes. I can't wait to hear what she has to say about our visit, which I'm planning for Tuesday or Wednesday.

I think one of the best things about having kids is that you get to view the world through a whole new lens......

I'll post later about our big adventure...........



  1. Wayne Thiebaud is one of my favorite artists. Ilove his use of color. You will have to post about your visit. :)

  2. I love Wayne Thiebaud too!! Hope you have a good time!

  3. I read a little while ago that a child having been in a University for a visit or event doubles their chances of getting a higher education later on. This was a stunning stat. I don't know of a similar stat for art but I can only surmise that being exposed to art increases a child's awareness of the value of being creative and expressive.

    I think Maggie is lucky.


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