Saturday, July 30, 2011

Fine Arts vs. Life

Friday morning my older daughter, her son, and I journeyed to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the Monet Water Lilies.  Two of the three sections are leaving town soon, and my daughter and I waited until almost the last second with our usual fine procrastinating skill before seizing our chance to see the Water Lilies as a triptych.  Omaha came along because he had to if we went and also because my daughter wants him to be able to say later in life that he saw the exhibit.  Of course, since Omaha is two years old, he's more likely to remember the stories about our trip into culture than actually remember the paintings themselves.

What's really strange about the trip is that in eight days I visited two art museums which happen to be in different cities.  This is not like me, but I do rather enjoy imagining what it would be like if I were a person for whom this is second nature.

Alas!  Let me be honest. I am the sort of person who likes to look at art I enjoy rather than trying to gain some deeper appreciation.  The Water Lilies were beautiful, and I can't imagine how Claude Monet could paint up close what one sees from a distance.  I suppose that is what genius is.  What bothers me is that I like the other Monet paintings in the Nelson's collections better than I like the Water Lilies.  From all the hype about the Water Lilies, I feel as though I'm making a mistake somewhere, but my ratings are at least honest.

Omaha was remarkably well behaved.  Every time he would start to be loud my daughter would remind him to use his "library voice" and he obeyed.  His favorite room at the museum was the hall with skylights in the original part.  It has eight huge marble pillars with animals carved in the capitals.  (I had to look in Wikipedia to find out "capital" was the word I meant.)  Because of the animals, Omaha called the hall the Zoo Room.  The Zoo Room was also good because Omaha was allowed to leave the stroller in that room; i.e., the works of art were elsewhere.  Omaha enjoyed walking quickly (because his mother stopped him if he ran) around the pillars and climbing up on the upholstered benches.  There's nothing like a little freedom to help one appreciate art.

The other room Omaha liked was also one of his mother's favorites.  She likes ancient Chinese and Japanese art.  The Nelson has a separate room with scrolls and other items in glass cases.  Omaha was absolutely thrilled that the glass cases lit automatically when people approached the cases.  Even though he had to sit in his stroller, those lights made the entire room worth seeing.

I don't think my daughter and I have ever before enjoyed time at an art museum as we did yesterday.  Part of the reason was the company and part was the only art we perused was what we were interested in.  I hope we can return together sometime.

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