Art Tour

Every once in a while, we’ll get a letter saying that some piece of art by one of my daughters is in a school art show. The first time it happened, with M, this seemed impressive. There was an “Art Show Reception” that I put on my calendar, and we were excited to attend.  Then I somehow managed to lose track of the reception day and time, and by the time I remembered that it must be coming up soon, it had happened days ago. Poor M was Deeply Disappointed and I was a Failure As A Mother.

Some time later, there was another piece of art in another show for which we were invited to another reception, and this time I made absolutely sure that we wouldn’t miss it, but it turns out that the reception kind of sucks. Way too many parents show up and they are all bumping into each other in a crowded hallway, trying to take photographs of their children’s artwork when he pieces of art are crammed in very, very close together, like so:

By the time M was in middle school, we were really quite blasé about the art show thing. It was always the same one, at the district offices, and we’d learned to skip the reception and just visit at another time so that we’d have space to breathe. It’s just around the corner from our house, so it’s a nice little outing to walk over, take a picture to memorialize the event, and then chit-chat about our favorite pieces by the other students and genres among the various art projects that the art teachers have dreamed up.

Last year was a change of pace, because one of J’s pieces of art was chosen for an Empire State Plaza exhibition, an exhibition I had never heard throughout M’s artistic experience. This seemed like a bigger deal, so we dutifully schlepped to downtown Albany to hear someone give a speech about the importance of arts education and take photographs. When we got to the plaza, we ran into several of J’s friends who’d also had art chosen for the show, and I was wishing that they could’ve just published the list somewhere so that we could have coordinated and carpooled (you know I avoid driving whenever possible). Which makes me wonder if there are all sorts of other awards and honors happening that haven’t been bestowed upon my children, either. . . surely not! Anyway, the Empire State Plaza reception was also not super-exciting, but it was still flattering for J to be chosen.

Well, I don’t know what’s going on, but this year, we got letters that J’s got art in three different art shows simultaneously. There’s the old reliable show at the district offices, with the art from above.

Then there was a piece at the Empire State Plaza show again. This time I decided to multi-task at the Kidz Expo, and so when the crowd (finally!) thinned out on Expo day, I ran over to the exhibition and took a picture of J’s piece:

I was glad that I’d taken the opportunity, because this year I hardly recognized anyone from J’s school–there were still a bunch of kids, just none of her friends. So if we’d gone it would have been less entertaining than last year. Which, let’s face it, wasn’t all that entertaining even with the friends.

But the nicest little treat was that J’s art was also put in a show at the high school. On a free afternoon, J and I decided we’d go visit the exhibitions at the two nearby schools. We told M about our plans, at which point I couldn’t help but brag a little about the fact that her little sister was in three different art shows.

“Wow, that’s great,” M replied. “My art teacher was just telling me how horrible my art project is.”

Second hand, M’s art teacher has sounded pretty negative all year, but this stretched credulity. “No way!” I protested. “I’m sure she didn’t say that you’re art was horrible.”

“Well, not those exact words,” M conceded. “But she pointed out a whole bunch of things that were wrong with it, and then she said that even though it’s due today, I could still start over if I wanted to.”

Oh. Well, yeah, that doesn’t sound encouraging. No wonder M never got invited to the Empire State Plaza!

Anyway, that high school is a bit of a maze, so we asked M for directions about where the art show might be, and she said, “Oh, Mom, you’ll never find it. I’ll just come with you.”

Okay, true: she has zero confidence in my ability to navigate. But honestly, that’s a valid assessment. And more important, M wanted to come along to check out J’s art! J was thrilled.

When we arrived at the high school, the girls sped up immediately so they could lose the dead weight their mother. M was giving J a little tour and showing J all the Most Important Sights of the high school, while I trailed behind and tried to document the Beautiful Sister Bonding.

Damn, they were walking pretty fast, though. Every time I’d focus they’d get way too far ahead.

When we finally got to J’s art, I have to admit that I don’t really “get” what’s made J such an artistic triple threat these days;

Does she have deep talents and an untapped virtuosity that is only now being discovered? Or is it blatant favoritism by an art teacher grateful to have a studious girl who takes her shading duties seriously and would never dream of snickering at a nude?

I have no idea, but I really loved taking that art tour with my two girls.


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