I taught preschool for so many years that without even thinking about it I tend to create thematic learning opportunities for my grandchildren. When Aimee and I began to put our heads together about what we might do with my mother, her grandmother, for Mother’s Day, an idea popped into my head.
Why don’t we take the girls to see a very special mother who happens to be visiting nearby?
“Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1,” more commonly referred to as “Whistler’s Mother,” is visiting from the French Museé d’Orsay along with Édouard Manet’s portrait of his friend, Émile Zola, and Paul Cézanne’s Card Players.
Sophia and Karina are frequent visitors to the local Natural History Museum, Science Center and Pasadena’s family-friendly Kidspace, but art museums haven’t yet been a prominent part of their extra-curricular education. I was curious to learn how the girls, 7 1/2 and almost 6, would respond to what they experienced.
We didn’t have to wait too long for the comments to begin. The Rodin collection in front of the museum entrance features several large sculptures, many with the human figure unclothed. Sophia expressed concern, with some distaste, for all the naked bodies. Her art education took a jump-start!
Our thought was to limit this first visit to the Norton Simon Museum to just a few of the halls and then the current exhibition which brought us here in the first place, Tête-à-tête: Three Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay, on loan through June 22, 2015.
I was eager for Karina, who dances through life, to experience one of my favorite artists. Industrialist and philanthropist Norton Simon, founder of the Norton Simon museum, also gravitated to the works of Edgar Degas, and with over 100 works by this artist at the museum, there is plenty to absorb. I adore the graceful dancers in his magnificent works. It’s probably because I’m anything but graceful, but great art feeds the imagination and the soul.
The girls are very different in their observations. Karina enjoyed discussing some of the paintings with her great-grandmother. She loved flowers and still life and representational art.
Sophia was interested in Van Gogh, Picasso and Andy Warhol. This didn’t surprise me. The girls have distinctively different tastes in almost everything.
Even the outdoor spaces brought out their differing observations.
Karina enthusiastically pointed out interesting water features commenting on their beauty…
While Sophia, with concern and some degree of suspicion asked, “Is this recirculating water?”
Four generations at a favorite art museum. My idea of a wonderful Mother’s Day.
Nan, with her budding artist and future eco-chick!
A new week begins!