Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Art from the Salon

North Canton Little Art Gallery
June 12 - July 10, 2010

I had the pleasure of spending my first few moments at the “Art from the Salon” show all by myself. Upon regaining my vision after the blast of color, the rest of my hour was in the company of a continuous stream of grandmas with grandkids in tow. After repeatedly hearing “look at the pretty kitty!” and “don’t touch that, let’s go over here!” I put down my notebook and instead, wrote a dialogue in my head. First, I mentally duct taped Grandma to the chair outside and gave her a magazine to look at. Then I took each child by the hand and said “come on kids, let’s go see some magic the Mrs. K way!”

First, we have to walk into the middle of the room and be surrounded by color, bold images and textures galore. Does it make you happy? Well good, now we will start over by Mr. Hench’s work, the one you so want to touch. Don’t, Grandma’s right about that, but it looks so inviting. Why? Because Mr. H has followed his white rabbit and Mrs. K, who has watched his work a long (long) time now, is delighted to see that he has found his magical place. Come sit on the bench and look at his work from here. See how the purple frame separates it from the textured brick wall so that it seems to become more of window into an enchanted place full of things to explore. How many different things can you find? What are they made of, tell me and I will make a list.

Now look over at some of the pieces by Mrs. Wetherall-Sack. Do see things that are sort of the same? Well Mrs. K thinks of it like a game of poker (go ask your Daddy about that later). I can see Mr. H and Mrs. S playing an art game….”I see your tiles and raise you some metal, “, “fine, I see your metal and raise you 2 squares of patterned paper….” and so on much to the delight of both of them.

Look over at the big dog picture? Yes, I know everybody likes the big dog that wants to go for a walk. Why do you think it wants to go for a walk? Yes, it is sunny outside and how do we know that? Right again, by the shadows. So the artist has told you something without having to make it really obvious. Artists do that with light. See if you can find some other pictures that use light. (I’ll wait right here and write in my book….) Okay, come back here and sit down. Now look at the painting next to the dog, the one by Mrs. Michel called “Over the Edge”. Yes, some of the pieces do come out over what one would call the edge of the picture, but I want you to see how the one piece is almost exactly the same size and shape and curve as the dog leash on the table in the painting next to it. Artists use shapes to tell us things. One can find lots of shapes in paintings by Mrs. Matin, and Mr. Maxwell. Look closely and tell me what you see. A germ? A tree? Keep looking…. (Hey Grandma, you okay out there? Kids are fine; we are finding all kinds of things in these pretty pictures…)

Sometimes artists use colors to tell us things, but sometimes that is really obvious so I want you to see how color can be transformed. Look at the red shirt on the golfer, really stare at it, don’t blink, keep staring…..I know, it is starting to get all fuzzy and blurry. Now close your eyes a moment. Okay, now look at the red painting above the golfer, did his shirt start to look like that painting which we call “abstract?” (It is really a “non-objective” painting, but for 1st grade, it is best to keep it simple). Look for other reds in the room. How do artist use them? Yes, the one with the Indian has a lot of red, but it also has some orange, several bold streaks of it. Mrs. K thinks that those lines of color are like lightening in the skies making the sky in the painting below it light up with orange and yellow. That one is my favorite, “Ghost Ranch” by Nancy Michel. Nope, I don’t see any ghosts either so what do you think she calls it that? I think it has to do with all the layers of colors and patterns that are transparent just like ghosts and make that dead tree a thing of beauty. Did you see how she used 4 mats in different colors to make all the colors in the painting important?

We should look at how artists frame things and how it makes the picture affect you. I think the cat (yes, the pretty kitty) is a really good example. One of the frames is striped wood. The stripes are like the fur around the cat’s one eye, same color and texture, so that eye really stands out. Now maybe the cat is looking out a window at the scene in the picture above it. See how the frame is all cut like little leaves. Sort of like looking through an arch of vines (trellis is too hard to explain) at the courtyard below us. We can be the cat in the window, so what do we find outside? (Hey Grannie, I think your kids need a kitten, I know somebody who has one to give away…..) Oh you are allergic? Okay, never mind. Yes, those people are dancing. No, they are not on Dancing with the Stars so she has to wear lots of clothes. Let’s go over here….

Mrs. K really likes these soft paintings in watercolor by Ms. Weinstein. They look very wet and misty which is one way watercolor can be used and it is really hard to do it well. No, they don’t look like real rocks or trees but you know they are so how does the artist make you believe it? Yes, shapes and colors and sometimes even where things are put on the paper, either high or low.

One final stop because Mrs. K has to go. Look at these two big ones side by side. Yes, Mr. H has another one (I know you like the horsey best, but all girls like horses and jewels, me too but stay over here….) and see the half face behind all the falling paint? What is the same between both of them? Yes, color and shapes for sure, but I think that Mr. H made a picture about what is inside the imagination of the girl (that would be Ms. Dulabaum) in the drippy picture. Yes, exactly, like she is dreaming and her world is melting and how those same melting lines show up in Mr. H’s picture. No she is not a hoarder, she just has a lot on her mind. Speaking of which….let’s go get Grannie and you can bring her back in here and show her how one is supposed to introduce art to kids. Oh and kids, if you say “look at the pretty kitty” one more time, I am going to kick some series patootie.

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