Saturday, July 15, 2006

From Aesops to Zappa

Today we headed over to Einstein's office to pick up some paperwork before we headed over to have a little stroll at a nearby pond. While we were there, admiring the piles on his desk, Sunburst noticed our copy of Aesop's Fables Coloring Album by Brad Foster. It's an old book with exquisite celtic-like drawings, and rather than let the kids go to town on the book, he had taken it to work to make xeroxes for them to color.

In the past Sunburst hasn't noticed the text that accompanied each drawing, but today she picked right up on it. I diverted her attention from the book several times, having only gotten halfway through my reading of The Fables of Aesop, in preparation for her Grade 2 lessons. I wasn't even sure how I was going to present these fables yet, but my lack of preparation is no match for Sunburst's curiosity. While I was taking four-year-old Moonshine to the bathroom, Sunburst had pulled the book back out and started a discourse with Einstein on at least two of the stories.

I was a bit miffed, though whether it was at my own lack of forsight and preparation or something else entirely, I don't know. But I'm entirely open to suggestions from beyond, and once I got over being miffed, I realized that maybe, just maybe this is my universal kick in the pants to go ahead with these fables now-- one of those 'Start where you are' type of messages.

With Aesop's in tow, we pressed on towards the pond which was enveloped in a huge cloud of mist. On such a hot day as this, I assumed it was just moisture in the air, excessive evaporation off the pond. As we neared it, a gassy fog stopped us in our tracks. The air hung thick with chlorine. At least I'm assuming it was chlorine, as there were no warning signs posted. It was noxious and frightening how it just loomed in the air like that, and we beat a hasty retreat away from the pond.

In our retreat, we stumbled into an art museum. It was open and air-conditioned. Small kids in an art museum is kind of an oxymoron, and as far as morons go, well, I've played that bit before. Can anyone say organ recital? In a museum you're also supposed to be quiet and not touch anything. Surely this endeavor was not for the faint of heart. Bravely, we pushed open the doors and dragged our wilting bodies inside. It was cool and colorful and surprisingly, we all had a great time.

We managed to meander through two galleries. The first was full of ancient horse art, and the second was a mixed bag that spanned early jewelry, carvings and gospel paintings all the way through Dadaism and more modern creations. It was interesting to me to see what the kids picked up on.

Sunburst looked at everything and had more questions than we could answer. Really, some of the paintings took us places I wouldn't have elected for us to go yet. "Who is that man covered in blood and why are they beating him with big sticks?" "What's happening in this picture?" Was asked about a painting of two women in front of a bed with the headless body of a man prostrate on the bed behind them. Veins and blood were spewing from his neck. It was lovely, and very, very old. "What's going on there?" Was asked about a huge painting of St. Christopher bearing the Christ child on his back... yes. Another lesson I was planning on presenting this Fall. Curious thing, that. And I have to wonder if there is a message in this for me.

Why am I waiting for Fall? Be here. Be here now. Teach this? Teach this... now?

Moonshine had her own kinds of questions. "Who's the mommy in this picture?" "Is that a boy or a girl?" "Was Jesus a girl?" and "Is that lipstick?"

Perhaps the most amusing question of the exhibit was when we discovered the found art of Marcel Duchamp, including a "What's that?" aimed at his most famous and controversial piece, entitled The Fountain-- a men's urinal turned on its side, signed R. Mutt, 1917.

We saw a real, live Picasso painting.

and even a painting by Diego Rivera. So many lovely, lovely ways of looking at the world and making sense of it. We should really do this more often.

At the end of our tour, I asked the girls what their favorite pieces were. I thought it would be interesting to chronicle their tastes as they grow, and glean some more insight into who they are. Sunburst had two favorites: a 14th century French sculpture of a King's Head and a display of Slinkies wrapped in red yarn, Floor Slinky: Thirty-two Elements by Claire Z. 1971. When asked to expound on her reasons for choosing them, she said things like "pretty, cool, and weird." I tend to agree.

Moonshine liked the old jewelry best. Of course.

We rounded out our adventure with dinner at an artsy food joint. The walls were filled with random found toy art arrangements and a Frank Zappa room. The girls each noticed different Frank paintings* that were Picasso-like.

From A-Z, Aesops to Frank Zappa, all in one day!

After dunking our souls in all this artistic expression, it seems only right that we should drag out our paints and canvases and DO SOMETHING. It's time to breathe out.

*Frank Zappa paintings by Joel Washington.

Be sure to check out Your Daily Art -- an artful blog. Goes well with vitamins.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:23 AM

    If you'd like to see another coloring book with art by Brad Foster, go to
    and scroll down to the "Outlines of Fantasy-Coloring Album"


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