Sunday, September 7, 2008

This is a corner of our bedroom, and I liked how the shadows were falling. The white thing is a garden ornament, meant to stick into the ground, and the cow skull I made out of clay in high school in a sculpture class at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute in Utica, New York. The Art Institute is connected to the Munson Williams Museum of Art which is a very good museum to visit, if you are in Utica. The building was designed by Philip Johnson in 1960. Golly that must have been a big deal in Utica in 1960!

Even as a kid I loved the museum. They have Thomas Cole's "Voyage of Life," the four-part series by the Hudson River School painter, which is fun for a kid to look at. Members could borrow art works and my mother took me down to flip through all a lot paintings to borrow. I liked that. 

When I was quite young my parents signed me up for art classes at the Art Institute. I had a fit. I did not want to go. The classes were after school and I distinctly remember having a tantrum one afternoon in our gravel driveway while my mother waited in the car. "I will not go." "Yes you will." "No I won't." "Yes you will." It was a stand-off. But finally I did get into the light blue Valiant station wagon.

I was in the class in front of an easel, painting. And guess what? I was good at it. I can still remember the teacher: tall woman, older, white hair, white apron, skirt below the apron. We're going very far back here. She said, in front of my easel, "Class, I want you to look over here. This is a good painting." Well how do you like that. I beamed. It felt good to excel. I went back to the Art Institute for years; I think it was called an Art School then. Classes were at night, after dinner. I took it all -- painting, drawing, print making, sculpture. That really was a fun time for me. 

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