Sunday, June 14, 2015

Art Appreciation...mostly

The NC Museum of Art in Raleigh had been on my Field Trip radar for several months. Having perused the website, I thought it sounded like a really cool place--offering exhibits inside the buildings, as well as a large campus with abundant green space and paths, set up for you to meander while viewing the various installations set up outside. So, I had finally gotten around to putting it on the calendar--for last Thursday--when the whole "Derek isn't going to school" situation cropped up. This left me with a dilemma: do I leave the teenager at home, unsupervised, and therefore prohibited from hanging out with his friends anyway...or do I drag him along with me--I mean "extend the invitation to accompany me on a fun excursion...whisper whisper whisper". (I might have intentionally mumbled/slurred the precise destination, so as not to evoke his instant refusal when he heard the phrase "art museum". It happens....)

See? I couldn't even make this stuff up...
Just kidding--I did actually tell him where we would be going. And whattya know--even being in possession of this information, he agreed to come along. (Without bribery...or coercion, it should be noted. A modern-day miracle!) After an easy drive and a rewardingly simple time finding the place, we arrived ready culturized....or something. (On second thought, that sounds like a process that happens to yogurt, so never mind...where was I?) Did  I mention that both the museum itself AND the parking are F-R-E-E? I was already pleased, I tell ya. Since the forecast promised temperatures approaching, oh, let's say "surface of the sun" in the later afternoon, we wisely opted to wander through the outdoor points of interest first. And it is indeed a lovely, peaceful place for strolling. As for the artwork itself, we found some of the examples attractive (such as an enormous "tree" crafted from a shiny silver substance), others impressive (like a garden full of figures by Rodin--no "Thinker", but many other extremely lifelike humans cast in bronze), and a few...downright inexplicable (e.g. a gigantic blob of metal in which the only part with an actual shape was...the feet. Don't ask me...what the heck do I know about art?)

Thus having dripped our way back to the gateway to air-conditioned heaven--otherwise known as the "front door"--we stepped inside to continue our artistic journey. And again, a large portion of the displayed items fell into the category of "what you'd expect in an art museum". There were alcoves dedicated to different categories: African tribal, ancient Egyptian, Classical, etc. Innumerable ceramics and busts and portraits. (Oh my!) It was all quite...pleasant. And then, after you'd politely given your attention to these worthy treasures for a stumbled into the realm of stuff that was a bit more...we'll call it "unusual". A trio of crouching men, softly lit from inside, carved with quotes form the Bible, suspended from the walls. A solid blue uneven-polygon-shaped canvas. (Nope, that's it. If you're waiting for the punchline, your guess is as good as mine....) And possibly our absolute favorite: a rectangle, perhaps 6 feet by 4 feet, constructed from what appeared for all the world to be irregularly-cut, damaged bits of drywall, stuck together mosaic-style.

I stood in front of it, stunned into silence by the sheer...RIDICULOUSNESS...of the piece. (This of course is my own non-professional-art-critic opinion--please, by all means, go ahead and feel free to disagree with me...) Derek, however, broke into immediate snorts of laughter and exclaimed, "What the? You could make this just by looking through the trash at Home Depot!" Um...yes. Well said, grasshopper. This led us to a brief but animated discussion about "what constitutes 'art'", during which we didn't exactly reach any firm conclusions except...I suppose anything can be justified as an artist's self-expression. So for me, the more pointed question really is: Okay, I totally accept that premise...but should it be hanging in a museum?

Anyway, I consider the day a rousing success overall, as we were thoroughly entertained and slightly educated...all while getting to share some unscheduled Mother/Son bonding time. Add in a stop for lunch on the way home, and this one goes in the Win column!

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