Dreaming of Art

I’ll always be able to spot a Modigliani painting.

This is because I had an excellent elementary school art teacher. Betty Rhoades required us to name an artist before we were dismissed.

Amedo Modigliani was famous for long faces. Grandma Moses was an easy name to remember. Shel Silverstein drew funny pictures and wrote great stories.

Like Miss Rhoades, I have a secret agenda with my own kids. Hers was probably to make us into artistic environmentalists – we were only allowed to use one piece of tape when we wrapped our homemade Christmas presents.

One of mine is that I want Max and Calvin to have an appreciation for art. (And respect women, be good people……)

Here’s where writer and artist Jeanette Winter is a wonder.

I adore her. Her unique art and storytelling capture the lives of artists and their works. Some of her beautiful stories make me tear up.

Thanks to Henri’s Scissors, the story of Matisse with a focus on his late in life paper cut outs, my kids can spot and call out a Matisse any old day.

My Name is Georgia, Winter’s story about Georgia O’Keefe is a Max favorite. He loves that Georgia found and painted BONES in the dessert. After the reading the book he’s told me, “I want to be a painter too.”

I learned about Joseph Cornell through Mr. Cornell’s Dream Boxes. He created beautiful scenes in boxes. When he was discovered children remained his favorite audience. At his shows, his boxes were hung so a child could see them. He also served his favorite snacks – Cherry Cola and brownies  – a detail my kids love.

About a year ago, I had the well-intentioned desire to create our own dream boxes. But sometimes, the craft gods don’t align and that day we didn’t get very far before other things captured my kid’s interests. I was left alone at the kitchen table with my own box.*

But sometimes, good parenting intentions stick when you don’t expect it. We were at the Contemporary Arts Center one day visiting the children’s UnMuseum. We spotted an artist’s work in playful boxes.

Max yelled, “Look! Those are DREAM Boxes!”

Soon after, Calvin got up in the middle of the night. As I tucked him back in, he pointed out his nightlight shining on a book, “It looks like Mr. Cornell’s dream box.”

I hope Miss Rhoades would be proud.

Miss Rhoades passed away last February. Read the obit about this cool, unique woman.

*Check out this blog post for a craft that did work.

6 thoughts on “Dreaming of Art

  1. Great tribute to Betty. She impacted to many lives. She was the first person to show me what compassion and empathy looked like. (Long story) She taught me about life. I love these book suggestions! I will get some for Lennon and field trip to the museums!
    Love you😘

    Like

  2. Looking back on it I’m amazed how Mrs. Rhoades simple dismissal exercise gave us the building blocks of art education/appreciation. Really those artist names were like beginning vocabulary so when we later visited an art museum we KNEW the artists – sometimes just their names – but it gave us a starting point.

    Liked by 1 person

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