Friday, September 17

How Do You Look at Art?

These days with summer ending and school starting up again, it has been a little slower around the museum.  Last week I was giving a gallery talk to two visitors (yes, just two), and one of them commented that they were about to take a trip to Italy and asked, "Can you give us any tips about how to look at ancient art?"  It was an excellent question, given that not all museums have the kind of in-gallery educational programming you find at the Villa, and these visitors wanted to be prepared to get the most out of their experience on their own.

It just so happens that over the summer we educators at the museum had just had a discussion amongst ourselves on just that topic--how do you look at art?  We divided forces and each group came up with a "top ten" list of tips on how to look at art in a museum setting.  The list below, which I shared with those visitors that day, is the result of my group's efforts.  Naturally, every museum professional will likely have a different take on the subject, but I think the list below is direct and simple and therefore easily used.
  1. Remember to read the label LAST.
  2. Do not enter a museum or gallery with the intention to see everything.
  3. Go to an artwork that interests you or attracts you.
  4. Find the best vantage point (try different ones).
  5. Take your time and challenge yourself to look longer.
  6. How does it fit into the surroundings?  (Take a look at the gallery installation and what other artworks are on display in the same gallery.)
  7. What details draw you in?
  8. What is it made of?
  9. What do you understand and what don't you understand about it?
  10. Be open to silence and conversation--balance your own reflection and sharing your thoughts with others.
Keep in mind that these are just suggestions, not hard and fast rules, but they will get you off to a good start if you're interested in getting a little something more from your next museum visit.

    Saturday, September 11

    A Week of Anniversaries

    This has been a week of anniversaries for me.   Thursday marked my third year at the Villa, and today is my L.A. anniversary--eight years ago today I signed my first lease and moved into my apartment in West L.A.  It's difficult for me to believe I've lived in L.A. for eight years.  Maybe that's because in many ways it took a few years for me to adjust and feel comfortable in the city.  Even though I've been out here awhile it's only been in the past three years or so that I've felt I've really mastered L.A. and gotten used to it.  Usually on this day I reflect on how ending up in L.A. was probably the most unexpected event of my life thus far, but this year is different.  Because I'm about to become a parent, the thought on my mind this year is of how very different my son's early childhood is going to be from mine because he will be born, not in a small Midwestern town, but in one of the largest metropolises in the U.S.  Of course, in all of the important ways it will be the same--he'll grow up being loved and supported by his parents and family--but there is no doubt that a babyhood in Los Angeles, California is going to be a far different experience than one in Neoga, Illinois.  Now, I could choose to judge this city versus country issue as a good or a bad thing, but I prefer to simply see it for what it is:  Just one of many experiences that will make him into the unique individual that he will become.

    Wednesday, September 1

    Making Room

    Since my last post I have exited my twenties and entered my thirties.  On one hand, it's difficult for me to believe it could be so, but on the other hand, I feel like it's just the right fit:  I'm still pretty young, but I have earned enough stripes to no longer be considered a complete rookie.  Admittedly I wish I could have done something new and memorable to mark my third decade, but your options for celebration are decidedly limited when you're thirty weeks pregnant.  Still, Eric and I managed to get out for a day trip to San Diego and spent the day at SeaWorld.  I hadn't been to SeaWorld since a family vacation to Florida as a kid, so it was fun to revisit it as an adult.  Eric made sure I got a break from the heat and walking around when I needed it, which was a very good thing since it was a very hot day.

    In other news...Eric finally tackled the job of clearing out the babyroom-to-be!  He was very tricksy about it, too.  He told me yesterday that he was going to be working for his dad all day, but he was really at home working furiously on the room.  For one day's work he made huge progress, cleaning all four of his bookshelves and moving them into our bedroom and shifting other furniture around to make room for the baby furniture that we'll have to accommodate soon.  Besides all that, he assembled the glider and ottoman that was our joint birthday present from his parents (and also, ultimately, for the baby too).  Suffice it to say he was a busy, busy boy on Saturday and his wife was very pleased with all of his hard work.  There is still plenty to do, but it is no longer a dauntingly monstrous, anxiety-inducing task.

    I look forward to completing the room's baby makeover once we've acquired the necessary baby gear.  It will be a fun project and satisfy my "nesting" instincts quite nicely.  At the moment my nesting activities are mainly centered around throwing a lot of stuff out in an effort to make room for our tiny new occupant who, despite his wee size, will require a heck of a lot of space.  I can already see that Eric and I will soon become mere boarders who happen to live in his space, rather than the other way around.  After a couple of weeks of sorting through things and determining what should stay and what has to go, I feel confident in saying I think we'll have room enough for the baby--albeit just enough.

    As of today, I have nine weeks left (six weeks until the baby is term, nine weeks until the due date).  Nine weeks sounds like an awful short period of time compared to the thirty-one weeks that have already passed, but I can already sense that these final weeks are going to pass far more slowly.  I have nothing to complain about aside from the typical aches, pains, and frustrations expected during pregnancy, but as my discomfort level rises, I have no illusions about what these final weeks will be like.  My current frustration is finding something to wear every day.  Given the torpedo-like trajectory of my belly, I've very nearly outgrown a lot of my maternity shirts.  This development is both irritating and depressing.  I've even raided Eric's t-shirts for loose, comfy sleeping attire and--perhaps even more depressingly--am finding I now have no problem filling his shirts out!

    What really gives me pause is knowing that at the moment the baby only weighs a little over three pounds, so he has A LOT of growing left to do.  Perhaps I should skip the maternity stores and just go looking for a nice set of curtains to satisfy my wardrobe needs over the coming weeks...