Art Apprentice

DMartRemember those TV ads, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV”? I’m not an art critic, but I play one at home. I’m surrounded by artists in my family, but I’m not an artist. Stick figures are the height of my capabilities, though I’ll admit, I’ve not tried to develop those skills. In school, I sketched for art class, and produced a beautiful, detailed pencil drawing of our house. But subsequent attempts weren’t that memorable, and I wasn’t filled with a passion to improve. What appealed to me was art history. In my high school humanities class, we studied art and I loved learning everything from Greek sculpture to French impressionists. In college I took more art history classes, and had the opportunity to visit The Louvre. Standing before Monet’s haystacks, or Winged Victory of Samonthrace was awe-inspiring.

I’ve continued to love art, seeking out a museum in any city I visit. The surprise is how art has become a part of my daily life. I married a teacher who loves to draw. His father painted seriously (though it wasn’t his career), and my husband was encouraged to develop his early skill. Some art is in process at all times at home; whether a small doodle on the corner of a piece of scrap paper, or a series of paintings covering our dining table. Our first baby room was decorated with a stencil my husband designed and painted, and he created works we could frame for the kids’ rooms. We always encouraged our kids’ art, and strove to coax their efforts onto paper, rather than furniture or walls. There were many fun Sundays on the kitchen table with paint brushes, markers, and colored pencils. Running out of surface area on the refrigerator, we turned a long wall of our kitchen into a gallery of our kids’ art. Now, every room is filled with family art, both my father-in-laws’ watercolors and my husband’s works in pen and ink or watercolor. What we’ve hung on the walls is a fraction of what bulges out of a portfolio in the closet. That’s where my husband’s works reside, until called for another purpose.

This weekend, we put up over 25 pieces of my husband’s art in the school gallery. Pen and ink, acrylic, oversized doodles, fabric printed with electronically-designed patterns. Part of an ongoing display of student or faculty art, his works will be on display for 2 weeks. My job? To help measure, pin, staple, adjust, and render judgement on the final display. I’m not a trained curator, but I’ve had lots of experience providing feedback on art made in my family. Now I need to comment on what goes well with what. Does this piece hang horizontal or vertical? Should this go next to that? I use my gut instinct, knowing that my art sensibility isn’t as refined as others. Suddenly I’m the reason that bright painting is on the dark fabric background! Not bad for a stick-figure artist.

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