Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"I May Not Know Art, But I Know What I Like"

A couple recent conversations has me thinking about art and artists. This post title is a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Orson Welles: "I don't know anything about art, but I know what I like." Actually, I began trying to educate myself about great artists and their works when I was a teenager. I never learned as much as I would like to know which is why I still enjoy poring through paintings online.
 I spent the morning trying to find my favorite picture from my teen years, to no avail. As I recall it was something I had cut out of a magazine and framed. The picture was of a young woman seated at a desk, writing. She had on a white dress and her auburn hair was pinned atop her head in a Gibson girl style. To me it was a very romantic scene. I don't remember if she was writing in her journal or writing a letter nor do I have a clue whatever happened to the print.


I did, however find this picture which is just like one of a pair I also had on my walls as a teen. About three weeks ago I was talking to my grandson Ki about his budding relationship with a new girlfriend. He mentioned that she was going to help him pick out some pictures for the walls in his apartment because they were pretty bare. I'm looking forward to seeing what the newly decorated apartment looks like. I believe what one puts on their walls tells you a lot about them.


I never had the money to buy original artwork. Most of what adorned my walls came from a grocery store promotion. Each week you could purchase a 'painting' at a discounted price based on, I believe, how much you had spent on groceries. My favorite from that time was Little Irene by Renoir. I liked the title, since it was my middle name, and I loved the subject matter. I always wished I'd had red hair.


I have learned the artists I like the best are the impressionists - Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt. I think it was Kari who had a Miss Cassatt as her third grade teacher at Johnston. Whether true or not, the teacher told us she was related to the artist.
Picking Peas is the title of Camille Pissarro's painting above. I remember what it was like to pick just three or four rows of peas - picking a field like this one would have been daunting. You can see more of his artwork here. I love looking at all his different paintings.


The other art conversation I had was with my daughter-in-law, Shalea. She said she has to go to the Des Moines Art Center and the Pappajohn Sculpture Park and then write a paper for one of her classes. I told her I thought that sounded like fun. When I lived in Des Moines I used to go to the Art Center every so often to see what was new and to 'soak up some culture'.
One of the first art museums I visited was the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha. I went there on a school tour and then again when my sister lived in Omaha and I visited her in 1965. We took our two little boys and while we were interested in looking at the artwork, they were more interested in playing in the beautiful fountain. (Pictured above, Betty, her son Michael and my son Douglas.)
I see the Joslyn is currently showing a special exhibition Renoir to Chagall: Paris and the Allure of Color. It is on view until September 1 - maybe it is time for me to see some of those impressionist paintings for real.

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