Rebel Artist (#2)

Mar 5, 2012

“Mommy, how come we almost never go to the Huntington anymore?”

I wasn’t sure how to answer that question.

Little Bit and I used to treat nearby San Marino’s Huntington Art Gallery like our own personal hideaway. That membership fee was the best money I could have ever spent on early childhood education. Instead of preschool, my daughter spent hours with me learning about art and architecture. (Plus, she spent a lot of after-gallery time looking for fairies in the clover and splashing her hands in the fountains of the Children’s Garden.) Her dad and I didn’t go in for the Teach Your Baby to Read movement. We didn’t know then that with the new educational model, preparation for rigorous academic standards starts around age 2. We were more into a philosophy along the lines of Let Our Baby Think, Feel and Explore.
Although we regularly made our rounds through all of the Huntington buildings, studying the soft blur of Mary Cassatt as well as the sharp form of Arts and Crafts furniture, Little Bit always liked the 18th Century figurative works best of all. Pinkie, by Thomas Laurence, is still one of her favorite portraits.
“So,” Little Bit repeated. “Why can’t we ever go anymore?”
“We don’t have time during the week since you started first grade,” I said. “We have to do your homework, and with the sight words, the spelling words, the spelling word sentence drill practice, the timed math test practice, the math worksheets, the spelling worksheets and then the work you couldn’t finish during school hours, that means we can’t…”
“I know, I know,” Little Bit interrupted. “But some of my homework was about art the other day and I think the school needs to come back to the Huntington to learn something about it.”
“Learn what?” I said.
“They need to learn that silver is a cool color. We were doing a worksheet on warm and cool colors and they were talking about Monet’s haystack paintings. I got mine marked wrong because the sheet said that blue, green and purple were cool colors and I colored silver too. I just thought they knew that Monet actually used silver in those haystacks, too. Of course it’s a cool color. Cool like moonlight and shadows. But I think they didn’t even know that.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” I said.
“I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings,” she said.
(Try registering that on a standardized test.)

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