Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Beauty, a Nine-Year Old and a Museum

"Isn't a beautiful day, Dad," my nine-year-old son Levi said to me on Saturday morning. "You know how that feels when you wake up and the sky is clear and the sun is shining and you feel good?" "Yes," I replied. "Yeah," he said with a faraway look in his eyes, "It's nice." 

This from a boy who loves to play action-packed X-Box games. I stared at him for a few seconds. 

As we passed the center of Holladay Village, he looked out the window and said, "Aren't those brick walkways pretty?" "Yes, son, they are."

My son has always been a sensitive soul, but I have been somewhat surprised at how that sensitive soul seems to be moving to another, deeper plane of perception and discovery. Though he's only nine, going on ten, his soul is more mature. 

I'm thrilled to see this appreciation for beauty emerge from him, and I committed myself to do what I could to support and encourage this blossoming by exposing him to art. For starters, I decided to take him to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at the University of Utah. I had never been there before, but I figured it was a pretty good place to begin. When I asked Levi if he'd like to go, he said, "Sure."

The first exhibition we saw was one that featured the art of Tony Feher. There were two "pieces." The first consisted of strands of pink masking tape attached to the ceiling of a two-story gallery.

This work immediately brought to mind one that we had seen in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, pictured below, but that was done by someone else.

The other work of art consisted of blue masking tape stuck to a window (see lead photo). Who would have thought? But it was absolutely amazing to see all the shapes and gradations in colors of blue that were carefully achieved through overlapping of pieces of tape, as illustrated in the following photograph.

It wasn't until I looked at the pictures that I had taken with my iPhone that I truly appreciated how amazing this piece of art is. In both the small and large (below) bursts, the dark blue center seems to actually radiate outward. Masking tape. Amazing.

After seeing Feher's work, we went upstairs to view the permanent collection. It was a brief tour, but long enough for Levi to be exposed to works of American, Buddhist, European, Roman, Egyptian, Polynesian and Native American art. 

I was pleased when Levi immediately recognized a statute of the Buddha and smiled as he marveled at the wonder of nearly 1000-year-old wood carvings from India. He found the First Nation art from British Columbia interesting and, of course, the Egyptian mummy. I was surprised to see two portraits done by Gilbert Stuart (the man who painted the iconic portrait of George Washington) in their American collection, and was also surprised at their collection of European art that spanned a number of centuries.

This was our first visit, and I've no doubt there will be others, as well as to other art museums in the area. I'm also looking forward to taking Levi to see the "Nutracker" this Christmas season.

Meanwhile, I'm just going to sit back and watch him blossom.

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