Monday, January 28, 2013

A Rockwellesque Sunday

Except for my Mom's ability to draw adorable faces and cartoon characters, we weren't a super artsy family. Her abilities fell so far from the tree we never did find them. Growing up we had the typical generic paintings and prints on the walls. There was one that hung for years over the fireplace. It was a beach scene with two children climbing up the sand dunes. For an odd reason, the artist included a man in the foreground carrying  a large piece of driftwood, following the children. We called him The Hacker. The Hacker painting was a part of our family for years, not doing much to contribute to our appreciation of fine art.

We went through a phase of working on Norman Rockwell puzzles as a family. I just loved them; as a kid it was art I could understand. I didn't have to turn my head sideways to "get it" and the characters seemed like people I would like to know. When we heard about the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Crocker Museum, I knew we had to go. It runs through Super Bowl Sunday, which might be a great day to go to avoid the crowds. But for once we didn't wait until the last chance; we met some friends down there this Sunday afternoon.

Many of Rockwell's most recognizable paintings were in the exhibit. By far the most powerful was The Problem We All Live With: the brave little girl being escorted by federal marshals, past the racial epithet and tossed tomatoes, on her way to school after integration in the South. It was sad hearing parents attempting to describe the painting to their children, but good to hear their surprise that a child could be barred from school because of her color.

Like all the other talents I didn't get (singing, dancing, sports and all things involving graceful movements) you either have an artistic ability or you don't. I still draw like I did when I was in fourth grade. My trees look like lollipops and my people look like lollipops with limbs. But if you tilt your head just the right way...