Sunday, August 5, 2012

Art and A Little Boy

Toledo Museum of Art's "Color Ignited" exhibit, celebrating the
 founding of the American Glass Arts Movement.  The Matisse
mosaic (top right), a Richard Rauschenberg (lower left), and
the Frank Gehry-designed education building.. 
We dragged five-year-old Philip to the Art Museum today.  Elissa and I wanted to see the exhibit, “Color Ignited: Glass 1962-2012.” The exhibit celebrates the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Toledo Workshops, the birth of the American Studio Glass Movement. 


Many people, the world over, associate the movement with artists like Dale Chihuly. Truth be told, Chihuly is in a great tradition that began in the early 1960s in Toledo, Ohio, corporate home of Libbey Glass and other entrepreneurial glass companies. This is where it all started, in the "Glass City," with engineers, chemists and glassblowers such as Dominick Labino, Harvey Littleton, and Harvey Leafgreen, who experimented with glass and color to create a new art form, and a new appreciation for the use of glass and artistic expression.  

It was Edward Drummond Libbey,in fact, founder and president of Libbey Glass, who established the Toledo Museum of Art, which came to serve as the incubator and cradle of the American Studio Glass Movement.  Libbey also had a grand home in the Old West End, near the Art Museum.

Philip was not interested.  He wanted to play games on the computer.  He wanted to play with his action toys. He didn’t want to go to the museum.  He protested.  He whined.  We promised him he could play on the computer after we went to the Art Museum. He wasn’t easily mollified.

The Toledo Art Museum is one of the finest in the country, in the world.  It’s in a beautiful beaux arts building with a Frank Gehry addition and a modern glass museum newly built across the street. The museum is renowned for its collection of Old Master paintings, decorative arts, contemporary art and scuplture, and glass. I remember the imaginative and fantastic glass collection of the late 1960s and 1970s, when I lived in Toledo, enamoured of it but unaware of how special it was, how pioneering.      

Once we got to the museum and saw the Matisse tile mosaic, called “Apollo,” Philip quieted down.  He liked the Egyptian room and the mummies. We went through a couple of contemporary art galleries, some of which he liked, like the Richard Rauschenberg and abstract art.  He did not like the sculpture, including some great pieces by Louise Nevelson and David Smith.  We got to the glass exhibit and he was almost interested, pointed to various pieces of wall art and sculpture and what looked like fabric art  but was really tiny glass mosaics beautifully woven. 

Okay, this was enough art for Philip.  The cries for escape started up again; Elissa and I looked at each other, sighed, and  decided it was time to go. 

Will we be able to instill some appreciation for art in an active boy who likes everything physical, digital, and interactive? Maybe. On the other hand, not everyone is an art lover. Elissa reminded me that we have one little art lover in our family, Kyle, who likes art galleries and festivals.     

When his Gran E asked, “Hey Philip, did you like the museum?”  He said "Aha.”  Then he got busy with his action toys and soldiers and cars and trucks, between time on the computer monitored by his Gran E. 


The reluctant visit to the Toledo Museum of Art receded into his unconscious, where, who knows, it might stay buried, or it might one day be re-awakened, re-ignited like his first art glass exhibit!       
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