(I’m sure you were all waiting with bated breath, right?)
I left Idaho at about 6:15 this morning, hoping to make it an hour or two before Carter woke up for good and got fussy…a hope that was cruelly dashed by the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department, who did not appreciate me making quite such good time in that particular quest. Ninety dollars later…
I actually finished two books while visiting my parents and brother (and his family)–short books–but I’d better review just one tonight and call it a night, because I am beat. My very awesome county library system does a monthly reading challenge on Goodreads, and March’s challenge was to read a book with ‘an art theme or an artist as a character.’ The visual arts are out of my comfort zone, but I decided to rise to the challenge (instead of using a musician or a writer, both much more my thing) and read an older Newbery (who doesn’t love to kill two birds with one stone? Metaphorically speaking, of course). And so I read one of the 1970 Honor books–“The Many Ways of Seeing: An Introduction to the Pleasures of Art.”
It was interesting, certainly. I now understand numerous art terms that I didn’t before, and I saw works of art with which I was not familiar. That said, this felt more like a textbook than a layman’s guide to the visual arts. And the author was quite obvious about which artists and masters most impressed her, which I found somewhat off-putting. (Is that really how you write that word?) For me, a truly unbiased book would state characteristics of painters, sculptors, etc., but avoid making value judgments. Let the viewer decide how great a painter is–a guide of this sort should spent its time giving me reasons why I should admire an artist, not informing me when I should. It perhaps wasn’t quite as bad as that sounds, but still. (By the way, I’m sure this is showing my ignorance and all that, but I find much of Picasso’s work WEIRD. I respect the man’s talent–I found Guernica impressively powerful–but he’s often just too bizarre for me.) The best part of the book was the artistic exercises at the end, meant to encourage the reader to see things in different ways. Some of those would be fun to try with the kiddos.
At the end of the day, however, the ideal book for March’s challenge would have been “I, Juan de Pareja” (only I read that one months ago). It’s sort of historical fiction laced with autobiography, taking a stand against slavery–and it’s excellent. If you have a hankering to read something to do with art, I recommend that one instead!