You’re invited to spend a leisurely, fun winter day with me in Providence, Rhode Island:
Let’s visit 4 of my favorite places. We’ll take in some art, eat a yummy lunch, create our own signature (all-natural!) perfume, and then delve into a bit of early Providence history.
This article covers the first stop of the day, the art museum at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD, pronounced Riz-dee).
Attempting to view everything in the museum in one visit is as ridiculous as trying to see all of Europe in a week. I stop at the information desk and get a map, then go straight to the gallery I’m most interested in, where I’ll stay for at least twenty to thirty minutes. I plan on spending no more than 2-3 hours at any museum, visiting a handful of galleries or exhibits, and I get out of there at the first inkling of sensory overload. If I’m in a city that isn’t close to home, I might break for a refreshing light lunch and come back for a second run.
At any museum, I’d rather view less while seeing, and appreciating, more.
Some people are intimidated by art–afraid they don’t know how to react or what to think. But there’s no quiz after this tour, and no prizes are awarded to the visitors with the most art-savvy. You don’t have to get it, like it, or impress anyone with your knowledge about it. I tell people who feel wary about visiting art museums, just look at the art and react however you want to react.
And, I’ll invite you to play my
7 gallery games to boost enjoyment and protect against an infectious outbreak of intellectual hoity-toitiness.
- Read your friends’ minds: Silently and secretly pick your favorite work in the room, and then all try to guess what other people chose.
- Read the artist’s mind: Find a work that either deeply moves or totally repulses you. Tell the person next to you exactly what the artist was thinking about during creation of the piece. Speak with the authority of a know-it-all.
- That’s not art: When you encounter a piece you find ridiculous, put on your best Monarch-of-the-Empire sneer and whisper, “That’s not art, that’s______________ (fill in the blank with whatever comes to mind, for example: that’s what happens when a kitten bats around a ball of yarn; or that’s what you get when you clean out the wet-grass gunk that gets stuck in lawn mower’s blades).
- How would you do that? Imagine the tools, material and process the artist must have used. Compare ideas about how you could recreate this work.
- You’re the critic: Make up your own wild interpretation of the work, and tell it, in your best pretentious voice, to anyone who will listen.
- I feel: Name every emotion in the room: One word per work of art.
- Pollyanna’s glad game: Name one thing about every work in the room that pleases you — a color, a shape, an object, a line, a subject, a perspective, or if nothing else, the width of the frame.
For my favorite work in the RISD’s Early Renaissance Gallery, the last time I was there, I chose (next time I’ll likely choose something else, I love so many art works):
The colors are simply breathtaking, the complexity is astonishing, and gazing at this, I feel as if the clever, fascinating 15th-Century artist is talking to me.