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Summer 2012 - Counting the Stars  

08/07/2012

Between the heat wave, the crowds of photographers looking for pictures of Katie Holmes, and the topless woman who casually walked by me on 14th street and Union Square, you know we have been in for a silly summer.

If you are working in a garage or somewhere not air conditioned I can't blame you for a second for forsaking the shop for a lounge chair and a cold beer. Summer is the time for figuring out your projects for the fall, doing the research, and having fun with the family.
The museums are air conditioned. So that's where we went.
My son is just old enough now to be able to look at a museum gallery and tell me which piece he likes best. His choices of a glass frog and a series of carved arches in the Art of Arab Lands exhibit were excellent and I was of course jealous of the carved arches. I like the way the leaves are separated and stand out from the background (I had thought they were applied to the wood but they weren't - it's all carved from solid). Since he was small we would play games in the museum like counting the number of five pointed stars in a carved screen (and it's tricky because they nest), the number of tigers in a Persian Rug. "Where's the Unicorn?". "How many armored horses are there in the Arms and Armor gallery?" And "Which Japanese iron mask would make the best Halloween costume?". While my son ponders this I can read the captions (the masks were the front face of Japanese Samurai knights). There is also "finding the carving of the happiest monk in the Medieval wing" (lots of contenders here). The point of all of this is to keep my son engaged with the items in the museums and to help him slowly learn to see why some of these items are special and to develop an appreciation of museums on his own terms. Sadly I think lots of kids who visit museums are turned off by them permanently because they just don't have the practice of looking at things and without that skill going to a museum quickly becomes a tedious exercise in boring facts on art history, a quick look at the famous names, and a trip to the cafeteria. I have no idea if these trips with my son will have a lasting effect but I hope so.

A few years ago I wrote a blog on the The Lockwood De Forest Residence. It's on 10th street and has a carved teak front. On vacation on Fire Island I came across this wild and crazy carved gate with lots of wonderful detail. I know nothing about it except what you see, but the sheer exuberance of the work says volumes. The carved monkey in the tree is a masterful touch. The arch in the museum is wonderful, but seeing carvings in situ, in the context for which they were created is even better.

PS. Sorry for the terrible pictures. The light was bad, and all I had was my phone.
Tags:Woodworking Tools and Techniques,Historical Subjects
Comments: 2
08/07/2012robohh https://picasaweb.google.com/robohhsphotos
I often think of the north shore of Long Island. Your article of your visit to Fire Island brought me back. I spent summers there as a child when there where more potato farms than wineries.
None the less, I love the cornice carving of the arch. I imagine the artisan sitting, in a dimly lit workshop, with the patience of a surgeon detailing the piece. Imagine...
08/11/2012Steve S. https://literaryworkshop.wordpress.com/
I loved going to museums as a kid, and my parents often took my siblings and me to different museums in the area. We sometimes grouped up with other families but always split up into little groups of a few friends each to wander around and look at stuff. As I developed enough patience to read the placards, I found that I could enjoy just about any museum I went to.

Going in very large groups is usually no good. You have to go with a small group and talk quietly about the exhibits in order to really enjoy the experience.
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