Categories: Budget Diva, Day Tripping, Diva-Colored Glasses, Do As The Locals Do, Featured, Miscellaneous
Even a three-year old understands the concept of saving old things for the future.
Michelle Christine, my toddler granddaughter looked around our house one day at the children’s table and chairs and toys she knew had been her daddy’s.
“You saved this for me, “ she stated, not asked. She knew.
I pounced on her thought and told her there were people we didn’t even know who had saved things for us in big buildings called museums. Would she like to go see them? She said, yes, and so our museum adventures began ten years ago.
With my second granddaughter, Serritella Dainelle, I was late starting. She is six years old and last Sunday we went to the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art, Santa Ana, CA. The facility is having great success with its China exhibits – China’s Enduring Legacy – Warriors, Tombs and Temples; and Ancient Arts of China, but we were there to see the memorial to Christopher Columbus and the small gallery of oil paintings tucked upstairs in an out of the way location.
You are not likely to find Columbus’ bust as it is secreted deep in a courtyard near the entrance, but set back so it is not in plain sight. It is worth seeing. Serritella brought a long-stemmed rose from our garden to place on the monument. We’ve been talking about the great age of exploration and how important Columbus was in turning terra incognita into the world we now know. She was interested to see a likeness of the man she’d been learning about. Though it is generally agreed by scholars that no known portrait of Columbus shows the man as he appeared in life.
After we had paid homage to our cultural cousin we headed for the little picture gallery I remembered from past visits. In particular I wanted to see the oranges again…a vibrant painting of parchment-wrapped fruit that is as beautiful as anything I’ve seen in European galleries. As we slowly made our way around the small gallery, Serritella was entranced by the room’s ceiling of painted decorations. Then she seemed to study the paintings and asked: ‘Why are there trees in all the paintings?” I was rather astounded she had realized, without knowing the name, that she was viewing examples of California plein air paintings. This school of artists captured the natural beauty of old California with its canyons, streams and towering trees.
Painting outdoors became more likely once paint tubes were invented in 1841. Artists were able to abandon mixing their own pigments and carrying them in pig bladders or glass vials. Paints could now be produced in bulk and sold in tin tubes with a cap. The cap could be screwed back on and the paints preserved for future use, providing flexibility and efficiency to painting outdoors. The manufactured paints had a balanced consistency that the artist could thin with oil, turpentine, or other mediums. Paint in tubes also changed the way some artists approached painting. The artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir –“Without tubes of paint, there would have been no Impressionism.” For the Impressionists, tubed paints offered an easily accessible variety of colors for their plein air palettes, motivating them to make spontaneous color choices. With greater quantities of preserved paint, they were able to apply paint more thickly.
Serritella and I talked about the scenes of trees, rivers and mountains which the California plein air artists had painted. She reminded me of having seen “Blue Boy” and “Pinkie” with her mother and brother at the Huntington Museum and Library, Pasadena, CA. The galleries in which those paintings reside are mostly portraiture, so she obviously was comparing the differences between those pictures and the outdoor scenes at the Bowers. Not a bad introduction to the world of art for a very little girl.
Westrolled around the Bowers for a while after leaving the paintings looking at the artifacts displayed in the large galleries. As we were leaving Serritella asked if she could paint outside when we got back home. And that’s what she did.
Upon arriving back at our home she gathered up her water color paints, brushes,smock and set up her work on the little picnic table outside under the trellis facing the garden and pool. She worked with deep concentration for some time, creating pictures of the pool, another of the flower beds and others of the scene before her. Meanwhile, her brother, Sam, who had gone to a hockey game, not the museum with us, worked on his own picture of the yard. He chose to do a draftsman-like rendering of the pool, complete with brick coping in great detail. Their individual work indicated again, every artist has his or her unique vision and each is to be nurtured and treasured. We plan to return to the Bowers again and again for longer visits as the children gain in age.
Bowers Museum of Cultural Art
2002 N. Main St.
Santa Ana, CA 92706
Days & Hours – Tues. – Sunday
10a.m. to 4 p.m.
Adults $12, reduced rates of $9 for younger visitors.
Free Sundays –first Sunday of every month, Target Free Day
Special ticketed exhibits, such as the Chinese exhibits, require additional fees.
Credit: Angela Rocco DeCarlo, is a veteran journalist.She covers culture, travel and lifestyle.