Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Patrons of the arts

Johanna creates what's close to her heart. Which is mostly just doughnuts.

Johanna is my little theater buddy, which is great because this means I can see any show I want and can use her as an excuse to go, because obviously as a mother I need to encourage her interests. She told me once that she likes plays even more than she likes movies. I think there's something about the live, unexpected element that really floats her boat. The only reason she's looking forward to middle school next year is that she can take drama as an elective.

So going to plays is no problem. Going to gallery openings and exhibits, that is a problem, mostly because it just doesn't occur to me to go.

This month I set out to change that. One of my goals this year is to take the girls to more artsy events, and lo and behold, I just happened to interview a teenager earlier this month about the show she curated as a school project, and I was like, hey! This is right up Johanna's alley! and made plans for the two of us to attend.

I kind of forgot that Johanna freezes up when she's in a new situation, especially if it involves a bunch of people she doesn't know. So she spent the whole 10 minutes we were at the show's extremely crowded opening clinging to my arm and starring blankly at me when I tried to talk about what we were seeing.

Oh, and then there was the series of paintings that featured boobs, and she just couldn't get over that. I told her we were looking at the human form as artists and not 11-year-olds, but it turns out we WERE looking at them as 11-year-olds. And apparently 11-year-olds think boobs are terrifying.

Another Johanna original: A study in color.

But then I got the great idea of going to another gallery for a show about pets that was in its final days. This was more her speed: No boobs, plus we were the only ones there. She was much more relaxed and even drew her own picture on the community mural wall.

On the way home, I tried to talk to her about what we'd seen, but it turns out that she didn't really care.

That was Friday night. On Sunday, the two of us, plus her best friend Annika, went to see "Taming of the Shrew" at the high school. I had taken photos of a dress rehearsal and had written a review earlier in the week, and while I knew Shakespeare was going to be a bit of a stretch for the kid, I figured that, if nothing else, the acting was great and the costumes were fantastic and she'd probably figure out what was going on from the action (with a bonus of supporting the school's drama program, which is hella poor).

We made it through the first act just fine, but by the second, both girls' attentions were waning. I kept whispering a translation of what was going on to Johanna, who would consistently tell me she already knew that. So that was fun. (Insert Johanna here asking, "Are you being sarcastic?) Mostly what the girls got out of the show was that speaking in English accents is super fun. They kept saying things like, I think thee is a loon, and no, I think thee is a loon, over and over and over again, all the way home.


Anyway, I guess the point of all of this is that we were patrons of the arts, all right, even if none of it turned out quite the way I had planned.

I mean, it never does, not with kids. And that's okay. At the very least, we got to hang out, and at best, maybe someday she'll actually think about that weekend and be inspired to try something new.

Or not. It's really cool either way.

P.S. Johanna is apparently taking commissions from her classmates for her artwork. Here's one of the most recent ones she's given away:

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