Ben’s 1st grade curriculum includes a terrific focus on the visual arts. It starts in the classroom, where the students’ tables are named for artists (Picasso, Monet, Seurat, etc), and carries on in the weekly 90-minute art studio sessions, where the boys started with full-size self-portraits and have now moved on to still lifes in the style of Matisse. Ben’s always loved to draw, and he’s got art in his genes, so we figured he would eat this all up, but he’s even more excited about art right now than Tony or I could have imagined. He’s bringing home artists’ biographies (there’s a great series published by the Children’s Press of Chicago if you’re looking to encourage your budding artist), he’s drawing elaborate pictures of his future studio, and he’s asked that we put the Metropolitan Museum of Art on our site-seeing list so that when we go to New York City next week, he can visit the Monets.
So when he had a day off from school yesterday, I decided to take him on a scavenger hunt, looking for paintings by Monet, Picasso and Matisse in museums around the city. Since we’d be spending a fair amount of time on the street car, too, I tossed in a couple extra-museum items, like election signs, Halloween decorations and the like. But it was the paintings that really got him going.
First stop, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art:
Enter museum pulled by eager 6 year old tugging on your arm. Get out museum floor plan and hand it to him. Watch as he scans map and then announces, “Matisse. . . 2nd floor! Let’s go!” Watch docent beam.
At the Palace of the Legion of Honor:
Enter museum pulled by eager 6 year old tugging on your arm. Get out museum floor plan and hand it to him. Watch as he scans map and then announces, “Monet… Gallery 19! C’mon!” Docent beams, asks “How old is he?” and nods at the answer; “That’s how old I was,” she says.
And there at the Legion of Honor, inspired by the sight of students with their paints and brushes, copying some of the pieces on display, Ben got out his paper and pencils and got to work: