You don’t have to drag your butt to a museum in order to interact with art. You can do it from home in ways that maybe you never thought of or that you might think don’t count, but they DO! They absolutely do. And, bonus, they’re pandemic-friendly!
I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am already jonesing to get back to museums and plan to do that just as soon as our case count continues along its downward trend. Museums have really been hit hard by the pandemic and they are not only eager to welcome us back, but very much need to us to come back. But even after that point, art doesn’t have to live in a special house that you go visit on rare occasions. Here are my 5 top ways to interact with art work without leaving home.
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Number one: Puzzles
I am working on a puzzle now with the kids–or really mostly without the kids as they are only very sporadically interested. Nevertheless, this 1000 piece puzzle is of a seemingly simple painted scene of skaters skating in Bryant Park in New York City. There’s a big Christmas tree in the center and the main branch of the New York public library in the background. And it is so hard to put together!
As with doing a puzzle of any painting, you have to really look at the brush strokes and the colors, and how the trees on the left hand side of the painting are actually different than the trees on the right side. Although at first glance they seem to be all the same type of tree. You have to relax your eyes to discern patterns and then focus in intensely to see if the brush stroke on this piece seems to match the brush stroke on this other piece. It may sound frivolous or tedious but it’s so immersive, and a great way to become intimately acquainted with a piece of artwork.
Of course, I love silly puzzles with famous people from the 80s or cereal boxes but whenever we visit a museum I try to pick up a puzzle of one of the art works that we saw. Van Gogh’s The Postman, Monet’s Water Lillies–they have all been ways to really exist inside a painting so that when the puzzle is all put together, you can see it anew.
Number two: Watch Television Shows About Art
Have you ever actually watched Bob Ross or Sister Wendy? Bob Ross is on Netflix. And not only does he create a complete painting from scratch in each episode, but his whispery voice, poofy halo of curls, and funny sayings are so strangely soothing. And he’s always talking about happy little squirrels and happy little trees and sayings like there are no mistakes. Honestly, Bob Ross is more about mental health than art appreciation but they are both tended to. For sure.
You can also go on You Tube to find old episodes of Sister Wendy’s PBS show from the mid-90s. Sister Wendy is this adorable, nerdy, and passionate nun with a full-on habit, glasses. And she is so knowledgeable and even so lusty in her appreciation for the works of art that she introduces you to in each episode that you can’t help but learn how to see and be moved by art. I checked out where she’s streaming and it looks like maybe you can find her on PBS or the BBC, but mostly her shows are only available officially on DVD. But you can find some 30 minute episodes on You Tube.
Number three: Check out Google Arts and Culture
which is pretty cool, I’ve gotta say. You can digitally visit museums around the world, as well as historical sites. They share a lot of art activities you can do on your own, and also let you search for artwork according to time period or color. Next time you are craving a little interaction with the arts, or the next time your kid needs to research a time period, a geographical region, or an artist or style of art, head to Google Arts and Culture.
Number four: Listen to art-themed Podcasts
One I recently discovered is Art Curious, which explores modern myths about art–such as, Are There Hidden Messages in Leonardo’s Last Supper, or, Is It True that Vincent Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime? This is less about the art itself, and more about art history, but I think that learning more about the context behind a piece of art work can help you see it and appreciate it in new ways, which is always a cool journey of increasing awareness. And something tells me you like podcasts.
Another art podcast is Art for Your Ear, hosted by Danielle Krysa, aka The Jealous Curator, aka the author of several books about art, including Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk. In her podcast, Danielle interviews contemporary artists about the juicy gossip behind their work. If you like dishing with interesting people AND artwork, I have a feeling you’re going to like this podcast.
Number five: OK this actually DOES require you to leave the house, BUT it doesn’t require you to leave your town.
And that is to go on a walking or driving tour of the public art in your environs. Depending on where you live, that might only be a couple of sculptures here and there or it might be a full on walking tour of murals. You probably have walked or driven by these things a million times maybe without even noticing, or without giving them much thought, but setting out with an intention to take in the work that artists who are local have created in order to enhance life in your location can help you see your home with new eyes.