On a Friday in Ponte Vedra, far from the chill and ice of home, my family gathered in the oceanfront home of my Aunt Diane. We were far from the dining room table, from our books, from our schedules. But we were in full learning mode. We had a mission.
(That's a museum chair Nick. Careful.)
My aunt is the founder of the Thomas and Diane D Jacobsen Foundation; both her home and her office are hung with museum quality art. We had spent the previous day in the office, where Aunt Diane and her assistant Kelley gave us a tour of the more contemporary art hung there and illuminated the fine points of the "Art of Seating" chair collection which is traveling museums across the country. We had the opportunity to better understand how furniture, while certainly functional, is art itself. Kelley's children were there, too and we all were able to spend all the time we wanted to get up close and personal with some amazing art.
When Kelley asked us to meet her at my aunt's home the next day to help her with a project, we were all glad to go. Our assignment was to help write a scavenger hunt for various ages who might come tour the art in the home. School groups and adult fundraisers have been known to walk through each room, taking in the vast collection of mostly American art. Kelley thought we could help come up with some clues to send art lovers off on a search.
I took Sarah and Mike took Karoline and the rest were on their own. We went from room to room, looking carefully at paintings, sculpture, and furniture, and recording clues that might lead a keen observer to find "our" art. We noticed that Sarah was drawn to dancers and is a big fan of sculpture. One of her clues was "The dancer who couldn't find her leotard." You can see the dancer on the table below.
We spent a couple of hours sitting in the living room, soaking up the view of the ocean outside and listening to Kelley and Diane as they applauded our clues and then told us so much more about everything we saw inside.
Most of us don't live in homes hung with fine art. But almost all of us live in homes with pictures on the wall and statues on the tables. How carefully do we look at the details of the art that graces our homes? One afternoon, gather all ages and send each child off with a pencil and paper. Challenge them write a clue about a favorite piece of art. And then another and another. Framed prints, photographs, folk art and embroidery, statues, even pottery can be considered. You do it, too. The idea is to look closely and notice.
Then, come together. Read one clue at a time aloud and see who can guess which piece it describes. Does anyone have something additional to add about that art? Is there a question raised that would prompt follow-up research?
Often the familiar items that surround us almost every day go nearly unnoticed by the people who live with them. It is amazing how much we can appreciate the familiar when we take the time to really notice.