That Gentle Rustle You Hear? It’s the Sound of Monet Rolling Over in His Grave


“I love this place,” breathed Paco, looking around in wonder. “There are zombies and aliens everywhere.”

Of course there were.

We were at the end-of-semester community college art show.

Speeding up to a trot, Paco cruised down the concourse, calling, “Hurry up! Here’s a Super Mario made out of mosaics! Come ON. You won’t believe what some of these students were able to make. Look, there’s a chair made out of pop cans!  And a mask in the shape of a devil’s head! Wait, and then someone put a baby in a bucket and took a picture!  I wish we could buy it all!”

While uncountable pieces in the art show induce eye-rolling exchanges between me and my husband, we do delight in Paco’s untrained taste, which makes him the perfect audience for artistic work that grows out of, ahem, untrained taste.  For many participants and onlookers, it’s their first brush with creation and appreciation.

Of course, there are many pieces in the show that grow out of talent and skill; there is much to look at that is lovely, arresting, worthwhile.  Even the efforts that aren’t perfectly accomplished are often interesting, for they mark points on a continuum that runs, on one end, from airplanes made of beer cans to, on the other end, professional pottery.  A student art show makes visual all the bumps and jolts inherent in the learning process.

For Groom, who took Watercolor, Art History II, and Digital Photography II this semester (he’s finishing out some generals at the college where I teach before he launches himself towards another degree in the next few years), the classes have been challenging and fun–have put him onto that continuum somewhere between the fledgling “Look, Ma, I scratched out a parrot” student and one who pounds out impressive metalworked pedants.

Here.  See?  This is some of his work:

The watercolor class was difficult because it’s such a delicate medium that it can be difficult to paint something forceful or “sharp.”  I do like this rendering of my in-laws’ house, though.
This one is my favorite Groomed watercolor; it’s a picture of workers in the ginseng fields (which, em, we have lots of here in the frigid Midwestern U.S.). Anyhow, both Groom and I like looking at little people doing stuff.  That’s why we make our kids vacuum.
This painting is the one Groom was racing to finish and submit before leaving town for his grandma’s funeral.  While I quite like it, I can only hear his mutters of, “Just two more hours in the day would lower my blood pressure right about now” when I look at it.
His Nibs also has a few digital photographs hanging in the show.  One is the “Pursuit of Frankenstein” featured in a previous post.  But he also did a nice shot of the former drive-thru window at a now-closed bank:

Here’s my pretentious, artsy critique:  Jumpin’ Jeeeehosephat, but get a load of dem colors.
And finally, this last is my favorite thing Groomeo did all term; it’s a photo of a pine needle and some sort of wrapper laying out on our rickety deck:

Appropriately, it’s called “Deck Litter”
After admiring all the dragons and guitar heroes and Tinkerbells featured in the student art,
and after scarfing down the free Domino’s pizza that was served at the show (a truer indication of the event’s quality I cannot find; get this:  as I ate the pizza, my lips and tongue got kind of buzzy and then numb…could it be, perhaps, because I was ingesting food items with no actual connection to anything growing or existing in nature?),
the kids each grabbed a bottle of water, and we headed out into the parking lot,
whereupon they transitioned quite naturally into a kind of performance art:
the Art of the Spit Take.









23 responses to “That Gentle Rustle You Hear? It’s the Sound of Monet Rolling Over in His Grave”

  1. kmkat Avatar

    Wow, Groomeo's watercolors are nice! I especially like the workers in the [northern MN] ginseng fields.

  2. Becky Cazares Avatar
    Becky Cazares

    Oooh, I like the Deck one. There's such a peace about it. Can't figure out how it was done, though. No deck I've ever seen looks misty and smooth… Like the bicycle wheel one, too. Mostly because I had a bike like that – when I was 8 and couldn't reach the seat while pedaling, not that it mattered.

    The in-laws house makes me dizzy thinking of all the "perspective" lines to make that angled roof, angled everything. Yikes! My last art class was probably 4th grade when I learned that "perspective" is really hard!

    But the drive-thru window is really something special. Textures and colors are amazing.

  3. Pearl Avatar

    Pretty talented, isn't he?

    Diggin' the way you write, as usual…


  4. Logophile Avatar

    I like that excuse for making children clean, it's artistic.
    Your husband is quite the artiste but Paco! Well…
    LOVE the artistic expression in the last photo, in fact, (insert pretentious art chatter here).

  5. Jazz Avatar

    If I did a "deck litter" pic, it would be ever so much more littered.

  6. Green Girl in Wisconsin Avatar
    Green Girl in Wisconsin

    That's what I love about looking at art. It amazes me how other people can so skillfully capture the little things the rest of us miss.

  7. Erin Avatar

    I love watercolor – to look at, not actually do. Groom did well!

  8. secret agent woman Avatar
    secret agent woman

    Im my book. kids enjoying any art is great.

    I like the bank window. Sort of like a Mondrian.

  9. furiousBall Avatar

    holy moly, Groom's pieces are great. i really like the workers in the field.

  10. alwaysinthebackrow Avatar

    That bicycle watercolor is great! The ability to make something really look like the subject is a mystery to me. How lucky to have such talent in the family—-both the painting and the performance artistes!!

  11. Jenn @ Juggling Life Avatar
    Jenn @ Juggling Life

    Wow. Those are fantastic. Might he consider a commission? I could send him a picture of my house and he could do it in watercolors.

    I get a lot of compliments on the look of my house (very cottage-y) and I must say I adore it myself.

    I'm going to have to hit an art show soon.

  12. actonbell Avatar

    I'm impressed with the watercolors, and Deck Litter is fascinating. And your writing is wonderful, as usual, and your kids are ever so cute…

  13. christopher Avatar

    All excellent…I am most drawn to the bicycle watercolor and digital 'deck litter'.

    Since I always skip the food at those settings, I'd probably be in the contest in the parking lot too.

  14. Jeni Avatar

    What a great post! Loved the pics of Groomeo's art pieces and he is indeed a very talented artist. And you -ah but you are a brilliant young woman to have had the good sense to snag a fellow with such talents. Don't have to tell you to hang on to a catch like that do I? "Spit takes" -great shot! As I started my comment here, I had another bit of pithiness to add but by the time I was on a roll typing, it rolled right on out of my pea brain then too! See what happens when you deal with the elderly and senile?

  15. Pam Avatar

    Keep the 'art of the spit take photo' for when Paco grows up to be a sculptor of fantasy-figure fountains!! You can remind him where it all started from. Lovely to hear of his enthusiasm, rather than my daughter's "can we PLEASE go now?" art ventures at his age. This was a really enjoyable post Jocelyn, and great fun to see what you have all been up to. Watercolours are so hard!! …Groomeo did well – and Deck Litter? Stunning.

  16. Deborah Avatar

    You two were made for each other! Your Groom has an undeniable talent for visual arts, and I think it's terrific that after his previous field of study, this should emerge so clearly.
    I love the bicycle wheel! The deck photo is also superb, but there's something about the painting that really appealed to me.
    I also love the way you described the show – being funny without meanness – and Paco's reaction to it. There's a lot of truth in 'Paco's untrained taste, which makes him the perfect audience for artistic work that grows out of, ahem, untrained taste. For many participants and onlookers, it's their first brush with creation and appreciation.' Beautifully put.

  17. lime Avatar

    you have perfectly described all that is a student art show. watercolor is indeed a challenge but one to which groomeo has most wonderfully risen. thanks so much for sharing. just don't let the performance art and the watercolor get too close to each other. i fear for both in that event.

  18. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I always thought ginseng grew in woodsy places – it does in NC. Groom is a fine artist – he has a strong but delicate style now. Can the museum shows be far behind?

    And Paco does a wonderful imitation of a fountain! Have you noticed how children never mind getting wet, no matter what the weather? I'm pretty sure I'd like to be Paco in my next life.

  19. phd in yogurtry Avatar
    phd in yogurtry

    Groom certainly has a talent! A course well spent. I like Deck Litter, too. But I think I like the Ginseng one best. Is that textured paper or does his watercolor skill make it look that way?

    p.s. love the comment about liking to watch your little people vacume. heh heh.

  20. chelle Avatar

    OOoo your husband is talented!!!

    There seem to be zombies everywhere I turn lately.Strange.

  21. Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings Avatar
    Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings

    Ah, spit art. Magnificent. Next time put some paint in that kid's mouth. You'll make millions. Guaranteed. Of course you'll need a canvas too.. . .

  22. Patois Avatar

    My jealousy knows no bounds.

  23. Midlife Jobhunter Avatar
    Midlife Jobhunter

    Hahahahahaha! Perfect way to rid the body of art show manners. I like the ginseng workers also, but I would like to visit that farmhouse.

    Sorry for not being around much. Hope to cure that soon.

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