I should be writing. Okay, this is writing. What I meant was, last Friday I should have been writing, Instead I went with Cookie and Cookie Junior to the Art Institute. We especially wanted to hear the gallery talk on Cassatt, Sargent, and Whistler, but we stayed afterwards to appreciate a few other things.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures because 1-all I had was my phone, and 2- the art is usually there, and better in person than any snapshot I could take of it.
That said, a few things either caught my eye, or were going to be gone soon. Here’s a small sampling:
Our gallery talk lecturer showed us this picture by John Singer Sargent.
John Singer Sargent – Venetian Glass Workers
It made me think of Mary Robinette Kowal’s novel, Valour and Vanity, a novel which is set in Regency-era Italy and is the kind of novel you might end up with if Jane Austen wrote Ocean’s Eleven. There are Venetian glass workers in it.
As long as we were thinking about Mary Robinette Kowal, who is a puppeteer as well as a writer, we decided to scoot into the Puppets exhibition. It was slated to close two days after our visit, so if we missed it on this trip, we weren’t going to see it. I say “we” but we couldn’t talk Cookie Junior into puppets, as she thinks they are creepy. She looked at 20th century art while we checked out the puppets.
Some historical puppets hung out inside a display case. You weren’t allowed to play with those.
Historical puppets from distant lands
Good thing Cookie Junior wasn’t with us to see the next one; creepy on so many levels! I don’t watch horror movies, but I want to know what kind of story someone could come up with about her.
The part that was most fun was the shadow puppet theatre. There were shapes on sticks that you could move behind a scrim, but that’s not all!
Shadow puppet theatre
They also provided instructions for making animal shapes using nothing but your hands. I’ve done the wolf one before, but that was the only one I knew how to do. We learned how to make dogs, ducks, horses and rabbits.
Cookie makes a bird!
We also visited the Asian collection. I found this incense burner shaped like an insect cage:
Incense burner from the Asian collection
Possibly the most interesting find of the day was the one Cookie described as “something that belongs in a Terry Pratchett novel.” We must have spent 15 minutes admiring it.
Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs lock
Here’s what the Art Institute says about the item that so captivated us:
Frank L. Koralewsky served as a traditional ironworker’s apprentice in his native north-German town of Stralsund. After obtaining journeyman status, he worked in various German shops before immigrating to Boston in the mid- 1890s. By 1906 he was a member of the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts, specializing in locksmithing and hardware. This extremely intricate lock, which took seven years to complete, exemplifies the early-20th-century taste for sentimental medievalism and represents the pinnacle of the metalworking tradition at the turn of the 20th century. Exhibited at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, where it won a gold medal, the lock illustrates Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
We’ve been going to the Art Institute for how many years, and we just now discovered this? Inconceivable!
I want one.
By the way, there are only six dwarfs on the lock. Bonus points to the person who can either state definitively what happened to the seventh, or come up with a convincing story…