From time to time, I have the great privilege of exploring Regina with a small group of youth, looking for art both inside and outside galleries. We call this “Art in the City” as most of us are from rural Saskatchewan. Often, I enjoy a research trip before hand, make a plan, and I create a little booklet so that we are interacting with the art we see throughout the day. Every time, I come home with the same bit of wisdom which is “Less is More”. What I learn over and over again, is that while it is good to introduce my young friends to things they may have never seen before, their own imaginations are even richer and they can make fun out of an open green field, an empty band stand, or anywhere at all. I am reminded ‘Hold whatever plan you have loosely, and leave lots of room for spontaneous adventures!”
Here is a quick rundown of our day:
Inspired by the wonderful Vic Cicanski show at the MacKenzie Art Gallery (don’t miss this!!), our theme was sculpture and we spent a long time with his fantastical sculptures. They made us hungry (all those fruits and vegetables!!) and so we went out to eat lunch with Joe Fafard’s bovine family. Then, we each chose a statue in the lobby, and imagined a name for the statue and a story, sharing them with each other afterwards. What is out the backdoor of the MacKenzie Art Gallery? More sculptures, yes…….but even better than a sculpture garden, there was a huge green bowl of grass waiting for four girls to come along, kick off their shoes, and run and play games they made up under the blue sky for as long as possible. Although there were more things to see in the MacKenzie, we voted for ice cream instead. (There is a limit to how much beautiful art we can absorb at one time!) As we drove down 13th Avenue to the ice cream store, we yelled “HUBBA BUBBA” every time we saw art on a building, or a park bench or as a colourful sculpture! There were many “hubba bubbas!!” along this route. We tried to get “artistic” ice cream cones, colours that matched our fingernail polish or looked good together. After all this hard work, we went to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, where we had a quick nap, and met up with Rebecca Hay, Earth Science specialist, who introduced us to Scotty the T-Rex, but most especially to the wonders of Tyndall stone…we walked around the whole museum looking at the stone frieze carved by Hubert Garnier in the 1950s. We stopped to look at our skewed reflections in a shiny truck – we were all short and fat. While looking at the stone frieze, we found the illicit Wascana mermaid. She is quite small , tucked in with the fishes, and not really very illicit at all. The mermaid suggested we swim so we headed to Wascana Pool, stopping in the bandstand to perform an impromptu play on the way. We had the best swim, and on the way back to the car, we ran and froze as statues of anything we imagined. The drive home was quiet.
As summer begins, these girls reminded me how you don’t need very much to have fun if you have an active imagination. They never go straight from a to b without making it into a game or a play or something to laugh about. What a joy to spend a day with 4 girls, each one knowing they are absolutely loved, each one expecting something wonderful around the next corner, each one delighting in being with their three friends. They have amazing parents, and being with this group reminded of this poem, which appears on Facebook from time to time.
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
By William Martin, The Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents.