Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Modern Art Bear Museum, part one

Beartrand Bear woke up early in the morning. He was excited about going to the art museum and reporting on site about the newest art exhibit. He had made an appointment to have the art museum's curator, Sweet Suzie Bear, tell him about several paintings that were being featured in the exhibit.
After a delicious breakfast of bread and jam and tea, Beartrand Bear set off for the art museum. It was a cold day. Beartrand wondered why he hadn't started hibernating yet but he figured that a good hibernation could wait until after the art museum visit.
When Beartrand Bear, carrying his handy dandy microphone and recording device, arrived at the art museum, he saw Sweet Suzie Bear surrounded by a group of bear cubs and their teacher. Sweet Suzie Bear called Beartrand Bear over.
"I'm giving this class a tour of the museum, and you are welcome to join us," Sweet Suzie Bear said.
The group immediately went to the stairs and climbed up one flight, where the new exhibit was being displayed. A colorful sign was on the door. It read, "Bears in Modern Art: A Retrospective."
"Does anyone know what the word 'restrospective' means?" asked Sweet Suzie Bear. No one did. The students, the teacher, and Beartrand did not know the meaning of the word "retrospective."
"Well, usually, the word is used to describe looking back at the career of one artist. What has that artist done in the past and how did the artist's work change over time? At our museum, we are using that word a little differently. We are looking at a subject, which is Bears in Modern Art and how bears have been depicted in paintings. Does anyone have any questions before we go look at a painting?"
"What is modern art?"
"Are the paintings big or little?"
"Where is the bathroom?"
Sweet Suzie Bear answered all of the questions. She said, "What is modern art is a very good question? Does anyone have an idea?"
"It is art that is not ancient, like cave art," said one small bear cub.
"That is a very good answer," said Sweet Suzie Bear. "There is a little bit more. Modern artists create new and different things by painting or with sculpture. Their artwork does not have to be realistic. It is up to us to decide what the artwork means."
The group went into the exhibition hall. Sweet Suzie Bear led them to a portrait of a bear wearing a hat and and reddish orange sweater and the group discussed the painting. They agreed that the bear looked cold and that it was probably snowing outside. They said that they saw a teapot and that the bear probably wanted tea with honey.
"Have you noticed the artist statement on the wall?" Sweet Suzie Bear asked. "That's where the artist describes what he or she was thinking and feeling when the painting was being made."
One of the bear cubs read the artist statement:
"I used to love watching my Mama Bear wear her wonderful hats. She had hats of every color that she would wear when she went out. Now, she prefers to wear her favorite hat.
"This painting is made on mixed media paper with acrylic paints.
"The painting is my expression of joy at the thought of my mother going out into the world, wearing her colorful hat and her bright sweater."
"OK group," said the teacher. "It is time for lunch!"
The teacher led the cubs away from the painting and told Sweet Suzie Bear that they would return after their lunch.
Sweet Suzie Bear told Beartrand Bear that she would do an interview with him while the students were off having their lunch.

Tomorrow: The interview and another painting

Note on Today's Painting: This painting is an adaptation of a painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954).


  1. Well, what a clever and interesting way to teach us a little something about art! (I guess this is my day for art training. My Rotary club had a program about art featuring students from the local High School.) Your story was fun and easy to read. Thanks!

    1. Thank you very much. I hope that you had a fun day with art training!

  2. I'd love to be in Sweet Suzy Bear's group! Really enjoying the story. :)