SF Galleries Speed-Viewing

by Abigail (’14)

I had no idea there were so many galleries downtown! And all free!

For any parents reading this who don’t know what I’m talking about, last Saturday the C-Dubs were taken at hyperspeed through San Francisco’s art world by Ronald Chase, creator of Art and Film. As a culmination of the unit on art criticism Ronald taught on Thursday and Friday, we visited twelve galleries in less than two hours, practicing our new analytical skills.

 Ronald’s explanations of each room helped with the dizziness of consuming so much art at once. The experience was first-hand, which, as he pointed out, is the best way to learn. I especially enjoyed finally seeing one of Andy Goldsworthy’s mud-walls in person. It had more substance, the clay looked thicker and more impressive, than in books. You know it’s real if it’s in a gallery, especially with something as tactile as Goldsworthy’s pieces. At the same time, it felt more fleeting: photographs preserve things as they are, but mud cracks and changes.

On the first day of class, Ronald said that it takes ten to fifteen years for an artist to develop a style of her own; that, to be a strong artist, one must have outside support for the first years. It reminded me of a quote from Robert Frost: “The poet, as everyone knows, must strike his original note sometime between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five…School and college have been conducted with the almost express purpose of keeping him busy with something else till the danger of his ever creating anything is past.” One of the reasons I appreciated Ronald’s unit, and his whole program, is that it increases the danger of our creating things.

In closing: I think we can all agree that Ronald, and the parent who made our picnic lunch on Saturday, have our undying gratitude for feeding us. Starving adolescents tend not to be the best of listeners or thinkers, and the food more or less assured our complete interest and participation…am I right, or am I right?

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