I’d like to begin, as they say, at the beginning. I’m Magdalene Aubergine, Brooklyn-based artist, renowned art-critic, and globally inspired consumer of all works great and terrible. I’m cruel, I’m kind, and I’m profoundly human, and there is not a piece of art alive (and they are alive) that escapes my watchful eye.
Today, I am using the medium of the wonderfully underground PIC Newspaper to deliver my newest review: Somerville Art Camp.
My wanderings often take me every which way, and last week I found myself with a sudden urge to escape the machinations of the city and go look at a river. But art, my lonesome mistress, follows me wherever I go. When I found myself in Somerville, Connecticut I noticed posters advertising an art show at a children’s art camp. I realized that it was time for me to give back, to convey the inner workings of my artist’s mind outwards, for the next generation. So I arrived unannounced and unexpected (as I arrive at all places) and began preaching at the pulpit of art. (Or as the director crassly put it to me later, “yelling at kids.”)
When I first saw that these young artists had curated a collection entirely of oil pastels, I was delighted and intrigued. As a medium, oil pastel excites me. I personally find that oil pastel retains a timeless stoicism that never fails to titillate the senses.
“me and my family” is a work with a lot of heart and little to no technique. As a conceit, the piece is strong— “me and my family” conjures images of a pastoral scene, which I expected he might try to subvert in some way. But in execution, the perspective and spacing turn what could have been the next Monet into little more than a scribble on the back of a children’s menu at the Olive Garden. Why must the parents’ heads be so large, and their arms so small? Why was the dog a rectangle? Aidan C. provides no answers to these questions, and I found the work, frankly, childish.
I kindly, but sharply, suggested that he take his work back to the drawing board, even if his mother thinks I’m “a horrible, cruel person.” Though the director says I “can’t talk to children that way,” I say, “c’est la vie.” Welcome to the art world, Aidan C.
“The Beach,” by third grader Jocelyn R., is a convoluted mess of inspiration that doesn’t know where the shoreline ends and the chaos begins. To experiment with color is a noble endeavor, but when depicting something as ubiquitous as the ocean one cannot simply decide that the water ought to be pink, particularly when paired with sand that is shockingly and sickeningly green.
When I asked her what the letter M’s in the sky were, hoping they might be an allusion to me, Magdalene, Jocelyn informed me that they were, in fact, birds. My analysis was further interrupted, as when I tried to use my oral senses to get a better grasp of the oil pastel’s texture, composition, and depth the director told me that I had to stop “licking the paintings.” While I believe abstraction should always be applauded and appreciated, Jocelyn’s “birds” were a disgusting affront to the senses, and I could not let her leave without first telling her so, and subtly suggesting that perhaps she might be better off giving up art forever.
It may seem harsh, but by informing her of her lack of artistic potential at age 6, I helped her to explore her options and perhaps expand her horizons. Perhaps she’d be more suited to sculpture (the simpleton’s medium), or music (I can’t even see it?).
“Soccer” is a revelation. Pure and simple. By 4:30 pm, I’d almost given up. The YMCA rec room was thick with the scent of wax and parents, horrible leeches desperate to prove their progeny more than desperate failures. “Soccer” was a breath of fresh air. “Soccer” was a moment. The moment. The player felt determined and fierce, even as her face, drawn without a nose or a mouth, betrayed the anxiety bubbling beneath the surface. Her stick straight hair, her lack of fingers? She was a revelation. The soccer ball was massive. But that, in a way, was more truthful than it being to scale. For doesn’t soccer, the beautiful game, loom large in the heartstrings of the world? Emma W. has a global vision. I offered to take her under my wing and bring her to my Brooklyn bungalow, but she told me she had to finish fourth grade and that she was having a sleepover with Emma R. later. What a waste.
What was most, the director of the camp seemed unconcerned with the culture of mediocrity rotting his academy from the inside out. Children were not just allowed, but often encouraged, to step away from their still-lacking work just to socialize with the other campers, play games, or “sleep.” And when an accidental flower shone through the garden of concrete he had so brutishly sculpted, he chose not to water it but to chop off its head. To see no difference between Emma R. and the other children at this camp is to stare art in the eyes and spit in her face.
I was not invited back for next week’s showcase, where I hear they will be using yarn and glue (gauche). In fact, I was explicitly barred from attending. I will not torture you with a conclusion. Like the best art, this will just end.