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Notes on the Valley

By Monith Ilavarasan

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About this blog: My parents, brother, and I moved to Pleasanton when I was in the seventh grade. I then graduated from Amador Valley High School, went to college at UC Davis and started out a career in tech. After several years working in large co...  (More)

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Learning to appreciate art

Uploaded: Oct 20, 2022
This past weekend I found myself back in Chicago. My partner and I flew out to go to a friend's wedding and we ended up spending a few days there. On our final day we ended up with a few hours to spare before our flight so we made a quick last minute decision to check out The Art Institute of Chicago.

I had visited the museum years ago with my brother on another trip we made to Chicago and remembered really enjoying it. My partner had never been so we thought it would be as good a time as any to check it out.

After our metro train was delayed by twenty minutes we finally headed downtown from the nearby city of Oak Park. After getting off at our stop we confidently went in the complete opposite direction. On our way to the wrong location we got hungry and decided to eat at a famous local spot called Chipotle.

After realizing we were going the wrong way we turned around and headed to our destination. When we finally reached the lobby we had about thirty minutes left before we had to head back to Oak Park, pick up our bags, and catch our flight. We decided touring the museum wasn’t in the cards for us today. We stopped by the gift store and got a magnet commemorating our fruitful visit to the museum.

The first museum I remember going to was a field trip in the fifth grade when we went to the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum down in San Jose. I remember being excited that we were going on a field trip, bored for the first couple hours, and then excited again when I got to see some old real life mummies.

The next time I remember going to a museum was actually the SF MOMA. I went there with a friend who was a designer in the beginning of 2017. To be completely honest, I don’t remember much from that visit. I do remember that there were entire floors of modern art which went completely over my head. I stared and stared at the pieces and didn’t feel anything.

The only other exhibit I remember was a picture series by a woman named Diane Arbus. She took black and white portraits centered around people she saw in Manhattan. Some of those pictures were beautiful and others were haunting.

Ironically, the last museum I visited was the Chicago Art Institute. Years ago when my brother was still in college I visited him in St. Louis and we drove up to Chicago. We were looking for things to do in the daytime and so booked tickets to the museum.

We ended up spending hours there. I remember seeing endless pieces of ancient art and marveling at how old they were. Again, there were entire floors of modern and contemporary art which continued to make no sense to me whatsoever.

The most memorable part of this visit was once again an artist who centered their pieces around the human experience. At the time the museum had an exhibition highlighting the work of Charles White. White grew up in Chicago around the Great Depression and focused his work on African American triumphs and struggles. He used charcoal to create these striking, rich black and white paintings.

Unlike abstract and landscape paintings his art felt real and striking. Those pieces really moved me, and I remember his drawing of a mother cradling her son while looking straight ahead to this day.

The most recent failed attempt at experiencing a gallery has motivated me to check out more local art around me. As Jeremy Walsh has recently highlighted, the Tri-Valley has a bustling art scene with its own share of artists. The Bankhead theater in particular rotates through art exhibitions on a regular basis. I’ll be on the lookout for a local show that catches my eye.
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Posted by Jess Patrick, a resident of another community,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:00 am

Jess Patrick is a registered user.

You cannot expect a sizable number of Contra Costa County residents to have a genuine appreciation for art whether modern or pre-Columbian.

It is not in their genes or focal point

Posted by Kellie Peterson, a resident of Danville,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 11:15 am

Kellie Peterson is a registered user.

Did the Chicago art museums offer any works by Thomas Kincaid?

Thomas Kinkaid (aka The Master of Light) is the 20th century Vincent Van Gogh and his visionary New Age masterpieces have been prominently displayed on Christmas cards and calendars.

Posted by Laquelle Jackson, a resident of another community,
on Oct 20, 2022 at 4:41 pm

Laquelle Jackson is a registered user.

When it comes to appreciating art, there is also a distinct difference between true graffiti and spray can vandalism.

Only astute eyes can differentiate between the the two.

Posted by Patty Lockwood, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 10:23 am

Patty Lockwood is a registered user.

"You cannot expect a sizable number of Contra Costa County residents to have a genuine appreciation for art..."

• Apparently so given the comments so far.

"Thomas Kinkaid (aka The Master of Light) is the 20th century Vincent Van Gogh..."


• Seriously? Comparing the late commercial artist Thomas Kincaid to Van Gogh (or any prominent impressionist) is like comparing a bottle of Carlo Rossi burgundy to Romanee-Conti.

No wonder some people say CC County lacks culture.

Posted by Shawon Richmond, a resident of another community,
on Oct 21, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Shawon Richmond is a registered user.

"No wonder some people say CC County lacks culture."

This might also explain why nearly every major county in California has at least a Cal State University and/or a UC.

Contra Costa County has neither, just a JC.

Posted by newyearwiki, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Nov 15, 2022 at 4:50 am

newyearwiki is a registered user.

i woild like to wish you guys advance happy new year 2023 Web Link

Posted by newyearwiki, a resident of Amador Estates,
on Nov 15, 2022 at 4:50 am

newyearwiki is a registered user.

i woild like to wish you guys advance happy new year 2023 Web Link

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