There was a groupon for an art class, so my friend Lenore and I decided to do it. I think the real way this place makes their money is by selling booze, which you would think would be a highly sustainable business model in Wisconsin but which you would also think would not be conducive to producing good art.
But perhaps there are many great artists who are also heavy drinkers. I don't know. I only took one semester of art history and I don't remember the professor talking much about whether the artists drank, although I suspect the Dutch masters did, if for no other reason than to keep warm.
There are only a few things I do remember from art history:
1. Prof Brown pointing to the middle of that Da Vinci drawing of the guy in the circle where he has four legs and four arms. "The penis is the focal point of the drawing," she said. We all gasped. I had never heard a teacher say the word "penis" before. I was shocked.
2. "Chiaroscuro" means light and dark.
3. If you stand in front of the Bernini columns in Rome at the right spot, the ones in front hide the ones in the back.
4. The key to getting an A on an art history test is to state the obvious. "The light in Painting A comes from the window and falls over the body of the nude. The light in Painting B comes from the candle."
5. Perspective was discovered and it must have taken a long time. There were years and years of people scratching their heads saying, "This painting looks nothing like the model." Their girlfriends would say, "Oh honey that looks great!" but were surreptitiously leaving auto repair training class pamphlets on the dining room table.
The teacher invited us all to buy some booze. Nobody did, probably because it was the middle of the afternoon.
That was a joke.
I don't know why nobody bought booze.
The teacher showed us the painting we would be copying, three pears on a table. We put on our aprons and painted the top half of our canvas red, as the teacher instructed, and the bottom half blue.
It's a lot harder to cover a canvas in a solid color than I thought. Little bits of white wanted to show through. The paint streaked. I finally left it, deciding it showed a rustic authenticity.
It gave me a new respect for the guy who painted the solid gray canvas hanging on the wall at my friends' mom/MIL's house.
"Mrs W," I asked. "What makes that art?"
I was sincere. I saw no artistic merit in that painting. She was an art/art history major. She owned some serious art. "That painting over the fireplace?" my friend said. "That's putting our boys through college." Even I recognized a Lichtenstein.
She explained. I would pass that explanation on to you, but all I remember is blah blah blah blah blah. Her words meant nothing.
Lenore and I continued to paint. The teacher had us outline our pears in white paint. The other students were slow. We pressed on. I mixed colors - I remembered the color wheel from kindergarten. I painted, I mixed, I even used my fingers to mash paint the way I wanted it to be.
In the end, I got pears in unnatural colors emitting noxious fumes to wherever. Perhaps this is why you are supposed to drink.