Saturday, June 09, 2007

Give me my ROM back.

Posted by Arna:
Convocation Hall, Uof T

I want my ROM back. Where’d it go?

Smook, and Drazen and I met at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) for a sketch outing Friday morning. How exciting! We hoped to check out the new Michael Lee Chin Crystal addition too. We didn’t get past the front lobby. Seems we had dangerous equipment...like brush pens, and small watercolour boxes that I’ve brought to the Museum before. Plus we were carrying bags. Not huge bags, but we had little sketchbooks in them. Now mind you, there were women with large purses walking in unchecked as we chatted with the security personnel. Who knows what those gals were carrying in there... maybe dangerous lipstick, which they could use to deface the exhibits if so inclined!

Yup I’m a tad peeved about this. The Museum is a sacred place to me and I would never think of defacing it in any way. I have spent many childhood/young adult days sketching in the ROM and feel as though it is ‘mine’. I’m protective of the place. It’s a valued resource that belongs to every Torontonian in that same way it belongs to me.

So it's all renovated and flashy now and without warning there is a new policy. No art equipment other than pencils?!? Plus we got a curious instruction to draw ‘freehand’ only. Is there any other way?
Don’t get me wrong I love my pencils. I even had one small HB with me. But this is a bad policy. Artists have visited and sketched at the ROM for over 50 years. We’d like to continue to do so. We’re part of the fabric of the city and we don’t want to see city life shrinking in this way. This is not about security. We opened our bags and happily showed the contents; three or four brush pens and two little sketchbooks and small watercolour box, a few paper towels to wipe up if there was a spill... I travel light! Meanwhile while the purse carriers walked in no problem. Me. No. Get.

Actually the guard misspoke to us...I checked the ROM website after our little adventure, and it claims you can sketch with pens and pencils. Wish I’d known that when we were talking to him! The fellow finally did say that he would make an 'exception' and allow a pen in ‘this time’. But by then it felt like time to leave.

So we three wandered down Philosopher's Walk and sprawled in the shade on the lawn across from Convocation Hall to sketch and vent and catch up. My sketch buddies for the day are a pair of charming talented fellows and we had a delightful time. Drazen has a bunch of new children's books in the works and a spiffy new website, and Mike (Smook) is doing great guns boarding on Ruby Gloom. I didn’t do as much drawing as I’d like...I’d let that officious guard get to me. Not wise, shoulda known better because there was plenty of cool stuff to draw. Proud graduates fluttered on the lawn in red robes... courtyards surrounded by arched cloisters with gargoyles...

Of course we did a little horsing around too: Check out the shot below taken ‘somewhere on U of T campus’... don’t worry, we rubbed out the drawing afterwards. We’re a regular trio of art terrorists...no?

I’m very glad we had the chance to get together! Thanks to (slightly burnt) Smook for the prodding... Thanks to Drazen making me look so thin and stylin'! How nice. See you both again soon I hope.

We all missed John who usually travels with me, but had script deadlines and a pulled ligament in his drawing hand. Get better soon, sweety!! :)

Click here, here, here, and here, for older posts of us drawing with and without Smook at the ROM...

Click here for Mike Smukavic of Reddot blog! and Drazen Kozjan of Hypnotic Eye and Happy Undertaker.

24 comments:

Chensio said...

very beautiful lansdscape!!

:D

Drazen said...

Great post Arna (tho I thought we agreed no photos:-)) and I'm "snif" charming, who knew?)
I love the sketch with the security guard. It does seem sad but the old ROM days are gone.
I had a great time with you guys too!.
I don't know how teachers do it. I think I broke about 6 chalks doing the drawing tho it was probably doing all that rabble rousing made me less light fingered or they just don't make chalk like they used to.

Daniel said...

It is too bad...great sketches and I love the facial expressions on your sketch with the gard!

Smook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smook said...

Ah, who needs the ROM when we can ROAM the streets of Toronto!

Excellent account of the days events, Arna! And I agree with Drazen, I thought there was an agreement on not posting photos!)) All that goes through my head when I see that pic is, "My gut, my gut, why have thou forsaken me?!?" Bang on caricatures of me though, aren't they?

Always a good time and we'll have to do it again soon. I'll post something up soon enough.

Get better JvB.

Crispy Smook has left the blog.

the doodlers said...

Uh oh... I'm in trouble now...;)

I thought you guys were just joking about no pix.?!? Next time you'll have to make sure I sign something. That shot was too funny not to use and I thought the post needed something to lighten the tone.

Mike, didn't you take a whole bunch of beauties? Do put some up! I have some lovely shots of you two on the grass looking all pastoral and artsy that I didn't post. I'll send you some copies.

Cheers, guys... ~Arna

the doodlers said...

Chensio, Thanks!

Daniel, Thanks. I'd say let's meet sometime at the ROM for a sketch outing, but it will have to be a limited one with just pens and pencils. :)

Alina Chau said...

SO many beautiful new drawings and artworks!

Clive said...

I suspected you wouldn't be able to throw stones in the new glass part, but use a little paint? Maybe the new architectural style of the addition is just making the institution feel appropriately oppressed, paranoid, and defensive.

Daniel said...

Sounds like a good idea, I haven't sketched in a museum since...let me think...oh yeah, 1994 in Berlin! YIKES!!

the doodlers said...

Hi Alina!! And thanks. Nice to see your 'avatar' here again.

Clive, yup, you are exactly right! Oppressed paranoid and defensive indeed. The ROM needs a massage...

Daniel, I bet the museums in Berlin were amazing! Could you post some of those sketches?
Let's get together... I'll send an email...

Steve Daye said...

Great post Arna! Glad you included the photo too! Hope all is well!

Marcos Mateu said...

Beautiful watercolor indeed!
By the way, freehand or 'machine drawn'?

the doodlers said...

Hi Steve! Thanks for the note...Back atcha...hope all's good with you in the land of perpetual sun...:)

Haha Marcos, thanks. The watercolour is freehand. But I did add some photoshop to the sky and grass after the fact...:)

Jack Ruttan said...

That is a nice landscape. I'm kind of stymied by putting light grass in front of dark, the way plants look in nature. Maybe that was some of the photoshop? Otherwise, I'm looking at very artistic use of masking fluid.

the doodlers said...

Masking fluid does the trick if you can work that far in advance. I don't use it much.

Since I painted this sketch on location and didn't carry masking fluid with me (I can't imagine what the Museum official would have thought of that!),I painted the light grass lines in Photoshop after the fact.

Elliot said...

You could probably do more damage with a pencil than a box of water colours if you think about it...

the doodlers said...

Yup. The pencil is indeed mightier than the sword... or than the brush :) Cheers, Elliot!

Dominic Bugatto said...

That's messed up.

I taught a drawing class at the ROM a coupla years ago , and we had a 3 months of 'Sketching the Galleries' using various different media.

How things change.

the doodlers said...

I know. I just don't get it. It breaks my heart. Artists sketching in museums... it's a time-honoured tradition!!

Jack Ruttan said...

That's a drag about the ROM and sketching, but I was always into sketching from life more than "from the antique." Though know it's 'different strokes.'

The strangest sketcher I saw in Europe wore kind of a square hood over his head a little like an old-fashioned photographer's cloth, but based around a cardboard box. He would kind of dance around the painting, drawing it from all angles at once. A super trace-o-matic?

I think the ROM's rule was mainly to discourage photography, but maybe someone tested the limits with a camera obscura, or something.

Maybe they're afraid of people bringing paint, or someone like that guy who insisted it was "art" to vomit on paintings in different colours.

Are you allowed to bring folding stools inside?

Matt J said...

Such a funny story- i can't stand those type of 'jobsworth' security guards-it's SO infuriating. I got stopped drawing in the NATIONAL Gallery, London one time-guard told me policy didn't allow sketching!
GENERATIONS of schoolkids have sat on the floor there in groups & sketched from the Old Masters. What is it about us 'arty' types? Do we just look suspicious?

Jenny Blair said...

I just joined the Chicago Institute of Art and have been told in no uncertain terms that I'm not allowed to sit on any of the scores of folding chairs in big boxes marked "FOR STAFF ONLY" in order to sketch. Nor may I bring my own chair, unless I can somehow come up with one that's less than 13 by 17 inches. I am expected to stand at attention in front of the painting if I have any interest in drawing it. (Unless I'm taking a sketching class and wearing an ID, in which case presumably they've performed a thorough background check -- then my butt is allowed to sit down.) I don't get it. Isn't sketching in a museum absolutely basic to its mission? And wouldn't it be best to sit down in order to properly do so? I'm very frustrated.

the doodlers said...

Hi Jennie,

We feel your pain. This seems so wrong. It is sad to hear that policies of exclusion and fear of terrorism and vandalism are changing access to our art and heritage in many museums.