Saturday, March 04, 2006

Going on a Field Trip

Every little kid likes to go on field trips. There were some memorable ones in my youth. Probably the one that stands out most vividly was our eighth grade trip. Our school was in Northern New Jersey (Lebanon Township Elementary). Mr. Flynn, our teacher, came from the coal mining town of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. He had connections there, and he made arrangements for our class to go down into a coal mine. Now remember, back in the 1950's there was no particular awareness of safety issues, liability, etc. He felt quite comfortable taking a pack of 25 junior high age kids on such a trip. We went down the open-sided mine elevator, kind of like a cage on a cable. We had no helmets or safety gear. We wandered around in the dark and choking mine shafts, where assorted miners were at work with picks and shovels, and then we came back up the elevator, where a local TV camera person was waiting to film us, with our blackened faces - the first ever school trip into a coal mine! It was an early brush with fame, sort of. Being on TV in those days was a really big deal!

The second part of that fabulous field trip was touring the chocolate factory in Hershey. I remember smelling chocolate from miles away as the bus approached the town. Once again, we went right out onto the factory floor and milled around the huge vats of melted goo, watched the candy get formed into various shapes and then packaged up and boxed. Of course we got free samples. And of course we were all on a sugar overload for the trip home!It must have been the inspiration of those kisses. The third part of that trip, as I remember, was that my pals and I sat in the back of the bus and had a kissing contest. The game was to see who could kiss the longest, and I was sitting with my boyfriend, Bill H., going for the championship. We were lost in a seemingly endless smooch (no tongues yet) when everything went silent in the bus. I felt a large hand on my head, opened my eyes, and looked up to see the face of Mr. Flynn looming above me - not looking pleased because we had won the kissing contest, but looking pissed because we were not "behaving". We ended up in the principal's office the next day with an embarrassing lecture about public displays of affection, good behavior, yadda yadda. I think our parents were even telephoned - yikes! The photo below shows Mr. Flynn, on the right, and Mr. Vosseler, the principal, on the left, in front of our school.On Thursday this week (in 2006), I went on another student field trip, with my Painting class from Cabrillo College. Our instructor, Tobin, packed the day with a wonderful array of treats. First we toured the campus at California College of Arts & Crafts (CCA) in Oakland, where we were drooling at the magnificent art facilities available there for students. They seem to be a place that has everything. Want to borrow a really high-end camera and then print a wall sized mural of what you photograph? No problem. Want to cast in bronze, or blow glass, or make monumental sculptures? No problem. Want to make stone lithographs, or have your own jewelry workbench? No problem. I am already planning my next lifetime - I'll go there to school and try it all, seriously!

Next we went to the studio of Thekla Hammond, a painter who is making a room-size installation consisting of hanging, painted life-size plexiglass panels (and some mirrors) of all the special people in her life. We walked around among these panels and could easily identify a couple of the people (our teacher for one), even though none of them have faces. It was a beautiful piece, very evocative of the "soul" of each person, with simple sketches and luscious colors.The photo above shows our instructor, Tobin, near his portrait (tall, in orange, on his right).After a quick stop at Blick Art Store and a bite to eat in Berkeley, we went on to Kala Art Institute to look at a "white on white" show with some great pieces by fellow Santa Cruzan, Rob Larsen. Then we zipped across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco and spent a couple of hours at SF MOMA, looking at paintings and thinking about how to begin our next assignment - abstraction - scary for me! We had an early dinner, then went to a few galleries in the downtown Thursday Night Art Walk event, and finally home. We felt full to the brim with art and color and inspiration. So today I'm thinking "hurray for field trips!" , and for the memories stirred up by this one. THANKS, Tobin.

7 comments:

Dotty Stripes said...

I had no idea you won the kissing contest, or that you had a TV debut as a little one...Sigrid you are full of secrets!

adagio said...

What a great art-focussed field trip Sigrid. And I really enjoyed hearing about your 1950's trip down the mine. Black faces and all. So lucky to have lived one's childhood in the pre wrap-children-in-cottonwool days. Here in NZ, many schools are closing down/filling in their swimming pools. All because of suffocatingly constrictive safety and health regulations. My memories of swimming at primary school (age 5-10) are hugely fond. Taking my swimming togs to school, wrapped up in a towel. The excited stomach butterflies on the walk across the field to the pool. It saddens me greatly to think that experiences such as this will be denied future generations of children.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

What a great juxtaposition-- your two field trips. It is amazing to think that you were taken into a coal mine. Yikes. Reading about Wilkes-Barre reminded me that my older brother went to Wilkes College there in 1966. He was there until a certain incident involving some marijuana! The art tour looks fantastic. A beautiful colorful day. I bet you could still win a kissing contest with your sweetie!

Sigrid Jardin said...

Dotty,
Yes, I still have a few secrets up my sleeve! Aren't you glad??

Adagio,
I too lament the loss of innocence and trust for children nowadays. We spent so much of our childhood alone in the woods, or out riding our bikes along country roads. Nobody thought anything of it then, and I can so much relate to the sadness you feel about the swimming pools being paved over due to liability. What a warped world!

RD,
So now we have New Jersey and Wilkes Barre binding our pasts together! It was fun to have that old field trip memory stirred up - it was a bizarre and thrilling day in 1957, when thrills were few and far between! I'll see if my sweetie would like to challenge the championship record.... what a sweet idea! Probably you and DPR could be heavy competitors....

TDharma said...

SJ,
oh, how funny the world is. RD is a very good friend. We were on the phone this morning talking about our favorite blogs, and she mentioned yours. I'm a good friend of Tobin's, tho we've lost touch in the last couple of years. I work at UC...I actually used to visit dotty stripes' site. I have a little pup I take walking at Lighthouse field with some regularity. It goes on and on...hope to meet you someday!! Enjoy your site immensly.

Jean said...

Un concours de baisers !!Que c'est beau !!
Vous avez de la chance de travailler avec des artistes !

Sigrid Jardin said...

Taradharma - I'm sure I've met you, as I used to work at UCSC and definitely have a picture of you in my mind. RD talks about you every time I see her, so I know you're right up there in her tower of best buds! It's amazing how much else we seem to have in common - and we definitely have the best taste in friends and blog spots! I've enjoyed your blog too, and will check it out more often. It would be great to meet - maybe a walk on Lighthouse Field?

Jean, It was delightful to hear from you! Your beautiful photographs light my day, every day!