when ava was little, I took her to the high museum of art most every week for toddler thursdays. we'd look at the art for a little while then walk downstairs to a little room in the museum basement and make things with the other kids. one week it was alexander calder-inspired mobiles (like the one that used to live on the front lawn of the high) and the next week, clay animals inspired by animals we'd seen in paintings in the museum. different art project every week and I loved it. gosh, I loved it. but the real highlight of those weekly trips was the visit to the howard finster section. more specifically, the white bicycle covered with hand-painted words that hung over an old concrete slab embedded with what seemed like thousands of bright-colored marbles and pieces of glass and slivers of mirrors and little things. this was ava's favorite part, her favorite thing in the whole museum. unfortunately, it was also a fairly torturous situation because, no touching. no touching those thousands of bright-colored marbles and mirrors and little things for a 3 year-old ava, a rule that was often emphatically reinforced by myself and a whole host of museum security people in navy blue blazers. in fact, we often found ourselves followed from room to room by those same museum security people, who were always at the ready with a firm NO and PLEASE DON'T TOUCH THAT and TOO CLOSE, MOVE BACK. god bless them, they were just trying to do their job. and, I guess, if anything, ava learned from a really young age how to behave in an art museum. but it hurt me every single time she went for those marbles and I had to tell her no. I couldn't help but think, this is probably not what visionary howard finster had in mind.
I don't know why we waited so long to visit paradise garden. I don't know why we didn't take ava when she was younger. who knows. but the minute we moved back to georgia, I bumped paradise garden to the top of our list and we finally made the trip last spring. for the record, there are many things to be said about howard finster's paradise garden. many, many things. I don't know where to start so I'll leave you with just two today:
1. I could visit paradise garden every single day for ten years and still not see every little thing, every detail.
2. it was pretty cool to see a 14 year-old ava finally touch the marbles she was forbidden to touch so many times, so many years ago. somewhere, howard finster was smiling, I am sure of it.
(number 62 off the list, seventeen and counting)