WARNING: CONTAINS ART
Untitled, Watercolor, 14" x 13.5", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
Word has it that exposing sixth graders to images of classical art containing nudity gets teachers fired in the State of Utah.
If only they had been images of art depicting children’s toys.
Untitled, Watercolor, 7" x 10.5", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
Untitled, Watercolor, 26" x 17", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
For better or (as many believe) worse, education was a priority in our home growing up. My parents considered paintings, sculptures, music and literature, among other forms and manifestations of artistic expression, critical to a well-rounded education. Art by the Masters was never off limits. Michelangelo, da Vinci, Rodin, Rembrandt, van Gogh, Rubens, Monet, Renoir, Picasso . . . .
Untitled, Watercolor, 21" x 29", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
My mother, a voracious reader of a broad array of writers and genres, and my father, a visual artist, art professor and sometimes-chair of his university’s art department, encouraged open inquiry and discussion about almost any topic, despite their steadfast commitment to Mormonism’s conformist agenda. They encouraged open-ended learning while maintaining their conservative religious and political views.
Untitled, Watercolor, 14" x 12", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
We seldom know the outcome of a decision that wasn’t made. I cannot say I would have the wherewithal to appreciate the difference had my parents been more restrictive in their orientation to education and child-rearing.
I am thankful they risked, on balance, that more knowledge, not less, would enrich the lives of their children by enhancing their ability to understand and appreciate the world. Art, in its many forms, was a critical component to both understanding and transcending the human condition, awakening and nourishing a dimension that could make much of their lives and experiences more meaningful.
Untitled, Watercolor, 29" x 22", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy Van Wagoner Family Trust**
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to lastamendment.com
**My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed nearly 500 pieces of my father’s work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father’s art reproduced in lastamendment.com are hers.