An Enduring Art Adventure

BY Pat Bradford


Ethan and his family live near the historic city of St. Augustine Florida. The ancient city with its tourist traps historic houses hotels businesses and fort horse-drawn carriages mini golf courses and delectable food spots exerts a strong draw on him and he never fails to ask When are we going to St. Augustine again? Until last year I d ask What specifically do you want to go and do? But he d just shrug my question off and until recently I failed to realize a deeper underlying reason for his request.

Quality conversation is one of my five love languages and I realized last year it must be his and his sister s as well. I understood I had inadvertently stumbled on a quality time activity that my grandson and I love one that satisfies a deeper longing for time together with conversation that matters for each of us even though five decades separate us in age.

Here s what we do which is easily adapted to any town worldwide.

We begin with a leisurely big breakfast out and then drive down to the part of the city littered with art galleries. We park and cut through the park to walk from shop to gallery drinking in the two- and three- dimensional art in each one. Ethan tends to like sculpture; last year it was glass sculpture but over the years I ve noticed it has changed morphed — he is drawn to colors imagery fluid motion.

In each shop or gallery we move very slowly through from just inside the door all the way around the rooms stopping every couple of feet to gaze and comment on pieces expressing what we like or dislike and why. We often have a contest to guess the price tag on this or that giggling quietly together over prices when they are through the roof.

We move on to the next shop or gallery and repeat the adventure again and again. Because art is regularly rotated through a gallery the inventory is even changing we have no idea what treasure we will see next time we go.

When we are satisfied it is on to lunch and stopping in at a few of the touristy stores that have things all the rage with young men his age. We end the day traveling home by a different route to see what might be new since we passed this way last.

This is quality time and conversation an adventure we can continue all the rest of our lives together. Over the years each of our tastes has changed his eye has matured with each passing year as he develops an early understanding of and appreciation for art. Perhaps equally valuable Ethan is learning how to express what he likes and doesn t which can be surprising.

It all makes for irreplaceable memories.