This weekend marked the beginning of the Chinese New Year. It is the year of the rat. And that’s what my grand-daughter and I were both saying on Sunday afternoon when we drove to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.
Rats! Yes. Rats!
The museum was hosting a full day of activities and demonstrations. A drum and lion dance would be performed at repeated intervals. Demonstrations on Chinese art were scheduled. Other activities on the agenda include making origami rats, a Chinese zodiac animal hunt, and a Taekwondo demonstration by a master.
But, rats! We didn’t get to see any of it.
We arrived to find the parking garage full, and the museum teeming with visitors. We would have had to park… well, too far away. After my grand-daughter had driven around the area for a time, I considered that it was no doubt my fault since I’d chosen to wear black and white beneath a red, white, and black poncho. I hadn’t known it at the time, but wearing black and white is sure to bring bad luck, as is doing any washing or cleaning. My grand-daughter, you see, had spent a little time learning about Chinese New Year customs. Unfortunately she didn’t clue me in on the colors until we were already on our way.
So, there we were in Kansas City, but attending the festival at the Nelson-Atkins no longer seemed like a very good idea. How about the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art? It wasn’t too far from where we were, so off we went.
But, rats! We must not have been the only ones with the same idea. Again, there was nowhere to park, and on a cold winter’s day, the idea of walking several blocks wearing only a thin poncho or a light wrap wasn’t too appealing.
Off we went in search of yet another way to spend our day.
How about the Genghis Khan exhibit at Union Station? Great idea, but rats! It, too, was jam-packed with not only the Genghis Khan exhibit happening, but a photo-op day for our Superbowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs.
Well, rats! What next?
We ended up at nearby Crown Center, and we did find a parking spot in the garage there. But neither of us felt like shopping, we weren’t all that hungry, and ice skating… well, no. We thought about taking in a movie, couldn’t find a nearby theater with anything we wanted to see, so we shrugged, headed back to the car, and came home again.
A wasted day? No, not really. We considered it all a great adventure, and it was a fun time for grandma-granddaughter talk.
Now, you’ve probably figured out that today’s post has nothing much to do with art, other than being a celebration of the color red. Why red?
According to the China Institute, a legendary monster named Nian (a name meaning year) haunts people at the end of each lunar year. Fortunately, though, Nian is afraid of the color red. He’s also frightened away by fireworks, so this is why you’ll see lots of red décor and hear lots of fireworks at these celebrations.
Chinese astrology says that people born during “the year of the rat” will be intelligent, resourceful, and highly creative. I’m taking those ideas and adding in my own word of the year — IMAGINATION — and even though our Chinese New Year’s plans didn’t work out quite the way we’d intended, I’m feeling inspired by our little Sunday adventure.
So, don’t be surprised if you see me painting with reds. Vermillions, alizarin crimsons, cadmium deep reds, scarlets… they are exciting, adventurous colors, and it’s time to get creative.