Art Is Whatever You Say It Is, Mrs. Grebbles

If there were only one truth, it would not be possible to do 100 variations on the same theme.

– Pablo Picasso.

The teacher, Mrs. Grebbles, knew she had done a good job when all the students got the same answer for the question, “What is art?” All twenty-two boys and girls in her grade three art class had written: whatever you say it is. She had taught her children that they were too young to understand good art from bad, so, they were to trust her completely and like Renoir and not like Monet. Though none of the kids in the class could tell the difference between the painters, they had been taught that Renoir meant: good, and Monet meant: bad.

Until Danny Tucker stuck up her hand and questioned everything.

“But, I like Monet more. I like his clouds better.”

“Clouds? You’re judging great art based on clouds? Children, what is art?”

The entire class, including Danny Tucker replied on cue: “Whatever you say, Mrs. Grebbles.”

Mrs. Grebbles smiled. “There, end of discussion.” She wanted to end this as soon as possible. Mrs. Grebbles knew where discussions like this can lead.

Danny didn’t, so she kept it up, “But, I like clouds. And I like Monet’s clouds more.”

Mrs. Grebbles could feel her cheeks getting hot. She folded her fingers into fists to stop them from reaching and out throttling the student. She reminded herself that Danny’s parents had given her a boy’s name, and that life must be pretty mixed up for a girl named Danny. “You can’t like him, especially his later stuff. He was half-blind when he painted, how can you trust a painter who can’t even see? That’s not talent, that’s luck!”

“I like Monet.”

“You will fail if you say you like Monet. Do you want to fail?”

“No.”

“So, who do you like?”

“Monet.”

“Fail. Class, who do you like?”

The entire class, minus, Danny, returned: “Renoir.”

“Pass. Now, enough art. Open your math books and practice your one and two times tables and see how math, just like art, has only one right answer.”

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