Saturday, July 12, 2014

Field Trip - LACMA

My three-year-old playing in the "noodles."

Painting in the Boone Children's Gallery
Yesterday my family visited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. We saw a special exhibit - Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Expressionism in Germany and France. Having been to museums in Europe, I've seen a lot of famous works of art (including the Barnes Collection, which is now in Philadelphia). I love coming face to face with a Matisse or a Gauguin. I feel almost like I'm experiencing something I shouldn't, like these images are reserved for books, but I - me! - I get to see the real paintings, every brush stroke or pointillist point. The exhibit was wonderful.

How does one take a three-year-old to an exhibit on expressionism? And, some might ask, why should you? To answer the second question first, you should because being viewing art in person is a habit that must be trained, just like picture study/viewing copies of paintings.

The three rules of HOW are:
1)Hands-on
2)On to the next painting!
3)What...?

Rule #1 - Take frequent breaks. Museums often have hands-on things for little ones to do. Do them.

Rule #2 - Keep it moving. Look for 1 element in a painting and move on to the next painting.

Rule #3 - Ask questions (but only 1 per painting). What shape are those apples? What is that man doing? What color is that woman's skin? (An especially good question for Fauvist works.)

We also visited James Turrell's exhibit "Breathing Light." We had to wait hours, but it was such a weird and enjoyable experience. Turrell's objective was to eliminate the viewer's depth perception, and it works. It's a bit like stepping into a scene from the original - good - Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the one in which the factory guests dress in white and enter the white TV room where Mike Teavee is turned into particles, etc. To enter "Breathing Light," we had to take off our shoes and put on disposable white booties. I had to tie the one-size-fits-all booties around my three-year-old's feet. Then we entered the installation and the lights started changing colors and it became disorienting, but in a pleasant sort of way. Fun for all ages.

My daughter also enjoyed the Boone Children's Gallery. Kids can sit and paint all day if they want, and there is no limit to how many paintings they can make.

Lastly, LACMA has a program called NexGen. Children under 18 get a free membership (and a cool orange lanyard to wear that holds their membership badge). Their membership enables one parent to accompany them to the museum for free, and it's good until the child turns 18!




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