Monday, January 27, 2014

Museum Free-For-All

On Saturday, we took advantage of SoCal's ninth annual "Museums Free-For-All" and visited LACMA for the first time! I've been wanting to see Urban Light forever (please don't ask me why it took so long), and we thought free admission would be a nice, low-key way to introduce Alice to a serious art museum.

We slept in and still left on time and got down there right around opening. We headed straight for Urban Light, while the kids still had clean clothes and cheerful smiles.

 I've seen the installation in plenty of photos and knew that I would love it in person, and of course I did, immediately. I don't think I have any particular affinity for street lamps, I don't know if it's the ornamentation or just the repetition, but the collection makes a magical vignette in the busy Miracle Mile museum complex.

In the daylight, it's more like an urban forest. Alice and Ivy were just as delighted as I was and had a grand time running between the rows of lamp posts.

 I busted my knee on a light while taking photos, so we made our way into the museum before it swelled up or stopped working...
Jon wanted to see the German Expressionism, so we headed for the Ahmanson building and discovered the Jesús Rafael Soto sculpture, Penetrabile (which I cannot find anywhere on the LACMA site) just outside the entrance. Alice was immediately enthalled by the 2,000+ strands of flexible, yellow plastic tubing suspended from above. 

It was like walking through sunshine-colored spaghetti. Ivy was watching from her stroller on the perimeter, mesmerized by the sweeping, swaying strands, so Jon pushed her through as well.  

Inside the Ahmanson building, we ducked into the first room off the front doors, and discovered the Masterworks of Expressionist Cinema: The Golem and it's Avatars. Projected on the wall directly across from the exhibit's entrance was a black and white film from 1920, Der Golem: Wie er in die Welt kam (The Golem: How He Came into the World) - Paul Wegener.

Alice was fixated. Jon thinks it was just because it was a movie, but I think she's got a little bit of a dark edge. She seems to be drawn to books and movies and images that make her a little uncomfortable, whether it's because she needs to conquer them or she just likes the danger in her otherwise very safe and cautious existence, I'm not sure... She wanted to stay there and continue watching the movie, but the Golem was working on sexually assaulting a young woman and then dragging her off by the hair after setting the room ablaze. Plus, Ivy was getting cranky, so we moved it along.

We saw plenty of abstract, impressionism, and expressionism, and Kandinsky. I was surprised by how interested Alice was. I kept asking her what she saw in each painting, what she thought it was, but she would shyly demur and bury her head in my neck. She seemed much more interested when I explained the title of the piece and then tried to puzzle out what the title meant, and talked about the art. She kept pointing out specific things she wanted to see from across the rooms. She was particularly curious about a "train," which turned out to be a tea set from 1922 Vienna. 

I wish we'd made it to the third floor, with the Renaissance and 18th century European art. I think Alice would really enjoy that. Or not. Maybe I just want to share my enjoyment with her, it tends to be my favorite genre.

Anyway, after lunch at the cafe, we stopped into the Pavilion for Japanese Art. Many of the exhibits were closed, so we perused the third floor gallery. There were some beautiful pieces there; an incredibly old vessel (from 3000-2000 B.C.!), an amazing samurai costume, a gorgeous stationery and calligraphy box. The building was actually Jon's favorite attraction that day. It's a really cool mix of mid-century modern and Japanese aesthetics. 

After we saw the Japanese art, we stopped by the Boone Children's Gallery to do some brush painting. Ivy had fallen asleep, so she slept in her stroller to the soothing music and gentle conversation while Alice and I painted.

We walked past the spaghetti again in our search for a bathroom and some coffee, and Alice wanted to play some more. She ended up just rolling around on the ground, though.
We took a walk outside, past Alexander Calder's Three Quintains (Hello Girls) and reflection pond, and then down to the La Brea Tar Pits. One of these days, we'll visit the Page Museum there, but Alice needed to run around and stretch her legs. She and Jon ran up and down the grassy hill there and we finally had to drag her away. We finished walking through the park and saw the excavation site, where archeologists (volunteers?) are digging out all kinds of amazing fossils. And then we made our way to see Levitated Mass.

There was a small gaggle of teenaged girls enjoying the exhibit when we arrived by laying on the ground directly under it. So of course, that's how Alice thought one was supposed to enjoy this installation. 

It was enormous, and was a definitive end to the day. We were there a lot longer than we expected to be and the girls were more interested and engaged than we anticipated. I want to make museum visits a regular occasion for them both!

Museums Free-For-All is a great way to check out a new museum, I'll definitely make sure we participate next year, too! And maybe some day, the girls will be old enough to catch the Urban Light exhibit at night time...

1 comment:

  1. What a great day! Looks like you saw some cool stuff. Awesome that they were so engaged, too. Also, nice Paris shirt! :) Glad it fits.


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