Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yeah, Van Gogh Was Okay. But The Guy Who Draws Pokemon? Now There's Real Talent.

Recently Rigel and I decided that our lives were in need of a cultural boost. Nothing drastic - a museum here, a concert there - anything to get our right-brains out of the house and away from the TV. While we have no intention of turning into art snobs, we feel some sort of intervention is in order when you hear your daughter using 'Hilary Duff' and 'musical genius' in the same sentence. Also, we were starting to worry that their cultural deficiencies would end up haunting the girls after they were grown. "Why yes, warden, I'm certain that my inability to appreciate 18th century vase painting is what led me to hijack that plane."

Before the girls were born, and even for a short time when they were younger, we spent a lot of time going to museums and galleries, but nowadays the most we can muster is a trip to the Getty Center a couple of times a year. We rarely make it to any of the exhibits, though - most of our visit is spent roaming their gardens and having lunch in the museum café. I admit it does get a little embarrassing when anyone asks us afterwards, "Oh, did you enjoy the Renaissance exhibit?" and I am forced to answer "No, but the corn chowder and caesar combo was excellent."

On Sunday we went to see ashes and snow. I highly recommend it to anyone, even if you are not, like us, desperately trying to rescue your family from the cultural abyss. The structure it's housed in is amazing in itself; boxcars that have been stacked in a checkerboard pattern and connected by fabric-like material to form a huge structure that is 56 feet tall. The show consists of photographs and short films by a Canadian artist and shows the natural interaction between humans and animals. Animals! Surely it was the hook that would draw in our two little pop-culture addicts.

What was made clear to us was the vast differences in our two daughters and, while only two years apart, their varying abilities to appreciate what they were seeing. Kira was drawn to the photographs and was excited that she could identify some of the wild cats in a few of the pieces. While she was pointing out the cheetahs and meerkats to Rigel a small crowd started to gather. By the time I made my way through to her she was just ending with, "...and in conclusion: let not the looming extinction of the lynx be traced back to your bloodied elitist hands. Thank you for your time."

Meanwhile Kiyomi could be heard snickering 'boobies' and 'butt' as she moved through the exhibit, walking backwards and with one eye closed, just for fun. I tried my best to get her involved in the experience, but have you ever tried to explain the photographic process to a seven year old? She had a look on her face that I've only seen on Rigel when I've tried to explain the difference between a maxi pad and a panty liner. At one point she looked deeply engrossed in a photo and motioned me over. Expecting to hear her version of an artistic epiphany I leaned in and she whispered, "Seriously, if I don't get something to drink I'm going to die." This came only after we had been there fifteen minutes so I knew that leaving wasn't an option, but it did suddenly remind me that I hadn't yet had my afternoon cappuccino. And it got me thinking: Would a tastefully designed food kiosk have been so out of place here? Nothing fancy - coffee, mixed nuts, maybe some corn dogs. After all, don't snooty art patrons have to eat sometime too?

I'm looking forward to the next leg of Operation Enlightement in spite of the mixed reviews that ashes and snow got from our girls. When Rigel asked Kiyomi what her favorite part was she replied, "Right before we went inside" and Kira, while enthusing over some of the images she had seen, made it a point to express her disappointment in the caliber of the gift shop. So, yes we have a ways to go, but we already have plans to see this next month. And the best part? According to their website, they definitely have a snack bar.

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  1. Corn dogs and cotton candy while perusing the museum -- great idea! Both self-contained, no muss, no fuss. Do you mind if I contact the Smithsonian to see if they like the concept? (I'll give you credit...)

    I hope to someday teach my children to share my appreciation of art. Right now, like Kiyomi, Mimi is only interested in the quality and quantity of beverages available. And Rosie would probably eat the ticket stubs, so she's no connoiseur at this point either.

  2. "Right before we went inside" being her favorite part. That was me at that age. As a child I really believed that it was my mom's cruel sense of humor to drag us to every gallery, musuem and art show on the planet. Couldn't we be normal and go to water world every weekend? But my mom kept dragging us to places, and now I will do the same to my kids.

  3. LOL- but that garden is the best part of the getty! i love the new getty.. i think it's so cool! :)
    and LMFAO @ kiyomi. HAHAHA

  4. Want to know one more reason why NYC is better than LA?

    We saw Ashes and Snow this summer at the NYC piers and I had a hot dog AND a knish AND an ice cream sandwich! I thought the exhibit was amazing. The knish could have been better.

  5. Oh so jealous. When Ashes and Snow was in NY this summer on the Pier, I was 8 months pregnant and physically unable to drag my cankles out there in the sweltering humidity. Maybe I'll get to catch it in La when I'm out there next.

    Meanwhile, glad you're going to Blog Her! Very much looking forward to meeting the woman behind the sweatpants.

  6. I've been dying to see that exhibit (even if corn dogs aren't served). Since I live in the sticks, I don't expect to be enlightened anytime soon.

    Oh well, there's always PBS!

  7. Loved, loved, loved the show. Surely you wandered onto the Santa Monica Pier afterwards for cotton candy and other crap??? I agree with Kira, there could have been a better gift shop! How about the interactive kids section at LACMA for Kiyomi? You know, the one housed in the building on the west side of the main gallery. Think she'd like that?

  8. Fear not! It takes a a full spectrum of enlightenment to fill the world. My mother wishes she had given me culture in my youth - and to her dismay I've gotten it without her. I dole it out to my kids in small doses - you are on the right track!

  9. Oh, but to live somewhere you can find cultural enrichment for a child's mind!! I saw a segment about ashes and snow on CBS' Sunday Morning... and, while it would be ridiculous of me to haul my four ages-8-and-under children somewhere where there isn't a kiosk with corn dogs or an oversized mouse dancing and serving pizza.... I'M SO JEALOUS!

  10. I can see my daughter saying that her favourite part was like, the car ride over or something like that.

    My mom wasn't really an 'athletic' enthusiast, so the activities she got me in to weren't sports-related per se -- I took art classes and we went to the Opera, the ballet, museums...I loved it. I got into sports when I was older, but I loved that my mom showed me different things when I was growing up. I think it's cool you're doing this for your kiddos -- and for yourselves.

  11. well if it makes you feel any better my first trip taking my rugrats to the getty was a disaster. it was an exhibit i really wanted to see and i ended up running laps around the garden with my 5 year old while my husband had to keep the stroller moving at all times as to ward off a newborn screaming jag. it pretty much sucked.
    i can't wait to see ashes and snow. and i'll remember to pack snacks.

  12. Wow, I'd love to see Ashes and Snow! Unfortunately that would be quite a trip. Too bad I missed it in NY.

  13. Awesome post.

    We've taken our five year old son to a few museums and had the same experience as you.

    I say until they're ten or over, the availability of snacks and souveniers is essential.

    Great writing!

  14. They will Love Cirque De Sol - LOVE it. And they have a fab gift shop.

    Emily actually likes museums. Part of my DEET strategy

  15. "Meanwhile Kiyomi could be heard snickering 'boobies' and 'butt' as she moved through the exhibit"

    Is that a bad thing?


  16. I love Kiyomi. I may need to fly out to L.A. just to take her to um, WWF wrestling or maybe some roller derby. I hear they have exquisite all beef kosher hot dogs, accompanied by fine pomme frittes oh sorry, french fries. God, you crack me up! I know she will love next months field trip, but please let me(us) know if she comments on the bulky
    packaging in the mens tights. Hurry and let Kiyomi blog too, she obviously has her mothers knack for quirky

  17. My 5 year old son would LOVE hangin' out with your Kiyomi! The ONLY thing he would notice would be the artistic "framing" of the more interesting body parts!!

    It might be fun to ask her to come up with the most hilarious poem or story she can put together after such a might be about butts and boobies...but it could help her give the trip a her 7-year-old mind!! Who knows!

    Great story!

  18. This was a funny story! I say keep trying with the cultural experiences; they may not realize it now, but they'll be glad they went to museums when they're older.

    I doubt ashes and snow will ever come to Lansing, maybe somewhere in the Detroit area. You'd think living in the capitol of the state would mean lots of culture but sadly, no.

  19. thanks so much for the great story, the great links, and the reassurance that i am not the only one for whom the snackshop experience is tantamount.

    off to ogle over ashes and snow.

  20. I agree with everyone - your girls are too funny! They WILL love Cirque du Soleil - I would loooove to see any of the CdS shows but I've never been in a town where one is playing.

    Have you ever taken them to the Smithsonian in DC? Whenever people come to visit me, I take them to all the awesome museums and they're FREE! If you come, I'll be your tour guide. FYI: American History seems to have the best cafe. (Always expensive but after the free admission, can I really complain?)

  21. If I haven't told you yet, I'll tell you know... You write wonderfully! I'm always totally drawn in.

    The ashes and snow art is amazing. I didn't get the boy with wings immediately. It took a minute to realize the bird was behind him.

    Where I live is filled with art galleries. They have an "Art Walk" the first weekend of every month. It's nothing like this though. I usually end up leaving disgusted mumbling something like, "My dogs could do THAT."

  22. LOL They need spell check on these things.

    Know/now... Pffft.

  23. Thank you for the cultural cue. It's about time for our annual trip to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    And like Kiyomi, I'm all about the snack bar. Rock on sister.

  24. we went to the circus this weekend. the shriner's circus that is...not the high caliber performances of cirque du soleil. anything with food and expensive crap is the way to my kids heart.

    i'm quite jealous you have the ability to go to nice museums. in okc, we have small ones but everyone is most proud of the bombing memorial. needless to say, i don't frequent it.

  25. It looks truly beautiful I wish I would have the chance to go. I am pretty sure it will not be coming to Portland. B is only 8 months so he would be pretty portable at this point. Although it would be a kick to bring little ones a bit older, like yours. I will settle for the website...gorgeous!

  26. That girl has her priorities straight. Art is nice, but refreshment is critical. That's funny.


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