Art That An Eight-Year-Old Will Love

I have lived in New York City for 19 years, but never set foot in the Guggenheim museum until last February when we got a free year-long membership through the NYC ID program. It's funny how the closer things are - the less likely we sometimes are to visit. The museum is only about a 10-minute walk from our apartment, so as our membership year winds down, we have been squeezing in a few visits.

Depending on the exhibition, the Guggenheim sometimes shows what one might call "challenging" art. Unlike other museums around the city, it's not exactly a popular place to take children.

But on one recent Saturday morning, two installations in the "Tales of Our Time" exhibition enthralled most of the people we observed viewing them - including the seven- and eight-year-olds who were probably not super-enthusiastic about a museum visit.

This exhibit is housed on the fifth floor (tour tip: at the Guggenheim, always start on five), and these were the first two works we saw. 

"Can't Help Myself" is the title of this - and you can't help but keep watching. It's mesmerizing.

While Scott stayed...and stayed...with this, I moved along to the adjacent gallery, where you will find "In The End Is The Word." It starts with extensive footage of a calm sea - eventually adding battleships and finally culminating in what you see below.

Also on display, and likely of interest to kids: a working solid gold toilet ("America" by Maurizio Cattelan).

Yes, you can use it - if you're willing to stand on lines that run well more than an hour during busy times.

Since they were installing new exhibitions during our January visit, we went back again yesterday.  

As a fan of Jackson Pollock's work, I was excited to see his "Alchemy" painting being shown starting February 10. This was the first of his "drip" paintings for which he became so famous. It was restored just a few years ago, and then displayed at the Guggenheim in Venice. Much as I'd love to go back to Venice, the New York museum is a bit more convenient, and I loved being able to hop over a few blocks to take it in. They also have fascinating displays and videos in a separate gallery about the restoration process.    

The "Tales of Our Time" exhibition runs through March 10 if you are in town and have a chance to stop by. You can check out the Guggenheim's web site for details, including extensive interpretations of the meanings of these and other works on display.

Where Is "Rosie the Riveter"?

Have you ever heard of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art?

If not, it is the best museum you have never heard of.  If you love art and the outdoors - this museum is worth a trip to the green, rolling hills of Northwest Arkansas.

"LOVE" (Robert Indiana)

I traveled to Arkansas earlier this week, and although I went to university in the state, I had never been up to Crystal Bridges.  I'll share more about my visit next week.  In the meantime, to whet your appetite, here are a few of the iconic works of art that call it home:

You have probably seen Norman Rockwell's "Rosie and Riveter" a million times.  But did you know she lives in Arkansas?  Also - had you ever noticed what was beneath her foot?  Until I saw this in person, me neither.

"Rosie the Riveter" (Norman Rockwell)

One of Gilbert Stuart's famous portraits of Washington. 

"George Washington" (Gilbert Stuart)

Mary Cassatt's "The Reader."

"The Reader" (Mary Cassatt)

As much as I loved seeing these paintings and sculptures, many of my favorites parts of the visit were outside of the galleries.  Stay tuned next week!

Drip, Drip, Drip

Despite a college semester in Florence, Italy, I am not terribly knowledgeable about art. 

But I “discovered” Jackson Pollock watching the outstanding 2000 biopic “Pollock,” and have been kind of obsessed with his drip paintings ever since (not that his paintings can be found in the Renaissance galleries I frequented in college).

The Museum of Modern Art in NYC just opened a 58-piece exhibition of Pollock’s works, and my husband accepted an invitation for a Saturday morning museum date.  Our visits to MoMA are generally on their super-crowded “Free Friday Nights,” but this called for a visit with a bit more elbow room (even if it meant forking over $25 each). 

The texture of Pollock’s drip paintings (layering paint, nails, cigarettes, keys and other detritus) fascinates and mesmerizes me.  These paintings call out to be touched, as my seven-year-old niece demonstrated a few years ago when viewing a Pollock at MoMA.  Fortunately, her mom grabbed her tiny hands just before they landed on the (priceless) painting.

A few of my favorites:

"One: Number 31, 1950"

"One: Number 31, 1950"

This painting spans an entire wall.  At 8'10" by 17'5," it's approximately the size of my first New York City apartment.

Detail from  "Full Fathom Five"

Detail from "Full Fathom Five"

"White Light"

"White Light"