Friday, March 9, 2012

the human element of art

We mustered up enough courage to take our children to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art this weekend. There were moments when it felt like a foolhardy endeavor of the highest order:

I glance over and notice the 5-year-old standing where some shaky film footage is being projected onto a white wall. Then I realize she is poised with her pencil millimeters from the wall. I dash over and (I think) barely avoid disaster as I pull the pencil from her hand and move her back a few feet. Fast forward two minutes. The 3-year-old is now standing at exactly the same spot with an eraser in her hand.

Apparently I wasn't quite quick enough - she was trying to mitigate her sister's overzealous involvement with the exhibit.

Then there was the rest of the visit, filled with the enthusiasm of the 3-year-old moving from room to room proclaiming what she saw in the art, which was so very open to interpretation. Or with her older sister intently sketching the paintings on the wall (which was why she had that dratted pencil in the first place).
The children drank in their surroundings. Their excitement was contagious. Dare I confess that I am not particularly fond of modern art? I am one of those unenlightened people who looks at a painting of squares and paint splotches and says, "my five-year-old could do that." But that day my children helped me feel the paintings.

Confined to one room for a bit while my baby nursed, I was particularly taken with a painting by Mark Rothko. My children and others moved in and out of the space in front of it. The combination of painting and the people interacting with it created a constantly changing work of art.
After they could no longer stand to be mere observers of art, we headed over to Golden Gate Park. In addition to your typical playground structures, there was a climbing wall in the shape of an ocean wave and sculptures of various beach wildlife. Again, art unfolded before my eyes.

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