Friday, July 8, 2011

Art in the Streets: Little Artists Can Appreciate It, Too

To be honest, I had a small internal debate about taking my 4-year-old to the Art in the Streets exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. After all, street art is known for pushing boundaries, depicting sometimes crude images and being, well, graphic.

Don't get me wrong. I've been eager to check out this exhibit for myself -- especially after watching the intriguing documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop," which I'd definitely recommend.

But would this kind of art be appropriate for a preschooler?

Turns out, yes ... with a couple of caveats.

The exhibit, which runs through August 8, tracks the development of street art from the 1970s through today, focusing on cities such as New York, San Francisco, London and, of course, Los Angeles.

The images are bright, amazingly creative, painstakingly detailed and involve all sorts of mixed media -- painted cars, music, skateboard ramps. While some pieces tackle social issues, others demand notice for their artistry alone. And the idea that this is based on a basically forbidden practice makes it all the more intriguing.

That said, there were a few scenes that frightened CC at first glance -- and a few that gave me pause as the parent of a little girl.

First (pictured below), there was the life-like scene of two guys spray painting a wall in a down-and-out corner of a cityscape. While I thought it was a really cool set-up, there was loud music accompanying the display (notice where CC's hands are in the picture) and she didn't know what to make of those figures at first. There was also faux bush close by that had an arm sticking out of it, spray painting another wall. That gave CC a bit of a start, too. But, after a moment, she was OK and wanted to walk by again and again ... as long as I was holding her.

What gave me pause, meanwhile, were a few hyper-sexualized images of women that made me point CC in a different direction -- but not before she asked me why that woman had ice-cream cones there. (Let's just say they were very cold bra replacements.)

We had meandered over to the exhibit after visiting the Levi's Film Workshop, which is located at the museum's exit area. CC had spotted the graffiti-covered bus outside and was instantly smitten. And that made me happy.

She's been to LACMA and cultural museums, but not so many art museums. (I mean, she is 4.) But I'm a big fan of exposing her to visual art so that she can appreciate that kind of work and creativity. Obviously, I don't want her to be scarred by it, but I didn't want to miss out on an opportunity to show her different images -- and to give her the opportunity to ask questions about them, which she did.

Of course, I had asked the attendants upon entering the museum if it was OK to bring a 4-year-old inside. And it was. Then I spotted another mom with a little boy who was younger than CC, and then I breathed a bigger sigh of relief.

Art in the Streets (through Aug. 8)
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
152 N. Central Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $10 (general admission); Free (children under 12)

Note: MOCA is free on Thursdays from 5 p.m.-8 p.m.; and this exhibit is free on Mondays, thanks to street artist and "Exit Through the Gift Shop" director Banksy.


justJENN said...

I love MOCA too. It's always a struggle with kids under 10 but I like to think that exposing them to modern art shows them that art is everywhere and everything. I think it gets their creative juices flowing!!

L.A. Story said...

Absolutely! I'm definitely glad I took her.


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