Trever and I have annual passes to the LACMA. We had them a few years back and turns out we loved going, all the time. I would consider myself a pretty right brained person (which I recently heard is a scientifically disproven theory btw) and my husband was a painting major in college, needless to say his interest in and knowledge about the topic far exceeds mine. We usually stop at the little restaurant on the patio for a glass of wine and snack before we head into the galleries; sometimes we sit there for the majority of the day…wine is art - don’t even start with me. Right now the Islamic art exhibit is really beautiful as well as the Larry Sultan exhibit so I would recommend those along with the permanent collections.
I used to be bored out of my mind in those galleries. But I would dress the part as you should, and adopt a contemplative face that hopefully portrayed what might look like someone who is interested and knowledgeable about Monet and his brush strokes. Now after countless visits, I love it a little bit. I still don’t know much about Monet and I still don't really care about brush strokes. But I’m learning. I've discovered that when I understand more about the artist, time period, political climate and that particular movement of art, everything becomes fascinating. For some art is lines, curves, rebellion and tradition. For me art is story. It's is a litmus test for the history and politics of it’s time period and can give a new angle to the company line presented in history books.
My favorite story is the impressionists (so cliche), the Societe Anonyme. They claimed to see the world differently, to paint light, to paint "little fragments of the mirror of universal life" - what does that even mean, I love it. They were seen as lunatics and criminals of art, so much so that the police were called into their first auction because they were concerned it would break into physicals fights. I don't think anyone really cares about art that much anymore, but I love that it was very center of culture at the time. We're talking Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas. I like their art a little more, I like the rebellious, I like the people who side step success and it's rat race in hopes of making something new and authentic.
I'm currently reading one of the best books I've ever read called My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok. My sister Summer recommended it to me and attributes this book to her love of English. The story is about a Hasidic Jew who is an artist and struggles to find the balance between two worlds; one of tradition and morals that he was born into and one of color and form that he can't seem to escape. The writing is superb.
Our self-esteem culture is into this 'everyone is creative' mindset, which is true to some degree, we're just not all visual artists. But somewhere along the line art has been watered down from it used to be; a life's passion full of rebellion and so very part of someone, that they struggle to ever remove their thoughts from the aesthetics. It was interesting getting into this fictional kids head and seeing how he would miss what people were saying to him because he was following the shadows of their nose and deciding if coffee grounds mixed with charcoal would get that tone.
Maybe brush strokes will never be of interest to me but the people and the culture around the art, that's the stuff of life. So if you haven't studied art, wikipedia on the way to the museum some info about a movement you're interested in and I promise it will all be more compelling.
“I looked at my right hand, the hand with which I painted. There was power in that hand. Power to create and destroy. Power to bring pleasure and pain. Power to amuse and horrify. There was in that hand the demonic and the divine at one and the same time. The demonic and the divine were two aspects of the same force. Creation was demonic and divine. Creativity was demonic and divine. I was demonic and divine.” Chaim Potok