I never actually learned to appreciate art or at least not in the traditional sense of taking an art history course or with frequent trips to the local museum. I had a fondness for drawing when I was in middle school and even won a small local prize for a pencil sketch of the Sioux holy man Sitting Bull. To this day I believe that my pure obsession with him as a leader is what shone through on the paper rather than my own physical talent as an artist. In my early 20s I gained an appreciation for Basquiat’s work. It was brutal, honest, and brave. It took me into another world and showed me that art has no boundaries.
Izzie and I make it a point to seek out the kid friendly activities that Los Angeles has to offer. Through some online research we learned that LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) has a program called NexGen. Any child (yes ANY) under the age of 18 can be issued a card allowing them and one adult free general admission to the museum. NexGen excludes paid exhibits, however, this not necessarily a bad thing. Currently Stanley Kubrick has work on display and even though I would love to have a look something tells me that initiating my two year old in the world of Kubrick could be a little premature.A little more research and Izzie and I learned that one of the things included in NexGen membership is daily painting in the Children’s Gallery. Thrown into the equation that LACMA is only three miles from the apartment, located directly across the street from Mama’s office (perfect excuse for midweek lunch date) and we were in! We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into on our new adventure.
We had previously downloaded and filled out the membership form prior to our first visit. We didn’t want to waste our time on paperwork while we could be painting and exploring new things. One of the things I love most about being a father is the many first time experiences you share with your child especially in the first few years. First time at LACMA was no different and was even a bit more special because even though I have lived in Los Angeles for eight years now I had never been to this particular museum. After a quick hello to Mama we checked in and we’re given our NexGen card and lanyard with IZYDOR printed proudly on the front.
I always forget how initially, the museum can be extremely overwhelming for the not so experienced visitor. LACMA is a huge campus featuring art from all over the world. Everything from an ART OF THE PACIFIC gallery to a boulder the size of Texas suspended overhead called LEVITATED MASS. As we made our way towards the Boone Children’s Gallery we stumbled across what has now become one of Izzie’s favorite go to spots at LACMA. Over 20,000 linear feet of soft yellow plastic tubing looming overhead form ALIGHT ANEW IN INDIAN YELLOW. There are between 2,000 and 2,500 of these tubes and I felt my heart sink the first time Izzie disappeared into the yellow abyss only to chase along and find her in the middle with an ear to ear grin. I believe most of the little ones think it is the greatest swing toy known to man which it very well could be in any other setting outside of the museum.
The Boone Children’s Gallery is located in the Hammer Building next to the Korean Art. As you enter Boone you are greeted by several workers eager to help you get your creative juices flowing. “Just one or two painters today?” one girl asked. “Two.” I replied thinking that it could possibly help warm Izzie up to the idea. I should have known she would need little to no coaxing. After a brief instruction period from Daddie-O I let her loose with her brush, paint, and paper. The basic mechanics were going to need some work, but one thing that would not was Izzie’s desire to create. You could see on her face that she understood the concept at hand. That on this paper with this brush and paint she was a creator of whatever she wanted. She wasn’t concerned with a perfect color scheme, technique or how much time it would take her to finish her work. She was just creating art.
We have made painting a regular activity in Izzie’s little life now. Actually, Izzie had made it a regular activity. I feel as if Stephie and I are just along for the ride. She has taken to painting in a way that is unparalleled to any of her other interests. Even some of her Christmas money from this past year went to setting up an “Izzie Paint Station” in our apartment. She paints nearly every day and visits the museum’s gallery usually once a week. “Izzie go painting at the museum!” she exclaims each time we head to Mom’s office. On our last visit to the museum I overheard a woman saying, “That little girl is really painting.” There are no words for what I felt in that moment as Izzie’s father. When she is painting there is a focus in her eyes that I know will serve her well throughout her life.
Our adventures to the museum have led us to amazing works like METROPOLIS II, LEVITATED MASS, ALIGHT ANEW IN INDIAN YELLOW, and THE LA BREA TAR PITS. An afternoon at LACMA with Izzie goes a little something like this. Run through ALIGHT ANEW 50 times while trying to determine whether or not she should actually try hanging from the soft plastic tubing followed by a good 45-60 minutes of painting in Boone. She then likes to go and watch the “trolleys” aka METROPOLIS II. If you’re in L.A. and have not seen this work by Chris Burden you are denying yourself a great pleasure in life. Izzie and I are obsessed with it. We will then scale the three story escalator and ride the panoramic elevator of the BROAD CONTEMPORARY building three to four times stopping briefly to appreciate ACTUAL SIZE. We’re still not done. All of this is followed by a run (yes she runs EVERYWHERE it seems) through the grounds of LEVITATED MASS and the LA BREA TAR PITS. At this point we are both (or maybe just me) in desperate need of a snack and some water. We’ll camp and discuss the display of the elephant family struggling through the tar. She likes to say that the daddy and baby elephant are helping the mommy. I love that version.
I am constantly learning from my Bizzie Izzie in new and exciting ways that I never expected. Before becoming a father I may have thought the idea of toddler actually creating or appreciating art a bit out there. However, Izzie has again changed what I thought I knew. She LOVES to paint. You can see it in her eyes when she is at work and she is always ready to tell you what she is creating. She paints everything from doggies, kitties, trees, oceans, hearts and everything in between. You can tell it brings her pure joy and that is such a blessing for Stephie and I to witness. So here is what Izzie taught me about art. We all have a desire to create. I believe it is written in our DNA on some level. The challenge is finding your own personal arena and realizing that you are the creative force in your own life. Something Bizzie Izzie’s actor Daddie-O will certainly keep in his heart.