When a couple of weeks ago, I shared with you the story of my friend Meridee's visit to the Getty with her 2 ½ year old niece, your response to the adventures of this little girl on her first trip to a museum far exceeded my expectations. She was so cute, asking at the museum information booth if they had any 'pony art,' and it was so touching that the lady behind the desk took this request seriously and actually found for this tiny visitor four artworks depicting horses.
And you know what? When Getty officials got wind of this story, they did some detective work and found the wonderful lady who was working the information booth on that particular day. Her name is Ann Erwin, and I want to congratulate her for doing such a splendid job.
Let me quote from a couple of responses to that story, and you can read more on the Art Talk page of the KCRW website.
Let's start with this email:
...it reminded me of my trips to art museums with my first son, Michael, when he was one and a half, in a stroller, at the National Gallery in DC. Could he understand? He must have gotten something, because he was happy for quite a bit of time.
My younger son, Alex, soon came along a few years later--- a bit harder with two toddlers and just me...but the connection with the parent through conversation creates a positive emotional response, and that positive emotional connection is really important to keep them going to museums in later years---at least that's been my experience with my own children.
Now I've started taking my great niece of 4 years to museums...Lovely times.
Here is another email:
My mother hung mobiles over my bed -- and I remember them. When I was in 2nd grade we made a mobile of the solar system together. Then I discovered the mobiles of Alexander Calder, and they are among my favorite artworks.
So once again, I want to thank everyone who responded so enthusiastically to this story about art and babies. Now I want to bring your attention to a special exhibition, where you will find several dozen paintings, pastels, and prints by the wonderful Los Angeles artist Carlos Almaraz, who passed away 20 years ago, and whose legacy is now being celebrated by the Fremont Gallery, located in the heart of Old Pasadena. All these works come from the artist's estate, managed by his wife Elsa Flores Almaraz, and seeing this small, dense exhibition made me think that it would be a good idea for one of LA's museums to introduce a new generation of viewers to the work of this important Los Angeles artist.
Of all the Chicano artists who came to public attention during the 1970's and 80's, Carlos Almaraz was undeniably the most talented, and decades later, his phantasmagorical images of car crashes and exotic landscapes still sizzle with the energy of a Brazilian carnival. It's been said that "Almaraz's virtuoso ability to put paint on canvas is like listening to John Coltrane or any other great jazz player.” A couple of years ago I was pleasantly surprised to spot in the office of LACMA director Michael Govan one of Carlos's signature paintings, a spectacular scene of a car crash on the freeway – one of a number of the artist's works from LACMA's collection.
When in 2000, LACMA mounted its ambitious exhibition, "Made in California," devoted to one hundred years of art making in our state, the very last artwork of this sprawling exhibition was Carlos Almaraz's exotic landscape, whose pungent colors served as an appropriate 'coda' to this historical survey. LACMA would do well to organize in the coming years a long-overdue retrospective of this remarkable artist.
On view at Fremont Gallery through December 11
Banner image: Carlos Almaraz, West Coast Crash (detail), 1990; Silkscreen, ed. 113/140; 25 x 59-1/2 inches