MOCA’s Summer Show is Fun and Family Friendly – Open through August 19, 2013
When we first started to see images on FB and Instagram of big, fat, blue raindrops in a MOCA gallery a month ago, we admit to being pretty curious. So much so that a trip downtown was warranted to figure out how and why the artist Urs Fischer was making it rain in a museum.
MOCA latest show — Urs Fischer — is spread between both their downtown campuses so we began our exploration at the Geffen Contemporary. The cavernous space is completely filled but small scale, gray clay sculptures. The artist, who hails from Switzerland, put out a call for 1500 Angelenos to come and make something out of clay as part of the inauguration of his show, which explains the range of talent on display in the myriad piles of clay around the space. It’s pretty cool that the name of each of the 1500 are listed on a gallery wall, but otherwise visitors wander through the scattered sculpture without any clue who made them (or what their apparent purpose is, other than the obvious fact that it looks like it must have been pretty fun to have been involved).
It quickly becomes apparent which of the projects belong to the artist – a few larger, more accomplished pieces that tower over the crumbling masses of other works. We learned that his monumental piece, an homage to Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women (1579-83), is made of WAX, and is actually a candle that is burning under control, so that the statue itself is slowly disintegrating. A Sabine Woman’s head was already fallen to the ground at the time that we saw the piece. You can watch this behind-the-scenes video about how they were made on MOCATV.
(We’re loving MOCATV as a way to learn more about what’s happening at the museum. It’s the only museum we know that is posting so much video online and it might help get your kids intrigued, especially when it comes to their catalog of street art).
But it’s up on Grand Avenue that the fun really begins, and we advise that if you only have time to visit one of the two MOCA sites, that the raindrops will give you more bang for your family buck. When you first walk into the gallery, they’re slightly hidden – so, let the kids make their way through the first room – which features a tortured looking bed and lots of pop-culture images around the room that seem to be directly exported from someone’s dreams.
It’s hard to focus on this room, however, because the raindrops beckon. They dominate the second room of the show and can only be explained as pure joy…even if you haven’t a clue what they mean, they’re just wonderful. Also in the gallery are two immense paintings of Hollywood film stars Jimmy Stewart and Lauren Bacall with pieces of fruit superimposed upon them. And, a life-sized log cabin with oriental rugs that sits happily amidst the rain drops. Each is more playful than the next, and all speaks to the inner joy of ideas being created by someone with both technical skill and the human touch. And, as if the room weren’t fun enough, a table that is all set for dinner but for the spider web that covers all, a nod to that April Fool’s trick that every child has played at one time or another.
The next room has several skeletons and has a macabre tone that contrasts sharply with the work in the previous gallery, and probably a room that is less interesting to kids… although, they will get a kick out of the walls having been seemingly punched through from one gallery to another – underlining the ethereal and playful mood of the show.
Going to museums should be fun and this show has enough intelligence on display to delight parents, and enough visual humor to intrigue kids. Don’t ask them to try to understand – just let them react and enjoy. It’s a friendly show and we love the idea that it can help them find museum going to be a safe and enjoyable activity.