Rodin Hood and the Lamppost Forest
It’s fair to say that my enthusiasm for art museums is kept pretty much under control. In general, I try to follow a policy of Five Paintings and Out. Because I cannot look at more than a few paintings without losing my ability to focus. If the Five Paintings rule cannot be deployed, then at a minimum I am resolved to never go to an art museum without an exit strategy.
Even so, I made a good faith effort to work up some enthusiasm for our visit to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They had a number of exhibits that sounded genuinely interesting. And I felt an obligation to be positive about this outing since I was being indulged on the parks and gardens front.
However, circumstances conspired to have the air leak slowly out of my art appreciation balloon. This is apt to happen when you visit a really popular place in a really big city.
First off, it took a good 45 minutes to drive to the museum. Once we got there, it took another 45 minutes to find parking. And after we parked, there was an hour wait to buy tickets. By the time the tickets were purchased,we were a collection grumpy would-be art appreciators.
As a result, while we spent two and a half hours getting to LACMA, we spent only about an hour inside. Not that there wasn’t stuff worth seeing – there was.
But the expedition was redeemed by the outdoor exhibits. It’s easier to enjoy art outdoors, for some reason. Just stepping back outside gave me a second wind and put me in a more positive frame of mind. Also, and I have no explanation for this, but I just find sculpture easier to look at than paintings.
This is especially true when you can wander around and through the sculpture, as with the forest of lampposts called “Urban Light”, found outside the museum entrance. A great place for kids to play hide and seek in. All of the 202 lampposts were once working street lights, and there was a surprising variety in the details.
Not far away is the Cantor Sculpture Garden, which is probably known best for its collection of works by Rodin. Though I’m not so sure if Balzac would approve of palm trees.
The sculpture garden is a small space, combining trees and grass in what is almost but not quite a checkerboard effect. This is the view from the top of the stairs at the back of the garden.
Here’s a view of the stairs leading to a plaza surrounded by LACMA buildings. It was late afternoon at this point, and the light was not the best.
One of the busts on the stairway. Not very cheerful, is he?
The plantings caught the late afternoon light.
The sun had set by the time we were done wandering around outside, and “Urban Light” was illuminating the darkness.
Do you have a preference for outdoor or indoor art?