Being a Manhattan mom, I feel guilty if I don’t drag my kids to a museum every now and then. We’re all creatures of our upbringings. My parents dragged me to a lot of museums and I remember walking through many of the exhibits as quickly as I could, anxiously seeking out spots on the padded benches. The lengthy and long Swedish armor exhibit we saw at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was around 10 stands out as one of the most tiring experiences of my youth, my legs feeling like armor themselves.
Fortunately, shepharding my growing flock through museums gets easier with each passing year, and audio guides have helped my cause. But our museum visits do tend to be quite short and are filled with my cajoling and begging them to LOOK.
Last Saturday, Marc and I brought our gang to visit the Jeff Koons Retrospective at the Whitney museum. I knew little about Koons other than that he was very famous. I didn’t understand why his art mattered, nor what he was trying to accomplish.
I probably still don’t totally understand Jeff Koons, and I’m sure many people feel the same way. But what I can attest to is my own children’s reaction to his art. Or rather, their interaction with his art. They walked around his sculptures.
They delighted in seeing themselves! “Look at me”, “I’m there” … “There I am again,” they exclaimed. “I’m moving.”
Whereas in the past my kids were told to look, told to appreciate, here they took ownership and became eager viewers, the natural result of their seeing their own likenesses reflected in Koons bulbous metal forms. Cleverly, Koons entices children to look at his art where they find versions of themselves.
My kids also admired Koons’ iconic Play Doh, saying “Mommy, that’s like what I used to do.” “Is that really play doh, Mommy” … “how did he build that so high?” Their questions were flying at me like baseballs and I could barely answer them, of course…
Honoring Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog, patient balloon twister artists spoiled the kids with multiple doggie balloons.
My kids were involved. We all were involved.
Spending time with Jeff Koons’ art – which we miraculously did for nearly three hours — we experienced something together as a family, taking about art all the while. Which made for one of our family’s best Saturdays of the year thus far.
Mom’s guilt over not exposing my kids enough to the culture of New York City was held steadily at bay.
And she even got some hugs in, which is always a good thing.