Friday, December 10, 2010

A Single Shard + Korean Brush Painting at LACMA = Kids Off The Couch

Pottery and Perspective
Driving around Los Angeles can be like taking a trip around the world, with signs in different languages, and even different alphabets. We love traveling around the world -- and back in time as well -- by reading books set in different cultures and time periods. Linda Sue Park's "A Single Shard" is a NewberyMedal-winning novel that transports us almost a thousand years back to old Korea, where we meet an orphan boy Tree Ear whose admiration for a master craftsman's celadon pottery takes him to the throne room of the Emperor himself. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art has a pavilion dedicated to Korean artwork and we dropped by the adjoining Boone Children's Gallery to learn how to do Korean brush painting. The Boone Children's Gallery is a spot where kids can always try their hand at an art project and occupy themselves with the excellent supplies provided. We could easily make a day of visiting LACMA, of course, and encourage families to add a few extras onto a Boone Gallery art excursion, such as dropping in on the brand new exhibit about India's fabled city of Lucknow, or checking out the cool fashion exhibit at the new Resnick Pavilion. Its really fun to cap off your adventure with lunch in nearby Koreatown. No airfare required! (Click here for discussion points for the novel, as well as details about visiting LACMA and where to get a delicious, authentic Korean meal nearby.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids Off The Couch - Art and Movies Worth Your Family's Time

Three Don't-Miss Art Exhibits and KOTC Movie Picks
$50 Gift Certificate from Goldstar

How we spend our time defines who we are. As the year draws to a close, we know your time is especially precious. We've scoured the cultural landscape and foundwonderful art exhibits that your kids will be able to relate to, and offer our picks of new movies and DVDs for everyone to enjoy. We also extend an invitation to join Goldstar, a discounted ticketing community that will help you plan family time and save money in the New Year.

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) at the Skirball Cultural Center: Walking through this jewel-like exhibit reminds us of visiting a favorite, creative aunt. You know... the type who sends the absolute best birthday gifts and has good treats in the frig. The exhibit not only examines the creative process of the artist, who is an ongoing fixture of NY's cultural landscape (she designs many New Yorker covers), but shows her work over many years. Kalman's highly personal, diary-like art inspired us to reflect back on 2010, as it slips into the rear-view mirror. So, we thought it was cool that we could create our own diary page in an adjoining exhibit called The 1,000 Journals Project. Take a few moments at Noah's Ark, an inspirational, educational and environmental family experience that visiting relatives always appreciate. Click here for more on the show and the Skirball Cultural Center.

Extreme Exposure at the Annenberg Center for Photography: One good image is all it takes to deliver a potent message. Think of the polar bear on a shrinking ice-cap or the boy with his hand up to the tank in Tiananmen Square. Viewers don't always realize what takes place behind the camera to produce such powerful images. In concise fashion, the latest documentary show at the Annenberg demonstrates how five photographers push the envelope of safety (and maybe sanity) to capture images that demonstrate how our planet is changing. Don't miss the video that tells about each photographer which plays in a loop at the center of the small gallery space - it really helps kids focus on the images. It's easy to drop by the Annenberg during a shopping excursion in Century City. Click here for more details on the photographers and gallery.

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera -- Photographs and Video 1961-2008 at LACMA: Color photography was not considered a true art form until Eggleston turned his camera onto the Southern landscape of his youth. You haven't seen color images until you're up close and personal with Eggleston's sumptuous dye-transfer prints, and his black and white documentary work from the 60s signals a talent in the making. Some might recognize photos from album covers of yesteryear alongside retro shots of his study of Elvis' Graceland. But head to BCAM (LACMA's big red building along Wilshire) soon; this show is up only until January 8, 2011. Click here for more information.

Movie Picks: For the Youngest -- Tangled turns out to be pretty great. We saw it overThanksgiving (with our cool 3D glasses) and everyone from 8-80 adored it. With a super-mean stepmother and a ruffian male lead, Disney's 50th animated feature has freshness without being too trendy. New on DVD: Don't forget to load up on these stocking stuffers -- Despicable Me, The Secret of Kells and How To Train Your Dragon.

For Tweens and Teens --Fans have most likely already seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at least once. Twilight fans will want to flock to Black Swan, a Natalie Portman starrer about a NYC ballerina who turns into an enchanted swan at night. But, beware the R rating before you say yes! New on DVD: Snap up one of the year's best titles, Toy Story 3.

For Adults -- The King's Speech, Winter's Bone and The Social Network are all must-sees if you want to be able to discuss the Oscar race at holiday parties. New on DVD:Inception, The Kids are All Right, and another version of Avatar with new footage for avid fans.

KOTC Invitation: Our friends at Goldstar invite KOTC subscribers to become members of their community, which offers up-to-the-minute show information and significant ticket discounts. Like KOTC, a Goldstar membership is free. Subscribers will receive a weekly roundup of what's in town, along with significant discounts on tickets to theater, sports and other activities. Many KOTC subscribers are already Goldstar members -- we know, because parents tell us that having both memberships helps them manage their finances and enjoy their time together. Click here to become a member of Goldstar. One you're a member, you can click here and be eligible to win a $50 Gift Certificate. (Only members of KOTC and Goldstar will be eligible to win the Gift Certificate).

One more Thing: NBC's The Sing-Off pits a cappella singing groups across the country against each other. Diverse groups, ranging from a talented group of high-school students, to old-timers from Oakland, CA to gospel singers from Alabama, sing without back up instrumentation. Two groups get voted off each night by celebrity judges (including Ben Folds) in a contest that runs for the next few weeks. If your family loves Glee, they'll love the rollicking, musical fun of The Sing-Off!

Our best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Illlustration by Maira Kalman, Dog Reads Book, 1999