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Hansen: Teach them artfully well

April 19, 2012|By David Hansen

You never know what sticks with kids.

It could be some random, unintentional comment — perhaps made in anger — that later you hear repeated not only word for word but with your own intonation, making you feel like the worst parent in the world.

Then there is the orchestrated teaching, where you put a lot of thought and energy into it, only never to hear of it again.

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Last weekend's gun lesson was somewhere in the middle.

I took my boys to the Victor Hugo Zayas exhibit at the Laguna Art Museum, which ends April 29.

They thought it was pretty cool, sort of. You have to remember, they are 15, 13 and 10, raised on every type of virtual gun known to mankind.

The exhibit, which resembles the mangled firebombing of a munitions factory, took some imagination.

So here's the lesson: I tried the swords-to-plowshares thing, but it didn't really fly.

I did my best to quickly explain the gravity of the symbolism, the universal desire for peace, the powerful beauty of … well, you get the idea.

All they wanted to know was when we could go to Husky Boy Burgers.

"Are we done with art yet?" they asked.

"No, we're never done with art. Art is a lifestyle."

They stood in the gallery, shifting their weight awkwardly from one skate shoe to the other, waiting for my next instruction.

"OK, let's go."

I felt a little deflated, to be honest.

Guns, LAPD, boys, art … the perfect equation.

The thing is, I know it's not over.

Two weeks from now, or two months, they will bring home from school a smoking gun, so to speak. The lesson will find its way into a project.

It's happened many times before.

For example, we went to the Tim Burton exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art several months ago. Not long after, my youngest drew a self-portrait for a drawing class that resembled some warped, ghoulish character from the director's twisted mind.

I thought I was going to be called into the principal's office to discuss a psych evaluation.

Recently, I stole an idea from the S Cube Gallery and dangled an ordinary house fan from the living room ceiling rafters. On the grill we tied a string with a black Sharpie dangled to the floor, which we covered in colored construction paper. When the fan was turned on, it started a Spirograph-type pattern.

We left the fan on for hours, then framed the result.

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