Marie Curie + Jennifer Steinkamp = LA Kids Off The Couch

Jennifer Steinkamp only at ACME until Saturday, March 12

 If you have walked around the W Hotel in Hollywood, or like to hang out near the Hammer's Cafe, you've probably noticed the arrestingly beautiful imagery of artist Jennifer Steinkamp - large, colorful butterflies along Vine Street, or a gently waving tree in the Hammer's courtyard. When we heard that Jennifer had named a recent piece of work after Marie Curie (our favorite female scientist), we popped intoACME gallery, located on Wilshire just west of Fairfax.

The Artist's Work: A pulsating, colorful wall of flowers that is Steinkamp's "Madame Curie" greeted us as we entered the gallery. With lights dimmed to best offset the computer's projections, we were quickly captivated by the rhythmic undulations of stems and petals that seemed to wave in an unseen breeze. The artist recently became interested in Radium and so studied up on Marie Curie, who received theNobel Prize for Physics in 1903, for discovering the element Radium. Steinkamp learned that Marie Curie was a avid gardener, and her work depicts flowers that Curie cultivated in her own yard. The show, which is only up until this Saturday (3/12), is perfect for kids. They sidle right up to the wall, playing with the image as it beams on their hands and casting shadows on the wall itself. Up close, what was a cascade of posies from the gallery door becomes a needlepoint canvas of form and color. One of Steimkamp's lyrical, waving trees is on view in another room of the gallery.

Learn Online: The cool thing about computer generated art is that you can view it online -- if you can't get to ACME by Saturday, or if you're just curious about this cool artist, here is Jennifer's website with links to all her installations. If you click on one, you can read all about it, but be sure to click on "quicktime movie" to see the pieces in motion. Another version of "Madame Curie", listed first, is installed in the San Diego through June, if you are inclined to take a little road trip south.

A Getty Connection: Jennifer Steinkamp is the FY11 Getty Artists Program's artist-in-residence and has selected college students as the primary focus for her project. Stay tuned for updates this project.

Madame Curie: Getting your kids to watch a classic title is not easy but we promise that Madame Curie is worth the effort -- that is, for kids over the age of 8. (1943, 124 minutes, directed by Mervyn LeRoy). Curie was married to fellow scientist Pierre Curie with whom she toiled in rudimentary laboratories to unlock the secrets of radioactivity. The film, which starred Greer Garson, was nominated for 7 Academy Awards and made the AFI's Top 100 Inspirational Movies list; it is both highly romantic and remarkably good at showcasing the couple's scientific method -- something that our kids study in school, and appreciated seeing in action in the film. We loved that Marie kept at her experimentation, believing in herself and her work, and ultimately triumphing as the first female Nobel Prize winner. Seems that her persistent intelligence ran in the family: her daughter Irene won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. Curie also received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for recognition of her work in radioactivity.

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