American Art on America's Day

The headline-making exhibits at Los Angeles County Museum of Art tend to get a lot of the public's love, and rightly so. But the museum's permanent collection, dotted with names we recognize or at least recall faintly from humanities classes of yore, is equally deserving of attention. And if there was ever a time to take a thoughtful gander at the great works in the American Art section of the permanent collection, certainly election day is it.

If you've avoided this wing because, well, it just sounded a tad dry and textbookish, reconsider that opinion. Here, an ordinary (and by that, we mean extraordinary) mother in a Mary Cassatt masterpiece coos to a baby. There, a wild painting of Coney Island captures that special summertime exuberance of New Yorkers at the beach. Not dry. Not hard to connect with at all. Rather, a bunch of visual slices adding up to the big American pie.

We read a country-themed poem by Walt Whitman this morning, and it truly gave us pause. Art that considers our collective past and what made America America should be revisited often, we think, especially at those times -- like this week -- we're given to pondering such things so thoroughly.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 5905 Wilshire Boulevard
(closed Wednesdays)

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