“I don’t get it. We’re just walking on floor.” My daughter’s initial reaction to the “Walking on Air” installation at the Walker Art Center last Saturday was quite literal. I heard another little girl nearby echo the sentiment as we stood inside a hot air balloon being inflated by fans.
I looked around the room. “I don’t know. It doesn’t look like a regular room with a regular floor. What does it look like to you?” I suggested a new perspective, and a world opened up. In that moment, we were sliding on a rainbow right into a hot air balloon. We jumped and jumped to get the balloon to fly, and when we needed to land, we had to be calm and slow. We waltzed around the colorful cavern and practiced yoga poses until we landed safely. It was quite an adventure.
I have to admit, it’s the sort of adventure I don’t have very often. I believe in the importance of imaginative play, but I don’t usually want to participate. I will do almost anything else first. I will read a story, do a craft, or play a game–no matter how boring to me–with my daughter before pretending with her. Frankly, it’s one of those guilty parenting confessions that I hesitate to admit because I do feel kind of terrible about my distaste for pretending. I am probably not going to suddenly change and become the sort of parent who plays house as a first choice, but I am grateful for the reminder that it doesn’t take much for a magical worlds to appear around you. Really–the kid usually does most of the work.
Thank you to the Walker for creating a space for us to play. We also enjoyed the exploration of what art is and isn’t in “The Time Wanderers.” We were inspired to continue talking about the idea with the book Art is… by Bob Raczka. Because finding books to explore interesting ideas is something I can definitely say I am good at as a parent. ;)
Last year at this time, we received a gift membership to the Walker Art Center from my parents. The year previous, they had given us a membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum. That was fun. Our then 3 year old loved it, and we loved seeing her love it. But the Walker membership had something for each of us. They have great kids’ programming that my little artist loves, and the exhibits we attended were an interesting mix of art & culture that engaged my husband and me (not exactly “in the know” when it comes to art).
Some of the highlights of our year made it onto the blog:
Arty Pants – We made it to a few of these preschool oriented events in the year.
Whether you are a big kid or a little kid doesn’t really depend on your age or size. It depends on who you compare yourself to.
With Emily Jenkins’ Small, Medium, Large as a jumping off point, we explored relative sizes in a way that included a vocabulary lesson, math skills, and art. First a bit about the book: Jenkins and Bogacki’s collaboration brings odd little creatures–Ladybug decided that they were dogs, but they might be mice–of various sizes together as they compare their sizes as they generally illustrate the concept of S, M, L, and XL. We follow “small” down to “minuscule” and “large” to “colossal” to the delight of my little word girl.The one-upsmanship makes the book fun for little listeners when it otherwise might be a bit too “educational.” The gatefold with the little creatures stacked up to equal one very large creature is pretty cool too.
I thought it might be fun for my girl to see how she compares to various things, and what better way to do that than to make a life-size drawing of herself? :)
And measure it:
7 of her own feet, 10 of her hands, a bunch of cars, and 42 paperclips.
Sometimes I actually manage to get out on the town without a four-year-old in tow. This usually happens with weeks of planning and with a definite Plan for the Evening, but a couple of weekends ago, we were spontaneously without child for an afternoon and evening. I knew just what I wanted to do: the latest exhibit at the Walker Art Center.
I’m not sure I really qualify as an “art person” since I really know very little about it, but I am pretty much exactly what you would call a “zine person.” And it isn’t every museum exhibit that puts zines on display. Frank Gaard: Poison & Candy is a retrospective exhibit that features the work of Twin Cities art legend, Frank Gaard. In addition to Gaard’s provocative paintings featuring religious and sexual imagery, the exhibit also includes illustrations from the Artpolice zine that he edited for decades which satirized the art world with wit and humor. Mpls.St.Paul Magazine described it this way: “Artpolice was free speech in all its messy glory, a place where stupidity and brilliance co-existed on the same page, creating a hilariously subversive form of cognitive dissonance.”
I was, of course, intrigued by the description. If you are similarly intrigued, I recommend the exhibit. Leave the kiddos at home.
Design is everywhere, and everyone thinks they can do it. We’ve all sat through ugly PowerPoint presentations or scrolled reluctantly through web sites with garish GIF’s blinking. There are a few more days left for Twin Citians to immerse themselves in good design. The Graphic Design: Now in Production exhibit at the Walker Art Center ends January 22nd, and it is well worth the visit, even for a non-designer like myself.
The exhibit explores design over the past decade including the art of typeface, branding, movies & television, etc. It emphasizes that design has evolved dramatically and that it continues to evolve with the popularity of e-readers and tablet computers. You can read more about it in this MSP Magazine article.
Most of what I know about graphic design comes from–you guessed it–a children’s book. Mark Gonyea’s A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make it Good is the perfect primer for those of us who are not necessarily artists but still want to be able to create their own graphics now and then. Gonyea isn’t the only designer to attempt a children’s book.
Some of my favorite picture books are from graphic designers. I mentioned Along a Long Road in this post, and you can see more of Frank Viva’s work at his design firm’s site Viva & Co. Patricia Intriago, of Intriago Design, published a seemingly simple concept book for preschoolers in Dot, but it also works as an early introduction to design with young children. Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet is an alphabet book that both kids and adults will love. The alphabet prints available on Thurlby’s online shop would make great kids’ room decor if you’re going for a retro look.
Michael Hall, of Hall Kelley Inc., is the designer behind A Perfect Square, which is a wonderful book to inspire kids to create art out of shapes as talked about in this post on the Artful Parent blog, and My Heart is Like a Zoo, which takes one shape and creates a kid-friendly menagerie from it. Both of these books have appeal that goes beyond the preschoolers learning about the concepts. These are the picture books I push on my art-oriented friends who don’t have kids. It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you know. They are delightful in a way that surpasses the usual categories. Don’t believe me? Check out the trailer for My Heart is Like a Zoo:
My little girl turned four this week, and all the birthday activities have made for a quiet blog. In addition to going to the Holidazzle parade and having a small party with some of her friends, we also made use of our brand new Walker Art Center membership (Thanks, Mom!) to go to Arty Pants this week. Ladybug explored movement with a dance instructor (who did a great job with a group of preschoolers, btw) and the way we can see evidence of previous movement in the art lab.
Haley Bonar played at the Walker Art Center instead of Loring Park for Music and Movies in the Park due to weather, which was a shame since by that point in the day, it was quite lovely outside. Nonetheless, Ms. Bonar played a great set. She looked so cute on stage with her baby bump!
And yes, it was my little one who started singing along to “Kid October” and got a laugh from the crowd. :)
We arrived at the Walker Art Center just in time on Saturday afternoon. “Milly and Tillie” was just about to begin. The performance, part of the Free First Saturday program, was put on by Open Eye Figure Theater, and it was fabulous. Read: my three-year-old loved it. She clapped enthusiastically, and sometimes spontaneously in the middle of bits she really liked. As we filed out of the cinema with the rest of the crowd, we talked about our favorite parts. Hers: “when they danced silly.” For me, it was the tribute to the imagination. Not to mention, watching the kiddo enjoy herself. According to Open Eye’s web site, “Milly and Tillie” will be playing throughout July. I highly recommend it. Here’s a taste:
We also enjoyed the art activity of the day, which involved using a word wheel to find our inspiration. Ladybug spun vigorously, and she landed on “Jumping Lunchbox,” which she found quite hilarious. This is what she came up with:
Kudos to the Walker for such a great program! Sometimes the activities and shows are too complex for my preschooler, but this one was spot on. She woke up this morning asking if we could visit the Walker again, and Milly and Tillie are her favorite new friends.
We can’t wait to see what the next Free First Saturday will bring!