edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

Art Abound at an Early Age January 10, 2012

A: Activities and O: Outings

Winter, even if unseasonably warm (January 10th and it’s 50 degrees), is the perfect time to get crafty. The inspiration to create also coincided with the non-frequent occurence of kid-centric programming at The Walker Art Center’s First Saturday and The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Second Sunday on the same weekend. We went for it with visits to both totalling five hours of art and inspiration.

 

Turn a Tale of Xmas & Artoo

Turn a Tale of Xmas & Artoo

I sometimes feel like my 6 and 8 year-olds have evolved beyond the programming both museums offer, but then I’m reminded how much, even as an adult, I enjoy it. I love that we can experience these things – performance and art – together and take away very different interpretations and find meaning for our lives in specific ways.

 

Let’s start with the Walker. Admission is free on the first Saturday of the month (as well as every Thursday night) with content especially for kids. It was 10:30a.m. on Saturday and I’m in the mode to get the kids psyched to venture out. My 8-yr-old daughter, Ava, says she’s on board. My 6 yr-old son, Calvin, hems and haws and doesn’t want to give up his chance to view Star Wars on DVD for the second time in his short life. He is so outraged about having to go, that our Walker appearance looks to be in jeopardy.  Then Ava and I start a discussion about what we’ve seen there on our numerous past visits. Calvin begins to come around, citing mostly the fabulous performance art we’ve seen there over the past year or so – the Raven, the acrobats and the beat box/hip hop for starters. He is pumped.

 

Cafe & Art Contemplation

Cafe & Art Contemplation

We arrive at 10:55 and easily park and slip into the first scheduled 11:00 performance of the day focused on Hmong Tiger Tales. We hear a series of four stories from a creative group from Mu Performing Arts who use four actors in and out of masks. It holds even the little ones attention at 35 minutes and you can meet the actors and try on their masks after. We bypass that even though I am always encouraging. My kids’ ages are starting to equate with such self-conscientious and non-Mom coolness that I have to let it slide.

 

We head to the lab for an activity which involves a wheel of fortune to dictate your art form direction (this is consistent at the Walker and I am thankful for a theme and some sort of direction to focus our efforts). The wheel determines form (cone-shaped, foam, etc) and feeling to evoke with design. Ava got the cone-shape for direction and Calvin the foam. Both ended up with “tiny,” although other more sought-after adjectives were in the mix. There are a wealth of supplies and a certified hot-glue-gun artist volunteer to aid creativity. I sometimes feel overwhelmed trying to create something out of nothingness, but the kids push on with their vision. It is a better process when everyone contributes – see exhibit A: Ms. Claus and Batman/Artoo-Detoo (note: due to recent StarWars credit viewing of the accurate spelling of this robot’s name, the R2-D2 I envisioned his name to be for a significant portion of my life was challenged).

 

Edo Pop Inspiration

Edo Pop Inspiration

We spent about 1 hour and 45 minutes at Walker. Plenty for the day. Weekend day #2 starts with brunch at the Grand Cafe on 38th and Grand in Minneapolis. As Van Gogh-like artwork hovers over our table, I’m reminded I have yet to purchase The Van Gogh Cafe book for mommie/daughter book club tonight. First up, a visit to MIA. Just my daughter and I venture out. We arrive at noon with intentions to move through fairly quickly. Impossible given our agenda. I’m seeking to do a refresh of Art Adventure art I’m presenting at my kids’ school January – February and Ava is set on the seek and find related to the day’s theme of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.

 

We start with a performance in the Pillsbury Theater from dancers that evoke the theme of fire. We then get in on the exhibit: Edo Pop: The Graphic Impact of Japanese Prints. It reminds Ava of Ponyo the movie. She spends some time sketching in the exhibit and we take in the captivating multi-media exhibit of what Ava terms Worms in Japan. Deep. The 4-yr-old next to us keeps repeating, I’m not scared, I’m not scared.

 

After three hours, I’ve located six of my eight pieces of art, Ava has found all of her themed pieces in the Family Gallery Hunt for the day titled Elements Exploration and we even had the opportunity to touch the art via the Art Cart in the Pacific Islands area of the museum. We turn in our completed worksheet and answer questions about our favorites: Deer by Stormy Sea (element: wind) and Cottage on Fire (element: fire). Then due to our schedule we bypass the crafts for the day and head home.

 

We go to our book club despite not having read or found the book via library or to purchase, nevertheless enriched from the weekend’s art experiences. I applaud these museums and the tools they give us busy parents to give us the ease and confidence to help our children explore and define their feelings about art at an early age. With the repetitive museum visits we’ve done over the past three years or so, I am now seeing an emergence (especially from my 8-yr-old) in how she assertively connects with a theme, establishes her own point of view yet maintains an openness about art.

 

Next up, Ava wants her artwork on in the Children’s section of MIA. Look for her work in a gallery near you….

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Currently a Good Thing for Ages Cradle to 8 February 20, 2011

O: Outings

Today’s Rock the Cradle event at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) / Children’s Theater seemed and huge success despite the small blizzard pending. Since the snow started at 9:30a.m., many savvy event-going parents planned to get to this event early today to beat the crowds and the snow. We almost opted out entirely, but my 7-yr-old daughter and I decided to go, based on previous experience. The rest of the family voted to stay home and play cards.

 

RTC Crowd

RTC Crowd

We arrived at noon and there was nowhere to park – the surfaces lots, three parking ramps and streets were full. (Note: my earlier blog about ease of parking, getting in and out, apparently only applies to the monthly family programming, not this annual event.) We waited at least 10 minutes for an on-street parked vehicle’s owner to brush her car down and leave so we could grab her spot. Worth the wait.

 

We were greeted in the lobby by a Current staffer who handed us a program and coupon book. There were arrow signs on the windows and around both buildings directing people. There was plenty to do between some specific things with start and end times and other things going all day long that you could just happen upon. By 12:10 the tickets for the free hourly puppet shows were all but sold out – there were a few remaining for the 3:30 performance.

 

Moving from the Children’s Theater to MIA, we took our seats to hear Chris Monroe, the cartoonist and author, as she sat in a big overstuffed chair on the MIA Pillsbury Stage and read three of her books while the pages displayed behind her. Ava, my 7-yr-old, was annoyed with all the babies crying and kids talking. Monroe read over the din and chattering (which died down by book two) and even seemed to find it and rediscovering her own stories amusing. Ava liked the Sneaky Sheep best and I enjoyed the Monkey with a Tool Belt and The Noisy Problem story including monkey’s elaborate tree house with an elephant stuck in his laundry chute.

 

RTC: Passport, Coupons and Coloring Book

RTC: Passport, Coupons and Coloring Book

Still in the MIA, we popped into the Musical Petting Zoo. Too loud, crowded and possibly past piquing her interest since she’s technically at age 7.75 and the event touts its programming as appropriate for ages 2-8.  We did wander around the MIA to find art carts complete with passports to stamp upon your visit to each one. Now this intrigued her. She recapped what she learned about the mummy in the Africa area through the Art Adventures program and stamped “Grace” in Chinese at the China art cart to take with her to see if she could replicate at home.
RTC Merchandise

RTC Merchandise

Then back over to the theater side. We just missed Koo Koo Kanga Roo and only joined the Kid’s Disco area briefly with Dave Campbell. This area feels like a winter picnic. Parents literally plop down anywhere on the floor with all their gear and people just maneuver around. Ava got some good snacks courtesy of Mississippi Market and a tattoo from Pizza Luce. We do some browsing in the central theater area where books, cds, t-shirts and merchandise is for sale. We got some cool Current buttons. I don’t recall there being a coupon book last year, but this year’s seems a good value with partners like Blooma Yoga, Crave, MN Children’s Museum and Creative Kidstuff with deals in the mix.

 

What next? A quick look outside to see it’s still snowing. We decided to head it out as planned at 1:30. True to form, another 1.5hour outing.  Because I may only have one more year left for kids to fit in the event’s target demographics, I’m glad we made the effort to attend what’s currently one of the best winter arts and music outings for parents and kids in the Twin Cities.

 

Keep on Rockin in the Free World February 18, 2011

OP: Outings Preview

Window Seating Only

Window Seating Only

My dial doesn’t oft move from Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) (91.1) on my morning commutes. If it does, it goes over to the Current (89.3). Even during the membership drives, I am not turned off. I revel that the show hosts are able to say the same thing in one million different ways and counting. It’s a message that resonates with me and all of MPR/Current members: Minnesota Public Radio is a free service, but the info and insight it brings to your life and our community is of value and needs to be supported with monetary contributions. Plus get free stuff, discounts and all sorts of perks if you do – see their very robust member page.

 

As Marianne Combs of MPR chimed in on the Current for yesterday’s weekly focus on art, she talked about the upcoming Rock the Cradle free event on Sunday, February 20 from 11:00a.m. – 5:00p.m. at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts/ Children’s Theater. The Current DJ’s will be reading stories during the event. Via the on-air-dialogue, I could sense a genuine excitement by Steve Seel to read Punk Farm. After a quick check of the schedule of events for the day online, I’ll also be sure to attend cartoonist Chris Monroe’s reading of The Sneaky Sheep – I’m fairly certain my 5-yr-old Calvin will want to go since he’s all about cartoons now.

 

Quietly Petting the Drums

Quietly Petting the Drums

Combs also piped in about how great it is that kids can touch, feel, play and experience musical instruments. I thought back to last year’s event when we stood in line to test out the drum set and piano in the area they’ve termed the Musical Petting Zoo. Let me assure you, the drums are impossible to “pet.” Bring your patience and earplugs if you’re sensitive (… I can listen to my own kids bang away on the drums, but other peoples’ kids… how annoying!)

 

Speaking of other people’s kids, I’d like to encourage all parents to attend with their kids. No, wait, that might make it too crowded… Although I guess it does hurt much because most hip parents I know are already planning to go. It can be tough to find seating for the concerts (go early or even late, I’d advise). We stood in the back during the musicians last year and created a spontaneous dance floor of sorts.

 

It's Black. It's White.

It's Black. It's White.

The band area was a blast last year with Koo Koo Kanga Roo, who will be there again this year, no doubt playing Lava Tag or Rollin in the Minivan. The kids packed the dance floor. The lights were low like an adult concert event. There was strong gourmet coffee for the parents which was much needed by the time 2:00p.m. rolled around. After all, we needed to keep up with the kids, who were rockin in the free (concert) world, courtesy of MPR/Current and MIA/Children’s Theater.

 

Adventuring Out for Art January 9, 2011

O: Outings

Venturing out in the winter in a northern climate takes a mind over matter approach. On this particular January Sunday, we had planned ahead of time to visit the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) for their second Sunday Family Day. Earlier in the day, my 5-yr-old cried outside of church while still in our car, claiming to be so frozen he could not move, “God’s house is a cold place.” I was preparing for what I thought would be a tough sell – – heading to MIA – when the sugar-high from the massive donut at post-church hospitality kicked in. He was optimistic and ready to go despite the cold (it wasn’t that bad at a mild 15 degrees).

 

Three Coins in the Fountain

Three Coins in the Fountain

I’m now a whiz at getting in and out of there – this would be the third time in a week and a half that I had visited the MIA.  Once to see a play at the Children’s Theater, once for Art Adventures training and finally today for free Sunday.

 

We are fortunate to have MIA as part of Minneapolis’ arts and culture scene. It’s even better that, as many museums do around the country, days are set aside for people to come to the museum at no charge and take advantage of the activities, performances and learning they have to offer. We often go to the Walker Art Center’s first Saturdays too. These can be very busy days at both, but getting in early is better. MIA’s Family Day is 11:00a.m. – 5:00p.m. Our family of four visited between 12:15 – 2:00.

 

All of the work the program coordinators must do for these days pays off. The MIA is so huge and could be overwhelming without some direction, especially for kids. For art to be appreciated by children, it needs to connect with them in many ways.

 

1. Make it relatable. Today’s line-up offer performances by dancers from Ballet Royale Minnesota, who were invited and told of the days theme – Wings – stories, performances and activities about birds, wings, angels, dragons and such. The 3 sets of dancers ages 11 to 14 took the theme, selected from photos of artwork MIA had sent them, and created their own story about the artwork and coreographed their dance numbers. The captive audience of kids and adults enjoyed the performances, lasting about 25 minutes total. The young dancers made it seem that all kids could do something like they did.

 

Gallery Hunt: Take Flight

Gallery Hunt: Take Flight

2. Make it fun. Activities included mosaic-making, puppet-making, guided tours, dance performances and workshops. Today with my ADD husband along, we chose one activity that we’d never before done at previous Family Day – the Gallery Hunt. He was good with maps, so we assigned him the job of map-reader for the Take Flight Gallery Hunt along with the answer key. Calvin was very determined to make it to all 6 works of arts on two different floors. The kids had worksheets they took with them, marking found works of art off as they went and beginning to understand how areas of the museum are organized.

 

3. Make it interactive. All of the works related back to the theme, allowing for comparing and contrasting ideas, a method they really seem to respond to. And mixed media like films (for Richard Hunt’s the Transformation Mask, 1993) and fabrics and works of art meant to be touched, heightened the experience.

 

Bench: Please Do Sit

Bench: Please Do Sit

For the kids, it was enough to take in after about 1 hr 45 min. After my constant reminders, not to touch the artwork, Calvin hesitated for a moment before sitting down on a bench, “Is this a work of art?”

 

Shiva out of Sandstone

Shiva out of Sandstone

I did get in a few follow-up glimpses of the works of art I’ll be talking about at my daughter’s school through their Art Adventures program. There are ten curriculum themes, each theme with eight works of art. Last year our school did Sources of Strength, this year it will be Family, Friends and Foes. We checked out Shiva’s Family for awhile in silence (at left).

 

I’ll be studying up on four works of art for Art Adventures and certainly, we’ll be back for another Sunday Family Day at MIA. We Heart Art.

 

 
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