edamomie

An Exploration of Parenting by the Vowel

A Spring Roll at the Walker May 7, 2011

O: Outings

A Spring Roll

A Spring Roll

Even on the first sunny 71 degree Saturday in 7 months we did not want to miss the Walker Art Center’s first Saturday of the month, complete with free admission and family-oriented programming. The assumption may be that museums are an inside thing. The great thing about the Walker, as we rediscovered today, was that it offers both indoor and outdoor inspiration. Chris Larson’s piece in particular literally straddles the interior and exterior. Then there’s the sculpture garden and Open Field (their FB says 31 days left til its open).

 

Typically we park underground to stay out of the elements, but today we parked on the hill above Open Field. The temptation was too great to resist rolling down the hill, plus they had it all to themselves. After rolling down, there’s running up and repeat, then just running down screaming at the top of your lungs. We head indoors and check out the Happy Duckling film, a sweet short film in pop-up book style about a mother and son (co-operators of the Happy Duckling Restaurant) and a persistent duck whose persistence doesn’t pay off. By the way kids are always crawling over the “seats” of random height and width in this film area, you’d think it was a jungle gym.

 

Couches in the Film Area

Play area/ Film area

 

On to more activity. The busiest area on a Saturday is usually the Star Tribune Foundation Art Lab, so we head there first at 10:30. We select a mix of small wood pieces and are to use the artist’s structure (installation) as inspiration for our structures.  It had been three months since we actually walked through the structure in the Cargill Lounge so we tried to recollect. Before going crazy with the cordless hot glue guns, I encouraged them to look at the picture of the structure and come up with their own vision. My 5-yr-old opted for a dual chicken coop and horse stable, while my 7-yr-old opted for a Menard’s store (influences from her Papa) with the paparazzi taking photos outside of it (influences from?).

 

WAC Pack Check. Midnight Party Next?

WAC Pack Check. Midnight Party Next?


 

Chris Larson, the artist, is actually there. He checks in with all of the junior builders and offers advice and asks a few questions. We spend about 30 minutes assembling the structure and move them to the shelf to set.

 

Then we head to the lobby desk where there are three different WAC packs for kids – we select the “Explorer” and set out to find 9 works of art in galleries 1-3. It’s a matching task – a 2×2″ magnet zoomed-in on artwork that needs to be matched with the artwork itself. I thought this would be a difficult task, but they found seven somewhat easily and we retraced our steps a bit to find the last two.

 

We cruised through Larson’s installation again (see the video), the kids noting the illusion of continuity from inside to out and the staircase that led nowhere (see here from a previous outing). Then we wandered through the Walker Art Shop, the Spectacular of Vernacular (ends May 8), and grabbed a snack at the Garden Cafe before swinging by to pick up our structures. We considered the 7th Floor Jewelry Mart that was special in the line-up today, but kids were too hungry to delay snack-time. We enjoyed sitting outside for snacks and the kids got in a few more trips down the hill before rolling out around 12:30 or so.

 

Structures with Exterior of Install (background)

Structures (foreground) with Exterior of Install (background)

 

I was reminded by a few staffers that they’ll be taking activities outside for the summer.  If you haven’t taken your kids, it’s a great family-friendly outing. Next one: June 4. Who knows, maybe even parents will be inspired enough to take a Spring roll down the hill.

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New Museum Strikes a Coolness Chord March 29, 2011

Filed under: Outings — edamomie @ 9:56 pm
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O: Outings: Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona

One can imagine how difficult it might be to leave poolside while on winter getaway to Arizona from Minnesota in March. One day of our too-short stay, I rounded up my mom and daughter for a trip to the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix (MIM), newly opened in April 2010. It took a bit of convincing, but seeing my fair-skinned daughter becoming increasingly red despite sunscreen, a little break was needed.

 

Debutante Star Guitar: For Rock Stars Only

Debutante Star Guitar: For Rock Stars Only

And while you really can’t do the museum justice in 1.5 hours, that’s what we allowed ourselves for our visit. It was an easy drive from our place. As you approach the museum, it’s serenely set into the landscape and seems of the desert in its sandy, earth tones with metallic lettering. On a Tuesday afternoon, there were no lines and plenty of helpful suggestions on how to make the most of our 1.5 hours. Love love that headsets aren’t an additional fee. They come with the price of admission and in the case of this museum’s design, absolutely necessary for the full experience.

 

We started with a quick spin through the Orientation Gallery (what we called Guitar Gallery) and the museum coolness factor went way up for my 7-year-old. Ava found the Debutante Star guitar to her liking.  She marveled at the giant floating instruments hanging from the ceiling as we escalated up to the Geographic Galleries, a presentation of musical instruments by regions of the world including audio and video of the instruments being played in their cultural context. We spent the majority of our time in the U.S and Europe. Alaskan Tribal Chants, Hip hop, Rock n Roll and Jazz resonated with Ava. Each with our own headsets we moved about and the music for the closest exhibit would begin to play. Cool and effortless.

 

Listening to audio, viewing the videos and seeing the instruments on display – each section with an overview of its musical significance – touched on all the senses and made for a heightened museum experience. One that my daughter could appreciate as she seemingly got lost in her own world, dancing or humming as the music or video evoked. As I looked around, I noted the absence of children in the museum.  I suppose it was a Tuesday afternoon, a school day for most kids.

 

And the Drums go Boom Boom Pow

And the Drums go Boom Boom Pow

We moved through Latin America, four Asian rooms and the Middle East prior to heading back down to the main level.  With about a half-hour left, we headed to the Artist Gallery, featuring instruments, video concert footage and more linked to world-renowned musicians and music-innovators.  John Lennon’s piano was there with “Imagine” looping. There were also more current artists featured including Keith Harris’ drum set from tour (Harris is the Black Eyed Peas’ drummer). The inclusion of these type of artists made the museum feel happening in a way – acknowledging that even something in recent history that is of the moment can have a place in a museum.

 

Volunteers Needed for Saturday in the Experience Gallery

Volunteers Needed for Saturdays

With our last 10 minutes, we plucked, twanged and gonged our way through Experience Gallery, where people were allowed to touch and play instruments. Most of these instruments, I suppose for non-germiness, were played by hand. The harp, the xylophone, bells and the massive resounding gong (only one strike per person, please) all got a sound check from Ava. I imagined the sound level with several kids in this room on any given Saturday – potentially deafening.

 

We breezed through the museum store and found a couple of small souvenirs. Ava discovered the White Falconer guitar (magnet version) and picked out a small Indian drum for her brother. And on that very high note, our MIM experience came to an end.

 

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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