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….


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.


%d bloggers like this: