Blogs Field Guide

Kickoff 2010 with Calef Brown and Clementown

I love the work of Calef Brown. For years I have been amazed as a room full of kids suffering from some serious cabin fever listen intently to Brown’s poems, or stories as he calls them. But seriously, how could they resist bats pooping on people? The illustrations and words weave together and create stories […]

I love the work of Calef Brown. For years I have been amazed as a room full of kids suffering from some serious cabin fever listen intently to Brown’s poems, or stories as he calls them. But seriously, how could they resist bats pooping on people? The illustrations and words weave together and create stories within stories. It’s magical how Brown inspires kids’ imaginations. The kids would take a poem like Skeleton Flowers, which is about what it sounds like, and turn it into an elaborate world of monster bees that use the pollen from the flowers to turn people into zombies. In response to the poem about Ed who likes red the kids thought that if he married a girl who likes green then he wouldn’t look so sad. I could go on forever… Mother of two, Heather Armstrong of the super blog Dooce, sums it when she proclaims Polkabats and Octopus-Slacks “is pure genius.”

So you can understand my enthusiasm when the opportunity came to bring Calef Brown to the Walker. Local musician Kate Lynch and Chris Beaty, aka Clemetown, created a musical versions of Brown’s Polkabats and Octopus Slacks and Dutch Sneakers and Flea-Keepers. On January 2 Calef, Clemetown, a funky snowman, and some others will take the stage at Free First Saturday for a performance filled with music, live drawing, stories, and lots of dancing.

In the meantime I asked Calef some relevant (and some not so relevant) questions about his childhood and life as a father.

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What was your imaginary friend like?
A stock car-driving-cat named Cannonball

How did your family influence your career?
Everyone in my family has a good sense of humor. We’ve always been able to make each other laugh. The nonsensical spirit of my books is very influenced by that.

What was your favorite bedtime story?
I had lots of favorites, but for a while I especially liked A Tale of Two Bad Mice by Beatrix Potter, because it involves ransacking, and the name Hunca Munca cracked me up.

What was your first pet like?
A wonderful German Shepard mix named Dickens. She was hit by a car and lost one of her front legs, but she still got around okay and lived a long life.
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When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
I have always loved to draw and paint since age 5 or 6, but in high school I realized that it was the only thing that I was good at, so I should give it a go as a career.

What’s your favorite line of poetry?
Do I search for what is not?
Vainly, vainly have I sought?
Or in searching do I find,
The end that so eludes my mind?

My father wrote that when he was in college.

What surprised you most about fatherhood?
I’m more patient and competent than I thought I would be.
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What superpower would you like to have?
Flying.

Who’s your favorite villain?
Gollum and the Grinch, who both turn non-villainous.

What did you want to be growing up?
Aside from an artist, a rock musician and/or a racecar driver.

What was your favorite Saturday morning cartoon?
Rocky and Bullwinkle

fightWhat Disney character most resembles your personality?
I can’t think of a Disney character that I like, I never got the appeal, so for the part of my psyche that’s self-critical and doubting, that can be Donald Duck.

What was your first job?
I was a counselor at a small co-op day camp called Camp Goochy Gotch. My younger sister Phebe came up with the name of the camp.

What’s your advice for all the artist/parents out there?
Since I’ve only been a parent for about 6 months I need to get advice, rather than give it.

What’s the first work of art you remember seeing?
My very first memory is of being on a beach in Maine and watching my mother paint a watercolor. The first work of art that made a big impression on me was a painting called Soft Construction with Boiled Beans: Premonition of Civil War by Salvador Dali. I saw it at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when I was eight or nine and it blew my mind. Very scary, but fascinating.

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What question do you wish we had asked you?
I wish you had asked me about what kind of pie I like and why,
because I like eating veggie pie. Want to know the reason why?
The reason is the cheese inside the peas inside the crust.
Tasty peas are stuffed with cheese until they nearly bust.
For those who haven’t tried it yet, you absolutely must!
Especially with cheese inside the peas inside the crust.

No-oo-oooo!! (or, what happens when your kid touches the art)

We were very excited to bring O. and his 3-yr-old sister J to the Walker to see the new installation of the permanent collection. (The crashed car is gone, but the dolphin is still in her nook). We went on the first Saturday of the month, and the kids loved all the gallery activities: they […]

Olafur Eliasson Convex/Concave

Olafur Eliasson Convex/Concave

We were very excited to bring O. and his 3-yr-old sister J to the Walker to see the new installation of the permanent collection. (The crashed car is gone, but the dolphin is still in her nook). We went on the first Saturday of the month, and the kids loved all the gallery activities: they made wire sculptures, they did a seek-and-find. Then we got saw Olafur Eliasson’s  mirror sculpture, Convex/Concave, with its softly whirring motor. J was instantly enthralled: she just froze and watched it move, back and forth, back and forth. Then, suddenly, she walked straight up to the sculpture, and poked it.

She TOUCHED it!!!  I remember yelling and grabbing her. I think the guard said, “Please don’t touch,” but I was a little traumatized thinking my sticky-fingered kid had just poked the perfect mirrored surface of a sculpture that probably cost as much as our house.

Now what? They didn’t kick us out, they didn’t shut down the gallery. I realized that I don’t really know what happens AFTER your kid touches the art. I don’t want it to happen again, but do wonder what the consequences are — that way, maybe I won’t feel so worried about bringing J back.

Art to Go: Andy Ducett’s Cabinet of Curiosities

December’s Free First Saturday art-making activity featured local artist Andy Ducett, who’s know for creating 3-D environment of carefully arranged thrift store objects. Below, Andy shares inspiration for the project and steps for how to create your own Cabinet of Curiosities at home. Getting Started Artist Joseph Cornell took everyday objects to used them in […]

December’s Free First Saturday art-making activity featured local artist Andy Ducett, who’s know for creating 3-D environment of carefully arranged thrift store objects. Below, Andy shares inspiration for the project and steps for how to create your own Cabinet of Curiosities at home.

Getting Started
Artist Joseph Cornell took everyday objects to used them in mysterious ways. Cornell let dreams and the unconscious inspire him, and his work is often associated with the Surrealist movement.Cornell 1993.224.1-.2
You can check out examples of Joseph Cornell’s artwork online, OR, even better, come and see them at the new collections exhibition Event Horizon.

What You Need
1) A sturdy shoe box, about 6″ high, 10″ long and 4″ deep (although any size will work)
2) An old magazine, newspaper, map and some felt or fabric
3) One figurative element ( a plastic animal, action figure, a kid’s meal from fast food restaurant… something to be your box’s “main actor”)
4) A 12″–24″ piece of twine, raffia, string, or another item that creates a line
5) A glue stick, a hot glue gun (with adult supervision!), Mod Podge, or Elmer’s white glue
6) 5–8 mysterious items

Choosing Your “Mysterious Items”
For the Free First Saturday event, we picked up lots of old trinkets. Cornell loved “Victorian” or antique looking items, so look for things both old and used. Smaller objects are better because you don’t want to make the box crowded.
Some possibilities: dominoes, building blocks, scraps of wood, dowels, Lincoln Logs, old nuts and bolts, pieces of old machines, rocks, glass stones, corks, bottle caps, thimbles, puzzle pieces, old game parts, and dice.

Things to Think About
As you are selecting your objects and creating your work ponder these questions:
What sort of things do you dream about?
What do your objects remind you of?
What does it mean to be mysterious?
Is there a story that your box is telling?

The Assembly
Think about Cornell’s work and start to arrange the objects in your box in unexpected ways. Glue something to the ceiling of your box, hide objects behind each other, or pair together unexpected objects. Tear your magazine picture into pieces and cut your felt in unusual patterns. Create something mysterious, like out of a strange dream. Put it all together and you’re done.

Good luck and happy creating. Email pictures of your boxes to kids@walkerart.org
Dino
crab

WAC Video Killed the Radio Star

Over the past five-weeks local director Maria Juranic has been dropping knowledge on emerging teen video makers in the Music Video Workshop in Teen Programs. We met twice a week, starting off with introductions in true WACTAC fashion where the group questioned each person for two minutes. If you were there it went something like […]

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Over the past five-weeks local director Maria Juranic has been dropping knowledge on emerging teen video makers in the Music Video Workshop in Teen Programs. We met twice a week, starting off with introductions in true WACTAC fashion where the group questioned each person for two minutes.

If you were there it went something like this Q: “Would you rather be blind or deaf?” A: “Blind” Q: “If you were a super hero, what super power would you posses?” A: “The power to bend things with my mind.” Q: “Who’s your favorite Muppet Baby?” A: “Animal.”  Q: “If  you could have any job what would it be?”A: “The President’s Wife.” Q: “Who’s the coolest person you know?” A:(Get ready for the aww factor) “My mom.” and a nother question I never quite understood Q: “Would you rather live under a rock or a log?” A: “What?” After priceless moments like these we got down to business.

MVW at Blake 006Maria, using her own work as an example including videos for local artists such as P.O.S, Cecil Otter and Eyedea & Abilities (see here), broke down the process of conception to completion. She showed us how to make treatments, storyboards, and shot lists. During the first week we warmed-up by making short videos set to Doomtree’s “Wait a Minute”, where editing took place in camera and groups worked togehter to interpret the music visually.

Out of a pool of music submissions from local high-school students, the video makers chose four bands/artists who they wanted to collaborate with, and were given three weeks to conceive of an idea, meet them, shoot the video and edit it.

In order to draw inspiration from other sources aside from popular media we toured the Dan Graham exhibition where we saw methods of using a camera as a mapping tool to explore relationships between space, others, and oneself, as well as viewing his music-based video work.

I spoke with Daniel Smith the Assistant Archivist about what other Walker films we could show the students. He pointed out a few artists who used music as an integral part to their film pieces and Maria, Witt, and I agreed on Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising and Kustom Kar Kommandos, Bruce Conner’s Mongoloid, Charles Atlas’s Hail the New Puritan, and William Klein’s Broadway by Light.

As we watched Scorpio Rising, specifically the “initiation” scene towards the end, the air grew quiet, and the soft 50’s pop ballad intensified the drama of what unfolded before our eyes. “Was that for real or were they just playing?” a student asked.  “It seems really homo-erotic. That one guy seems to idolize James Dean. He takes his time showing us how each one prepares for the evening,” another comments. “He sensualizes the whole experience of putting on his rings and getting ready to go out.”

While some students chose to comment on content others commented on formal aspects like the use of color and contrast between leather-clad masculine figures and the choice of light-hearted music. Conner’s work generated a discussion about found footage and constructing narrative, while Klein’s piece offered suggestions about timing music to repetitious visuals.MVW at Blake 018

After a busy week of shooting inside and outside of the Walker, freezing in the elements, dead batteries, lost footage, late bands and plenty of fruit roll-ups, Rice Krispies, and Cheez-its, we are now in the final stages of production. Through a partnership with The Blake School, the students have been using the Blake Media Lab to edit their videos where they are hard at work putting the pieces of the process together.

Come by and view the fruits of their labor Wednesday, December 16th in the Lecture Room at 6pm with mmmmm, you said it, pizza to follow after!

WACTAC Pitches a Tent

[tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157622855657923/[/tylr-slidr] Over the past months WACTAC has been talking about the ways that people make art together and interact socially in public space. To further the discussion, I invited artist Peter Haakon Thompson to meet WACTAC and present his work. Honestly there isn’t an artist that fits the bill as perfect as Peter. […]

[tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/wactac/sets/72157622855657923/[/tylr-slidr]

Over the past months WACTAC has been talking about the ways that people make art together and interact socially in public space. To further the discussion, I invited artist Peter Haakon Thompson to meet WACTAC and present his work. Honestly there isn’t an artist that fits the bill as perfect as Peter. His resume includes curator of the 55408 exhibition at Intermedia Arts, a totally inclusive showcase (all artists that submit are invited to exhibit their work) of artists that live and work in the 55408 zip code; The “A” Project, a series of signage and sculpture that increases arts awareness; the Art Shanty Projects, a yearly community of over 30 artists who create social engaging structures on the frozen Medicine Lake.

When I first approached him, Peter mentioned his newest work, a tent that requires a group to pitch it and have a discussion inside. Needless to say, we had a great time chatting with Peter about his projects and hanging out in tent. The conversation will hopefully lead to a project or series of events that will be presented next summer.

In the mix: yoga, tots, Robert Irwin

How do you offer toddlers an in-depth engaging experience with contemporary art? What are some interesting ways to help them take in the exhibition Robert Irwin:Light/Slant/Volume? An Arty Pants program that included movement in the gallery seemed like a good connection, so we invited Shalya to lead some yoga . Watching those little tykes in […]

How do you offer toddlers an in-depth engaging experience with contemporary art? What are some interesting ways to help them take in the exhibition Robert Irwin:Light/Slant/Volume?

Robert Irwin, untitled, 1971

Robert Irwin, untitled, 1971

An Arty Pants program that included movement in the gallery seemed like a good connection, so we invited Shalya to lead some yoga . Watching those little tykes in galleries (or joining the fun yourself) just warms the heart.

Guest instructor Shalya Boger gets the group warmed up.

Guest instructor Shalya Boger gets the group warmed up.

Kids make yoga look so easy.

Kids make yoga look so easy.

However, some yoga poses call for grown-ups help.

However, some yoga poses call for grown-ups help.

Yeah! Yoga is fun.

Yeah! Yoga is fun.

Of course no day is complete without a story.

With or without yoga, no day is complete without a story.

And some art-making!

And some art-making!

Want to get in on the action? We have two more yoga programs in December with guest instructor Jessica Rosenberg. Check out the details here.

Reflections on My Net: Google SketchUp

This post is the first in an on-going series, in which guest artist-instructors involved with our various Raising Creative Kids programs reflect upon their teaching experience. [tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkerart/sets/72157622699653777/[/tylr-slidr] Last Saturday (Nov. 14th) I had the pleasure of working with the Walker to develop and teach MyNet: Google SketchUp, a course designed to introduce the […]

This post is the first in an on-going series, in which guest artist-instructors involved with our various Raising Creative Kids programs reflect upon their teaching experience.

[tylr-slidr userID=”” groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkerart/sets/72157622699653777/[/tylr-slidr]

Last Saturday (Nov. 14th) I had the pleasure of working with the Walker to develop and teach MyNet: Google SketchUp, a course designed to introduce the amazing world of 3d computer modeling to both kids and their parents (as well as older siblings and mentors). Computer modeling and rendering has long been a staple of architectural education and practice, but the software involved was, more often than not, exorbitantly expensive and frustratingly difficult to learn. The combination of these two factors ensured that such amazing technology was only accessible to those at the advanced stages of their design education or those already working in the field.

Then came SketchUp

With its simple interface and simple tools, SketchUp was an instant hit. It was intuitive and inexpensive, making it accessible to just about anyone. While this was certainly a great development for grad students and professionals, its greatest potential lies with the introduction of this software as an educational tool for K-12 children!

That belief was validated and solidified by our class on Saturday. Students and parents not only learned the basics of the software, but also got the opportunity to apply this new knowledge to an actual project of their own design. The focus of the class was to design an ideal “fort” or “hang-out.” Before we jumped into SketchUp, though, everyone first made physical, scale “study models.” This hands-on process, allowed everyone to first focus on the design of the project before getting caught up in the excitement of trying to learn how to use a new computer program.

Building a prototype together

Building a prototype together

By using this process, students and parents were actually following the real-life, organic process used by designers of all disciplines! Once everyone had tested out their ideas with scale models, we then moved into the digital world and covered the basics of SketchUp. Thanks to its simple, user friendly interface, most were able to pick it up right away! We then shifted focus back to the forts and hang-outs, learning how to translate from the miniature scale models everyone had made to full scale digital models in SketchUp that allowed them to “get inside” their projects.

Adam Jarvi leading a family through the 3D modeling process

Adam Jarvi leading a family through the 3D modeling process

I was absolutely amazed by everyone’s work! Not only were the original models recreated in SketchUp with remarkable accuracy, they were also edited, refined, and personalized with colors, materials, people, and even furniture. The sense of ownership, engagement, and empowerment that comes along with the ability to create something that is uniquely your own was clear for all to see. As a designer myself, seeing others become engaged by the same things that excite me was extremely rewarding!

A final SketchUp project: one family's hideout

A final SketchUp project: one family's hideout

Thanks to all who attended! And thanks to the Walker for making this event possible!

Adam Jarvi

Designer and Assistant Director at DEMO, a non-profit focused on spreading the power of design to K-12 students and teachers throughout the Twin Cities.

Take a kid to Graham!

7-yr-old O. and I had an unexpected day off on Wednesday, and we checked out the Dan Graham show. It was SO MUCH FUN. He loved the models (especially the high-rise building with the tiny movie theather) and exploring the mirrored stuff together was the most fun I’ve had in a museum in a long […]

Dan Graham, New Space for Showing Videos, 1995

Dan Graham, New Space for Showing Videos, 1995

7-yr-old O. and I had an unexpected day off on Wednesday, and we checked out the Dan Graham show. It was SO MUCH FUN. He loved the models (especially the high-rise building with the tiny movie theather) and exploring the mirrored stuff together was the most fun I’ve had in a museum in a long time. (The guards were even a blast — showing us how to play with the time-delated cameras in one room). O. summed up the show perfectly as we walked back to the car: ” I know how to make sense of it, but it still doesn’t make sense.”

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