Tag Archives: public art.

Local Art: Haverford College

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The pup and I like to walk the trail at Haverford College in southeastern PA and admire the art. Yes, he likes art, too. Mainly eating it. But I don’t judge.

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Haverford College has natural beauty, spontaneous art made from nature, and—just art. Not natural, unless somehow spray paint is made from carmine beetles and blueberries. Thought I’d share some of my favorite spots with you:

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Filed under Nature's Art, Public Art & Local Art, Sculpture, Uncategorized

Local Art: Jack Kerouac

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Noticing art wherever we go is good for the soul. It’s too easy to overlook the carefully hand-drawn menu board, the geometric crosswalks in Chinatown, the chalk art on sidewalks—and the dinosaur head on the wall by my front door, drawn years ago by my daughter.

The more I notice it, the more I see. And it creates a pause for appreciation in my busy days. Even the dinosaur head. I will never paint over it.

A bit of art in an organic market caught my eye recently, and created a wave of Jack Kerouac gratitude: remembering the positive effect Dharma Bums had on me as a young teenager. It was a long, long time before I went anywhere without that paperback in my bag. At some point I realized that the character of Japhy Ryder was based on the writer Gary Snyder. A couple of years later, visiting my best friend at Reed in Oregon, I saw Synder’s senior thesis in the college library. It was surreal.

If I read Dharma Bums now, I’d probably have to face a heavy dose of sexism (I’m just guessing here, it was written in 1958), especially now that I know more about gender, objectification, and all that jazz.

But back then, my young heart was with those characters in the mountains, and I took those mountains into my heart. I learned a tiny bit about Buddhism. I was glad not to be a nudist. And I fell in love with the West.

I decided that I needed to hike more, live in a cabin, have fires on beaches, not learn too much about Jack Kerouac (lest reality ruin the story), and that someday I’ll name a dog after him.

I’m glad I stopped to notice this art, and remember.

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(Taken at Mom’s Organic Market in Bryn Mawr, PA.)

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Local Art: Tree Stump Mural

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Local Art: Homeschool Lego Builders’ Show

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My plan to have a relaxed, non-competitive, creative, homeschool Lego builder’s gallery show went off without a hitch! I love when that happens. This was held in our local library’s community room, for a small donation fee of our choosing. (Click to enlarge:)

The ages of builders ranged from toddlers to teenagers. We had some by-the-book builds, some invented from imagination, battle scenes, frozen mermaids, country houses, collaborations between siblings, and several great written descriptions of the projects. It was awesome to see so much variety in projects and how personalities shone through.

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There was an open invitation to friends, family, our local homesechool community, and anyone who was interested in dropping by. It was a great crowd, and our builders were identified by their badges.

There was a lot of admiring of fellow builders’ projects, and a distinct absence of competitive distractions. There were some non-homeschool friends who came to see the show. It was nice for the homeschool kids to get to invite their school friends to an event for a change.

The kids are already planning when to do this again. 🙂

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Filed under Crafting, Homeschool, Public Art & Local Art, Sculpture

A Guide to Public Art for Young People

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Saturday morning mother-son date: hot chocolate, tea, and collaborative art on a cafe patio. His favorite highlighters, Jenny Doh’s Creative Lettering, and a little Vengekeep Prophecies read-aloud.

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My eight-year-old son was inspired to leave some art on the patio for others to enjoy. He knew the pictures might be taken down fairly quickly, but we had a good time imagining these bits of creativity going on an adventure, going home with someone we’ve never met.

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WP_20140809_011Wherever you live, I hope you and your kids will leave some temporary public art for others to come across. It can be hard for some kids to let go of a drawing, and that’s okay. Don’t try to force it. Offer to make copies of their art if they’re interested but hesitant to let it go. And if you start creating public art, they might join you.

A few ways to inspire public art appreciation and creation as a family:

* Sticky Notes: Draw on post-it notes and leave for others on railings, public mail boxes, meters, etc. (Just don’t overdo it or it becomes litter.)

* Walk a Stapler: Take a walk with some sketches and a stapler. Spruce up a few telephone poles. It’ll make them so happy.

* Lost Posters: Make some imaginary creature posters. I saw this one in Philly a few years back. Lost Unicorn, friendly disposition! (click to enlarge)IMAG0521

* Yarn Bombing: If you knit or crochet… If you’re the only knitter in the house, have the kids help design and attach the finished product. This one was in Philly, wrapped around a meter post, and made me so happy as I passed by. Thank you to whoever made it 🙂IMG_5123

* Chalk Art: Take after Bert from Mary Poppins, and make some art on your driveway, sidewalk, or a park path. Also, check out Julian Beever’s sidewalk art.

* Nature’s Art:

  •  Cairns: I love coming across stones stacked up by train stations, in empty lots, and even in a clearing just off the Appalachian Trail. (click to enlarge)
  • Leaning Sticks: I love when branches are leaned against a tree, sometimes creating a sculpture big enough for a child to fit inside of. It seems that many people have contributed a stick as they passed by, until the tower is massive. My kids love adding their own, to be part of something so mysterious. (This probably began as a way to simply clear the trail, but became art!)
  • Wildflower Street Art: Gather wild flowers, interesting grasses and weeds, then hold them against a telephone pole, while someone else wraps a string around the plants and pole a few times to keep the bouquet in place. They will dry beautifully. Whoever did this outside my house, thank you!
  • Mandalas: Anywhere you go a mandala can appear: parks, parking lots, trails. You can use sticks, rocks, grass, shells, flowers, feathers, sea glass… This is a lovely beach mandala from the good people at Sparkle Stories. Also, find some photos of traditional mandalas for your kids to see so they know where this is coming from.

* Paths: Check out the painted stone path captured on One Crafty Mama! As a child, I knew an artist who had a path to his studio laid with embedded, oversized marbles, sticking halfway up out of the dirt like tiny crystal balls. I was mesmerized by this, wondering how they ended up there. I bet a lot of kids would have a blast digging small holes into a path and planting marbles. I wonder how long such a planting would last in a public park…

* Little Free Library: These are amazing. I recently saw a Little Free Library nearby, created from a repurposed newspaper vending machine. This seems like the perfect container: water tight and now full of free books to borrow, they painted the box beautifully.

* Isaiah Zagar: Philadelphians, take your kids to Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens in South Philly, and then enjoy spotting more of Zagar’s amazing mosaic art around the city. Try it at home with dishes you’ve accidentally broken (or on purpose!).

* First Friday: Go out as a family on First Friday to see art shows in galleries, and consider organizing a children’s FF Art Show in a library community room. We need more non-competitive art-centered events for and by children, and libraries often have a very small donation fee for use of their meeting rooms.

* Events: Look up public art events in your town. Here’s the Association for Public Art in Philly.

* Graffiti: Enjoy it whenever you can, because graffiti can be beautiful, colorful, exciting, and meaningful. Not suggesting you encourage your kids in graffiti arts, ahem… But in some areas it’s impossible to avoid and can be an avenue for discussion. Check out Happy Graffiti: Street Art With Heart, Written on the City: Graffiti Messages Worldwide (probably best for the over-14 age group), and the Popular History of Graffiti (from cave art to the present). Take time to talk about graffiti with social meaning, and why illegal art can propel a deep message.

* Mural Arts:

  • Watch out Dallas Clayton’s video where he paints his first mural and talks about taking chances on new opportunities.
  • Visit murals in your city, bring a camera, and put together a homemade book of photos. If you live in Philly, you’re in luck.
  • Consider painting a family mural in your home (I know, it’s not public, but it’s a start), an outside wall of your house, a door, or designs on your yard fence. These are three spots inside our house where young kids painted and drew:

    If your kids enjoy this, you can look into opportunities where older kids and adults can volunteer on a public mural. Or get a group together and propose painting a mural on a blank wall at your community center, school, library, or wherever seems to be calling out for it. This is a great guide for indoor murals, and here’s a brief overview for outdoor painting.

Art is everywhere. Take time to notice the modern geometric designs on crosswalks, mural-arts garbage trucks, artistically decorated solar trash cans, cafe and restaurant signage. Before long, your observant kids will be pointing out art that you’ve missed, and asking you to slow down to check it out.

Creating public art makes a place more personal, a town more creative, and offers the chance to leave a positive message for the people around us. My son’s artwork is not at the cafe now, a week later. For whatever time it was hung up, it likely made a few people smile. And hopefully inspired them to leave a creative treasure somewhere, too.

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