The Thrill of Creative Gardening

After a relatively mild winter, spring and summer in Columbus is quickly on its way. I love the this time of year: the warmer weather, the baby animals, lighter clothes and jackets and, of course, the green sprouts of new plants. While my thumb is only somewhat green, I do love to garden! Being able to grow and harvest my own vegetables and flowers just brings me so much joy. I also think gardening is a great family activity; between the planting, weeding, composting, mulching, watering, and harvesting, there is plenty for adults and children to do together. And who doesn’t love the excitement and anticipation of checking the plants daily to watch them pop up out of the ground and turn into beautiful flowers or tasty food?

One of the things I love about gardening is it’s so versatile; anyone can grow a garden. All you need is some dirt, seeds, water, sunlight and voila! The plants do the rest on their own. Even if you have a tiny yard, porch, patio, or even just a windowsill, you can still grow a garden with just a little extra planning and creativity. If you’ve never tried to grow a garden before, I encourage you and your family to give it a try. Stop by your local garden center (I like Straders and Oakland Park Nursery, but I also often shop at Home Depot or Lowe’s) and ask the nursery staff for their recommendations based on your gardening availability. I’ve found that most peppers, tomatoes, herbs, bulb flowers, wildflowers, and perennials are fairly easy to grow, even in pots. For those of you who are more experienced gardeners, I encourage you to try growing something new this year. I think I’m finally going to try my hand at some beans and potatoes, which I’m really excited about. If you have any helpful tips, please let me know.

If you’re really pressed for space, you can even try guerrilla gardening with projects such as seed bombs. We had a lot of fun creating seed bombs during the March 1st Saturdays. This great project was led by 1st Saturdays Instructor Renee Zamora. Here’s directions to create your own seed bombs.

There are also many blogs and websites devoted to gardening, some of which I’ve listed here for you to check out:
For creative gardening and unique containers:
http://tipnut.com/creative-container-gardening-tips-ideas/
http://www.avant-gardening.com/
http://www.littlecountryvillage.com/Creative_Gardening_Ideas_-_Garden_Paradise.shtml
http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/creative-container-garden-ideas.htm

Kid-friendly gardening tips to help everyone in your family get involved:
http://fun.familyeducation.com/outdoor-activities/earth-day/29440.html
http://www.hgtv.com/gardening-club-seed-tape/package/index.html
http://family-fun.kaboose.com/gardening-ages-stages.html

I wish you success in your gardening ventures, and I hope your family enjoys it as much as I do! If you’d like to share your garden stories or photos with us, please send them to Dayna.Jalkanen@cmaohio.org.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Dayna Jalkanen, Educator for Family Programs

Teens, Photography, & Columbus

Utilizing the power of photography to engage teens in socially relevant conversations, the Columbus Museum of Art’s Columbus In Focus program invites students from two Columbus City high schools, Linden McKinley and Marion Franklin, to examine the rich history of Columbus and document it during the Columbus Bicentennial. With these photographs, students invite you into their world as they uncover their communities past, confront today’s most pressing issues, and explore their place in their city and the world at large.

This years participants also looked to extend their reach into the community. Three students from Linden McKinley helped create QR Code plaques that are installed in locations thoughout Columbus. These plaques direct viewers to their exhibition at CMA and online resources located on this page.

To see more student work please visit the Columbus In Focus Flickr Group or check out the Columbus Underground story on the Columbus In Focus program.

The work the In Focus students created is on view at CMA May 3 – September 8, 2012. Columbus In Focus will also dovetail with CMA’s Radical Camera exhibition, which highlights the work of the Photo League, the pioneering documentary photography movement of the 1930s and 1940s. For more information about the Columbus In Focus teen photography program please contact Kristin Lantz at kristin.lantz@cmaohio.org.

The Focus program is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and Puffin Foundation West, Ltd.

 

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Kristin Lantz, School Programs Coordinator

Healing Power of Art & Art Therapy

Art and its therapeutic uses are highlighted in the new exhibition in the Community Gallery at the Columbus Museum of Art. In Art & Therapy: The Therapeutic Benefits of Art we highlight how local Columbus hospitals, community groups, and private therapy practices use art and art therapy to aid in mental and physical treatment and recovery. The career of Don Jones, a founding member of the American Art Therapy Association, will be shown in a documentary, alongside his own artwork.  Work from Zeller & Associates private counseling and art therapy, will highlight art therapy as it is incorporated into traditional therapy practices.  Pieces from HomeReach Hospice Expressive Arts Therapy illustrate the process of offering support to terminally ill patients and their families.  Selections from the Goodwill Columbus Art Studio & Gallery show the unique work of adults with disabilities.  A small display of work from Courage Unmasked is also on display, to highlight this program which partners cancer survivors with artists to create artwork out of radiation masks. Art & Therapy will be on display through May 31, 2012.

To celebrate Art & Therapy, we’ll be hosting a free public reception Thursday March 8, 2012 from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Susie Underwood, Studio Programs Coordinator

 

12 for 12

In honor of the Columbus Bicentennial, each month throughout 2012 we will highlight a local Columbus artist from the Museum’s collection. Look for “12 for 12″ blog posts each month, plus follow us on Facebook and Twitter for interesting tidbits about the artists’ life and work. To kick things off we’re starting with George Bellows.

George Wesley Bellows (1882 – 1925) was arguably the most celebrated American painter of his generation. Born in Columbus, Ohio, he attended The Ohio State University, where he played on the varsity baseball and basketball teams. Bellows left Columbus in 1904 to study art in New York City, quickly becoming associated with the charismatic artist Robert Henri and his artistic group later characterized by the term Ashcan School. Bellows’ work exemplified Henri’s call to depict the experience of the everyday, often gritty working-class, world around him.  “It seems to me,” he wrote, “that an artist must be a spectator of life: a reverential, enthusiastic, emotional spectator, and then the great dramas of human nature will surge through his mind.”  The artist’s facile brushwork perfectly conveyed the teeming vitality and heady brashness of human and natural drama.

By his mid-twenties, Bellows had risen from art student to art luminary, winning nearly every major award in the art world, and becoming a member of the prestigious National Academy at the young age of twenty-seven. His dazzling career, however, was brief; he died tragically at the age of forty-three from a ruptured appendix. In his short professional life, Bellows created an enormous body of work that includes more than seven hundred paintings, almost two hundred editions of lithographs, and an equal number of drawings. He is celebrated equally for his seascapes, portraits, city snow scenes, and socially engaged genre, as he is for his depictions of working-class urban life. The Columbus Museum of Art has one of the largest and most important collections of works by Bellows in the world.

Critical Thinking & Art

What would you say if someone asked you, “What really matters to you?” It seems like that might be a straightforward question, but take a moment to think about it. Now think about what you might have said when you were in the 7th grade …

This is the second year I’ve had the opportunity to co-teach with the social studies teachers at the Columbus Collegiate Academy. This small charter school serves around 100 middle school students from Columbus’s urban center. Due to a generous grant from Chase Bank, we have been able to partner with this school and create a program entitled “Critical Works” that utilizes art to foster critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity.

We start by asking the students what critical thinking looks like. What do you do when you are being critical? When you are thinking? One student responded, “I hear the root word ‘critic,’ so you’re being a critic and forming an opinion.” To my question about thinking one student said, “You are expanding your view of the world.” Throughout my time with the teachers and students at CCA, I have considered myself a co-learner. As I ask the students to think, form an opinion, question, take risks, I am doing this along side them as a teacher. We bring a selection of prints to the school that deal with social issues such as inequality, poverty, oppression and race relations. I was impressed with the connections the students were able to make to historical events, literature, and our modern culture.

If you haven’t heard Steve Johnson’s TED talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From” it is worth a look. He explains how ideas come from conversation … not in isolation. I can see this in the classroom when the students are debating and analyzing the art works. When looking at Thomas Hart Benton’s print entitled “Jessie and Jake,” the discussion went from Little Red Riding Hood, to child abduction to No Child Left Behind.

The students are asked to make a statement about a social issue that really matters to them. It surprised me that these students had very little trouble coming up with issues that they cared about. One student wrote about the ways African-Americans are portrayed negatively in the media. Other students chose issues such as gang violence, bullying, and immigration. The teachers held class debates and we spent time brainstorming, discussing the issues and gathering research.

For the final project the students created hand-printed flags that make a statement about their social issue. We asked students to consider words and symbols that would communicate their message, and also where they would install their flag to have the greatest impact.

When we asked Catera where she wanted to install her flag about HIV AIDS, her reply was, “Well, at first I told my mom I was going to put it on her car … but she said I wasn’t going to put it on her car, so I’ll put it on my dad’s car.”

Well, art is often controversial so I take that as a measure of success.

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Emily Reiser, Educator for Family Programs

Holiday Shopping Gets a Handmade Makeover

I love the holiday season. I really do. I love the lights, the music, the decorations, the baking, the shopping, and, most of all, the Christmas tree. I know that many people (including my roommate, who has been proclaiming “Bah Humbug” for at least a month now) hate the bustle and craziness, the traffic and long lines. And, of course, one of the biggest complaints about the season is the commercialism. Somehow, the Christmas shopping season seems earlier and earlier every year, and all of the emphasis is placed on getting the best deals and the most fashionable and expensive presents.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like presents—both the giving and the receiving of them. However, I decided this year I’d like to try something other than going to the crowded mall and checking out the same stores and websites. I’m ready to give something unexpected. An obvious solution to my present conundrum is to shop (or make) handmade.

One of the things I like best about living in Columbus is its great art and craft culture. I am a crafter myself, but I mostly scrapbook and occasionally make cards, so my present creation is pretty limited (I’ve been working sporatically on a Colorado vacation scrapbook for my parents for about 3 years now). But I love to see what other artists and crafters create, and it’s so much more fun to buy unique, handmade items than it is to walk around a store where everything is made overseas via mass production and it all looks all the same. I also think it’s great that craft items now range from kitschy and fun, such as Nintendo-themed jewelry, all the way to elegant and beautiful, such as gorgeous mohair knit scarves and sweaters. The Columbus art and craft community is chock-full of presents that are personal and cool and full of soul. They are a delight to give, as well as to receive, and it’s so satisfying to actually be able to talk to and meet with (or at least email) the creator of your presents before buying them.

I may still pick up a movie or two, or perhaps a requested book, but my plan for my holiday shopping this year is to go unique and shop handmade. I even got off to a head start at Wholly Craft and the Craftin Outlaws fair last month. Should the holiday spirit really start to kick in, I may even make a thing or two (or finish that scrapbook for mom and dad).  It may just be the best holiday gift season yet!

If you, too, would like to do some of your own craft shopping, or even make some of your own gifts, you may want to check out Holiday Craftacular Spectacular at CMA on December 11. Workshops will take place all day that will allow you to create everything from polymer food charm beads to festive gift tags, plus shop from local vendors for your own handmade holiday gifts. For Craftacular Spectacular tickets click here.

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Dayna Jalkanen, Educator for Family Programs

Think Creative, Think Local This Holiday Season

This holiday season support local Columbus artists when you shop in our Think Creative, Think Local sections of the Columbus Museum of Art Store. Choose from a number of local handmade items such as this Heart of Ohio sketchbook ($19.95). Hand embroidered right around the corner in Hilliard, B.Radley features cross-stitched Moleskine sketchbooks to spark your creativity. The mastermind behind B.Radley, Martha, is an art major turned jewelry designer who moonlights at CMA. She adores endless hours toiling away with needle and thread to create beautiful, hand-stitched works of art. B.Radley’s sketchbooks come in several colors and stitched designs.

Also check out these beautiful recycled wool pillows by local Columbus artist Abby Feinknopf. “When I work, I design using my own color theory, as a I believe there is a magic, or a spark, that occurs when colors are combined, and when completely different textures play off each other and prove eye-catching. In my fabric illustration work I strive to create a connection between the piece and the viewer.  My wool pillows depicting a cottage, for example, might remind the viewer of a vacation spot or tickle them with the details of blooming flowers in the window boxes.  I want my pieces to hug their viewers, warm them, bring them a smile and to remind them that happiness can be obtained through a variety of color and texture combinations,” says Feinknopf.

Lawrence & Audrey Goldsmith have worked together producing fine art and fine craft work since 1976 including these beautiful glass kaleidoscopes. Audrey and Lawrence have a home studio in the Columbus and have been making kaleidoscopes since the 1980s when they were selected as gifts for each of the United States’ governors when Ohio hosted the National Governor’s Conference.  Their glass art incorporates detailed hand cut stained glass and kiln fused glass. Their handcrafted work is unique, copyrighted, and no two pieces are exactly alike.

Stop by the Museum Store to see more of their work, and work by other local Columbus artists.

Throughout the season you can also look for these special holiday offers from the Columbus Museum of Art Store. The Museum Store is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 AM-5:30 PM and open late on Thursday 10 AM – 8:30 PM (closing early Thanksgiving and Christmas eves at 3 PM).

Local Love: Holiday Savings at CMA

Make the most of your holiday dollars this season and support local at the CMA Museum Store. You’ll find creative gifts to please kids, family members, friends and loved ones including activity kits for kids, handmade jewelry and home decor by local artists.

Nov. 18-Dec. 4, 2011: Free Poster with any purchase. Choose from posters by your favorite artists including Monet, Matisse, Degas, Renoir, Schille, Demuth, Kirchner, Robinson, Chihuly, Nolde and more. (While supplies last. Availability by artist varies.)

Dec. 6-Dec. 18, 2011: Free gift with $30 or more purchase. Choose from a set of boxed notecards or a travel mug ($15.95 value).

Dec. 20, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012: Save on exhibition catalogues. 1 for $10; 2 for $15; 3 for $20; and 5 for $25.

Plus Columbus Museum of Art members receive a discount in the Museum Store (between 10 and 15%). Bring in the coupon from the back of the November/December Art Speaks magazine and save 25% off your holiday purchase.

Going for It

There is something magical about these 3 little words: “Going for it!” I’ve realized this a lot lately. My friend Susie’s boyfriend, Dan, dressed up as Macho Man Randy Savage for Halloween this year, and she costumed as his longtime lover, wife and Manager Mrs. Elizabeth. I think Dan and Susie are the power couple of “Going for it!” To prove it, here’s a video of Susie all dressed up again. This time she is ready to “Go for it!” as Susie Starliner, star of CMA’s Gameshow.

I work with teens here at CMA, a group that has its fair share of self-doubt and anxiety. When I give them a task and they feel overwhelmed and anxious, those three magic words muster their courage and really pump them up. Take a look at them “Going for it!” in this video. I am so proud!

Speaking of getting pumped, I’d love to share some of my tricks from Sister Corita. Yes, I said Sister Corita and yes, she was a nun. She was also a radical, revolutionary educator. She created these amazing rules for the classroom. I am constantly referring back to these rules for learning engagement not only with my teen classes, but also myself. These rules are like a battle cry for “Going for it!”

Here are some of my favorites:

Rule 5.) Consider everything and experiment.

Rule 6.) Nothing is a mistake. There is no win and no fail. There is only make.

Rule 9.) Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

Carmen Papalia is the courageous knight of “Going for it!” He introduced me to Sister Corita, who exudes the courageous characteristics of what makes “Going for It!” work.  He is an artist who leads nonvisual walking tours. Carmen is an amazing artist and educator. He is also blind. Carmen goes for it each time he takes a step in unfamiliar terrain. This requires another important quality of “Going for it!” — trust.  When he asks tour participants to close their eyes, what he is really asking them to do is to “Go for it!” with each step they take with their eyes shut.

I’d like to share another of Sister Corita Rules, and it’s the first rule in her list: Rule 1.) Find a place of trust and then try trusting it for a while. Self-doubt and fear can be huge roadblocks to creativity. Try “Going for it!” and see what happens.

If all else fails, think of Macho Man Randy Savage, and snap into a Slim Jim.

Photos courtesy Susie Underwood (top); Heather Zinger (middle left); Kristen Lantz (middle right).

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Kristen Lantz, Teacher and School Programs Coordinator

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.

Making Time to Play & Dream

Got a minute? Chances are, you don’t.  Who doesn’t feel rushed these days? And this is not a new thing.  Three decades ago, I was a young elementary school teacher in Upper Arlington when David Elkind, a nationally recognized child development expert and author of The Hurried Child: Growing Up Too Fast and Too Soon, was brought in to speak to the community about the problem of rushing children. Looking back, I don’t think his talk has had much of an effect.  In fact, 30 years later, I suspect Dr. Elkind could write another book and call it The Over-Scheduled Adult.

About four years ago the BBC reported on an alarming study done by the United Nations Children’s Fund that used 40 different indicators to rate the well-being of children in the 21 richest countries.  “Well-being” was defined as a broad set of measures that included things such as poverty, health care, relationships with other children and adults, etc.  The Netherlands and Sweden came out as the highest (#1 and #2) “child-friendly” nations while the United States and the United Kingdom were at the bottom (#20 and #21 respectively).  This report led the BBC to ask: “So why are Dutch children so happy, and British children under so much stress?”

Part of the answer, in my opinion, is that children are experiencing too much, too soon, too fast. Speed is the enemy of quality, and over the years has resulted in an erosion of childhood just like good old Dr. Elkind warned us 30 years ago.

If all of this sounds a bit discouraging.  I’ve got just the antidote for you. Take a stroll through the Center for Creativity and the Columbus Museum of Art galleries. Occasionally, I use the museum for what I call an “artful loitering tour.”  On this self-guided “tour” I simply go to the museum with no specific purpose in mind and wander around to see what strikes me.  Something always does.  On one of my “tours” last week, I observed a father with his four-year-old son standing in silence gazing at a assemblage of metal objects attached to a magnetized wall in the Wonder Room.  They were at the beginning stage of creating a creature of some sort using one of the large metal heads in the room.

After scanning over the objects for some time, the boy excitedly said, “I know, let’s make the eyes with this.”  The “this” was a large, single piece of metal with a 30 ml spoon on one end and a 15 ml spoon on the other.  As his father watched, the boy attached the measuring spoon to the head.  The boy then stepped back, pondered what he had done, and looked somewhat puzzled, noticing that the different sized measuring spoons had made eyes that were not the same size.  He then said, “It’s OK, they’re not like my eyes, but we’re making this up, aren’t we Daddy?”  To which the father promptly replied, “Yep, we’re dreaming this up together.”

The two of them, together, continued to “dream” and make up various faces.  You have to appreciate what they were doing on many levels.  They were collaborating, making connections to themselves and the world (i.e. eyes are mostly the same size), using flexible thinking (but eyes don’t have to be!), pondering, reflecting on their work, and formulating plans.  Sounds an awful lot like 21st-century thinking skills doesn’t it?

However, what most impressed and inspired me was that they were taking their time.  No rush.  No preconceived notions of making things the “right” way.  They were playing.  They were simultaneously engaged and relaxed.  Just messing about together.  Creating.  Learning.  Valuing each other and the work they were doing.

No “hurried child.”  No over-scheduled adult.  I wish Dr. Elkind could have seen it.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Guest Blogger Fred Burton serves as the Education Scholar At-Large at the Columbus Museum of Art’s Center for Creativity, and is an assistant professor of Early Childhood Education at Ashland University.  For the past three years, he has served as a Fellow and faculty member for the Project Zero Classroom Institute in the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University.  Currently, his teaching and consultant work centers on the role that creativity, thinking, and the arts play in schools, museums, and business settings.

Over the past 18 months, in preparation for opening CMA’s new Center for Creativity (on Jan. 1, 2011), the entire education staff immersed ourselves in research on creativity, particularly what is necessary to cultivate creativity.  Musings from the Center for Creativity is an opportunity for us to share our thoughts on this topic.  Please share your views and resources with us, as well.