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.

Creative Costuming: Where Creativity Meets Parenting

Halloween has long been my favorite holiday. Since I was old enough to aim a glue gun, I’ve been creating my own costumes and, much to their chagrin, siblings’ costumes here or there along the way. I once made my little brother a dragon costume out of a football helmet covered with chicken wire and Great Stuff insulation spray. It looked amazing, but we ended up reinforcing it to his body with bailing twine….you get the idea….

But isn’t Halloween just about pure FUN and RAW creativity?!! Okay, and maybe fear, a good vintage horror movie is always good company while fabricating your (and your family’s) costumes.

One year my husband and I challenged each other to obtain all our costume materials at Big Lots for under $10 each. We went in with no preconceived ideas, and soon found all kinds of things that could be altered, deconstructed, and fabricated into wearables. I think the title was “Domestic Duo.”

Becoming a parent of children who can now speak has provided a new complexity to this creative opportunity. I have two girls who live for trick-or-treat night and literally plan their costumes all year long. “Mama, I want to be that!” my three-year-old will demand on nearly a daily basis as she points her chubby finger at storybook characters.  Being an “idea” person, I get very caught up in the project and my own vision, and find it harder to let my kid take the creative lead. When costume-making time hits, my kids will often come down to the popular ideas of princess, fairy, mermaid, or the inevitable fairy-princess-mermaid. Though I really want my kids to reach beyond the commercialized images they see, I realize this is delicate territory. If empowering them to have confidence in their ideas (and having fun for both kids and parents) is the end goal, I do think I must act more as costume assistant/facilitator/design consultant instead of creative director.

This year the beloved go-to idea of “fairy” is back on the table. I gently suggested tooth fairy since she is on the brink of losing her first tooth and the idea was a hit. So I’ll assist my little artist and see what we can create from the stuff around our house. And if I really get carried away I can focus on making and dressing up in my OWN costume .. such as this great toothpaste costume … or maybe I could be a sweet tooth … hmmmm.

I was really inspired by this awesome father/daughter team I captured on film last year. Their costume was one of the most creative costumes I saw the whole night. This is Jason and his little girl Charlotte. Sometimes the best costumes are from the simplest materials.

So this Halloween I am going to enjoy some mulled cider and keep in mind that at the end of the day my kids will remember their parents getting down in the felt and velcro scrap pile to go all out for their ideas. And I will continue to feel a kinship to my fellow parents who aren’t afraid of silliness and fun and taking this opportunity to play and create ….

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

CMA Celebrates West Garden Groundbreaking

CMA Executive Director, Nannette Maciejunes, along with Mayor Michael B. Coleman, City Council Member Zachary M. Klein, and Director of Columbus Recreation and Parks Department Alan D. McKnight helped launch the creation of Columbus’s newest public green space, and the next step in the Columbus Museum of Art’s renovation and expansion plan, at a special ceremony this morning.

The garden, designed by MSI Design, an award-winning planning, urban design, landscape architecture and entertainment design firm with offices in Ohio, Florida and California, will be a gateway entry experience to the Museum and includes an ADA accessible walkway from the street to the entrance.  The garden will provide a safe drop-off point for school and group tours and will be the sole ADA accessible entrance to the Museum during the renovation of the Museum’s 1970s addition and construction of its new wing. The site will be free and accessible to the general public.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for Columbus and especially downtown,” said CMA Executive Director Nannette V. Maciejunes. “The revitalization of our city’s heart can be seen in the success of projects like Columbus Commons, the Scioto Mile and Bicentennial Park. These are the kinds of developments that lure people to downtown and keep them coming back. The Museum, along with our neighbors CCAD, Columbus State Community College, State Auto, and the City of Columbus, continue to work toward making our corner of Columbus a more welcoming, pedestrian-friendly area with open green space.”

“This garden brings even more beauty to one of our greatest treasures, the Columbus Museum of Art,” Mayor Michael B. Coleman said. “I salute everyone at CMA for all the improvements that have been made to the museum and for continuing to make art accessible to our residents and visitors.”

“The Museum of Art is an asset to Columbus that brings national and international acclaim to our community,” said Zachary M. Klein.  “These capital investments will ensure the museum continues to enrich the lives of our residents and visitors for decades to come.”

“Columbus Recreation and Parks is proud of this partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art that will celebrate the outdoors in an accessible garden setting to insure visitors are ’naturally’ welcomed to the world of art whenever they visit,” said Alan D. McKnight, Director, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.

For more from today’s West Garden ceremony and the next step in CMA’s future, see the West Garden video.

Jewish Treasures and the Stories They Tell

I hope you can join us on Sunday, October 16, 3 pm, when New York scholar Gabriel Goldstein is presenting a lecture at the Museum, Jewish Treasures and the Stories They Tell. Following the program, the public is invited to bring in Judaic objects for Gabe to discuss. A number of folks have registered to bring in their “semi-mystery” objects. Among them are 17th–century pewter plates with Hebrew lettering from Germany, a 19th-century silver Purim noisemaker from Gdansk, a carved wooden box with a Star of David from China, an eternal light, and a silver amulet from Tehran. After his lecture, I look forward to hearing Gabe talk about these objects and others that are brought to the Museum.

This program was the “brain-child” of a group from the Museum who went to visit the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) to see their Judaica collection. The North Carolina museum is one of the few general museums in the country to house a permanent collection of Judaica. Our executive director Nannette Maciejunes; Debby Kane, chair of the Columbus Jewish Foundation arts committee; collector Bob Shamansky, and I went to North Carolina in March. Gabriel Goldstein is a consultant for the NCMA’s Judaic collection and on the way back from Raleigh, the Columbus group decided to invite Gabe to speak here in Columbus– thus the program on October 16. Bob Shamansky, who passed away in August, helped to fund this program, and he will be honored at the lecture.

Jewish Treasures and the Stories They Tell is free for members, but please register in advance online. Or Nonmembers registration here. If you would like to bring your own “semi-mystery” objects to have our speaker help identify, please call me at 614-629-0353. I look forward to seeing you.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Carole Genshaft, Ph.D.
Adjunct Curator of Education

Gaming and Creativity

Seriously now, roll a d20 and add your Creativity skill. Ok, I have no idea what that means, but my husband, an avid gamer, sure does. We have been married for seven years and I have had to listen to groups of people in my basement talk about skill checks, initiative, characters, and a multitude of other strange things that frankly I try to ignore while I watch chick-flicks on TV. My home has become overrun with the accoutrement of “The Gamer.” We own an entire library of books on how to make characters from any number of fantasy races – from elves to gnomes to dragons. There are little plastic figures to represent monsters and giant erasable maps to place them on. I have learned that not all dice are six sided and cubical. I have seen triangular dice, hexagonal dice, dice that let you roll yes-no, and dice that go all the way up to 100. I find them on my floor after the cat is finished playing with them. Now as someone who will not play a game if the directions do not fit on the inside-lid of a cardboard box, this entire world has been very confusing to me. I used to tease him that I couldn’t understand how a group of adults could just sit around a table and play pretend for hours like they were children; then he told me about LARPers and I shut my mouth.

But the longer we are together the more I learn about gaming and creativity. There have been many a car ride where out of the blue I will be asked questions such as “How can someone from the future go back in time and not just kill everyone with superior technology?” or “If a planet were all land on one side and all water on the other, would that throw off its rotational pattern?” He has even told me about a rather successful novel series that was inspired by playing Dungeons & Dragons, called Dragon Lance.

Recently my husband and a group of his friends went to one of the largest gamer conventions around: Gen Con. While he was at this magical land of geek I got a few days of peace and quiet, but when he came back he showed me a few things that I found rather impressive. He attended sessions on how to plan better games, how to build interesting characters, basically how to be more imaginative. He showed me a picture of someone who took a board game, and to make it more fun, reconstructed it three-dimensionally. He told me about this fund raiser where anyone could come and build elaborate creations out of playing cards and on the last day of the conference people could try and destroy the constructions by throwing change at them (the change is collected and donated to charity). It was amazing to see what was built. Attendees of the conference were exploring many of the concepts that we try to highlight in the Center for Creativity, including imagination, creative problem solving, and play. So although you won’t ever find me in the basement with “the group” I can now enthusiastically say go ahead and play pretend!

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Amanda Kepner, Education 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.

Push Play

Push Play

Looking back on some of my fondest memories, most began with, “Can Cassie come out to play?”  Why? Quite simply, because play is fun.  What if I use this beach towel as a flying carpet to travel to London to have a tea party with some ole’ chaps? What if I use these pillows as stepping stones in order to safely cross over the hot lava? What if I use this flashlight for a game of midnight tag? Sadly, as adults, we slowly slip out of this stage. We become more serious and less silly.  So much so that we actually start to believe that anything fun is for meant for kids. Working in an environment where play is not only an essential value, but is executed every day, I experience it first hand, “Would you like to play a game?”…..“Hold on, let me get my kids.”  The challenge for us as museum educators becomes, how do we get our visitors to break down those pre-existing barriers, step out of their comfort zone and have a little fun?

What if we invite visitors to partake in a competitive scavenger hunt in the galleries?

What if we engage families in a conversation with a character out of an artwork?

What if we open a space where fort building is encouraged and playing songs on the juke box is expected?

The truth is, play is much more than fun.  It is how we make connections and shape the actual understanding of the world by discovering things on our own-the ultimate DIY.  Play should be in our museums.  Play should be in our art.  Play should be in our home, in our schools, in our work.  Recently speaking at CMA the ultimate guru of play, George Szekely, so perfectly sums it up that, “creativity is not something you can mandate.” It’s not a matter of saying this is what you’re going to do today and this is how you’re going to do it. Ironic, isn’t it then, that we have created a culture where testing trumps tea parties and we develop and live by slogans such as “Work before Play”? Without placing importance on such things, we begin to develop a  population of robotic-like citizens who are stuck on repeat, unable to think of the next step, unsure of how to push play—and that is not silly, that is just plain scary.

Play is a perfect invitation to a situation that sparks an appetite for fantasy, curiosity, wonder, and imagination. For every beach towel, pillow, or flashlight opens endless ideas and generates unforgettable, valuable experiences. So go ahead–ask someone to come out and play with you today–no matter what your age. I double-dog dare you.

Art Speaks. Join the Conversation.

Cassie Koehler, Family 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.