For many of us, Columbus Museum of Art’s latest exhibition, Wild Things Are Happening: The Art of Maurice Sendak, brings back fond memories of childhood reading books such as Where The Wild Things Are and In The Night Kitchen. For Linda Mulligan Alfano, the memories the exhibition brought back were more than just reading Maurice Sendak’s beloved books.
Read her story below:
My husband and daughter had the privilege of visiting the Museum recently. When they saw the Sendak exhibit, they were happy to relive some of their favorite memories of his books. Little did I know, there was a poster for Cunning Little Vixen an opera that Maurice Sendak did the production design for. I was in that production when I was 8 years old as a Caterpillar in 1981.
Growing up in Wayne, NJ, I was enrolled in a local gymnastics program called AcroPats. Our instructor, Ms. Pat, was an ex-Rockette and still had many connections in the New York City theater scene. When Hansel & Gretel was set to take the stage at The Metropolitan Opera House, Ms. Pat was asked to help fill the roles of all the forest animals. For four years, I participated in rehearsals and performances as a Squirrel, and it was so much fun. All the acrobats were all in elementary and middle school and loved getting pulled out of class to go to rehearsals and performances. We even got paid a very minimal amount, but it was still exciting to be “working actors.” Our parents would drop us off at the high school and we would take buses into the city. We knew all the songs and would sit in the dressing room listening and performing along until it was our turn to take the stage.
Then, Ms. Pat was asked to find three girls who could be cast in The Cunning Little Vixen. I was tiny and very flexible back then, and I won the part of the Caterpillar. I had to inch along the ground and the costume was skin-tight, with hours of face paint done too. We performed at Lincoln Center and then were told the show was going to L.A.! I was 8 or 9 at the time and had only ever been on a plane once before. When we got there, it was amazing. We stayed at a nice hotel (or so this 8-year-old thought) with a pool! I even complained to the L.A. director about the smoke in one of the scenes as it was making me cough. The smoke was eliminated from the scene. It would become an AcroPats story for years.
All of these memories are so dear to me, and when my husband sent me a text of the Maurice Sendak exhibition poster, I squealed with excitement at my desk at work in New Jersey. I highly recommend visiting Columbus Museum of Art to see this wonderful exhibition and relive your own memories of Sendak’s beloved books.
Celebrating the work of Black artists is not simply for a month, but a lifetime. While we will continue to uplift Black art and creativity all year long, here’s a list of programming celebrating this year’s Black History Month along with opportunities to reconnect with Black artists on view now in our permanent collection.
1. Film Screening and Community Discussion: Still Waters Never Crash
February 2, 5:30–8:00 PM
Attend a film screening for “Still Waters Never Crash,” a riveting story that follows Dr. Sharrica Miller as she visits motels she used to call home and reflects on her first foster care placement at the age of five.
2. Pop-up Performance by the Columbus Cultural Orchestra
February 12, 2–3:30 PM
Join us for a free performance by the Columbus Cultural Orchestra. This small chamber ensemble will showcase a diverse range of music, including jazz, hip hop, R&B standards, and classical infusions.
3. Family Book Event: You Gotta Meet Mr. Pierce!
February 25, 11:00 AM–2:00 PM
Celebrate the life and work of beloved Columbus artist Elijah Pierce at an event highlighting a new children’s book. Written by local authors Chiquita Mullens Lee and Carmella Van Vleet, this drop-in program features a live reading, author meet-and-greet and a fun woodblock printing activity.
Dean L. Mitchell, No Way Out, c. 2003. Oil on canvas. Gift of Kathryn Flynn
4. Reconnect with our Permanent Collection
Our permanent collection is home to hundreds of works by Black artists. Discover 10 artists whose work is currently on display including Benny Andrews (Gallery 1), William Hawkins (Gallery 2), Jacob Lawrence (Gallery 1 & 4), Dean Mitchell (Upper Atrium), Elijah Pierce (Gallery 4 & Wonder Room), Aminah Robinson (Center for Creativity), Hughie Lee Smith (Gallery 1), and Wyze (Big Idea Gallery).
Shop the Museum Store to check off all your holiday gift lists!
These are just a sampling of all the wonderful ideas we have for the holidays. This year you will find lots of Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are items in addition to our usual selection of creative goods that feature good design. Our holiday décor, cards and calendars are in stock and ready to get your festivities started!
The Museum Store will be open normal hours for in person shopping – you can always call us if you need assistance over the phone with gift ideas – (614) 629-0314. We are happy to ship gifts to you. Gift wrap and parking are always FREE when you shop. Our Museum Members always get 10% off their Museum Store purchases, and during the month of December they get 20% off!
Zafferano – Cordless Lamps
These Zafferano cordless lamps were recently described in The New York Times as, “The Lamp That’s Taking Over New York”. These lamps are small, but powerful, and we have them available in an assortment of colors and styles including the Pina Pro ($195), and the Poldina Pro Micro ($150).
Cookbooks make great gifts, and the museum store has a great selection of them, including new titles from Chrissy Teigen, Ina Garten, and Yotam Ottolenghi.
Prices – $16 – $40+
54 Celsius Candles
Check out our variety of uniquely creative candles by 54 Celsius, including scented candles, candlesticks and Pyro Pets, which have a hidden skeleton that will emerge as the wax melts away!
Prices – $32.95 – $49.95
Dragon Books by Mindy Galik
Dragon Books implores the ancient Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi, simply meaning: The beauty of things imperfect and incomplete. These Journals are handmade by a long time CMA staff member with 100% archival materials.
Prices – Small – $25, Medium – $45, Large – $85
These Friendly Jewels are handmade by a local best friend duo, with sterling silver or 14k gold filled brass. Check out our selection of bracelets, necklaces, and rings, guaranteed to put a smile on your face, or at least on your finger!
Prices – $50 – $130
Apostrophe Puzzles – Pull up & Piece out
This curated collection of modern, vibrant jigsaw puzzles put fine art right at your fingertips. Each design is an original artwork by a contemporary artist of color aimed at making art consumerism more inclusive, accessible, and sustainable. You are what an art collector looks like.
Price – $39.95
Maurice Sendak – Wild Things Are Happening
The Holidays can be crazy, so why not make them wild with our custom product for special exhibition Wild Things Are Happening – The Art of Maurice Sendak currently on view at CMA. These products, like the Wild Thing throw pillow and Endpapers shawl are only available at CMA while supplies last, so don’t miss out!
Prices – Pillow – $39.95, Shawl – $48.95
Maurice Sendak Product for Kids
We have curated a selection of product for all ages to go along with our special exhibition: Wild Things Are Happening – The Art of Maurice Sendak. Check out the dozens of Sendak titles we have available, including Where the Wild Things Are and The Nutcracker with pictures by Maurice Sendak, as well as our first ever kid’s t-shirts in youth sizes small – large ($24.95).
These adorable plushy friends have been a long-time store favorite and not just for kids! Jellycat continues to combine luxurious fabrics with designs that are sometimes quirky, sometimes cute, but always with a little something different that makes them stand out from the crowd! Stop by and check out our ever-rotating selection, you might just fall in love.
Prices – $18.95 – $50+
Each year, the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus City Schools partner for ARTful Reading, an experience that connects every CCS 5th grader to the art and ideas of the CMA, in ways that promote deep thinking, literacy skills, and key creativity habits like observation, critical thinking, imagination, and collaboration.
Each year we choose an additional focus, and this year we are exploring how we might kindle empathy by applying museum learning strategies to portraits.
We will spark our ability and inclination to understand one another by slowing down, noticing, finding connections, developing many possible stories, and imagining with art other people.
Since we are not able to welcome your students for an in-person ARTful Reading visit this spring, we’ve created a video to help you spark these types of thinking in your classroom.
Tips for Use:
Be prepared to pause for additional thinking and sharing time. There are short pauses in the video, but extending the wait time will support deeper thinking and richer discussion.
The video loosely draws on CMA’s ODIP process in which students silently Observe, Describe what they notice, develop and share Interpretations, and Point to evidence. In the museum, using the ODIP process with a single work can take an average of 15 minutes – or longer depending on the group. Here is a one-page guide to using ODIP.
Decide based on your group whether to approach this process as a full-group discussion, turn-and-talk to neighbors, or as independent writing with limited sharing aloud. Help students share the air; for instance, ask students to take turns saying out loud just one thing they notice.
It is important for students to hear many observations and possible stories from other students, as it helps them notice more deeply and consider different perspectives.
Reasoning with evidence is a key skill promoted in CMA gallery experiences. Ask students “What makes you say that” when they float an interpretation.
Consider revisiting some of the artworks and prompts with the ODIP process and/or as prompts for other creative writing assignments.
The companion creativity challenge for visual art is Inspection Specs. Fifth grade teachers and art teachers should decide together how they would like to use and build on this video and the Inspections Specs challenge.
We hope this pair of activities helps you tap into the power of slowing down with art to develop empathy and catalyze imagination.
Let us know if you have questions, or if you have feedback to share!
Jen & the CMA Learning crew
ARTful Reading is a partnership between the Columbus Museum of Art and Columbus City Schools. Support comes from the Reinberger Foundation.
This year’s ARTful Reading is inspired by CCS’s Portrait of a Graduate pillar of developing Global Empathy, CMA’s teacher collaboration, Cultivating Creative & Civic Capacities, and the opportunities art presents as a catalyst for storytelling.
Image credit: Abdi Roble, Boys in Pool, Columbus, July 2004. Gelatin silver print. Museum Purchase, Derby Fund