the warm fuzzies: wonderkittens 2013.

wonderkitten signLet’s face it. Being a grownup just isn’t as fun as we thought it would be. When we were young, we couldn’t wait to be older… so we could stay up late, or watch a PG movie, or go on a date, or learn to drive. Once we reached those milestones (and all the buzz-killing responsibilities that accompany them), we longed again for our youth, back when no one was really relying on us, when sticks and rocks were far more valuable than money, when we measured time in increments of Sesame Street episodes. THAT was freedom. Remember it?

If you’re having a hard time remembering, I have a remedy. Spend some time with a kid. If you don’t have a kid handy, I have some I can loan you. When you spend time with a kid, you start by teaching them all the amazing, profound things you know. Then at some point, you realize you know nothing, and the child in front of you is the one who has it all figured out. And for a fleeting moment you glimpse the innocence and joy and unfettered love you were born with which has been buried under all your adult baggage. You can’t BE a kid again, but you can be WITH a kid… and that’s like the best of both worlds.

wonderkkitten music2wonderkitten fansThese worlds collided in a beautiful way when Brandy and Denise hatched yet another mind-blowing idea: why not pair up an adult, working artist with a creative youngster, and let them immortalize each other in a portrait? Let the child see what the adult sees, and more importantly, let the adult look once again through the tender eyes of a child. Moments after they thought it, Brandy and Denise set out to do it, and therefore, they did it. Because that’s what happens when those two get together.

wonderkitten ella flowersThey named the portrait show Wonderkittens. It’s goal was to “bridge the gap between the untapped creative mind of a child and a thriving, working, independent artist.” After securing several willing artists and children, Denise and Brandy created an online survey for everyone to complete, which helped them match the kids with compatible artists.
pairsThe artist’s role was to mentor the child, guiding him or her through the process of creating a portrait, adhering to a deadline, respecting craftsmanship, promoting the show, working together, and all else that goes into a collaborative project. The role of the child was to make the artist giggle with wild abandon, forget what time it was for a little while, remember with fondness his or her own childhood, and maybe secretly swing by McDonald’s for a Happy Meal. :)

wonderkitten_-_ wonderkitten____What actually happened was an incredible display of patience and tenderness on both sides. My daughter COULD NOT WAIT for her weekly session with her artist partner — Wednesdays at 7pm at the Dodger. She gratefully, and with more seriousness than I expected, soaked up his every word. He showed her, with unending generosity and kindness, all about pens and ink and paper and different comic styles. Other artists found ways to “get together” even when schedules clashed — through Skype or Facetime or even over the good old phone. One child wanted to create more than one portrait of her artist partner, and that’s just what she did, filling a whole corner of the Larkin gallery all by her cute self!

wonderkitten ___wonderkitten _--_I’m not sure the last time I saw so much cuteness in one place. Larkin Arts hosted the Wonderkittens opening on December’s First Friday. There were snack and drinks (thank you, Kathy Whitten!) kid-friendly music by Nick Melas, interactive art work by our local troupe Artery (Wes Way, you are an awesome human being!), and of course all the portraits.

wonderkitten musicwonderkitten artery1wonderkitten artery4 wonderkitten artery3 wonderkitten artery2The artists were used to seeing their work on a wall… the kids were really thrilled! And there, in that act, the gap was bridged. Perhaps the artists remembered when their art was displayed for others to see for the very first time. Perhaps the children, for the very first time, saw themselves as artists.

wonderkitten lynda_ wonderkitten morgan_ wonderkitten john_ wonderkitten ella_chriswonderkitten denise _ wonderkitten ben_ wonderkitten bree_tripwonderkitten _ wonderkitten __For me personally, I am extremely grateful to the grownups of this community who have not just touched but improved my children’s lives. I am so, so glad I live here. I am so, so glad my children are growing up here, amongst all you lovely people…. especially, these two:
wonderkitten D and B

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

spring loaded: larkin arts.

Like cutting into a head of iceberg lettuce, like riding a bike downhill, like the snap of a beer can opening, like biting into a York peppermint patty. FINALLY. Spring in the valley. A gorgeous, reviving, sunny day. For a moment I noticed it was cold in the shade, but I quickly pushed that sensation away, refusing to acknowledge our lingering winter any longer, and basked in the heat of the warm sidewalk and my steaming cup of coffee. The natural radiance of the day was appropriately punctuated by beautiful and striking works of art generated by our sizable local art community. It couldn’t have been a finer day. Plus, it was nice not to be out in the rain or snow or wearing my clunky boots and my old gray coat.

harrisonburg springtimeA dozen or so local artists set up displays of their work at Larkin Arts’ first ever Art Market, held right there on the Court Square and spilling over into the Denton building parking lot. Even before its official start at noon, folks who were clearly on their way somewhere felt compelled to pause, peruse, and talk with the artists.

Here’s a little snapshot of the artists there that day.

Trip Madison wasn’t actually present, because he was out of town, but his work made it to the market: prints of acrylic and ink on wood and printed on metallic paper. To the left of his table was Daniel Suter and his bearded demons and monsters. I guess they are scary looking creatures, except for their lovely, flowing, feather-drop beards, but one — the purple one — didn’t seem so demonic. He seemed benign, wistful, even sympathetic. I wanted to take him home.

daniel suter larkin artsAround the corner we found Paul Somers displaying multiple photographs, including Polaroids that carry such nostalgia, like stumbling on an old forgotten box of photos in your parents’ attic. Paul shared a table with Chris Fulmer, whose work was also tangibly personal — like photocopies of his journal, for example — and, therefore ironically, free.

artists at marketMorgan Fink displayed prints of her oil paintings and drawings done in pen & ink with colored pencil, and Angus Carter shared an immeasurable variety of work with those who browsed his table. I liked that “What a Fox” fox portrait, and pretty much everything in the box labeled TESTS & DOODLES.

There was also some recycled art work: Andi Senatro of Andi’s Green Art displayed mosaics, guitar picks, and other items made entirely of chopped up Starbucks gift cards, and Kelley Shradley-Horst made all sorts of items from clock and watch parts.

kelli horst clock workBruce Rosenwasser was there; he has a thing for hearts. In fact, last year he sold some 600 hand-carved wooden hearts. He told me how one year he made all these wooden Christmas ornaments in various shapes, and some ladies sifted through the entire inventory and bought all the heart-shaped ones. Now he can’t seem to make enough of them. But he also creates frames, earrings, wall hangings, even portaits, all from locally reclaimed scrap wood.

I really enjoyed Pam Ulmer’s photos — so bright and crisp, some of nature or serene locations, some of interesting historic landmarks, statues, old buildings. Lynda Bostrom’s large display featured drawings, paintings, and graphic designs in subtle colors. Brandy picked up a couple from her:
Lynda Bostrom

works by lynda bostromLast but not least was Denise Allen and her table of drawings and watercolor paintings, hand-made coloring books with a free hand-made, star-shaped crayon (!), and even seed packets, all in brown paper packaging, signifying favorite things. You know what one of my favorite things is? Pretty much anything made by Denise. And Denise herself.

denise allen crayonsHere’s to more beautiful sunny days with beautiful sunny people! Happy spring!

Copyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.