A student, his youngest brother and his father were lost to us last weekend. Three more children remain in serious condition, having also been involved in the car accident. It is with sadness, that we lose someone so young.
Over the past few years OMA has done exceptionally well on two shows I can remember: Chihuly Across Florida (2004, along with several Florida museums) and the delightful Grandma Moses in the 21st Century (2001) show. Last year my students were able to see the Speed collection, Rembrandt, Rubens, Gainsborough and the Golden Age of Painting masterworks of Flemish, Dutch and French art. The year before a glass show, which actually interested them more than paintings could, and which we came away with more ideas on design and light installation.
In August, working with teachers, we tried to pull the museum trip together for 5th graders. I was not too sure about Maya Lin, as I knew her work from the Vietnam Memorial, and other work with a sculpture museum in New York, but I was not aware of her recent work or how students would react. In my school, students are very open. That was one thing in our favor, I remember telling them about Franz Kline and also Christo and how some people thought that their work was crazy, my students voiced they couldn’t understand why.
Allowing the kids to experience creating an installation is one thing, but actually using it as a springboard for the Maya Lin exhibit is something else. I have done installation before, but this time I have less “stuff,” so the look is more austere than it was when I started this way back when 5 years ago. In those days I was fresh to it, now some of the fun is gone, passed over to my students to enjoy.
Says one boy, “This is the best day ever in art.” Hm? More interpretive work, Franz Kline, Rothko or Christo does not fluster them. They were enthralled by Richard’s Serra’s work that I powerpointed from so-so shots of his MoMA show several years ago, which was so much fun. Two students were in New York, although they have had to have been quite young to see the Christo show in Central Park.
I spend a lot of time while and after they have done an installation, looking at how they used the space and how rather than superimposing themselves on the space, they linked it together. From meager use of clothesline, rope, fabric, tarps, students were told not
to go two dimensional in their space, but create a sculpture. Students chose often trees wrapping, tying even breaking off small branches and reusing tree branches to create an artwork. They sections off spaces, sometimes clotheslining tarps, amid the wind.
So I used the installation as an assignment, to put them in the spirit of a more open way of perceiving an artist vision. An artist such as Maya Lin, whose current vision with A History of Water exhibit challenges the traditional view of art, but in a strange way goes beyond to embrace it. While so much of art explores the surface, Lin’s knowledge take Super Realism to a new level. It is not enough to be like Close or Estes in recreating the surface, one goes a little bit further to examining the essence.
A river is no longer a representation of a river in local terms, but goes on to cartographic heaven by actually plotting it. The topography of meridians, now becomes stuff to create sculpture in the round. Her vision is a super-reality, sort of like Scarlett Johansson’s Lucy meets Leonardo. This is heady stuff.
One student came back to tell me he liked last year’s show better as he liked paintings. His teacher on the other hand, loved the show and loved the docent. Another student screamed at me why she has to go. She was calmly overtaken by two students who looked at the show quite differently, and only wished there was more. They had both seen the video (above), when the screaming student had been pulled out, along with others, to discuss a referral. We will be discussing it for a while down the road, as my students and I, explore Art and making art. I thank both Jude Mojher and Christina Owen for helping my students and me.
To compound, or alleviate my dilemma, last night I went to a lecture at Rollins College, Making to Think with artist/professor Aithan Shapira. His approach to andragogy utilizes the making of art as a way towards creativity and therefore the strengthening of cognitive processes. While his personal approach to art deals more with actual surface, his lecture channels the creative process as a means of enabling neurological synaptic connections.
He is one of the few people, I have ever heard refer to skill sets. This is an important, and increasingly, neglected part of the process. I thought of holding the paper as I get some of my kindergartners to cut. It was interesting listening to this young man speak, who could have been a dead ringer in mannerism to Chuck Dzuiban, my own mentor, thirty years ago. My thanks to Barbara Hartley.
The Sixth Apopka Art and Jazz Festival was placed earlier on the calendar this year from what I have heard. It is usually later. A firm email came out citing next year, no matter what, it would be held April 1. Central Florida weather from late November to mid-March can be unpredictable, sometimes nasty cold. While the cold was terrible, the drizzle and dampness is not conducive to art displays, or putting kids out to perform in costume. The Festival is held at the Amphitheater, which is a pretty open space, subject to wind.
The Apopka Amphitheater is a large open structure which adjoining a small lake. There is a lot of open space surrounding it, which pitches up, perhaps a larger water area at one time. The surrounding area is spare around, but very Florida pleasant, which means green, but open. The area north of Orlando is not so Florida flat, so you have more rolling plain.
There had to be about 25 messages, some large, clogging up my email during the last few days. Luckily, I could always follow them, even in my nervousness about trying to get art work together and get all the info right for the show. Because of testing, and other things, the festival was scheduled for what turned out to be one of the strangest days of the season. We were supposed to get heavy rain, and high winds.
Artwork blew away at first, table crashed over. At one point I thought my display was going to be lifted up and blown away. One paper quilt ripped before I could get it up. One hung in there for the whole show, without much incident, but a lot of clanging.
People came and went, but not a lot, I wished more kids would have showed up, but the weather, which had started so rainy, must have turned a lot of people off. By the afternoon it was sunny and not cold at all. The poor girls in blue dresses (above) in chorus had been wearing sweatshirts over their sparkly dresses.
Things like this are a lot of work, but the kids who either perform, or those who have work displayed, get a big kick out it!
Unlike the charm of Winter Park, which has the history of Leu Gardens to remember the yesteryear Christmases, or the commercial 21st century look of Altamonte Springs, its neighbor east, Apopka retains a small town charm. People sat on porches and waved as I tried to get shots in the rain on Christmas eve. Others joined us in the Kit Land Nelson Park.
My favorite part was City Hall, in which some of the lights were out, which gave a strange asymmetry to the placement of the figures.
When I was hired they said, “you’re in the old wing, but we are beginning our new school. You can watch out of your window and see it being built. In a way they were only a little wrong, you would have had to see past the green nylon barrier that has become a standard over the chainlink fence.
Weeks are spent moving dirt to make way for the slab foundation, but also the walls. Wood is carefully laid out, and cutout for the windows just seem to be somewhat sidewalk type framework, but it is not, it is the poured wall which will be pulled up by crane and set into position. This is the second time I have seen this done, and it is amazing to watch.
I had seen the crane the day before, and that terrible spray smell that I remembered from my old school. At the end of the day, I took a walk outside and while some were sitting watching kids trapse along the bridge of the little playground, there it was the construction going on. The cranes lifting up the concrete wall
So after months of us sitting around waiting for the groundbreaking to begin, it all came together today as the walls began to rise on a beautiful clear day, the last day, before our Christmas break. Glad to see it begin, wish I could be there for the whole put together next week!
When people knock teachers for having too much free time, I wonder what they really know about schools today. Far from 9 to 5, I watch two administrators at a parade on Saturday, a music production on Monday night and then tonight a gathering in the library for children and adults. I see fellow teachers in the parking lots long after 5. I love this bunch, they work as hard as all teachers and admin really do.
What could be more happy for the holidays!
Christmas is coming to Apopka, and so is the parade. I never remember a parade in the old community I came from. There were the bronze horses with wreaths around their neck, but not a bona fide parade! This was a happy event, with fancy cars and floats and fun!