Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The annual henna-and-wine-on-the-dock day!

Once a year, three of my favorite former colleagues join me at my 'camp' for a henna-on-the-dock date, where we ate lunch on the dock, drank some sparkling pink moscato, shmoozed, and painted ourselves with henna. The group consists of the high school art teacher, the current elementary art teacher (my former job) who was the elementary computer teacher when I was still teaching, and the middle school math teacher who used to be a 4th grade teacher.  I previously posted about our henna date in 2013, but we've done it every year!  You can find the 2013 post by CLICKING HERE.
The two photos above are the legs of me and the math teacher.  I've told you about her before, and our first experiences with henna, when she was a 4th grade teacher going through chemo for breast cancer.  Over the course of that winter seven years ago, I painted henna on her head on three occasions,  and it was the best therapy imaginable.  You can read more about that by CLICKING HERE
Like any group, we grow and change over the years.  The youngest member of the group, the high school art teacher, now has a toddler.  After eating lunch, she painted henna on her ankle, but... after a few smears and her little guy jumping in a muddy puddle, she decided to leave it was safest to leave it as an ankle decoration!  I don't blame her.  But oh, the little guy, with his head of loopy curls, is SO adorable!!  That's her ankle, above.  Below is my leg.  The two different colors are the difference between the parts that are fresh and the parts that have dried.  
The fourth gal chose not to paint henna at all.  She's only been coming to henna-day for two years, and she's a bit conservative in her 'look' but we were glad we had her there with us to eat lunch in the sunshine and schmooze! Thanks for stopping by! 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Chihuly at the NY Botanical Garden

Last week, three friends and I took a road trip to the NY Botanical Garden, a stone's throw from the hospital in the Bronx where I was born.  The motivation for the trip was the Chihuly work currently on display at the Garden.  We hit the road before 7am, and by 10:30, we had arrived!
I should admit, I always love botanical gardens, so with or without the Chihuly sculpture, I knew I'd enjoy the day.  I had visited a big exhibit of Chihuly work at the Boston MFA a few years ago (I blogged briefly about it HERE), so I knew it was really cool to see his work in person. I figured that the combination of the garden and the glass sculptures would be a perfect combination, kind of like marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate.

But honestly, I was as intrigued by some exotic plants, as I was by the glass work!  

Actually, the volume of Chihuly on display at the Garden was somewhat small, compared to the previous exhibit I'd seen.  And while the pieces were installed within the Garden, and those that were outside looked beautiful in the sunshine, they were not all as incorporated into the environment as I'd expected them to be. 
For example, the blue "tree" below.  I walked onto the grass, under a tree, and in my camera lens I framed the sculpture with the leaves hanging from the tree.  Just as I was about to shoot the pic, I was reprimanded by a guard.  Evidently I wasn't supposed to walk on the grass.  So I had to stand back on the sidewalk to shoot the pics below, without the framing of leaves. 
Pink waterlilies!
So many pretty colors!
I'd seen photos of other outdoor Chihuly installations, including colorful glass orbs floating on a stream, amidst the waterlilies and other plant growth.  So I expected I'd see something similar at the Garden.  And there they were, colorful glass orbs, in sort of a stream (more of a man-made canal of sorts), but piled in a boat.  Yes, it's cool, but I admit I was disappointed.  My expectations of dozens of orbs floating amidst sunbathing turtles and blooming waterlilies were too grand.

 I know this photo is peculiar, but I kind of like the shadows...

This piece pictured below kind of reminded me of someone dropping a box full of plastic straws.  It was kind of "messy" looking.  But I had fun enhancing the colors in the second pic below!

I hope you've enjoyed this little armchair tour!  I'm glad I live close enough to be able to make a trip like this in a day (with a friend confident enough to do the drive!).  Chihuly or not, I'd like to return to the Botanical Garden in other seasons, particularly earlier in the spring, when the magnolias and lilacs and other flowering trees would be in bloom.
Here's a link to a blog post, showing a student putting the finishing touches on a Chihuly-style tower made in my classroom a few years ago. 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Jazz up a hallway with a permanent student art gallery!

On The Artful Advocate blog, I shared about the student art gallery in my former school, pictured above.  I'll share a gallery tour in this post, as well, but I also want to point out a few pieces of interest.  For example, these two adorable elephants pictured below were painted more than 10 years apart!  (Sorry about the picture quality in this post; the hallway is narrow and there's a lot of unavoidable reflections on the glass in the frames.)

Let me tell you more about the gallery.  The school building in the tiny district where I taught was brand new in 1999, and for the first time, all K-12 students (between 500-600 kids total) were housed in one building.  A long stretch of bare hallway connects the high school and elementary wings, and I decided it was a perfect place to adorn permanently with student artwork.  With the support of my administration and school board, financial support from the PTSA organization,discounts and donations of mat board and frames from my favorite framer, and help with the installation by my fabulous custodians, the gallery became a reality and several pieces of artwork were added each year. To see the elementary gallery as it looks now, adorned with more than a dozen years of student artwork, watch the video tour below.

A year or two after my gallery began, the high school teacher also began adding artwork at the high school end of the hallway, and you can tour that section of the gallery in this video.

What's really fun is seeing some things that have happened.  For example, there's a few kids who have a piece on both the elementary and the high school end of the gallery, such as the 4th grade painted tissue paper collage below, and the high school acrylic painting underneath, both created by a talented young lady.  This artist, as with many others whose work hangs in the gallery, is now a college graduate! 

And there's these two paintings of trees, painted by talented twin sisters while in 4th grade.  I believe one of the girls has gone on to an art-related career, and a younger sister is also an artist.  We drew trunks that touched the top of the paper, and added branches that also extended to the edges of the paperl  The kids practiced color blending with tempera paint to create these paintings. 

While I was videotaping and photographing the gallery a few days ago, I noted many pieces of artwork are from projects I've never blogged about, so I'll be posting about them in coming posts.  For example, this fan design below was made by a 4th grader.  It was painted with values of India ink with the addition of some charcoal, and coated with Mod Podge.  Most students folded their fans and added cardboard sticks so they could actually be used, but this student chose to simply mount his fan, and was happy to have it selected to add to the gallery.

Perhaps my favorite piece in the gallery, and the story that goes with it, is this 1st grade portrait "of Mary by Karen" below, created before the gallery even existed. (Again, I apologize for image quality.  Along with the reflections on the glass, the artwork has also faded a bit.)  The students did these portraits sitting across from a friend they wanted to draw.  The artwork was done with construction paper and colored  pencils, and honestly, this looked JUST like Mary, bright blue eyes, freckles and all! The drawings had been sent home with the artists.  When Mary and Karen graduated from high school (still best friends), the same year I retired, Karen's mother brought me the artwork and suggested it hang in the gallery.  I framed it, and hung it at the very beginning of the gallery.  I swear, it STILL looks jut like Mary!
In the coming few days, I'll share stories (and lesson instructions) for a few other pieces hanging in the gallery.  Come back to take a look!