Archive for March, 2010

Extraordinary Communication with Youth

March 28, 2010

AAUW sponsored students and parents from Camden Forward School at the Philadelphia Orchestra Family Concert last Saturday. The Enchantment Theatre Company danced the story of Stravinsky’s “Firebird” with the Philadelphia Orchestra.

As far away as the dancers and the puppets were from us at the top of Verizon Hall, they fully demonstrated the story of Prince Ivan, his Princess, the wicked magician and the Firebird.

The pre-concert activity with Richard Mannoia prepared children and adults for Stravinsky’s rhythms. He had us clapping, singing and stomping to the syllables of words – ice cream flavors – he elicited from the audience such as chocolate cookie dough, coconut, pistachio. He has exceptional sensitivity to children, commands their attention in communicating what music is about.

He could give a master class to educators on how to engage young people. He is also a clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic and a group call Vision Into Art.

Beautiful Students Going to Beautiful Places. Please Join Us!

March 21, 2010

The Philadelphia Orchestra will host the 4th of their subscription family concerts at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday, March 27th. Camden students, their teachers and family members will see and hear it at the Kimmel Center. An excellent pre-concert activity at 10:00 a.m., designed for young people, will prepare them for Stravinsky’s “Firebird.”

When else can you hear the Philadelphia Orchestra for $6.00? Tickets are available at the Box Office on the day. Please join us! 

For 42 years AAUW has enabled thousands of inner city children to experience the Philadelphia Orchestra. This time more than a dozen from Urban Promise’s Camden Forward School will attend.

The glass structure of the Kimmel Center houses the main concert arena, Verizon Hall, and the smaller Perlman Building. It’s a thrill for students to visit the roof garden on the Perlman, to look up at the towering high rises, to look across to Verizon Hall and to look down at the tiny people strolling on the ground floor five stories below.

There’s a lot to look at – including a group of nude statues on the second floor, which, as this student discovered, are more accessible than at an art museum.

Beautiful children going to beautiful places – that’s the way the world should be. Don’t you agree?

The Proof is in the Pudding

March 15, 2010
Art Aware was invited to give presentations to students by principals and art teachers of different inner-city elementary schools. We would bring reproductions of famous paintings, talk about them, ask the students to respond to them verbally and through their own artwork.

Here are two examples of variations on themes by Pablo Picasso that were done in 45 minute classes: “The Smoker” by an 8th grade student and “Enamel Saucepan” by a 5th grade student.

The concentration and skill shown in both works is a tribute to their Camden art teachers as well as to the students and, of course, to the artists they were inspired by.

Our art appreciation program didn’t work well in some Philadelphia schools we visited which didn’t have art teachers. The students couldn’t express themselves, couldn’t “read” reproductions of artwork, couldn’t put their own marks on the page.

For twenty-five years Art Aware has visited dozens of inner-city public, charter and parochial elementary schools with resident art teachers and found their students exemplary. We got feedback through the students’ art work. We saw their end-of-year art exhibitions. The proof was and is in the pudding.

Credit must be given to the school boards and to individual principals for maintaining art education in inner-city schools – past, present and future!

Picasso and William H.Johnson Keep Viewers on Edges of Their Seats

March 8, 2010

The Philadelphia Museum of Art ends its Picasso Show on April 25, 2010. Be sure to see it before it ends. William H. Johnson was influenced by Picasso and found his own style. Elementary school students, then, seeing reproductions of his work, enjoy doing their own variations on Johnson’s themes, which I’ll post at a later date.

Johnson’s “Going to Church” is so colorful and surreal. Look at those blue horns, hooves, fence, churches to carry the eye around the whole picture. Brilliant! And look at the stretch of blue sky attached to the tall pine trees. Don’t you love it! Of course what really clinches the whole painting are the two guys sitting on the back of the wagon, feet dangling, hundreds of feet above the farm fields.

Next is Johnson’s “Cafe.” That gal is holding onto her man, who wants to get away. His eyes and his feet are screaming to get up and be gone!  The kids in an Art Aware class  ask, “why are her legs white.”  “Why do you think?” “White stockings?” “Sounds good to me!” “Look at those crazy chair legs and that change-purse about to fall off the table.”

Ahhhh, Picasso and Johnson do well!

Do you like William H. Johnson’s artwork as much as I do?

Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris at PMA

March 2, 2010

Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris

Students from grades 3, 4 and 5 at Camden Forward Elementary school traveled to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see Picasso, thanks to Art Aware informing art teachers Julie Kring Schreifels and Susan Baker that a PMA grant was available to them.

What a great time they had. And you will too! The show is on until April 25th. The Camden Forward students are doing artwork influenced by Picasso and friends, which I’ll post later.

Picasso was a spiritual prophet to the world of art and philosophy. Although he died in 1973, he is still leading human beings away from a representational fundamentalism that cripples creative minds. How many times have you heard people reject their artistic nature by saying “Oh, I’m no good at art. I can’t draw a straight line.” In 2010 people have options way beyond having to draw something that looks “real.”

When artists, young and old, experiment, investigate and play with ideas in the art studio, they open up paths of communication – variations of what has been done before, but also perhaps  forging new ground for the art and philosophy of the 21st century.

At the PMA show, I thought about perspective:  my own, the kids’, the teachers’, the docents’, the guards, etc. The artwork forced us to bust our brains making connections between the world and how we see it. We mentally climbed on the vehicle that brings us to universal dialogue:  Art!

Above are samples of 4th graders artwork initiated by Nicole Cucinotta at Sacred Heart School. It was influenced by Pablo Picasso and Maurice Sendak.