Camp Mama: Art

Cross-posted from Cherry Blossoms The Blog.


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I’ve had “Art is an Imperative” as a mantra floating through my mind lately, ever since I realized that I had been craving art. There’s a full blog post devoted to it that I will hopefully write at some point, but in the meantime I’ve been feeding this need in myself and my children, and finally devoted an entire week to it! There was so much we could have/should have done, but in the end with swimming lessons in the middle of the day, play dates, and the whole baby factor (and one tired mama!) I think we still made good use of our time and the topic. This was a week where reality didn’t meet expectations, but it didn’t matter — reality was good. So what did we plan to do? Well the goal was a field trip every day and to try to hit up every art museum in the DFW area. We didn’t even come close.

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Enjoying the grounds at the Irving Arts Center

Monday: Irving
We started small on Monday and went to the Irving Arts Center. Current  exhibitions included a Kids’ Art collection and some contest winners. The boys really connected with the art, especially those done by kids. (They were drawn to the superhero theme, and when I pointed out, “that artist is your age” they were very, very impressed. I hope they were also inspired!) I think we walked every inch of the galleries and grounds. It was very delightful and I look forward to going more often!

When we left the Irving Arts Center we remembered that it is Monday and that the Scout Museum is not far away and free on Sundays and Mondays. You may not think of the National Scouting Museum as being very art-y, and you’d be right, but they boast the largest scouting collection of Normal Rockwell paintings in the first room of the museum, and that’s definitely worth the look. My family loves to visit this museum; there is a lot to do from racing pinewood derby cars (you don’t need to bring your own, they have some there!) to a laser shooting range to spelunking and more.

Tuesday: Finger painting, Plano, and Frisco

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He wasn’t sure this was allowed, but took advantage of the freedom nonetheless.

I squeezed in an art-themed playdate before swimming lessons on Tuesday morning because I wanted something this summer specifically focused on my baby since everything else is about the older boys. That said, no one was exempt from participating in the activity, and all of my baby’s brothers and his friend’s siblings got their fingers gooped up in paint and let it fly on the paper. It was his first time and he wasn’t quite sure what to think, but we all had fun.
In the afternoon we went to ArtCentre of Plano, a smaller but more casual gallery than the one in Irving. The art is displayed in the lobby of the theatre of the very modern building. The boys were with friends for this field trip so they were a little less focused, but the mums enjoyed the art.
We quickly moved on to the Texas Sculpture Garden in Frisco, where, despite it being outrageously hot, the kids got their energy out and enjoyed the sculptures. We will go again in the not-summer, and we will see it all.

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It’s a tribute to a farmer but I just can’t stop thinking it’s Star Wars inspired — tell me you don’t see it too?

Wednesday: Fort Worth
Normally when we drive to Ft. Worth our family goes straight to the Stockyards and spends all of our time there. Because I understand how easy it is for us to lose track of time there, and because the city actually has a lot more to offer, we didn’t even go near this time, even though there are some museums there as well. The cultural district of Ft. Worth is really nice, and I love that so many of the museums are so close together that you can park once and visit several places. (Also, there’s plenty of free parking! Have I mentioned that I love Fort Worth?)

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Baby and Andy (Warhol, that is.) Baby’s hair looks like Andy’s when it’s not burdened by sweat and sunscreen.

We started at The Modern, Wednesday being half price day. We liked the permanent collection as well as the Frank Stella exhibition. Being at The Modern with my boys took me back to the early days of motherhood when I would take my boys, who were then quite young, to all the major museums in Los Angeles. When given the opportunity children can really relate to serious art and can surprise you with their observations.

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I’m rather fond of the works of art in the middle.

When it was snack time we ate while we crossed the street to the Kimbell museum. We hadn’t been there since the new building was added and I was excited to see how the collection had expanded. (The Kimbell’s permanent collection is always free.) The staff was so very friendly and patient and helpful but unfortunately my baby was tired and hungry and unwilling to have either of those needs met in public. “You can always come back another day” they reminded me, and while it is a bit of a trek it really isn’t that big of a deal to drive to Ft. Worth and I absolutely can return. And will. I always enjoy the collection and the grounds.
The Amon Carter Museum and the Sid Richardson gallery were both going to have to wait another day.

Thursday: Dallas
I had a very ambitious plan for Dallas as the museums are not all clustered together the same way they are in Ft. Worth. But learning from the previous day’s troubles I made sure the baby had a solid nap before heading out instead of hoping that sleeping in the car would suffice.

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This is their version of the iconic scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

We started at DMA at the request of my children. Always free (except for parking), the Dallas Museum of Art is a favorite of ours. Children are very welcome and can learn and interact with select pieces throughout the museum by following the free museum guides at the entrance. There is also a creative space for anyone to make and take as well as participate in a community project. At DMA art is very accessible to all ages and interests and my kids can’t get enough. We covered every gallery, plus the sculpture garden, found all the pieces in the junior detective guide to deepen their understanding, and had wonderful, wonderful conversations. My children amaze me when they give themselves the time and space to think about art.

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I never tire of the sun filtering through the glass.

When we stepped out for snack time we ate while we crossed the street to pay homage to the Crow Collection, having missed it during Japan week. As there was a special event happening upstairs we spent just a few minutes on the lower level, appreciating the Tibetan book covers and the love those people had for knowledge, before heading back to DMA.

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It’s easy if you try.

Even though Thursday evenings are free at the Meadows Museum, and on our way I was looking forward to checking out Madi, we spent so long at DMA that we were tired and I didn’t want to push my good fortune with my baby. We tabled our plans for “another Thursday sometime” and met my husband for supper.

Friday: stay home and create
Initially I thought we would trek to Waco, because Waco’s a fun town. But I was tired. My boys were tired. And we needed to create. Faber-Castell generously sent us a box of goodies to supplement Camp Mama and I found the kits very helpful when friends came over (especially friends with girls because they were usually intimidated by our arsenal of nerf guns and lightsabers and the enthusiasm with which the weapons are weilded.)

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So many wonders from Faber-Castell!

During the week as friends came over I was able to say “there are some art supplies on the kitchen table” and just let the kids go while I chatted with the mums. I will do this forever from now on because it was so awesome. Not only is the inventory of art kits from Faber-Castell seemingly endless, but it was so much more peaceful to know that the kids were creating and collaborating instead of slaughtering and maiming.

Pro Tip: Always keep art kits on hand for guests!

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Sneak peek of next week’s theme — can you guess? And yes, I made myself a shirt, I had to demonstrate to the boys what they were doing after all.

So Friday I gave the boys – no friends over on Friday – free reign while I ignored them and did super exciting things like laundry. I paid little attention to their projects except to ask them to make space on the table for lunch. They loved the suggested outcomes in the kits which they used as jumping off points, and appreciated the open-ended freedom to make what came to them. They required zero instruction from me, which I really loved. I only stopped them later in the day because we needed to work on our freezer paper stencils for shirts for next week. And because I had stepped back and gave them free reign to create I didn’t take any photos. That hardly even seems possible! I’m going to have to find some of their treasures and photograph them for posterity.
I had started gifting art boxes for birthday presents, but now that I’ve seen the quality and comprehensiveness of the craft-specific kits those are definitely joining the gift rotation!

What didn’t we do?
Well in addition to all the museums we missed, I would have loved more time to create. I loved the Faber-Castell kits but I wish I had scheduled more time with the 3-in-1 travel kit and taken it to the park or other places and just let the boys draw/paint/whatever. I know we’ve got the supplies are can do it whenever we please, but it would have been nice to fit more art into art week.
Although, honestly, I’m not sure we could have fit anything more into that week. So much art! So little time! What a truly wonderful problem to have.

Life is beautiful, friends. See it, appreciate it, contribute to it.


Previous Camp Mama themes: Greek WeekFranceJunior Chef,  EconomicsJapan, and Robotics.

I received the art kits free of charge.
This has in no way affected my opinion.
All opinions presented in this post are mine and have been written in my own words.


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