Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Children's Museum of Art: Maps inside out

Yesterday the girls had off school for Eid Al-fitr (Muslim holiday to celebrate end of Ramadan fasting.) You gotta love religious diversity if you grow up in New York schools. I only got Christian holidays growing up in Kansas. To celebrate in our own way we decided to make a list of all the amazing things we saw and did. I told the girls to be on the look out. Here's what we found:

1. For breakfast we ate an unknown but delicious fruit/vegetable that we found in the secret garden yesterday. It was reddish-yellow and round in shape, like a small squash. But it didn't taste anything like a squash. It had a semi-hard skin on outside and inside the texture and crisp taste of cucumber, but tangier, like a cucumber/tomato hybrid. Perfect with a little salt.

2. Sofia was coloring in an outline of Van Gogh's Starry Night when the same image came on as Mister Rogers' "picture picture" (as Sofia calls it.) The first season of Mister Rogers is now playing on Netflix as of this month. I'm floored at how good it is, much better than I remember. Yesterday we noticed that the picture on his wall, the one that slides back to reveal the Neighborhood of Make-believe, is different every day. So it was amazing to Sofia to be working on Starry Night and then see it appear on Mister Rogers wall.

3. Stars on a starling's wings. Walking to the 7 train we saw a Starling. I pointed out to the girls that you could tell it was a starling because there was a constellation of iridescent stars on its black wings.

4. On the way to the 7 train we opened up the Free Library (a re-purposed newspaper stand on Queens BLVD.) There was no book. But there was a torn off back cover of a book showing cow jumping over a new moon, amidst a sea of stars.

5. On the 7 train we sat next to a woman in her early 20s, wearing glasses, a black dress with a floral pattern on it and reading To Kill A Mockingbird. I asked her if it was the first time reading the novel. She said she was reading it again in preparation for reading the "new" Harper Lee novel, Go Set A Watchman. She said it was so good reading it the second time. We talked about things we had enjoyed as children that held up and got better with age. Like Mister Rogers. She said Lemony Snicket held up for her. And the TV show Wishbone. She also recommended the children's theater Ta Da!

6. At the Times Square Metro station we saw a tile mural in which a gentleman was handing a woman a fruit/vegetable that looked suspiciously like the mystery one we had eaten for breakfast. Sofia said the woman was looking at the man like, "Really? For me? I can't believe it!"

7. Once we got to the 1 train we saw another tile mural, by a different artist. This one was sea turtles swimming through a subway station. I told the girls that's what it would be like if Manhattan was underwater. She asked what the art was trying to say. I told her I thought it might be saying that life goes on, even if everything is underwater.

8. Lucia said she noticed something amazing. I asked her what and she said, "the wind blowing her dress up."

9. I got into a conversation at CMA (Children's Museum of Arts, our destination) with one of the staff, Annie Moor, as the kids were making art. At one point, during a pause in the conversation, she started singing Patsy Cline's "Walkin' After Midnight." I got chills that went all the way down to my marrow. It was so beautiful, what I imagine the song would sound like if Billie Holiday sang it.

Meanwhile Lucia painted

10. Annie Moor suggested a podcast to me that she was involved in called We Love Bedtime Stories, wherein actors play out stories told by actual parents to kids. Definitely going to check that out.

Sofia painted

11. Another mother that was sitting next to us overheard the conversation, one thing lead to another and she was recommending the Smithsonian Folkways recording of Lord Invader, Calypso In New York. Lord Invader? Calypso music? Gotta be great.

Meanwhile funhouse mirror

12. One of the great things about CMA is the ball pit, a room full of giant exercise balls, one of the girls' favorite places to play in the world. I asked the girls if they were ready to go up there and jump around and a boy, about 8 or 9, said that the balls were gone for this month and had been replaced by scary chairs. I asked him why they were scary and he said, "You'll see!" So we went up to see. The chairs were giant toys that you could sit in and spin around like a top. They toppled easily and a few kids did get hurt. But the danger was part of the fun and the laughter of girls playing on them for over an hour was, indeed, amazing.

13. Sofia wanted to make a painting, but couldn't find paper. A grandma overheard and said that they had brought their own paper and offered Sofia a piece. Sofia made a lovely splatter painting (see below) and then gave it to the woman as a gift for having given her the paper. Very sweet.

14. Lucia painted one of her little people. When we went back to pick it up one of the staff showed me that she had copied Lucia's drawing because she liked it so much. I liked her version, but she still had a way to go to reach Lucia's mastery.

15. Jil Weinstock, who does the curating of the gallery section of CMA, does a stellar job. The last two themed shows I've seen there, "Far Away" and "Pixilated," were both outstanding, and this one, "If You Lived Here, You'd Be Home," which had the theme of mapping, was equally amazing. Hat's off.

16. We stopped to eat a snack at James J Walker Park, on the way back to the 1 train . There was a co-ed softball game happening. It seemed pretty amazing to me to be watching a softball game in the middle of Lower West Side Manhattan on a Thursday afternoon.

17. As we were watching the game I asked Sofia if there was anything else today I should mention for our list, and she said the apple cinnamon rice cakes we were eating for a snack were pretty amazing.

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