A few weeks ago, Moonie insisted we check out “Flowers vs. the Frost,” which was billed as “a celebration to embrace the end of the growing season,” at the downtown club Aurora.
Boy, does my dude like to embrace things that grow.
Flowers vs. the Frost turned out to be a group of happy people bringing together all the flowers still left – many grown and donated by a nice young lady we met there – for a last joyful arrangement instead of letting the frost take them away. Everyone collaborated in some way in using the petals to create images like they do in Day of the Dead altars in Mexico.
My dude sure loves art and celebrations. And, of course, flowers.
First he checked out one of the drawings that our friend Jen was making, which would be turned into flower art.
Then Moonie helped out at the “beheading station,” where the flowers were de-petaled so they could become art.
So many flowers!
“LOVE” is a famous pop art sculpture by Robert Indiana that has iconically been reproduced in everything from stamps to album covers. I’ve seen the one in NYC and someday will see the one at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
Moonie, well, he doesn’t need to travel. He finds love everywhere he goes.
Even Moonie-sized shiny Robert Indiana love.
Last night Moonie and I headed to the AS220 Project Space to view “Toy Portraits” by Sandy MacDonald Studio, which is on display now through January 30th. He was so excited to see paintings of some of his toy friends!
It was so crowded, packed to the gills with art lovers and well-wishers, that we first ducked into the non-Sandy half of the project space to view works by talented artist Antoine Revoy. His whimsical illustrations featured interesting and colorful character concepts. Moonie really liked “Meteorites (Noah’s Ark)” – although he was a little concerned that the polar bears’ tummies looked suspiciously full.
But then we found a break in the crowd and headed in to see Sandy’s paintings in their own special little room. Oh boy!
Last October, Chris Daltry of The ‘Mericans was looking for help from creative friends for a project. When I showed up to aid Chris and his artist wife Jennifer I also met two new people, J.J. and Renee, who’ve since become important to Moonie. It’s always nice to meet people through music or art, and in this case it was a combination of both!
The ‘Mericans were creating a set of Marshall stacks to decorate the walls of The Parlour, an excellent Providence venue that attracts fantastic local and regional talent, for an upcoming show where The ‘Mericans planned to pose as Spinal Tap. It turned out to be one of the funnest and funniest nights I’ve ever had, and you can catch a lot of their Spinal Tap set on YouTube.
But even better, the Marshall stacks that the Daltrys and Renee and J.J. and I helped make served not only as a backdrop that night (mostly thanks to Jennifer’s realistic touches – she is a talented RISD grad!), but for more than 14 months and counting. I get a little thrill every time I see photos of rock, folk, rap, reggae, comedy, and all kinds of other acts that have performed in front of our Marshall stacks over the past year-plus. The Parlour is in no rush to take the stacks down, and during dozens, maybe scores, of shows since 2014 I’ve overheard all kinds of people saying how great they look there.
Fast forward a year to November, when Renee called me and J.J. back together to make a new set of Marshall stacks, this time for The Wilbury Theatre Group‘s production of “Passing Strange.” I looked down and pint-sized Moonie was holding his paintbrush, grinning and raring to go.
So off we went to Renee’s.
Another participant of Natick Artists Open Studios, the funky person whose funky artwork Moonie had already admired at Renew Arts & Industry, was none other than Virginia Fitzgerald. Virginia is tireless, always chasing opportunities to showcase the whimsy and color and beauty she constantly sees in the world around her. I met her in a photography workshop this summer, but I’d already been familiar with some of her dress sculptures that I’d had a chance to photograph in earlier workshops. Now it was Moonie’s turn to get up close and personal with Virginia’s work, and he was more than happy to run around her colorful studio with dresses made out of every material imaginable – and some beyond imagination.
Some were just Moonie’s size…
…And some were way too big for him.
Moonie and I made the most wonderful stop during Natick Artists Open House to see David Lang Studios at 25 Washington Avenue. David is a Renaissance man, with interests and talents in photography, literature, painting, sculpture, and everything in between, and his studio is a haven for scavenged and unwanted items that David gives a second chance by making them part of a narrative or whimsical or unexpectedly elegant piece of art. For adults and children alike, and especially for curious little pink-haired trolls, his studio is part museum, part playground, and Moonie had a ball checking out some of its crazy contents.
Like this motion-activated, sound-filled sculpture.
And this one, “The Swine Flew,” that I’ve seen in museum shows David has done.
And “The Castinetti Sisters.’
Yesterday was Moonie’s first day home, and mine too from being away on a trip, so I asked what he wanted to do. I saw his little mind burn steam going back and forth between music and cookies and dancing and hugging flowers, but he finally decided.
“Art!” he shouted.
“OK, let’s do art,” I said.
“And leaves!” he added.
“And leaves,” I agreed.
Fall is the prettiest season to be in my home state of Massachusetts, so I drove Moonie up to Natick, where the Natick Artists Open Studios was in its second and final day. What a beautiful day to see 70 local artists!
We stopped to take a few little walks at Turner Pond and Middlesex Pond and at Kingsbury Grist Mill.
New Urban Arts is an awesome program in Providence where artists mentor city youth, encouraging them as emerging artists in a safe spot and even helping with homework. But today NUA was a hive of mostly grown-ups as hordes of volunteers, activists, individuals and families attended NUA’s open studios for Pronk! preparations. Those crowds included, of course, our own Moonie.
His new friend Beth from NUA took Moonie aside and gave him two choices. He could make himself something fun to wear at Pronk! – a costume, a crown, a sign, a mask, a cape, whatever he wanted – OR he could help the other volunteers make something for Pronk! for the greater good.
I could see him thinking hard. He so loves the idea of dressing up in a funky little costume to celebrate a festival he’s looked forward to for weeks. But he likes helping people even more, so he chose the second option.
Not that he didn’t have a little fun poking around New Urban Arts’ giant studio while Beth and I gathered materials in the basement. He found all kinds of artwork to hug.
And he seemed to have gotten a bit stuck while exploring the loom.
Boy oh boy, did Moonie have a wonderful surprise the other evening!
We came home to find that his talented artist friend William Schaff had delivered a whole box of goodies!
We had contributed to Mr. Schaff’s “Hold down the Fort” campaign, which would keep the house of out of which he works and others live out of foreclosure. Even artists with amazing skill and drive like Mr. Schaff have to hold off the mortgage collectors and keep on the utilities from time to time. In exchange for nearly 900 people gathering together to help the fort, Mr. Schaff has been busying himself in dizzying ways to pay everyone back with special treats.
Moonie loved his “emergency kit,” which had a special CD from some of his favorite artists like Allysen Callery and Haunt the House and What Cheer? Brigade and Alec Redfearn, and a special deck of playing cards – each one with a unique illustration – designed by Mr. Schaff, and hand-drawn booklets and cards.
But Moonie’s absolute favorite kit enclosures were the three little “Curse of the Pandrew” books, an Edward Gorey-like collection detailing horrific fates befalling each member of What Cheer? Brigade. He immediately devoured the books, hooting away at the dark humor.
Moonie’s laughing now, but I know when we’re at Pronk! on Monday and he’s watching What Cheer? Brigade close out the festival with that night’s final show, teeny beads of sweat will run down his little face if a band member climbs onto shoulders or crowd members’ hands, and he’ll be whispering, “Careful….Careful…”
Moonie’s musician pals Marc Douglas Berardo and John Juxo were playing a show in Maine, and Moonie insisted we drive up. So we did. Even if I had to look at his excited little bum on the dashboard the whole way.
We did stop at a rest area so Moonie could tell bear jokes to his pal Smokey Bear.
(Moonie: “What do you call bears without ears?”
Moonie: “Why don’t bears like fast food?”
Moonie: “Because they can’t catch it!”
Moonie: “Why did Smokey get fired from his fire ranger job?”
Smokey: “Er, why?”
Moonie: “Cause he only did the BEAR minimum!”
Smokey: “Uh, kid, can you move along? I have some, uh, important fire prevention to do here.”)
But we did make it to the Waterfall Arts Center, which turned out to be totally awesome.