El Museo del Barrio’s new show “Museum Starter Kit: Open With Care” pulls back the curtain on the museum’s history and its artistic founder as well as ushering in new standard-bearers of this Puerto Rican and Caribbean art-focused institution.
All photos by Alice Perry
Starting the show off with a bang is a huge painting of artist and founder Raphael Montañez Ortiz smashing a piano with an ax, symbolizing both destruction and reconstruction. Kids will dig a number of the exhibit’s art installations, beginning with Ortiz’s Maya Zemí I and Maya Zemí II. Covered in yellow, red, and blue feathers, these sideways pyramids jut out of the wall, begging to be petted (but try not to touch). Interestingly, the concept for this artwork came to the artist in a dream, reminding us that it’s OK to let our kids zone out and daydream and fantasize for at least a little while.
Deeper within the exhibit, kids are invited to climb on and explore Stack & Rack. Created by the artist collective BroLab, these 16 plywood cubes are meant to be a public sculpture in the truest sense of the word, one that can be moved around and readjusted. So go on: climb away (or at least take a seat). Another fun piece is Romy Scheroder’s Skin, which is a gutted wingback chair covered with hundreds of rubber bands.
While you’re at the museum, check out “Presencia: Works from El Museo’s Permanent Collection” across the hall from the main exhibit. Benvenuto Chavajay’s Suave Chapina wins the award for most summer appropriate artwork. The wall installation is made entirely of blue and green latex flip-flops, sure to get you and the kids in the summer mood.
Sometimes Eastern art can seem a bit intimidating for us westerners. You may wonder if the art’s Eastern precepts will fly over your kids’ heads and if they’ll “get it.” On Sunday, you and the family can test the waters and dip your toes into the Himalayan pond at the Rubin Museum of Art’s Chelsea Block Party.
All photos courtesy of The Rubin Museum of Art
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Rubin Museum, which is home to a massive Himalayan art collection, is swinging open its doors with all-day free admission and hosting an outdoor street fair from 1 to 4 p.m.
At 1:30, Buddhist monks will kick off the event with a blessing. Outside performances will take place throughout the day, including traditional dances by the Dance Theater of Nepal. Kids can get henna tattoos, create and design amulets and masks, and draw their own masterpieces with sidewalk chalk. Inside, you and the kids can watch Buddhist monks create an intricate sand mandala and listen to live classical Himalayan music.
The Rubin Museum is also introducing its new Family Sundays, which take place every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum proclaims that “Sundays are for families” and rolls out the red carpet for families with kid-friendly tours and art activities like creating woodprints and making animal masks.
Just because you have kids now doesn’t mean you have to kiss your dancing days goodbye. MoMA PS 1 Warm Up, which happens every Saturday in the summer, is a huge outdoor dance party where you and the kids can join the masses and groove to tunes by an uber-cool DJ. The best part? You can proudly say, “I took my kid to his/her first rave.”
All Photos by Alice Perry
Located in the museum’s courtyard, the Warm Up’s crowds and noise can seem a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to make the day fun for everyone in the family.
1. Arrive early and leave early. Although the Warm Up concert runs from 3 to 9 p.m., the doors officially open at noon. After 3 p.m., the lines to enter the museum become insane, as do the lines for food and drinks inside. Leave before 6 p.m. when the hipsters start having a little bit too much fun.
2. Best for your youngest and oldest kids. Because of the crowds and a lot of standing, it’s best if either you can hold your kid (age 3 and under) or your child (usually age 8 and up) doesn’t mind standing for long periods.
3. Bring water diapers. No joke, there is a small kiddie pool in the courtyard that kids can play in or just cool off. Just be aware that the pool doesn’t have a filtration system.
4. Ditch the stroller. Because of the pebbles in the courtyard, you’ll spend more time struggling as you push and shove than enjoying yourself.
5. Secret hideouts. If the crowds are too much for the young’uns, duck away into one of the side cubby rooms off the courtyard. Here you can sit down or just take a short break.
6. See some art. Go inside the air-conditioned museum to check out some of the exhibitions. Kids will dig Korakrit Arunanondchai’s installation of a psychedelic altar and stone-denim pillows, while you’ll gravitate Maria Lassnig’s striking paintings.
The overall vibe is very chill where club kids will greet your kids with a “’Sup, dude” and where you’ll score points as one of the cool parents.
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of A Hard Day’s Night, Film Forum is running a pristine print of the seminal Beatles flick directed by Richard Lester. While kids may balk at the idea of watching a black and white movie, they won’t be able to resist the energy and exuberance of the pell-mell camerawork, non-sequitur editing, and infectious music. The film is silly, goofy, and all those other words associated with kids’ humor.
And, sure, you can watch it on Netflix, but we’re raising New York City kids here. We want them to appreciate arthouse theaters like Film Forum and to groom them into discerning cinephiles (Oh, and the popcorn is fresh and delicious too. It’s white, not that pus-festering yellow you find at cineplexes, and you won’t find any nuclear-processed butter topping here either).
So what do actual kids think? One 9-year-old boy loved the chase scenes (and there are a lot of ’em), and a 4-year-old girl kept singing along to all the songs and asking her daddy, “What’s the name of this song?” We did find one unimpressed kid, however, who told RedRover that it wasn’t as good as Transformers. Hey, there are plenty of AMC theaters to see that, but there’s only one Film Forum.
The hottest new movement in science education has come to the New York Hall of Science. Bolstering its reputation as one of the most hands-on museums in the five boroughs, NYSCI has revamped and rebuilt its lower level to create “Design Lab.”
All photos by Alice Perry
This fresh permanent exhibit engages kids with five distinct “pods” or large activity areas that all have the earmarks of the Maker Movement, a fast-growing education trend that emphasizes using everyday materials to explore, create, and come up with powerful new ideas all on your own. This DIY movement puts kids firmly in the driver’s seat; NYSCI just provides the tools and guidance.
Kids love to touch and build, and that’s why Design Lab succeeds. Here are the five pods, which will have changing activities throughout the year:
1. Sandbox: sorry, no sand, instead, kids are challenged to build a large structure like one using dowels and rubber bands;
3. Studio: families construct tabletop structures, illuminated and animated by LEDs, motors, and circuits;
4. Treehouse: kids explore gravity, shape, and air resistance by dropping their creations from the elevated walkway in the Design Lab. (You know this will be your kids’ favorite); and
5. Maker Space, which opened in 2012: kids learn how to use tools to convert design ideas into prototypes.
Design Lab is all about the process rather than the outcome. It’s about kids getting inspired by their own creativity and finding their own way.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is the darling of the international art world, and your darlings will love his artwork too. Much of the artist’s exhibit, “According to What?,” which runs until Aug. 10 at the Brooklyn Museum, is conceptual, but it’s easily accessible and speaks to kids as well. The show fills two floors of the museum and part of the lobby area, but we’ll narrow it down and give you the highlights of what your kids will dig.
All photos by Alice Perry
On the first floor, you might walk right past those six large rust-colored cubes. But put the brakes on the stroller and take a closer look. Entitled S.A.C.R.E.D., these iron boxes are dioramas that document Ai’s imprisonment by Chinese authorities. Yes, it’s a little bleak-sounding, but the kids will love looking through the peek-a-boo windows and spying on these sculptural recreations of the artist as he eats and sleeps.
Be sure also to check out Stacked, which is also located on the first floor near the brick arcade that separates the lobby from the Rubin Pavilion. This site-specific installation features 700 stainless steel bicycles interlocked together creating a monumental wall of wheels, spokes, and frames.
On the fifth floor, kids will gravitate to Moon Chest, which are seven huge chests evenly spaced across half a gallery. Each chest has four circular openings. When viewed from one end, the openings align in such a way to suggest the moon phases. Of course, kids will ignore contemplating heavenly bodies and prefer to stand at one end, look through the holes, and yell, “Can you see me, Mommy?”
Head down the gallery and check out Ai’s most well-known work, Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. What kid wouldn’t love the sheer anarchy of the photos of Ai blithely smashing an ancient artifact? In the foreground, kids can stroll around actual Han Dynasty vases that Ai has defaced by dipping them in bright industrial paint or stenciling a “Coca-Cola” logo (although “Capri-Sun” or “Gatorade” would be more apropos for today’s kids) across its surface.
On the fourth floor, stop by the far end gallery to see Snake Ceiling. Although the artwork’s symbolism will make your heart heavy (it’s made of hundreds of backpacks to represent students who perished in the horrendous 2008 Sichuan earthquake), kids will stick get a kick out of seeing the snake suspended from the ceiling. Directly under Snake Ceiling are 3,000 orange and gray porcelain crabs. This installation is so steeped in Chinese symbolism and play-on words that some adults may barely “get it,” but kids will love seeing these roped-off crustaceans and wonder, “Are they real?”
Two summer exhibits at the Jewish Museum are surefire kid-pleasers. One involves a giant, and the other lots of big, bold, and sometimes bad words.
All Photos by Alice Perry
“Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant” is a small exhibit that’s the perfect size for your youngest gallery-goers. Delving into the story behind Arbus’s famous photo of Eddie Carmel, once billed as “the world’s tallest man,” the exhibit showcases the “giant’s” personal belongings, like his size 35 shoes and huge rings. At the center of the exhibit is Arbus’s photo of Carmel towering over his almost bewildered-looking parents in their cramped living room. The show, which ends Aug. 3, also focuses on the phenomena of freaks, spectacles, and folk heroes, and includes a Hulk memorabilia section for all the superhero fans in your family.
While the museum does provide a family guide for the exhibit “Mel Bochner: Strong Language,” it isn’t promoting the show as ideal family fare. Use your own judgment on what you want to expose to your children. Yes, there are R-rated words. But there are also many fun paintings that kids will love such as Small Fart (another four-lettered F word). The colors are bold and exciting, and kids can relate to the works’ finger-painting quality. Best of all, the artist’s love of language is contagious.
For these 70 paintings and drawings, Bochner used Roget’s Thesaurus as his main inspiration. Written in block letters, the words run along lines on the painting just like an exercise in a composition book. In each painting, a progression of tame and playful words begins and then builds into a fiery and unbridled crescendo. The show runs until Sept. 21.
To turn kids onto art, you need them to do it rather than just to look at it. And that’s where the museum’s drop-in Monday workshops come in. Starting in July, the museum will host two sessions: Art Adventure Monday for kids age 4 to 7 and Art in July for kids age 4 and up. Both use the exhibits as a jumping-off point for creativity. In one session, kids will explore language and the power of words in Bochner’s vibrant paintings, while in another, they’ll learn how a person’s clothing, facial expression, and pose tell a story as they do in Arbus’s photos.
The Children’s Museum of the Arts takes kids’ art very seriously – even more than you do. While you tape your kids’ doodles on the fridge, CMA goes one giant step further and curates whole exhibits where the oldest artist may be 12 years old.
At CMA’s latest show, “Focus: Artist as Observer,” which opened last week and runs until Sept. 7, young artists from around the city take center stage. Culling artwork from its permanent collection and traveling pop-up programs, the museum puts the spotlight on kids’ work that explores the big questions like “who am I” and “how does my environment shape me.”
Photo by Alice Perry
Although the show includes three photography sections from established “grown-up” artists, the most wow moments come from the kids’ paintings. In My Neighborhood Gang, an 11-year-old depicts her friends sitting on a bench that captures a moment of kinship and boredom. With its muted colors and rubbed out faces, this prepubescent painter gives Modigliani a run for his money.
Photo by Alice Perry
Or check out the painting of the cityscape by another young’un simply entitled Different. The buildings are crammed and colorful, but it’s the sky that got us to look twice. With its blues, greens, and whites, this pip-squeak painter was able to harness a vision of a summer sky before the magic hour of twilight.
After you and the kids get inspired by these works, stick around and attend one of CMA’s daily workshops, which explore the same themes as the art exhibit in a super fun way. What kid wouldn’t want to try out the “DIY Google Eye” workshop? Kids get a chance to create their own personalized googley eye mask. Or check out the “Paper Room View” session, where kids analyze their most personal environment — their bedroom. Kids will draw their rooms on origami paper and then create an origami balloon. Using the opening like a peep hole, kids will welcome viewers into their bedrooms.
Photo courtesy of the CMA
CMA also offers daily summer camps. For your youngest kids, Wee Arts introduces art-making to children as young as 10 months, encourages self-expression, and gives them a head start in preschool. Wee Arts also offers drop-in sessions. For kids age 6 and older, the Summer Art Colony is a full-day immersion in all things art, from drawing and sculpture to filmmaking and theater. Summer Art Colony offers over 50 camps at two locations, at CMA and on Governors Island.
How do you like your public art served? How about with a side order of a world-class burger along with a creamy milkshake? That’s exactly what you can experience this week at Madison Square Park. Coinciding with the installation of Rachel Feinstein’s three new public artworks in the park, Shake Shack is hosting a weeklong 10-year anniversary celebration at its original stand in Madison Square Park.
Photo by Alice Perry
Located in different areas around the park, Feinstein’s Folly comprises three fanciful structures: a 26-foot-high house perched on a towering cliff, a Rococo-style hut, and a moored ship. Although they look like delicate origami creations, the sculptures are made from solid powder-coated aluminum with painted outlines.
The name Folly comes from “Victorian folly,” a building built primarily for decoration. And it seems that Feinstein wants to play with that tension: an object that looks functional but really isn’t. She told RedRover that she made the sculptures strong enough to withstand kids’ rough and tumble play. “I want these to be interactive,” she said. “All the sharp edges have been sanded.” However, the parks department is not officially allowing children to play on them. So there they are–to be looked at and to conjure up kids’ daydreams—at least until Sept. 7 when the show ends.
Photo courtesy of Shake Shack
Even if the kids can’t climb on the public art, they can certainly get their hands on a big juicy burger designed by such chef-artistes like Daniel Boulud, David Chang, Andrew Zimmern, Daniel Humm, and April Bloomfield. As part of “Decade of the Shack,” everyone’s favorite burger joint has enlisted these chefs to create five special edition burgers that will be exclusively available at the Madison Square Park Shack from June 9 to 13. Extra feel-good bonus: Shake Shack will donate $1 for each burger sold to the Madison Square Park Conservancy and NYC Parks.
On Thursday, June 12—Shake Shack’s actual birthday—Madison Square Park will host the Decade of the Shack fest. Starting at 1 p.m., you and the kids can groove to live music throughout the day. If the super-indulgent burgers are too overwhelming for the kids, Shake Shack will have a special hot dog cart serving complimentary “pay what you’d like” Shack-cago Dogs as a tribute to the Shack’s early days. Afterwards, play a few games on the concrete ping pong table that will be set up near the Shack (although you’ll probably spend more time crawling around looking for your kids’ whacked ping pong balls).
Photo by Alice Perry
Even without the mammoth public art and yummy over-the-top burgers, Madison Square Park always offers lots of kid fun like its splash park, weekly summer kid concerts, Reading Rangers program, and Art in the Park classes. To find more fun at Madison Square Park or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.
It has been called the biggest block party of the year. On June 10 from 6 to 9 p.m., more than 20 blocks will be closed off to traffic and thousands of art lovers will line up to devour masterpieces at top museums for the annual 36th Museum Mile Festival.
Photo by Josef Pinlac
Some of RedRover’s favorite museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the Jewish Museum and the Guggenheim Museum will swing open their doors for free. Not only will your kids see great art, but they’ll also get a chance to literally dance – and draw – in the streets. Live musical acts, actors, clowns, and arts stations will be dotted along the closed Fifth Ave. corridor from 82nd to 105th Sts.
Photo by Alice Perry
Start your trip at 5:45 p.m. at the Museum of the City of New York where city dignities will officially kick off the festival. While the Little Orchestra, whose mission is to turn kids onto the classics, plays on the museum’s terrace, check out the museum’s exhibit City as Canvas. Documenting a time when graffiti was both a creative outlet for young artists and the bane of city officials’ existence, the show’s cartoon figures and in-your-face colors will grab the attention of even the most I-hate-museums type of kid. After you get inspired by Keith Haring and Lee Quiñones, take it to the streets and draw your own graffiti with sidewalk chalk in front of the museum.
Head down toward 93rd St. and catch a goofy performance by Sammie & Tudie Imagination Playhouse. At the Jewish Museum at 92nd St., kids will dig “Masterpieces & Curiosities: Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant,” which showcases Arbus’s famous photographs of the nine-foot-tall Eddie Carmel along with the “giant’s” personal effects like his size 35 shoes. The museum’s Mel Bochner exhibit is the jumping-off point for the outdoor art activity where kids can use letter stamps and color sticks to create their own favorite words.
Photo by Duncan Bell, courtesy of the Guggenheim Museum
At the Guggenheim Museum, kids can check out other local kid artists at the A Year With Children exhibit, which highlights artwork by NYC elementary schoolchildren who participated in the museum’s Learning Through Art program. In front of the museum, groove to the salsa tunes of Avenida B and grab a bucket of sidewalk chalk and help your kids to create your own family artwork.
While the lines for the museums are notoriously long, there is so much else to do that you may not need to go inside to keep the kids entertained. As you wander down Fifth Ave., you’ll pass enough clowns, singers, magicians and facepainting artists to keep your kids satisfied – at least until the next big summer festival.
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