Kids’ Artwork Takes Center Stage at Children’s Museum of the Arts’ Exhibit

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.”

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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.

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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.

Children's Museum of the Arts Summer Camp

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.

To find more fun at the Children’s Museum of the Arts or elsewhere around the city, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.


Celebrate Gigantic Art & Big Burgers at Madison Square Park This Week

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.

 Madison Sq Park Sculpture

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.

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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).

Madison Sq Park playground

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.



Must-See Spots at the Museum Mile Festival

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.

Museum Mile agent j

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.

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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.

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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.

To find more fun, download our FREE app for iPhone/iPad or Android.


Get on the Bus: Free Shuttle to 4 Long Island City Art Spots

Art-hopping in Long Island City just got a whole lot easier, thanks to the new summer Long Island City Art Bus. The free – yes, free – shuttle makes stops at all the must-see cultural gems of Queens: MoMA P.S. 1, Sculpture Center, The Noguchi Museum, and Socrates Sculpture Park.

LIC Shuttle

Photos by Alice Perry

Operating on Saturdays and Sundays, the LIC Art Bus runs from 12 to 6 p.m. and makes a continual loop among the four cultural institutions. The 25-seat shuttle is clean and air-conditioned, and the entire trip from start to finish takes about 25 minutes with 5 to 10 minutes between stops. The bus leaves each stop about every 45 minutes, which gives you time to sample the Long Island City art scene.

So what’s going on in Long Island City that’s so special? Socrates Sculpture Park is one of the best-kept secrets this side of the East River. This artist enclave is a little bit hippy-dippy Berkeley and a little bit hipper-than-thou Chelsea topped with a ton of cool things that the whole family will enjoy.

Queen Mother of Reality

The park specializes in gigantic outdoor sculptures that kids love. Currently on view is Paweł Althamer’s (who just had an excellent show at the New Museum) Queen Mother of Reality, a colossal Buddha-like figure who reclines in the shade along the East River. Stretching 50 feet long, the sculpture is made from recycled and found materials like fedora hats and airplane parts. Best part? Kids can enter the sculpture around the tummy area and explore inside.

Over at MoMA P.S. 1, the current exhibits aren’t exactly targeted toward children, but there are a few cool things for the kids to check out. Kids will immediately dig the fact the museum is an old schoolhouse that still feels and looks like a school.


On the second floor, steer the kids to a few sections of Christoph Schlingensief’s wild traveling circus of a show. Although the exhibit contains mature material, it won’t hurt kids to take a ride on Stairlift to Heaven, Schlingensief’s playful commentary on getting rid of boundaries between art and daily life. Visitors sit in a hydraulic chair, which gently ascends along the wall. At the top, you can pull back a small curtain on a box and watch a movie privately. As you follow your future geriatric journey, a spotlight shines on your trip. Who doesn’t like having an all-eyes-on-me experience?

The Noguchi Museum’s Zen vibe is not only a serene respite for parents, but the museum also offers kid-pleaser family workshops. On a monthly basis, the museum hosts a drop-in art workshop – no registration required. In addition, future Rodins can create masterpieces at Art for Tots and Art for Families every Saturday and Sunday.

So what you waiting for? Get on the bus!




Kara Walker’s Supersized Sugar Sculpture Wows at Brooklyn Domino Factory

You know the drill when you take your kids to a museum: “no touching” and “use your inside voice.” But at Kara Walker’s new sculpture exhibition in the defunct Domino Sugar factory in Brooklyn, you’ll need to add one more rule: “No licking.”

 Kara Walker sculpture 02Photos by Alice Perry

The centerpiece of Walker’s show, “A Subtlety,” is a monumental Aunt Jemima-meets-Egyptian sphinx sculpture covered in white, granulated sugar. Measuring 35 feet tall and 75 feet long, Sugar Baby dominates the 30,000-square-foot, gymnasium-like space and will wow you and the kids.

Standing before the mammoth Sugar Baby, even the youngest kids will feel that they’re in the presence of something grand and legendary and even bizarre. Walk around the sculpture (which is a bit of a hike considering its size) and check out the textured streams of sugar on the sculpture’s sides and the carpet of white sugar that encircles Sugar Baby.

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Presented by Creative Time, Walker’s installation also includes 15 smaller sculptures of young boys carrying baskets and leading up to Sugar Baby. Although about five feet high, these richly brown sculptures seem diminutive compared to the Queen Bee. Kids can get up close to these boys and see powdered sugar at their feet and melting molasses on their backs, which looks like sweat from their labors. On one sculpture, powdered brown sugar is visible where his eyes should be. With others, if you stand in the right spot, the natural light illuminates the sculpture, turning the brown sugar to a deep ochre color.

Throughout the whole factory, you can feel invisible sugar crunching under your feet. If you look up toward the ceiling, you can see burned molasses still on the walls from the factory’s working years. And the smell, yes, you can still smell a chemical sweetness in the air.

The installation plays on so many archetypes and stereotypes that you may get tongue-tied when your kids ask the invariable question, “Why?” If you don’t have the answers, just stick to the rules: No touching, use your inside voice, and no licking.

A few end notes:

1)    Strollers are allowed. Yea!

2)    Because the factory is under construction, there is no running water, and only Port-a-Potties are available.

3)    Creative Time recommends using public transportation because parking in the area can sometimes be difficult. Take the L to Bedford Ave. or the J, M, Z to Marcy Ave. It is about a 15-minute walk from both stations to the factory.

4)     If you have a problem with exposing your kids to a supersized naked female form, you may want to skip this one.

Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” continues at Domino Sugar factory (Kent Ave. & South 2nd St., Williamsburg) until July 6: Fri., 4-8 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 12-6 p.m. Free.





Kid Artists Shine at Guggenheim’s “A Year With Children”

Imagine that you’re an 8-year-old kid and when your friends ask, “What did you do over the weekend?” you respond oh-so nonchalantly, “I went to my art opening at the Guggenheim.” Well, that’s exactly what happened last week for a select group of New York City public schoolchildren.

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The Guggenheim Museum’s new exhibit “A Year with Children 2014” showcases the art by kids who participated in Learning Through Art (LTA), a museum program that sends teaching artists into the public elementary schools where they collaborate with teachers to design projects that explore ideas related to the school curriculum.

Over a six-month period, the instructors met with the kids who range in age from 7 to 12 at their schools and got to work. All of the art, which includes assemblages, collages, paintings, and sculptures, is inspired by the Guggenheim collection (no doodles of hearts or smiley faces here). These future Richard Princes and Cindy Shermans tackled the big ideas in art, such as questioning identity, revisiting the past, and making bold statements about today.

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Students at P.S. 86 in the Bronx explored the idea of  culture and how it develops in their community. Each kid was asked to take a photograph of something they see every day in their neighborhood and then to create a sculpture of it. Now on display are papier mâché replicas of those everyday objects like a super-sized pencil and a crushed soda can (move over, Claes Oldenburg).

At P.S. 144 in Forest Hills, the kids were challenged to create an artwork that makes the invisible seem visible. So how do you visualize something invisible like energy? Just ask third grader Gopy Manby. “I did kinetic energy,” he excitedly explained at the exhibit’s opening. “Since I play soccer, I wanted to make a sculpture about soccer. I really liked working with the clay and wires.”

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While at P.S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, the students delved into the question of collaboration and community. Third grader Cheythan Winter described in detail the group artwork. “This is a mural, and everybody painted their own personal symbol in the background. My symbol means strong and peaceful,” he said. Then the kid artists posed for a photo in front of the mural using gestures to illustrate an ideal. “Ours is strong and creative.” Could this group of kids be the next big art movement like the Irascibles or Fluxus? Stay tuned!

A Year With Children 2014 is on view now to June 18 at the Guggenheim Museum.

[Top two photos by Alice Perry, bottom photo by Scott Rudd, courtesy of Guggenheim Museum.]



How to Discover New Kid Friendly Restaurants In Your City

Ah, the elusive kid friendly restaurant. Though life would be much easier if all eateries had a big sign on their door that made it clear, most of the time we can only find how accommodating they are to children that out through trial and error. There are, however, a few ways to tell before you enter whether or not a venue will be appropriate.

They’re certainly not foolproof, but these tactics will at least help you eliminate the restaurants that are not welcoming, and that kids will not enjoy. And even if you already know these tricks, hopefully they’ll at least inspire you to branch out from your standard shortlist of dinner spots and take the family somewhere new.

kid friendly restaurants

Menu: Okay, this one’s pretty obvious. Though food is by no means the only kid-friendliness indicator, it’s easy to cross a restaurant off your list if there’s nothing your fussiest eater will enjoy. Plus, if the menu features a “Kids’ Menu” section, you know you’re golden.

Seating: Call a restaurant ahead of time. If you simply say “Are you kid friendly?” they may not know how to answer. But if you ask if there are highchairs or booster seats, their yes or know response will give you a clearer idea.

kid friendly restaurants

The Crowd: For parents with small children, the spacing of the restaurant matters a lot. It can be hard to tell a restaurant’s spacing from pictures online, but if a restaurant is lauded as “cozy,” or if it looks super crowded, you can guess there won’t be much room for strollers.

Word of Mouth: At the end of the day, word of mouth is the best way to find kid friendly restaurants. And these days, you don’t have to worry if you don’t have any friends or relatives with kids to help you discover new dining experiences your children can enjoy. After all, you can always look up recommendations Google or Yelp, or ask your go-to Facebook group.

So this weekend, expand your culinary horizons. Get out and enjoy some of the amazing things going on in your city on RedRover, and then end your best day ever with a new kid friendly restaurant.

[Photos via Flickr/Pawel Loj and Lynn Kelley Author]



Make Museums Even More Fun With These Museum Games

Sometimes, kids don’t realize how fun museums can be. If they don’t understand the historical importance of Ancient Greek pottery, or haven’t been around long enough to know what makes a Van Gogh so special, they might want to spend their entire visit looking at dinosaur bones. But, even though kids can learn a lot from colossal skeletons, we know there are lots of other things to see at museums.

That’s why, when taking  kids to a museum, it’s important to keep them engaged. And just like Mary Poppins taught us with cleaning, the easiest way to accomplish that is to make it a game.


Museum games can help you add some structure to museum visits, to make sure kids get as much as possible out of the experience. So here’s a list of some ideas to help make museums more fun for the whole family. If you have some tricks of your own, share them with us on Twitter!

Scavenger Hunt: This one takes a little planning ahead on your part, but it’s worth it. Simply make a scavenger hunt based on items throughout whatever museum you’re visiting, and incorporate  educational trivia into the clues.

20 Questions: Take turns choosing an item in a room, or within one painting, and play 20 questions. (Is it a painting? Is it a watercolor? Are there flowers?) This one can be easily adapted for different ages.

Find a Rainbow: This idea comes from No Time for Flashcards, and is a great game for younger children. ”In each gallery see if you and your kids can find every color of the rainbow. To make it more challenging you can add a rule that you can only find one color per painting. So that painting with the rainbow … yeah not going to cut it!”

Postcards: Many museum gift shops sell postcards of their most memorable pieces. Buy a few before you enter the exhibits, and let kids try to find the corresponding works as you mosey through each room. It’s like a museum equivalent of hide-and-go-seek.

Storytime: For the little ones who are creatively-inclined, this game is easy. Pick a painting, and have them tell you a story about it. Why is “The Scream” screaming? What did Degas’ ballerinas do on their way to the studio? This not only lets kids exercise their imagination, it also inspires them to observe and focus on a painting.

[Image vis Flickr/Paphio]


How to Unplug and Be Present With Your Kids

We’re all at least a little guilty of spending too much time on the grid, glued to our phones or obsessively checking our email. It’s understandable. For most of us, our jobs and social lives are intimately connected to technology. Plus, there are a lot of really great sites and apps that are addictive simply because they’re awesome (like this one :) ). So one of the biggest questions for modern parents is how to be present, how to completely unplug and devote all your focus to your family.

There’s no easy answer. But there are some tricks you can use to wean yourself off your favorite gadgets, either temporarily or permanently, to ensure your time is better spent. Here are some of our favorite, simple ways to unplug.

how to be present

-Delete addictive apps: Going cold turkey isn’t easy, but let’s be real. You don’t need Candy Crush in your life. If you find you can’t control your use of certain apps or games, delete them and the temptation will soon become trashed as well.

-Use airplane mode: When you’re out with kids, consider turning your phone off. Or, if like so many of us, you use your phone as your clock these days, simply go to “Settings” and switch it to “Airplane Mode.” That way you won’t be distracted by texts from your BFF or pesky push notifications.

-Actually turn the computer off: When you’re at home, trying to spend an afternoon with the kids, it can be tempting to go check your email or Twitter feed “just for a second.” If you turn off your computer during these hours, though, the mild inconvenience of having to power up will prevent you from taking so many mini-breaks, and you can truly focus on play.

-Sync family tech time: You’re not the only one who needs their tech fix. Whether it’s a game, app, or favorite television program, your kids partake in technology as well. Set aside time for tech, and more time where everyone in the house has to unplug.

-Leave the house: Use RedRover to find something fun to do with the family: like an exhibit, a concert, or a class. Having an active offline activity planned will ease temptation and hopefully be so fun, you won’t even think about what you’re missing online.

If none of these work, and you still feel the need to scratch your technology itch, sit back for a moment and try to figure out exactly why you so frantically want to stay “connected.”  Remember: you’re probably not missing anything crucial. Everyone else is trying to spend more time with their family, too.

[Image via Flickr/Graela]


‘Thankful’ Garland Craft

We’re approaching that time of year where normally sane women elbow each other on Black Friday to get reindeer sweaters at 60% off and my mailbox is stuffed with catalogs featuring every toy that lights up and makes noise.

“Wowwwww what is thaaaaat?” my five year old pointed to a toy Katniss-Everdeen-style bow + arrow set that came in a Target catalog in the mail. Her eyes started to gloss over, I could see the wheels in her head turning… “Do you think you could get that for me for Christmas?” (turns page) “This, too?”

Here’s a nice, quiet, no-batteries-required craft that gives a nod to some of things we want to cherish during the holiday season - giving and gratitude.

1) Gather some construction paper, draw a leaf shape, and cut. I used a hole-punch to make small holes at the end of each leaf. If your children are old enough, they can draw and cut the leaves themselves.


2) Have your kiddo(s) write down what they’re thankful for. If they’re too young to write, they can either draw a picture or you can write it for them. :) Ours ranged from apples to kittens to favorite stuffed animals.


3) String them up (we used yarn, but twine or ribbon works just fine), and hang them somewhere to admire. A mantel, a doorway, or in our case, a mirror.


For a happy sensory bonus, I set some water to boil on the stove, tossed in some rosemary sprigs, lemon slices, and vanilla extract and played some soft instrumental music on Pandora. The girls quietly colored and wrote their leaves, and it was just *such* a nice, soothing afternoon activity.

You’ll need a couple of those if you’re going to go elbow to elbow with Marge on Black Friday. ;)