August 14, 2017 // Holly Harmon
There is a captivating magic here, created from the vast sunken valley surrounded by snow-capped peaks, blanketed with wildflowers, protected by land trusts and drenched in rich history. The proof of this magic is evident at ArtWalk and the inspirational pieces found as you stroll along the seventeen businesses that host ArtWalk in Crested Butte.
ArtWalk is an evening of wine, hors d’oeuvres, fine art, mingling with friends, some of the world’s best artists, and … kids?! Why not? Art should be for everyone to enjoy, so why not get your children involved by appreciating and valuing art from an early age?
Art is everywhere in Crested Butte, with nearly 200 individuals registered with The Artists of Crested Butte, there really is something for everyone. If you haven’t enjoyed art as a family, ArtWalk in Crested Butte is the perfect place to start. The Grubstake Gallery curates art from sixteen different artists. Often, on ArtWalk nights you can find Gallery owner and artist Kimbre Woods demonstrating her techniques and creation process, a great kid friendly event to watch. Plus, Grubstake provides snacks and treats for kids and adults (as do many of the galleries on ArtWalk).
Nicholas Reti, artist and owner of Oh Be Joyful Gallery, is in favor of children experiencing art and has some insights on how adults can help curate the passion, interest, and appreciation for art at a young age.Reti believes that it is the role of the gallery to lead outreach to the community, to break the “us & them” vibe, and strengthen the connection between the success of a gallery and the successes of a community.He has big dreams of getting kids involved with art, creating art opportunities for kids in high school, and even creating scholarships so that art opportunities are accessible. Reti recounts a story of a family who visited his gallery recently, where the parents found themselves repeating the ever too familiar “DON’T TOUCH, DON’T TOUCH, DON’T TOUCH” to their child.
Reti explained that the child could, in fact, touch things, his only request – that the child asks first.
This is a big deal when you’re standing in front of a breathtaking $20,000 painting. The child did ask and he got to touch that painting. Reti explains that when you make art off-limits it puts a barrier between the child and the art that can be challenging to break down. Being able to feel the strokes, the depth of the paint, how it was applied or where a sculptor’s hands laid to create a vessel, these things matter to children and adults who are learning the value of art, how it’s created, and that they too can create.
If your family is ready to head to ArtWalk here are some creative tips on how to attend with your kids.
Get an ArtWalk Map – located at any of the 17 galleries and stores participating in ArtWalk, including Paragon at the Old Town Hall Bus Stop on 2nd and Elk.
- Spill the Beans – Let the children know ahead of time what the plan is. Kids are similar to adults, they want to know what is going on; the “who, when, where, and why” matters, a lot. Once they know the plan most kids will jump on board. You can let them know you will be going on a walk (read: adventure). Maybe you want to put a fun twist on your evening and go on a treasure hunt, a magic boat ride, secret mission, or become wish-granting fairies giving out stickers to all the land!
- Fuel up before you go – Pack your water bottles, have dinner, and bring snacks for the kids.
- Lay out some ground rules using your creative side – “We are going on a special adventure” (point at the map) insert your ‘adventure of choice’ “I need help from you to choose our course and read this map, can you help me?!” Be sure to let them know that once we enter the ‘lair, magic island, or fairy house’ we can’t touch anything (without asking first). You can give the kids a special handshake, object to hold, or the classic ‘keep your hands in your pockets’ to help keep reach-y hands occupied. Then once you leave said magic island (art gallery) there may be rough seas ahead and everyone can get their sillies out on the sidewalks. “Ahoy, captain what’s that ahead? I see the next magic island, The Design Collective! Drop the anchor!”
- Get Stickers – As you complete each stop on your ‘mission-treasure hunt-fairy house tour’, bust out some stickers and cover each location on the map. See another family struggling? Have the treasure-guide-captain of your ‘magic boat’, hand a sheet of stickers to the next kid, and let them in on the secret!
- Be a scientist – Some art is ok to touch, while other art isn’t. Become a scientist and help your kids understand the why behind not touching particular kinds of art. Instead of screaming “ahh put that down you’re going to break it!” Try something like “I see there are a LOT of really pretty, cool looking fragile pieces in this ‘magic island’ if we go be sure to look with your eyes and ask before you touch. When fragile things get picked up, sometimes they break, and that can be so sad and scary.” Then make the call, ask yourself: “Have the kids been AMAZING all night? Are they ready for this? Am I relaxed enough?” Be the adult, grab your fairy wand and poof you’re on to the next gallery if this one isn’t right for you. You can explain to the children before you enter about the oils and dirt on our hands and how they can get on the painting and hurt it. If you aren’t sure if it’s ok to touch, or why isn’t not ok, ask the artist, better yet, have the kids ask. You are likely to get a sweet and educated response from the authority on the subject and kids love that (hey, they hear us telling them what to do enough, why not let someone else get in on the fun?)
- Be prepared to take a break – Run in an alley, draw on the sidewalk with chalk, have a snack, and resume your adventure of choice.
- Make it a scavenger hunt – How many ‘Mt. Crested Butte’ pieces can you find? Who will find the first piece of art with a: Bear, Mountain Bike, Townie Bike, Humming Bird, Horse, Columbine, or Fox? Who can find art this is Impressionist? Realist? Abstract? Where will the biggest piece of art be? Or the smallest? Brainstorm with the kids beforehand and see how many you can check off!
- Keep in mind that kids LOVE art! Watch as they light up, stare, ponder, or shake with joy at pieces that speak to them. If you are attending ArtWalk with the intention of purchasing a treasure to take home, let the kids in on the fun. Give them a set amount to spend for the night or have them vote on which piece your family loves the most.
To learn more about the Artist of Crested Butte’s ArtWalk you can visit their website at http://www.artistsofcrestedbutte.org