Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Phamily Photo Phun...

Wow I didn't think it was possible to have so much fun with photography, and also learn about images-how they relate to each other, and how we see ourselves and the people around us in terms of those images. The theme was Family at Tracey Hagen's 'Photo Assemblage' KIDSART workshop, held at her photo studio at Bakehouse Art Complex. We all ventured on into the main gallery as well, so everyone could spread out. Big thanks to Arlys and Lauren of BAC for kindly providing the gallery space!

Of course we could have all stayed in Tracey's studio, but as you can see from the photos, the workshop was packed; and the kids were eager to spread out and get started. Tracey began by explaining a little bit about photography, and let the kids know all about the hundreds of Polaroids taped to her studio walls. Tracey's father was a pediatric dentist in Miami Beach, and he took Polaroids of all of his patients to help them relax. She has started a project called 'Memory', which will involve a full-scale installation including these Polaroids, as well as family photos the kids inscribed and brought into her dad's office. Tracey also showed some old B&W cartoons that her dad would play in his office, to keep his little patients amused. Some of Tracey's large photos on aluminum hung on the studio's walls as well, giving the kids an idea of what an artist has in their studio-and she also showed them the camera she uses to take her pictures.

Then we split into two groups, with Luis taking one group down the halls of Bakehouse, to take photos of each other, and whatever artwork interested them. Tracey led the other group, and we all met at the gallery. Some of the kids had brought family photos from home, and some had uploaded their images to Tropicolor, which donated the printing. Tracey supplied an instant printer, so the photos the kids took in the hallways could be printed on the spot. There was as lot to work with!

Using canvas boards graciously donated by Utrecht Art Supplies the kids began shaping their assemblages (this can be pronounced a la francais as 'ah-sem-BLAHJ', if you like). With a little help from some parents, and Tracey's and Luis's expert cutting, pasting, and placement skills, the assemblages came to life. The amazing thing is that we had 11 kids and every single one came out differently. Some were angled this way, some another-some kids meticulously shaped all of their photos with scissors, while others added markings.

Even with something as seemingly simple as assembling photo collages, the kids' artistic and creative juices were really flowing, allowing them to learn about the relationship between image and space, both linear and geographic. While also enjoying the freedom to let their minds go on an inventive journey. Even if they started out just trying to make a pretty collage.

The workshop was topped off with another super lunch from World Resource Cafe, gallantly chauffeured in during a vicious downpour by artist/volunteer John DeFaro. The Thai donuts were, not surprisingly, a big hit. There was a lot of dipping...

We all sat around on the floor eating Pad Thai and talking about family, and forging relationships with other creative people. I'm pretty sure if the donuts and the iced tea hadn't run out, we would have been there all afternoon! Thanks to everyone who participated. And a big shout out to volunteer Erin McCleary of City Year Miami!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Bottle Tree!

The Bottle Tree...

Bottle Tree Bob creates the twisting 'trunk' or 'frame' of the tree with sturdy rebar!

Each kid created a couple of bottles, some big, some small...

Artist John DeFaro gets the workshop going...


Creativity... helped along by Miami artist Luis Valle!


Some big kids got in on the act...

'City Year Miami' volunteer Erin McCleary (on the left) observing and evaluating the KIDSART program, chats with one of the parents...

KIDSART got off to a rousing start at artist John DeFaro's 'studio' on Saturday! The kids created a bottle tree, on a frame crafted and donated by Alabama's 'Bottle Tree Bob' Milton. John and his partner Fernando drove the 700 miles to Bottle Tree Bob's place near Montgomery, Ala., and hitched a trailer to their car to haul this huge 'tree' back to Miami. Can't wait to see the video of that! With empty sake bottles that John had been saving for just this project (although he didn't know it at the time!), the kids got busy creating their own distinct bottles, using colorful wires, found objects like old transistors, and organic material like palm fronds. The bottles were then placed on branches of the tree. The themes of mythology, repurposing, and the environment, were all explored through this amazing creation. Afterward, the kids, and some lucky parents, feasted on delicious sushi, popcorn shrimp, and chicken fried rice graciously supplied by World Resource Cafe. And then John's friend Manuela Mueller brought out not one but two cakes, which helped the kids replace all the sugar they had burned up, creating out in the heat! See the energy the artists and the kids brought to this project in the video below!

Thank You World Resource Cafe-lunch was spectacular!

...and thanks to Manuela Mueller, the kids ended their first workshop with a vanilla AND a chocolate cake!

KIDSART /Miami /Summer 2009
Workshop number 1. July 18, 2009
“The Bottle Tree” project.
A collaboration celebrating Mythology, Repurposing , and the Environment.
Artists: John DeFaro, Robert Milton “Bottle Tree Bob” and the KIDSART Kids.

History of the Bottle Tree

What is a bottle tree?
The bottle tree's origins can be traced back to Africa. It was believed that bottles suspended in the trees would attract evil spirits when the sun glimmered through the bottles. The evil spirits would then be trapped in the bottles. Later, African American families in the South translated this cultural tradition into bottle trees, stripping the foliage from trees and sliding bottles over the tips of branches t o catch any evil spirits coming their way. The trees were so interesting that people across the region started making them. Though long-ago Southerners used t hem to capture spirits, you can use a bottle tree to unleash yours-your creative spirit, that is.

It is fun to imagine, but we don't believe bottles could in any way "trap" evil spirits. However, the bottle tree has evolved to become a very unique Southern gardening tradition.

Everyone wants their yard or garden to be unique in some way. Bottle trees offer the chance to be creative while celebrating repurposing and the environment! They allow you to put your own twist on your yard or garden or even an interior space. The bottle tree can be placed almost anywhere and it can be moved at your whim. Bottle trees can be formed or designed into endless shapes and sizes. A most intuitive form of expression where the value is ongoing creative energy with little monetary cost.

Bottle trees don't die! They never need water or fertilizer. The bottle tree will always be in full bloom, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

KIDSART Launched by Artoconecto, Miami Arts Non-Profit

Artoconecto, the dynamic Miami arts non-profit, has been awarded a Community Grant from the Miami-Dade County Dept. of Cultural Affairs, to help launch KIDSART, a Saturday morning arts program where children ages 7-13 will visit artists' studios to attend workshops led by the artists themselves. Each week the children will be given a community-oriented theme, like recycling, or diversity, and guided through arts projects correlating to those themes, culminating in a public exhibition. "We are very excited to begin KIDSART, especially now, at a time when arts programming has been cut back so severely in our public schools," said Alexandra Rangel-Brody, executive Director of Artoconecto. "We are also very excited to partner with national volunteer group, City Year, and we hope to add the arts as an additional component to their current mentoring programs in our schools."

Artoconecto is actively looking to partner with local artists who would like to share their studio space one Saturday morning, giving kids an opportunity to experience the artist's working environment. Any artist that wishes to participate can contact Artoconecto. The workshops will be followed by lunch, sponsored by
World Resources Cafe on Lincoln Road, which will allow the children to interact informally with the artists and each other. Art supplies and materials generously donated by Utrecht Art Supplies; photo services by Tropicolor. Additional sponsors, as well as matching funds for the Miami-Dade grant, are being actively pursued as well.

KIDSART will include a partnership with 'City Year', the national service organization already working in 8 Miami-Dade public schools, who will have senior corps members attend the workshops and also write evaluations of the program for Miami-Dade, Artoconecto, and for the potential inclusion of KIDSART in their own volunteer programs. KIDSART will take place for five Saturday mornings from July 18th through August 15th, and culminate on September 12, 2009, when the participants will experience the Second Saturday Art Walk with a public exhibition of their creations.

For more info, please contact:

Danny Brody

Community Relations


Miami Herald Lauds KIDSART!

Artoconecto to offer free art program for children throughout Miami-Dade

KIDSART, a new art program by Artoconecto, will bring out the inner artists in kids ages 7-13 -- and it won't cost a thing.

Special to The Miami Herald

Painting a color-by-number mural, decorating bottles to be hung on a tree and making a giant collage of family photos. These are some of the activities offered in a free art program for kids that takes place this summer.....more

Monday, July 6, 2009


KIDSART is a free Saturday morning summer arts program where children ages 7-13 will visit artists' studios to attend workshops led by the artists themselves. Each week the children will be given a community-oriented theme, and guided through creative projects related to those themes. There will also be a public exhibition of the works created by KIDSART participants. The workshops, from 10AM-Noon, will be followed by lunch, which will also be provided free of charge. We have 12 slots each Saturday morning, July 18th-August 15th. To sign up for KIDSART, please email: Artoconecto@gmail.com

KIDSART made possible through the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners