There’s a new exhibit titled “Embrace!” at the Denver Art Museum. They invited artists to install installations and paint paintings throughout the building–directly onto the walls of the museum itself. Check out the link to the Daniel Libeskind building–I think it’s stunning. One of the interesting features is that there are no 90 degree angles in the building–the walls all jut out at odd angles to one another, and the pieces in this exhibit all take inspiration from and use that to their advantage. Come April, these works will be painted over, only to remain in pictures.
The DAM is incredibly kid-friendly and we’ve had memberships since the new building opened. On weekends during winter and every day during the summer you can check out kid-sized backpacks and art tubes with activities in them. Some galleries have “I Spy” cards to play with the paintings, and there are interactive games on every floor. In one work entitled “Bubbloo,” a light projector casts bubbles on the floor and kids (and adults, if you can get around the kids) run around to stomp on and pop the bubbles. The central area of this piece is flanked by large beanbag chairs, and on most days you can lounge on these and watch a chaotic slew of children frantically try to pop all the bubbles first. Occasionally this leads to a closed-head injury, but hey, it’s all for the sake of art.
I took the boy to see the new exhibit, and it’s really, really cool. A disclaimer: taking pictures of a fast-moving kid (the boy) in a low-light setting (the museum) and without a flash yields a lot of blurred pictures. Think of it as a purposeful design element.
In what used to be the gift shop is a piece titled “¿Being Home?” The artist asked immigrants to Denver to say one word that described their experience, and then did this:
See all the big words hanging from pegs on racks? Those are huge pillow words that you’re encouraged to play with, and the boy had a ball with them.
Next was a very cool installation “Chamber,” where there’s a big room with projected words and images that flit about you in a dark space, meant to be reminiscent of being inside a fireplace, only with technology instead of organic flames.
The boy found this to be a bit overwhelming and didn’t want to spend a bunch of time in there.
The DAM has little stations where you can do art activities. These change on a regular basis so there’s always something new, and they’re related to a piece nearby. This time we found an area where there were cut up pieces of cardboard, a hole puncher, brads and twist ties encouraging you to repurpose this found material into art.
You can see a bit of the piece it relates to behind the boy in the pic above, and here’s a larger shot.
The artist flattened liquor bottle tops and connected them with small copper rings to create this large undulating form, which the boy said reminded him of the mountains.
After all of this we were both a bit hungry and so went into the atrium that connects the old and new buildings, in which one can buy coffee and snack, which I did. They have wooden blocks there for kids to play with that mimic the Denver Central Library, which is right outside the window.
The boy used this as inspiration for his own library re-creation:
And then a map of his Denver:
I have NO idea what “the clock place” is, but that’s what he insisted on.
After this we walked over to the Library, checked out some books and headed home. We didn’t get to all the pieces in the show, so will have to go back at some point, but I highly recommend going to check it out if you get a chance, and take the kids! It’s been fun to take the boy (and now the girl) to the Museum and watch how their reaction to the art changes as they grow, from just sleeping in the carrier the entire time (philistine!) to playing with the light bubbles to now actually being able to have opinions on which pieces he likes and doesn’t. And let me tell you–my kids are quite opinionated.