Last week, Immersed profiled self-taught Baltimore multimedia artist Matt Muirhead’s visit to The New Century School to present his crankie to a rapt group of preprimary students (read TNCS Preprimary Gets Wounds Up for a Very Special Art Show). This week, some of the older students give their inner artists a turn.
Teachers Nameeta Sharma and Jon Wallace escorted the 3rd- through 7th-graders on a field trip to the American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM), a true Baltimore gem. “We wanted to expose the students to Baltimore art as well as make that connection with what [art teacher Jenny Miller] teaches and frequently discusses,” said Mrs. Sharma. “These students love to be hands on, and we try to make opportunities available to them to deepen their understanding and engage them.”
“We are the National Museum for Self-Taught Artisans”
(No really–Congress said so!) It’s a great fit. Like TNCS, AVAM is special in so many ways. AVAM was founded in 1995 by Rebecca Alban Hoffberger who envisioned a “museum and education center that would emphasize intuitive creative invention and grassroots genius.” Rather than displaying specific artists or styles, themed exhibitions circulate through AVAM to complement its permanent installations.
The museum’s 7 educational goals are:
- Expand the definition of a worthwhile life.
- Engender respect for and delight in the gifts of others.
- Increase awareness of the wide variety of choices available in life for all … particularly students
- Encourage each individual to build upon his or her own special knowledge and inner strengths
- Promote the use of innate intelligence, intuition, self-exploration, and creative self-reliance.
- Confirm the great hunger for finding out just what each of us can do best, in our own voice, at any age.
- Empower the individual to choose to do that something really, really well.
TNCS’s visit began in the Jim Rouse Visionary Center with an introduction and a run-through of the rules by museum educators Sara and Emily. They explained that AVAM features truly visionary art, which they defined as “art produced by self-taught individuals, usually without formal training, whose works arise from an innate personal vision that revels foremost in the creative act itself.” The visionary artist typically receives an inspirational message or vision that he or she is compelled to manifest, often not considering the manifestation to be actual art. Another key characteristic of visionary art is the use of unusual materials.
To get the most out of this wondrous experience, the large group split into two, with 3rd- and 4th-graders first taking a docent-led tour of the exhibits in the main building, and 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-graders heading upstairs to make some art in The Thou Art Creative Classroom. The groups then switched activities.
The Great Mystery Show
The main exhibit currently is The Great Mystery Show, which “. . . artfully peels away the veil of the unknown, playfully exploring mystery as that one secret power behind great art, science, and pursuit of the sacred . . . [in a] wildly visual exaltation of the strangeness and wonder of Life itself.” The viewer gets transported to other-worldly realms, lost in the experience. TNCS students deemed it “cool.”
To get their minds spinning, TNCS students were asked to consider whether they would create an imaginary planet or reproduce a known one. Would it have rings? What kind of weather would it have and would the weather be visible in the planet’s atmosphere? Is the planet inhabited? If so, by what or whom? What do the inhabitants eat?
TNCS students are incredibly fortunate to not only have this world-renowned museum of “outsider art” (also known as “intuitive art,” “raw art,” or “art brut”) just a couple of neighborhoods away but also to have teachers who understand the importance of taking them there. Visiting museums and engaging with art paves the way for students to live richly and meaningfully. It also connects them with their fellow humans and their humanity, helping them to become responsible world citizens.
More Great AVAM Offerings
The list would be never-ending, but here are some highlights that shouldn’t be missed!
That’s right, folks—this is Your Guide to Surviving Winter Break with the Kiddos, brought to you by Immersed and The New Century School (with a lot of help from our neighbors and friends!).
The following list runs chronologically, not hierarchically, and activities included met the one criterion of occurring between December 16, 2016 and January 3, 2017 (or later), a period that roughly corresponds to Winter Break for Baltimore City Schools. The list was specially curated to entertain kids of all ages and cultures.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–December 19, 11:00 am–3:45 pm
- Description: Come tour 203 N. Amity, the tiny house where Edgar Allan Poe launched his renowned career as the denizen of darkness. As well, enjoy the Baltimore Camera Club’s special springtime 2016 exhibit:“ Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe,” featuring diverse works inspired by Poe, his poetry, literature, and legacy. Don’t miss this chance to enjoy this diverse selection while visiting the Poe House & Museum, exploring this tiny home, and the exhibit in the room where we presume Poe once slept and dreamed.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–December 19, 6:00 pm–10:00 pm
- Description: Join a singing procession with Mary, Joseph, and the Mariachi Rey Azteca band. Dinner, DJ Eddie Chabot, and a piñata breaking party to follow! People of all beliefs are welcome. Please bring a dish, beverages, or dessert to share in the spirit of the tradition. To volunteer and/or to participate, please register firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–December 24; Sunday–Thursday, 11:00 am–7:00 pm and Friday–Saturday, 11:00 am–8:00 pm
- Description: West Shore Park at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will once again transform into a European Wonderland for the annual Holiday Village. A large variety of weekday and weekend events designed to please young and old await to be explored! Over 50 international vendors located both inside a huge heated festival tent and outdoors in traditional wooden booths will offer their unique giftware! Wander the market with the smell of sweet waffles, gingerbread, and Gluhwine (mulled wine) wafting through the air or enjoy a sizzling Bratwurst right from the grill! New for 2016—join Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance for Family Friday on December 23 from 3:00 pm–6:00 pm for lots of activities for the kiddos including photos with Santa, face painting, life-sized games, kids’ rides, and craft sessions!
- Date(s)/Times: December 25; 12:00 pm–5:00 pm
- Description: Join JMM for a relaxing afternoon to visit Cicely, Alaska. Inspired by Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America, we will be screening episodes from Season One of Northern Exposure. This cult TV show follows the life of recently graduated New York City physician, Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is sent to practice in Alaska to fulfill his obligation after Alaska paid for his medical education. Throughout the screening, popcorn and hot chocolate will be served.
- Date(s)/Times: December 25–December 27; starting at 2:00 pm (click above link for times of specific activities)
- Description: Celebrate the start of Chanukah with the lighting of Maryland’s largest menorah, along with a parade, live music, kid’s activities, fireworks, Grand Menorah Lighting of the Esther Ann Menorah, kosher food truck, and live music! Admission is free and open to the public.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–December 31; 5:15 pm–11:00 pm
- Description: One block in Hampden bursts with light each holiday season as residents illuminate their row homes and mount quirky ornaments, from a giant snow globe to a Christmas tree made of hubcaps. It’s a holiday tradition like no other.
- Date(s)/Times: December 30; 12:00 pm–5:00 pm (click the above link for times of specific activities)
- Description: Bring the family to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum to celebrate the holiday’s 50th anniversary and the Kwanzaa principle Nia (“Purpose”). Enjoy storytelling, African dancing, and drumming by Sankofa Dance Theater. Sallah Jenkins leads holiday craft-making. Travel with teaching artist Culture Queen through Culture Kingdom Kids’ Kwanzaaland to explore the seven Kwanzaa principles at workshop stations. Dr. Jeffrey Menzise of Morgan State University gives the keynote speech about the meaning of Nia.
- Date(s)/Times: December 31; 9:00 am–2:00 pm
- Description: Does the ball drop after your bedtime? Not this year! Ring in the New Year at the Maryland Science Center! Join us for our 9th annual New Year’s Eve celebration, Midnight Noon, where children can enjoy the ball drop before bed time. There will be fun New Year’s festivities throughout the day, including a live concert by popular kids band Milkshake. Their Grammy-nominated tunes will keep you dancing throughout the day. Crafts will be available while supplies last. Guests can look forward to constructing noise makers and making party favors. The entire Science Center will be open and ready for you to explore.
- Date(s)/Times: December 31; 10:00 am–5:00 pm
- Description: Don’t miss one of Baltimore’s best family-friendly New Year’s celebrations. Port Discovery’s Noontime New Year Snow Ball Celebration features Baltimore’s original kid-friendly countdown and balloon drop, Eric Energy’s famous energy show, dance parties, tons of art projects, a juice and cookie toast, and more.
- Date(s)/Times: December 31; 8:00 pm
- Description: It’s NYE and you want to spend it with your entire family, but midnight is so far away. From the giant scoop in front of The Charmery is the Kiddie Scoop Ball Drop, complete with a countdown featuring the milk jug ball and a complimentary sparkling cider toast. Let’s ring in the New Year . . . a little early.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17-January 1, Thursday-Sunday from 6:00 pm–8:00 pm and 8:30 pm–10:30 pm
- Description: Young and old will delight in sharing a magical evening filled with holiday music, festive light displays, and beautiful neighborhood decorations, all aboard an old fashioned trolley! The 2-hour tour, conducted by an expert guide, will begin at Royal Sonesta Harbor Court in downtown Baltimore and will then proceed to take guests through the adorned neighborhoods of Harbor East, Fells Point, and Canton where they will learn a little local history and observe the charming sights and sounds of the holidays. Next, the Trolley will head north to Hampden to see and enjoy the block-long spectacular 34th Street Annual Christmas Festival of Lights, complete with colorful lights, outdoor train gardens, original artwork from local artists, and sparkling displays. On the way back to the Inner Harbor, guests will ride pass the George Washington Monument in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood where it has been beautifully decorated for the season.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17-January 1
- Description: This dazzling and fun-filled festival will transform the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore’s lobby into a winter wonderland for the holidays. Guests and locals alike will be welcomed into the hotel by glistening display of trees, each with its own unique theme. Snap a photo in front of a tree and share by using #FSFestive.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–December 31 & January 2; Monday-Saturday, 10am-4pm; Sunday, 11am-4pm (Museum closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day)
- Description: All aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a holiday spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event, with special guests, train layouts, crafts, and more each week!
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 2; please click the above link for hours each day
- Description: So many happenings! Click the above link for details.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 2; aquarium hours are Monday–Thursday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm; Friday, 10:00 am–8:00 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm (4D Immersion film times vary; click the above link for details)
- Description: The National Aquarium presents a magical twist on a holiday classic this winter, as “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 4-D” debuts at the National Aquarium’s 4-D Immersion Theater. Guests can journey with Rudolph as he sets off on a series of funny and endearing adventures after being ousted from Christmas-town because of his bright and shining nose—meeting new friends Hermey the Elf and Yukon Cornelius on the way. The Aquarium’s 4-D Immersion Theater brings Rudolph and friends to life, allowing visitors to get close to the sights, smells and sounds of the action. The theater is equipped with 4-D capabilities, combining the excitement of a 3-D film with special sensory effects.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 3 (closed December 25); 11:00 am–5:00 pm
- Description: See a model train garden built by volunteers and housed in Engine House #41 at 520 S. Conkling Street in Baltimore City. Open to the public and it is free. It is sponsored by CSX, The Baltimore City Fire Department and the Southeast Community Development Corporation.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–February 28; Monday–Sunday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm (December); Friday–Monday, 10:00 am–4:00 pm (January–February)
- Description: Enjoy $10 discounted admission all winter long for all ages. Take advantage of this special price freeze and experience the Zoo offseason from now through February 28th for less. See Arctic animals, penguins, chimpanzees, flamingos, giraffe, lions and more. Some animals, however, are not on exhibit for the winter season.
- Date(s)/Times: December 22–January 2; Tuesday-Friday, 10:00 am-5:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am-6:00 pm; Sunday, 11:00 am-5:00 pm
- Description: 12 Days of Science features a different theme every day. Drop-in workshops, live demonstrations, and hands-on building will be happening throughout the Science Center while at-home activities take over our website and social media.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 8; Wednesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm, Thursdays 10:00 am–9:00 pm (click above link for holiday closings)
- Description: The art of medieval Europe—luminous stained glass windows, church bells with their mesmerizing sounds, and tapestries depicting fragrant gardens—stirred the senses. This international loan exhibition brings together more than 100 paintings, tapestries, metalwork, manuscripts, and prints from museums in the United States and abroad, including masterpieces from the Walters’ collection. Special children’s programs are also available—visit the link above.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 16; Wednesday–Friday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11:00 am–6:00 pm (click the above link for special extended holiday hours and closings)
- Description: The BMA presents an exquisite selection of late 19th- and mid-20th century kimonos and obis that have never been shown before. Obi are wide sashes wrapped around the kimono wearer’s waist and tied in an ornate knot at the back. These stunning garments were made after the lifting of sumptuary laws during Japan’s Edo period (1603–1867) when commoners were forbidden to wear showy clothing with colors like red or purple. The Meiji Era (1868–1912) coincided with increased prosperity as Japan entered the industrial age and this newfound wealth was often expressed in lavish garments. Many of these kimonos displayed decorative motifs with symbols of the Imperial Court, especially those referring to the Heian Era (794–1185), considered Japan’s Golden Age when the court was in its most powerful, refined, and romantic period.
#21. Outdoor Ice Skating
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 16; Monday–Thursday, 12:00 pm–8:00 pm; Friday, 12:00 pm–11:00 pm; Saturday, 10:00 am–11:00 pm; Sunday, 10:00 am–8:00 pm (click the above link for special extended holiday hours and closings)
- Description: Break the ice at the PANDORA Ice Rink at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, complete with a skate shack, rentals, concessions, and entertainment as well as special events like SkateFest, a learn-to-skate program, and more.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 22; runs on continuous loop during museum hours (Wednesday–Friday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11:00 am–6:00 pm; lick the above link for special extended holiday hours and closings)
- Description: For this 2014 video, John Waters recast his 1972 cult film Pink Flamingos—considered one of the most notorious films ever made—with children reading a cleverly modified G-rated script. The 74-minute video shown on a continuous loop in the Black Box gallery features adorable kids wearing wigs and suggestions of the original costumes as they evoke the legendary performances of Divine, Mink Stole, Edith Massey, and others. Filmed in one day mostly with friends’ children, Waters has said the new version is in some ways more perverse than the original.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–January 29; Wednesday–Friday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Saturday–Sunday, 11:00 am–6:00 pm (click the above link for special extended holiday hours and closings)
- Description: More than 90 paintings and drawings by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) and Richard Diebenkorn (1922-1993) show the French modern master’s enduring influence on one of the greatest post-war American painters. Diebenkorn’s long engagement with Matisse’s work is among the most productive instances of one painter looking at another’s paintings in the history of 20th-century art. This landmark exhibition brings together a stunning array of works loaned from museums and private collections throughout the U.S. and Europe to follow the trajectory of Diebenkorn’s long and successful career with some of the powerful works by Matisse that the younger artist would have seen.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–March 20; Open Skate hours are Tuesday, 12:00 pm-2:00 pm; Friday, 7:00 pm-9:00 pm; Saturday, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm and 7:00 pm-9:00 pm; Sunday, 3:00 pm-5:00 pm (click the above link for skating lesson times)
- Description: The Mimi DiPietro Family Skating Center features public sessions, ice hockey, broomball, ice skating sessions and sled hockey from October until March. Located at Linwood Avenue and Pratt Street, the rink hosts many of Baltimore’s youth and amateur hockey teams, as well as seasonal special events. The center is also home to the Baltimore Blizzard women’s hockey. The rink is full-sized measuring 200-by-85 feet and is equipped with a warm-up room, fireplace, concession stand and skate shop, which makes this facility the perfect venue for private parties and group rentals.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17–June 20; Wednesday–Saturday, 10:00 am–5:00 pm; Sunday, 12:00 pm–5:00 pm (click the above link for holiday closings)
- Description: This exhibit contains more than 50 items spanning four centuries of donations to the Maryland Historical Society, including two of Eubie Blake’s practice pianos, period clothing, portraits, silver, a wool tapestry of George Washington, the sign from Club Hippo and a video installation of images from the Preserve the Baltimore Uprising project.
- Date(s)/Times: December 17-September 3; Tuesday–Sunday, 10:00 am–6:00 pm
- Description: Inside Yummm! 34 visionary artists join forces with food scientists, farmers, nutritionists, environmental activists, psychologists, poets, and humorists to publicly explore humankind’s complex, multi-layered relationship with food. AVAM’s Yummm! exhibition aims to inspire a greater public awareness of the revolutionary creativity needed to envision how a future planet of 9.5 billion earthlings will safely eat, cultivate, distribute, share, and even package food in radically more healthful, less wasteful, and equitable ways. With Yummm! AVAM hopes to encourage greater delight and awareness in every bite. The Yummm! exhibition features intuitively made, imagination-rich, food-centric paintings, sculptures, embroideries, installations, and films. Some artworks are even directly created from edibles.
- Date(s)/Times: Available 365 days a year, sunrise to sunset. Start your event when you want and play at your pace.
- Description: Turn Baltimore into a giant game board with this fun scavenger hunt adventure. Combine the excitement of the Amazing Race with a 3-hour city tour. Guided from any smart phone, teams make their way among well-known and overlooked gems of the city, solving clues and completing challenges while learning local history. The event starts at the MD Science Center and takes you on an adventure to see the best of the Inner Harbor, down to Little Italy, and other great locations. Compete against others as you use your mind and legs to solve the challenges and get the most points on the leaderboard.
BONUS. . . And, of course, the Winter Break Camp at TNCS is always a huge hit with kids and parents alike!