Blue Star Museums – Kicking off summer!

Memorial Day is upon us so that means it’s time for Blue Star Museums to kick off for the summer! What is Blue Star Museums?

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and museums across America.  Each summer since 2010, Blue Star Museums have offered free admission to the nation’s active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve, from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Every summer we are happy to get to explore some of the areas institutions a little more. In Florida we visited the Ringling Museum and MOSI. In Ohio we’ve visited Brukner Nature Center, Dayton Art Institute, Springfield Museum of Art, and Aullwood Audubon Center and Farm with this program. Follow this link to see which museums are participating in your state.

This program is for military and their family but all of these museums sound like great places to visit.

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Now that the girls are a little older, we’ll try exploring a little further this summer as time permits in addition to the Dayton area organizations, Dayton Art Institute (the Experiecenter theme is “performing arts” right now), Sunwatch Indian VillageAullwood Audubon Center and Farm, and Brukner Nature Center. Some of the stops on our summer bucket list this year include:

Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Ohio History Center, Columbus

Armstrong Air & Space Museum, Wapakoneta

Take a minute to follow your favorites or get a calendar of events so you can plan a return visit during the year. If you are heading out for a summer trip, add one to your vacation itinerary. If you are new to taking children to museums, Blue Star Museums has some tips here.

 

Did you know that this is a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program? The NEA is currently looking at funding being eliminated but arts advocates would like to see an increase in funding from its FY17 $148 million to $155 million. That sounds like a big number doesn’t it? However, it actually only makes up 0.004 percent of the federal budget. Did you know that the nonprofit arts industry supports 4.13 million jobs and contributes $729 billion, or 4.2% of the gross domestic product? That sounds like a pretty good return on investment.

In case you were wondering, if the increases to the NEA had grown in relation to inflation it would be over $300 million at this point. Given that 40% of its money goes out to the 50 states to be redistributed, imagine how many more afterschool arts programs, theatre camps, and writing workshops there could be in all congressional districts. NEA also funds Art Works, Our Town, Rig Read, and Creativity Connects programs.

If you would like to let your representatives know that you support funding for the arts that reaches all Americans, take a moment to let them know by clicking here and help #SavetheNEA.

 

I have not been paid by any organizations mentioned in this post I just enjoy them and want other people to enjoy them, too!

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New Year’s Resolution: See More Art (Part 1)

I can’t keep a New Year’s Resolution to save my life. The only time in the past few years I did was one I decided to make something new each month. Although I failed to blog about the different projects, I actually did try a new craft or recipe each month. I ended the year with a bang by sewing my first pillowcase dress for Kelsey.

As New Year’s 2017 was approaching, I thought about what I should and could make my resolution. I’ve been trying to make a bigger effort to get more involved in the local arts community. It’s funny because my job is in the arts but between the nights and weekends that I’m out for work related events, my husbands schedule, the girls activities, and the cost of babysitters, I don’t get out to much else.

I decided that I would get out to something arts related at least once a month for 2017. So far it’s going well.

First up I made it out to Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH to catch a performance in an art gallery by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s Associate Artistic Director and my x2 New York City roommate, Crystal Michelle. I have enjoyed getting to know her and her thought process from late night chats and watching her work. The art exhibition and performance were part of a series “Living in Divided States.” Crystal’s performance explored the black female body and both the imagined and real experiences of being in one.

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I won tickets to Pinkalicious the Musical at the Victoria Theater, Dayton, OH from Dayton Parent Magazine. The whole family made the trip into downtown to catch the show. The girls loved looking around the interior of the theater and watching the show while wearing pink.

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I had some time to kill before Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s performance downtown the first weekend of March so I stopped it to check out Dayton Visual Arts Center for the first time. They have a new show every couple of months and have been a good support for local artists and is the home to an Art-o-mat, a converted cigarette vending machine that now sells small pieces of local art. I happened to pop in during the annual college exhibition. It was an interesting mix and representing a variety of disciplines.

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Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s show, Vantage Points, was absolutely amazing. I’ve been waiting for this performance since it was announced at our staff meeting last January. I’ve watched pieces of it come together in the studio all year and it did not disappoint. Wawa Aba by Stafford Berry, Rainbow Round My Shoulder by Donald McKayle (which DCDC won a 2016 Bessie Award for), and a new work, This I Know For Sure, by Ray Mercer. It was a program of outstanding, emotional, and riveting works. Ray’s piece being new was the one I was anticipating the most – pretty much a tie with getting to see the famous Rainbow Round My Shoulder live.

This I Know For Sure was just a stand out. Dancers fly through the air, climb all over each in new ways, continually introducing new groupings and partnering between a variety of dancers. Two favorite moments for me were the ladies trio (a statement of the strength and beauty of women) and a portion of the men’s piece were one female dancer seems to entice each of them, standing and expecting to be carried by each of them in turn while giving up nothing of herself. It was a wonderful experience to hear the audience explode with applause after oohing and awing through the piece.

 

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Photo by Scott Robbins, Geek with a Lens

Next up, I’ll be heading down to Cincinnati March 18 to watch Cincinnati Ballet’s Bold Moves. An evening of two contemporary dance pieces. They seem to be having a stellar year with Coppelia and Camelot ballets earlier this season – if you don’t yet, you should follow them on Instagram and Facebook for behind the scenes photos and fun videos like this one from Camelot when they took the puppet horse out for a stroll.

The first piece is going to be Minus 16 by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, creator of the Gaga method of dance which explores new ways to use the body (no relation to Lady). A quick search of Minus 16 on YouTube will give you a sampling of this work with seems to have become a modern day contemporary dance classic. The second work is a world premier by Cincinnati Ballet Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland. His brand new work is set to Beethoven’s String Quartet “Op. 18, No. 1 in F Major”, performed live on stage by the award-winning Israeli ensemble, Ariel Quartet.

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Photo by Aaron M Conway

 

Unfortunately, I’ll be heading to Washington DC for National Arts Advocacy Day (check it out at #ArtsAdvocacy) so I won’t be able to take the girls to their second company’s Ballet Toybox performance of Swan Lake, Jr on March 19. It’s an hour long performance for children 10 and younger. Check it out if you’re nearby.

This is just Part 1 of this series so I’ll update you in a few months on my next few art adventures. If you would like to take a moment to show your support of the arts, sign Americans for the Arts Action Fund’s petition for support of the arts.