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Thursday, August 8, 2013

ARTING About...? Crocker Art Museum "The Takeover: An Art Jam by and for Youth."

Image of Robin Scott Petersby Robin Scott Peters

When I was in seventh grade I came upon a teacher named Ms. Betty.  She took our after-school drama club--which met in the foyer of the auditorium convening underneath the overhang of a large stairway leading to the second floor balcony--to see Godspell at the Wilbur Theatre in Boston. We sat in the very last row of seats far in the back of the balcony.

Life Changing Experience?

Yet, that mattered not.  When I walked out of that theater two plus hours later, my life had been-- and still is-- altered permanently.   Art is potent.  It can change lives.

The Crocker Art Museum held an event, 5pm to 9pm, this past-Thursday, August 1, 2013 called "The Takeover: An Art Jam By & for Youth."  And that is exactly what happened.
Even before I walked up to the exterior entrance of the CAM the energy was pulsating and I knew I was in for a treat; me and my Canon 550D and IPhone 4.  We were not disappointed.  Neither were the hundreds of youthful participants whom received a full course meal of what a "Takeover" at the Crocker is.

Like Siren calling, I was coaxed to the entrance of the museum from my parking lot 500 yards away.  The haunting echo of Blues -- smooth rhythm, fat bass, fluid lead guitar , playful sax and the drums keeping it all together.  I walked quickly, pulled out my Iphone and started to film.  This was no rookie group out on a maiden performance.

The Met, as they called themselves, was comprised of 17 to 19 year old's.  I fancy myself being an aficionado of Blues and its forms.  This group of young woman and men are serious musicians.
The musical group called "The Met" performing outside Crocker Art Museum's front entrance
The Met-Sacramento
I watched and filmed thinking: "I love the professionalism." It was tight, clean and the energy was palpable.  I wanted to run back to my truck, get my harps and jump into the frey with them. This is the way to start a Takeover.  Check out the video below.  It's just 2 minutes long but you get the full ride!  I definitely wanted to go in and see what was brewing.

If you were a youth, you got in free.  Now, can't beat that.  I am not a youth...and the $10 ticket entrance price is a great deal.  I had full access to all the exhibits and I could participate in the "Takeover."  The cherry on top: night time fun at the museum.  I love to go to museums at night.  There is an aura so much different than day time.  An ability to interact with the exhibits after hours, as if the art is off work and more relaxed, more willing to let you get the inside scoop.

I entered the spacious hall of the first floor.  Tables were everywhere.  The scent of something delicious, some food being prepared. People at the tables playing games.  Some board game.  Ten or twelve pairs competing.

Hundreds gathered around tables play games and ate good food in the great room on the first floor.
The first floor party zone
 Behind the table and chairs and the people filling them, was an expansive wall of windows, which ran about 30 to 40 feet.  I could see a court yard.  As I focused, the area was filling with people, chairs set ready for eager participants.
Full Rock Band set up on a 30 foot stage with a dance floor backed by big sign Crocker Musueum
The rapping MC entertains the crowd
And a stage, sound and music setup that any professional band would love to have access.
I hurried past row after row of tables and made my way outside to the courtyard.  Surrounded by other sections of the museum, this courtyard feels large and inviting; has an intimate quality and was an excellent location for the main staging of the event.  On one side of the courtyard a set up for T-shirt silk screening occurring.  On the other, food was available, tables set with huge buckets of pretzels and cascading fountains of refreshment to keep you cool and refreshed.  In my snooping, I found at the very end of the courtyard a walkway dipping down into another area about 200 yards.  The walkway adorned with flora.  I proceeded.

Walkway that passes underneath a glass passageway between two areas where performances were being held.
Heading from Graffiti Artist to Main Stage
In the second courtyard I found a group skate boarding.  In the center of this courtyard they had a large ramp about 3.5' high.  An ominous object for those unskilled.  Yet spill after spill, the youth, clad in arm pads, head gear et. al. kept at the task of conquering the difficulty.  Surrounding this flurry of activity, was in fact, more activity.  A competition.  Spray paint graffiti artists working on 4x6 foot canvas were creating, brainstorming, interacting with the canvas, paint and the watching waiting eyes of all the voters circling around transfixed, as artist transformed the canvas from boring white to....
Graffiti Artist Palyn using multiple shades of purple, dark olive and ice blue.
Palyn putting on finishing touches
Graffiti Artist Paydirt using Black images with purple, pink and yellow.
"Paydirt" hits gold on this rendition

Graffiti Artist Ms. Reds using Black outline of sky blue and orange-yellow.
Ms. Reds was all about business

Graffiti Artist Jon using yellow, orange, blue and magenta.
Jon working the multi colored streaks

Graffiti Artist Amy working on her colorful canvas with greens, purples, pinks and turquoise. .
Amy getting her music groove motivation

Graffiti Artist AC using Sea blue, Midnight blue, olive and burnt orange.
AC's daughter was there giving him support

From the courtyard stage a blaring microphone and the MC of the ceremonies was calling everyone to attention.  As I worked my way back, the music of Curtis Mayfield  inspired me to pick up my steps and see what was about to transpire.   Clad in white T's, jeans, khaki's and shorts was a group of young men and woman: "The Flo Step Dancers."  They tore it up.  Pop, Hip Hop, Crakin', Flo and Break dance was thrown all over the stage and into the audience even!  Take a look at the 3 minutes of video above and tell me if it doesn't make you want to give it a try.  I think only youth can do most of these moves.

After the spectacular dance display the MC announced a break so the next band could set up.  I wanted to see what else was on the menu.  My prime mission was to capture all The Takeover.  I was shocked when I checked my watch and I had already eagerly consumed two hours of time.  Part of my mission was to see if the youth interacted with the Crocker Art Museum exhibits.  I think it is powerful for an institution like the Crocker to reach out to the youth in exactly the manner they have chosen. There is a second and possibly larger importance--needed interplay.  The youth needed to interact with the "traditional" presentation of art.

Painting by Charles Pinkerton "Man Running From Death."
Man Running from Death
 Why is that important?  It's the connection and infusion of ideas.  It's the connection to seeing the universal questions we as mortals ask and finding, not the answers, but finding that we are not alone in the questioning.  It's opening new ways of thought and then taking those new roads in directions unknown. It's seeing, though something may be "old" or difficult to engage, there can be and is an immediate intrinsic connection to now.

I took the stairs up to the second floor.  The balcony section spans the length of the great room below.  The view down through the glass windows as night settled and lights popped on, encapsulated the fun of the event.  The next band was up playing and I struggled for a moment whether to run back down and film or to continue on my quest.  My answer was brought to me post haste.  As I crossed the balcony of the second floor I spied a group of youth.  I walked up to see what they were looking at.  In the hall were three glass enclosed displays.  One of the young women turned to me and asked: "What is that?"  I looked and in this 2' x 2' glass box was an armadillo.  "An armadillo." I said.  "I know what it is, but what is it made of?"  "That's paper.  Origami."  We all turned back to the exhibit and marveled together at how completely a replica of an armadillo stared back at us.  It clinging to a branch sprouting from a base of marble.  All done in paper--Origami.  Together, my three new friends and I moved to look at the two other displays and discussed the intricacy behind such endeavors.

Glass case with long white gown and pumps done in Origami.
Origami Gown and Pumps
 I told them that there was a complete exhibit behind us and we all eagerly agreed we should check it out.  I moved to the door to open it for the group and was surprised to turn and see a hand stretch out in greeting to me.  "I'm Isabella, these are my friends Heidi and David."  I returned the salutation, "I'm Robin, really nice to meet you."  They walked into the exhibit and in seconds were pulled in a different direction as our eyes feasted upon all the great work surrounding us.  The Origami exhibit was exquisite.  My most favorite piece was of this mask.  Dark sinister Commedia Del Arte' type mask.  I looked at it so close,  You would swear that it was a wood carving; I chuckled to myself realizing that paper is wood.  I wondered if this was part of the experience the artist wanted to bring to the artwork.  I was trying so hard to distinguish one from the other it brought me right to where I was suppose to be, that it was one and the same.

Harlequin Mask that looks to be hard wood but is Origami.
Origami mask, is it wood or paper?  Both!
Time is fleeting.  I took out my Canon 550D and put away the Iphone.  I use that for Twitter, so I can keep my readers and followers up to the minute with the my adventures.  I set forth.  Groups of young people in every gallery I went into.  At times, certain galleries were filled.  Other galleries just a collection of two friends.  I saw them in the pottery, the masks, the statues, the impressionist, the modernist.  I saw them spying old masters and avant garde pioneers.  I so wished I could be the proverbial fly on the wall and hear the conversations these young people were having.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  This is where the Crocker's "Takeover" becomes such a big success in my estimation.  When you can take young pop cultural driven youth and give them an opportunity to interact with to them is "boring, traditional" art on their own terms they GET IT; exemplary marks to those involved with this event.  The youth indeed did takeover the Crocker.

Three young ladies enjoy the abstract art wandering through the gallery.
Young ladies talking about the colors
Two young men admire and discuss painting of pie slices.
Boys really digging the pies
 I heard giggling and laughing.  I saw a bit of horseplay; two young girls giving piggy-back rides.  Not the normal stuff you would experience at the museum under standard circumstance.  But, that is what I love about what the Crocker gets to learn in this whole experience.  The traditionalist, if I may call the "standard" museum, is always a bit of a stick in the mud with having to be reserved--rightfully so, with such important antiquities and works about.  BUT, the levity, excitement and inquisitiveness of a young mind, is a good dose of medicine for some of our "seemingly" stuffed-shirt counterparts.  These young people will take what they experienced at the Crocker an inculcate it into their own artistic endeavors.  With technology, the power of and the ability to access information, there is nothing this age can't accomplish with young open minds.

Please visit: Twitter: @FilmRobin for up-to-date info on where I am travelling for ART. LinkedIn: for complete resume & work history. and look for Dr. Robin Scott Peters Ebooks now available. YouTube: for all my video work.