Ode to squishy things

Seems artist Peter Goldlust spends “a lot of time looking under rocks for squirmy things” with his wife Melanie Germond and their two sons. Goldlust describes Bisbee, their current home, as a “small artist community.”

He’s been spending a great deal of time in Phoenix, readying the “Someplace” exhibit that opened just a few days ago at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. I’m told that the inspiration for “Someplace” came from turning over rocks.

I chatted with Goldlust during the installation process and learned that about 80% of the stuff used to build “Someplace” consists of recycled materials — tires, barrels, clothing and such. Even hundreds of pairs of jeans, including some given to the museum by families who heeded the call for fabric donations.

Bisbee father and artist Peter Goldlust takes a break from installing "Someplace" at the Children's Museum of Phoenix (Photo: Dan Friedman)

Folks who see the exhibit now will scarcely believe the transformation of materials wrought by Goldlust. I suspect the secret lies in the “many hundreds of rivets” used during the process, but the rivets aren’t talking.

If it’s sound you seek, check out the exhibit’s “sound pods” — giant tubs that looked like upside down yellow planters the day I checked out Goldlust’s “work in progress” with Raising Arizona Kids writer and photographer Daniel Friedman.

Now that they’re completed, young visitors can actually go inside the pods to experience “soundscapes composed from the calls and noises of imaginary creatures.” Some were created via the “Bisbee Youth Radio Project,” which I find strangely comforting. I’d hate to think that Goldlust hooked eensy teensy mics up to all those creatures discovered under rocks.

The “Someplace” exhibit is populated by “make-believe creations” that live only in children’s imaginations. Beware the “Giant Pantslug” when you go. I’m told he made a bold escape attempt on route to the museum in Goldlust’s pick up truck — and that retrieving the errant slug from Hwy. 10 set the artist back about $200.

Never fear if squishy things aren’t your vibe. I’m more of a word kind of a gal, and was overjoyed to see that “Someplace” includes dozens of fabric words stuck to 30 feet of Velcro-covered walls like pieces of a giant Magnetic Poetry set. How lovely to experience such a whimsical art/literacy combo.

Peter Goldlust at the Children's Museum of Phoenix (Photo: Dan Friedman)

Before we left Goldlust to his squishy things, I spent some time with a wall covered in strips of stuff with differing textures. Think fur so thick you can write your name in it. And bumpy copper that makes a fun noise when you run your fingers over it. It’s a slice of child development heaven.

I’ll be heading back to the museum soon to check out a few of the elements that weren’t yet in place the day of our visit — a small “Baby Zone” and a collection of puppets rumored to have body parts perfect for mix and match play. Think wings, fins, eyes and more. There’s even a puppet theater for creatures with a bit of a performance bent.

Look for “Someplace” on the third floor of the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, right behind the “Noodle Forest” (now black and teal) suspended from the ceiling. And give a little shout out to the Hearst Foundation and Phoenix Suns Charities for funding this, the museum’s first artist-in-residence program.

— Lynn

Coming up: A bevy of book reviews, Gingerbread tales, What’s new in art classes?

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