Tag Archives: New York Public Library

Art for peace

I was pleasantly surprised, while visiting the United Nations Visitors Centre in NYC last week, to discover all sorts of artwork — quilts with a “women’s rights” theme, a giant wall mural featuring all sorts of animals, and photographs depicting the aftermath of Japan’s early 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The United Nations clealy understands the power of art to effect social change. Hence their call for artwork by youth on the theme of nuclear disarmament. The “Art for Peace Contest” is sponsored by the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Harmony for Peace Foundation.

Detail of wall mural located in the children's section of the New York Public Library Stephen A. Schwarzman Building

The contest runs through April 30. Youth in all countries who are between 5 and 17 years of age can enter the contest. They can draw, paint, sketch, use pens, pencils, crayons, charcoal, oil, acrylic paint or watercolor to create their artwork. “Be creative,” say contest organizers. “Use your imagination to show a world free of nuclear weapons, a world without bombs, without wars, without fear.”

Participants are encouraged to watch a short film online before creating their own artwork based on the content of the film and the contest theme. Different films are available for different age groups. Films and entry details are available at www.unartforpeace.org.

Artwork submitted for the contest is posted online so family, friends and others can share works via social media. Contest organizers note that “children between the ages of 5 and 12 will need to have their parents or teachers help them with their submissions.”

Detail of "Find a Cure" quilt by fifth grade students at Chapman Elementary School in Huntsville, Alabama

There will be four winners in each age category (ages 5-8, ages 9-12 and ages 13-17), and all entries will be judged using the same criteria: creativity, composition, theme and technique. The winners will be announced before the end of May.

For age groups 5-8 and 9-12, the winners will receive art supplies. For the 13-17 age group, there will be cash prizes of $500 for first place, $300 for second place, $200 for third place and $100 for fourth place.

Each winning entry will also receive a certificate from the United Nations and all winning artwork will be reproduced in a United Nations calendar. All artwork submitted must be original. Click here for full contest rules.

Lions Clubs International Poster for Peace 2010-11 merit award winner by Sheelam Arun Kumar of India

While buying stamps for my daughter Jennifer at the the U.N. Visitors Centre post office I overheard a gentleman ask about U.N. stamps issued in years past which featured artwork by winners of previous Lions Clubs International art contests for children. Seems Lions clubs hold a “Peace Poster Contest” each year, inviting children to submit artwork on a designated peace-related theme.

Students who will be 11, 12 or 13 years old on Nov. 15 can enter the 2012-13 contest, which features an “Imagine Peace” theme. Works can be submitted in a variety of mediums, including charcoal, crayon, pencil and pastel, and prizes will be awarded to 24 young artists. One grand prize winner will receive $5,000 and 23 merit award winners will receive $500. Click here for contest details, and here to see posters created by 24 grand prize winners from years past.

— Lynn

Note: To find calls for artwork and art contests for children within the state of Arizona, visit the Arizona Commission on the Arts at www.azarts.gov. Click here for details on the 2012 Arizona Young Artists’ Competition (the deadline to enter is March 25).

Coming up: Art meets women’s rights, Remembering Mr. Rogers, Art in the North Valley


Here a ban, there a ban…

Everywhere a book ban? It’s been thirty years since the American Society of Journalists and Authors launched its Banned Books campaign in NYC, complete with a nifty “I Read Banned Books” button, a move motivated by concerns that “schools and libraries around the country were pulling books off the shelf because of objections to language contained in them.”

At the time, banned titles included “The Diary of Anne Frank” and “Huckleberry Finn” — plus works by John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, J.D. Salinger, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, Isaac Asimov and ASJA member Eve Merriam.

Folks opposed to book banning gathered on the steps of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue for a public read-out from banned works. Readers included Merriam, Asimov and then-teenager Sarah Jessica Parker. The April 1, 1982 event was organized by Evelyn Kaye of the ASJA.

Arizonans committed to assuring that students have access to books once used in ethnic studies classes within the Tucson Unified School District are gathering this week to stage a similar protest at the Arizona State Capitol and Wesley Bolin Plaza.

The read-in, organized by the Arizona Ethnic Studies Network, will feature dozens of readers including educators, students and concerned citizens. Also novelist and university lecturer Stella Pope Duarte, state Senator David Lujan and Phoenix-based playwright James E. Garcia.

The school district reports that no books have been banned, noting that books once used in ethnic studies classes have been moved to storage. And that they’re working to broaden the social studies curriculum to include more diverse content for all students.

Some consider removing particular books from classrooms a de facto form of book banning. Hence the read-in scheduled for Wed, Feb. 29, from 10am to 5:15pm — and a caravan heading our way from Houston next month with copies of books they’re eager to get into student hands.

This year’s Banned Books Week takes place Sept. 30-Oct. 6. Folks eager to read up on the topic beforehand can visit www.bannedbooksweek.org to explore a map charting censorship by state, enjoy a virtual read-out, find additional resources on book banning and locate related events.

The website also notes which titles are causing all the fuss these days — for those of you inclined to read a book simply because it feels verboten. The top ten list of challenged titles for 2010 includes both the “Twilight” (Stephenie Meyer) and “Hunger Games” (Suzanne Collins) series. Finally, a reason to read those babies.

First I plan to tackle the titles once used in Tucson’s former Mexican American Studies class — “Critical Race Theory” edited by by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, “500 Years of Chicano History in Pictures” edited by Elizabeth Martinez, “Message to AZTLAN” by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales, “Chicano! The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement” by Arturo Rosales, “Occupied America: A History of Chicanos” by Rodolfo Acuna, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire and “Rethinking Columbus: The Next 500 Years” by Bill Bigelow.

Unlike “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games,” I can’t just hold out for the movie version.

— Lynn

Note: Click here to explore a wealth of Banned Books Week information and resources compiled by the American Library Association.

Coming up: Once upon a goddess

Oodles of doodles

The Google homepage has featured more than 1,ooo doodles through the years. My daughters have drawn at least that many on papers floating around the house, so it’s a pity they’re too old to enter this year’s Doodle 4 Google contest. If your children are in grades K-12, they’re eligible to take part. Both students enrolled in schools and those who are homeschooled can participate.

Student entries can be submitted by parents, teachers or afterschool programs through the March 23 deadline assuming they follow contest guidelines. Doodles can be done “in pencil, crayon, felt tip, paint or by using computer drawing or design software.” Alas, no whipped cream or spaghetti sauce allowed.

Judges will be looking at three factors — artistic merit, creativity and theme communication. This year’s judges include Jordin Sparks, who went from Glendale teen to American Idol winner after years of performing in Valley youth theater productions. Also Brian Nemeckay of Crayola and Jack Martin of The New York Public Library.

Plus Katy Perry (think “Teenage Dream”), Jeff “Swampy” Marsh (Think “Phineas and Ferb”), Mo Willems (Think “Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator”), and both Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi (Think “Spiderwick Chronicles”).

The theme of this year’s contest is “If I could travel in time, I’d visit…” — which has me imagining some of history’s greatest moments, including the discovery of chocolate and espresso. I suppose one could also travel to the future — to that glorious day when men give birth and panty hose are extinct.

The competition has several levels. Google employees will select 250 state finalists, then 50 state winners will be chosen by guest judges and Google doodlers. The U.S. public will vote on these 50 winners, and the highest ranking doodler from each grade group will be named a national finalist.

Their names will be announced during a May 17 awards ceremony in NYC, and one will be named the national winner. The winning doodle will spend 24 hours on the Google homepage, and the artist will be awarded a $30,000 college scholarship plus other fun prizes.

Think Google Chromebook computer, Wacom digital design tablet and t-shirt featuring his or her doodle. The winner’s full time school will receive a $50,000 technology grant to establish or improve the computer lab or technology programming. The 50 state finalists will have their works exhibited at The New York Public Library.

Those of you who’ve missed a few of Google’s homepage doodles through the years can visit www.google.com/doodles to see all the doodles that have run the world over.

— Lynn

Coming up: Youth playwriting competitions

Mouse meets New Year’s Eve

Work of art at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Scotland

There’s a charming mouse sculpture, an homage to a 1785 poem, on the grounds of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Scotland. Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne” poem of 1788 is the basis for the song so many of us associate with New Year’s Eve. Maybe we should all resolve to actually learn the words this year.

Once, during college travels ala BritRail Pass, I had the pleasure of singing “Auld Lang Syne” in Scotland on New Year’s Eve — but this New Year’s Eve finds me celebrating with computer and mouse in hand. I’m reliving earlier trips to New York City while waiting to watch the famous ball drop in NYC’s Times Square.

Turns out you can learn a lot about New Year’s Eve celebrations by visiting the Times Square Alliance online. Their website has nifty articles on the history of New Year’s Eve, the tradition of dropping the New Year’s Eve ball and more. Even fun facts about messages celebrities and ordinary folk have written on the confetti that’s dropped over Times Square at midnight. Seems Matthew Broderick wrote a simple one word wish for “Peace.”

While exploring the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, I found an Arlene Erlbach book titled “Happy New Year, Everywhere” — something I wish I’d encountered when my now college-age children were younger. Erlbach explores the New Year’s greetings and traditions in 20 countries, including Belgium, Haiti, Iran and Israel — and features a related recipe, craft or activity from each one.

But back to the man and his mouse. Those of you who can’t swing the trip to Scotland can still enjoy the works of Robert Burns currently exhibited at The Morgan Library and Museum in New York City. It’s a charming museum that should be on the “must see” list of every lover of literature who visits NYC. During a recent visit, I enjoyed an exhibit featuring the works of Charles Dickens. Their “Robert Burns and Auld Lang Syne” exhibit runs through Feb. 5, 2012.

Thanks to museums, and my mouse, I’m having a lovely New Year’s Eve while enjoying my own holiday traditions — steering clear of drunken revelers, baking cookies and waiting for fireworks to light up Valley skies.

— Lynn

Note: For families in Japan, Haiti and other places struck by natural disasters in recent years, this will be a bittersweet New Year’s Eve — so remember those in need both at home and abroad as you’re enjoying all the comforts of home.

Coming up: Exploring the New York Public Library, A double dose of “Romeo & Juliet”

“Winnie the Pooh” meets “Avenue Q”

A scene from Walt Disney Picture's Winnie the Pooh--which is full of playful letters and words

Lizabeth suggested at about 12:45pm Saturday afternoon that we hit a 1pm showing of Disney’s new “Winnie the Pooh” film, which gave us little time to transition from Eeyore to Tigger mode. But we made it, and enjoyed every second of nostalgia nirvana in the short 73 minute film.

“Winnie the Pooh” is a literature lover’s dream — filled with images of books, letters and punctuation marks that come alive (as muses, not monsters), and scenes of Pooh characters bouncing, stumbling and flying through the pages of a “Winnie the Pooh” storybook.

Tigger doesn’t text or tweet. Kanga and Roo get letters the old-fashioned way — in their mailbox. Friends work together to solve problems. They’re creative. They cheer each other on. And they accept one another, foibles and all. Pull out the Pooh books before heading to the theater — you’ll want to extend the movie magic with a few good reads when you get home.

Robert Lopez wrote music and lyrics for both Avenue Q and Winnie the Pooh

“Winnie the Pooh” is a lovely musical jaunt, full of classical music in various tempos and styles. The movie features an original score by Henry Jackman and original songs by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, a married couple with impressive joint and individual credits.

Lizabeth spotted Robert Lopez’s name in the credits — because she’s familiar with his work on “The Book of Mormon” and “Avenue Q.” The couple share music and lyric credits for seven songs in the film. Anderson-Lopez voices Kanga and Playbill.com reports that Lopez makes the rumbling sound for Pooh’s tummy. It’s a gift, I suppose.

A careful review of the movie’s credits — which roll as some of the movie’s funniest antics unfold — reveals plenty of familiar names. There’s Zooey Deschanel, who contributes an original song and vocal performance for the film. And Craig Ferguson (the voice of Owl) of late-night fame.

Also actors who’ve voiced characters for Toy Story 3, Phineas & Ferb and SpongeBob SquarePants. Most endearing is the voice of Christopher Robin. It’s that of Jack Boulter, and it’s his first-ever voiceover role. I may have to enjoy the movie a second time just to relish all the voiceover talent — including narration by John Cleese, co-founder of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

A single line in the credits reads “Dan Read-In Memorium” — in honor of a longtime background and visual development artist for Disney Animation films who died in May of 2010 after battling melanoma. I read that donations to local SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) chapters were requested in lieu of flowers.

Film credits mention “caffeination by Carlos Benavides” and thank three museums, including Britain’s Victoria and Albert Museum, where film directors Stephen Anderson and Don Hall studied original “Winnie the Pooh” illustrations by Ernest H. Shepard. The original stuffed animals that inspired Milne’s stories for his son Christopher Robin Milne are housed at the New York Public Library.

Disney's Winnie the Pooh opens with pages from this 1961 book by A.A. Milne

Children and their grown-ups giggled throughout the film as Tigger pounced atop a downtrodden Eeyore, Owl recited his lengthy memoir, Roo braved the forrest in his tea cup helmet, Rabbit found comfort in a checklist and Pooh raced to escape angry bees. There were no angry birds back in author A.A. Milne’s day (1882-1956).

When characters ponder knotting a rope to rescue friends who’ve fallen into a pit, Eeyore suggest that “it’s all for naught.” Later he’s convinced that “we’re all gonna die.” Roo offers a deadpan “Send the pig” (Lizabeth’s favorite line) when scary noises loom, and Tigger spends a lot of time saying “it’s gonna be great.” Pooh dreams of honey, meeting frustrations with a simple “Oh, bother!”

Disney’s “Winnie the Pooh” website offers a “100 Acre Wood Personality quiz” for those of you who’ve yet to identify with a particular character, and there are plenty of games, activities and facts for younger “Pooh” fans. As other folks flock to Harry Potter’s Forbidden Forrest, I’m perfectly content to linger in the 100 Acre Wood.

— Lynn

Note: Lizabeth found a cool “10 Questions” interview of Robert Lopez by Belinda Luscombe of TIME Magazine in which he talks about his “personal connection with Pooh.” Click here to watch the video from TIME.com.

Coming up: Pardon my Pygmalion

NYC: Fun finds

Pop up piano from Sing for Hope sitting in an NYC park

I came to NYC with a list of places I hoped to experience, but because we’re doing most of the city by foot and subway, I’m stumbling on all sorts of unexpected treasures.

While eating Italian fare on a Greenwich Village sidestreet one day, we saw a local television report a man dubbed the “Crazy Piano Guy,” whose been performing random acts of music on NYC streets since 2003. He’s careful to note in his bio that he’s not actually “crazy” but apparently he’s elevated the slur to a savvy exercise in branding.

That got me searching for New York street music, and soon I discovered an organization called “Sing for Hope,” which has pianos and players fanned out across the city through July 2 — when they’ll present a free concert in an atrium at Lincoln Center. Lizabeth played one we found in a Lincoln Center plaza while we were there to see “War Horse” Thursday night, so I suppose now I can brag about her “playing Lincoln Center.”

I found this farmers market fare while searching for the WTC Tribute Center

I took the subway to and from the Eugene O’Neill Theater Wednesday night for “The Book of Mormon” and ended up a bit off the beaten path while trying to make my way back to the hotel. The subway I can master, but the streets I have yet to memorize. There are more than a few of them here.

I found this Hudson River ferry stop after exploring Poets House

But getting lost has its own rewards — like discovering a pair of pianos in a park where two lovers sat on a nearby bench. The pianos were retired for the evening, and covered in tarps. A middle-aged man walking through the park with his wife gleefully approach one of the instruments, but his wife insisted they move along instead of pausing to play. My heart sank.

I got a little gleeful myself with this next find — the Poets House near the Battery Park City Library I happened upon during a futile attempt to visit the World Trade Center Tribute Center. I visited the library too, which was alive with color and children and conversation. Soon I was strolling a riverwalk realizing that the vibrancy and life in NYC is the greatest tribute to those who lost their lives here on 9/11.

Liberty Community Garden

I never reached the tribute center near Church and Liberty streets because I wasn’t clever enough to navigate all the construction detours, but I did luck upon the “Liberty Community Garden,” another oasis in this city of 8 million. It’s bordered on one side by a giant financial center and a simple outdoor basketball court on the other. I also explored the World Financial Center “Green Market.”

I encounted a bit of street art called “Tiles for America” while walking around Greenwich Village with Lizabeth Tuesday afternoon. It’s a chain link fence strewn with tattered tiles painted in remembrance of 9/11. There’s nothing fun about recalling that dreadful day, but I was delighted to find this art — one of many collections inspired by loss, heroism, love and hope.

Detail of the Tiles for America street exhibit in NYC

I’m eager to experience another fun find, just now in the making, next time I’m in NYC. It’s an art exhibition featuring photos of children from around the globe, and it’s coming to “Park51 Community Center” — a site known to some as “the mosque at Ground Zero.” If you like the project, you can support it via “Kickstarter.” I found this gem by playing with my smart phone as Lizabeth was in a college meeting.

I may have to settle for virtual NYC experiences during our final day in the city. My feet feel pushed to the limit and I’m too thrifty to pop for cab fare. When Jennifer and I visited San Francisco together several years ago, we walked far too many miles through city streets and Golden Gate Park. She ended up needing foot and ankle surgery, and I’d like to avoid a similar fate.

It is possible, I suppose, to have too much fun.

— Lynn

Note: Many of my most cherished photos appear to be lost because of memory card problems, but if my hubby/tech man gets the kinks out I’ll be updating this post with more pictures over the weekend.

Coming up: Musings on “The Book of Mormon”