If you've ever read one of my arts columns, chances are good you've read (probably more than once) my whiny complaints about cold weather and/or "artistic" productions that aim for good 'ol family fun.
You may think that, since I've got a kid of my own now, I'd be more open to the "family fun" brand of entertainment. I thought so, too. We were both wrong.
I still believe with my whole being that sickeningly sweet, cliché-ridden crap in the name of wholesome family programming is an unforgivable rip-off. And I refuse to buy into it.
But, I still want to be able to take my kid to the theater without worrying about what he might repeat. So I'm always excited to hear about kid-friendly programming that doesn't suck. And that's what Ralph's World is.
Ralph's World is the brainchild of Chicago rocker Ralph Covert, who led The Bad Examples in the 1980s and '90s (and still occasionally does). He was asked to record a kid's album and, instead, he made a "great record that kids like," which Billboard magazine called "the best children's album of this or any year."
Since then, Covert and his band have released eight albums under Ralph's World, and his music is a hit with kids and adults alike. I'm listening to it now, as I write this, on ralphsworld.com, and I'm excited to say it's really, really good. You don't mind that the lyrics are written for toddlers because the music is so enjoyable.
YouTube videos of Covert in action exhibit an energetic musician showing off for even more energetic kiddos in a display reminiscent of any other folk rock concert you've ever been too--except that everyone in the audience is really, really short and the band's biggest hit is about a puppy dog.
The Tulsa Children's Museum brings Ralph's World to Tulsa as part of its Family Concert Series this Saturday, Jan. 24 at 11am and 3pm in the John H. Williams Theatre of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. 2nd St.
Tickets to each show are $12 (tulsapac.com), and children under two can sit on a parent's lap for free. Before and after the show, families can play with TCM's traveling exhibit "POP! The Art and Science of Bubbles" before and after the show.
My son is only nine months old, so I haven't dared take him to the theater or any gallery with me (he has been to both Gilcrease and Philbrook Museums, although he slept through both trips), and I'm excited to take him to this concert as an early introduction to music and the arts. I'm even more excited that I won't be forced to sit through it with my hands over my ears, praying for it to end. (Although, I'm sure that time will come.)
A Good Impression
Speaking of Gilcrease Museum, that habitat of great American art, at 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Road, opens a new exhibit on Saturday called "Transcending Vision: American Impressionism 1870-1940."
The exhibit, on loan from Bank of America, includes more than 110 works by 75 artists that explore the history of impressionist art, from its French origins to its American interpretation.
The works explore the American landscape, both rural and urban, as well as specific locations and events and the middle class at leisure.
I was surprised to find out that the exhibit is on loan from Bank of America and that the bank owns one of the oldest and most significant corporate art collections in the world. Gilcrease helped organize this exhibit, which it will house through May 3.
The museum has organized a range of educational programs that it will present during the exhibit's stay, beginning with a lecture at 1:30pm on Saturday by Mary Edith Alexander, curator for Bank of America.
Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Tickets are $8 for adults, with discounts for seniors, students and service men and women. On the first Tuesday of every month, admission is free to everyone.
For more about "Transcending Vision" and the museum's other events, gilcrease.org.
Time to Play
Living Arts of Tulsa, 308 S. Kenosha, hosts its monthly learn/play experience for adults this Thursday, Jan. 22. This month, Jessica Volkoun will lead a program titled "The World of Merce Cunningham," which acts as a sort of preface to the Living Arts/Choregus Productions joint presentation of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company on March 10 as part of Living Arts' annual New Genre Festival.
Thursday's presentation "is a chance to acquaint the public with this extremely important contemporary artist and continues Living Arts' desire to combine the idea of education with socialization and play to create a fun environment to learn about master contemporary artists," said Steve Liggett, artistic director for Living Arts.
Cunningham is a master contemporary artist who changed the way people view and think about dance.
Since his career began in 1983, Cunningham has danced and choreographed for some of the best and most notorious dance companies in the world, revolutionizing the art with his modern works and crossing over into other media, such as film and video. Most recently, his choreography has been set to music by rock masters Radiohead and Sigur Ros.
As with other Art of Play events at Living Arts, Thursday's will consist of a short educational presentation, followed by an exercise in which participants can mimic Cunningham through lead play.
The event begins at 5pm and is free with Living Arts membership, which is $30 and may be paid at the time of the event. The membership will get you into all Art of Play events, as well as other Living Arts events and exhibits. For more, livingarts.org.
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