By Erie Vitiello
This summer the Davis Art Center’s Tsao Gallery will once again be turned into a dynamic, hands-on discovery center and exhibit space, as the second annual Discovery Art program gets underway on July 13.
“Momentum: Art in Action/Creativity in Motion” will investigate physical momentum and things that move — flying creatures, bikes, roller coasters, mobiles, Rube Goldberg machines, spirographs and more. There will be plenty of opportunities for participants of all ages to have hands-on experiences with objects that walk, fly, roll, swing, slide and dance, while asking themselves: Why do things move and how can they be used to make art?
An important feature of last summer’s Discovery Art program was the crowd-sourced nature of the ideas and images that made up the artwork on exhibit, and this year is no exception. Back by popular demand, the collaborative art installation “Off the Grid” will again invite community members to recreate one section of an oversized mystery image that will come into focus and transform into a unique work of art during the course of the show.
Last year’s completed “Off the Grid” project — a giant honeybee — was recently acquired by the California Energy Commission and hung in their Sacramento office. Who knows where this year’s creation will end up? To be a part of the action, come by the Art Center and pick up a grid kit — kits are limited and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis so get yours now. (If you complete and return your artwork by July 10, your piece of the mystery image will be on display during the opening reception on July 13).
You can also contribute to “Nuts and Bolts,” a large ever-expanding image map mounted in the gallery that will document the “momentum” of shared ideas over time. Pick up a “Nuts and Bolts” handout at the Art Center to find out how you can submit momentum-themed photography, drawings or language — in the form of poetry, quotes or words — to the project.
“Nuts and Bolts” will also provide inspiration for four local artists — Rachel Hartsough, Margo Mullen, Mark Rivera and Camille Shea-Lichter — who will be collaborating on a mural project throughout the exhibit.
Other fun exhibit components include a wall-mounted kinetic “playground” designed by Hartsough and fabricated by local artist Daniel Hall and a hands-on action station inspired by Alexander Calder and Rube Goldberg, where participants can let their own imaginations and engineering skills go wild.
You’ll find Discovery Art events outside our gallery walls this summer too. Be on the lookout for Poetry on the Move, a curated traveling poetry exhibit that will appear in various storefronts around town. Help us paint a community bike mural on the corner of Third and F streets in partnership with Danielle Fodor and Paint Bike Fun — painting volunteers are needed on weekends in July, and the project will culminate in a bicycle arts festival on Aug. 17.
Join us on Sept. 8 as we examine the physics of flight in birds, butterflies, airplanes, rockets and more in a Design + Launch Flight Derby hosted by the UC Davis Arboretum.
Hartsough, Discovery Art creative director, has designed this unique program to provide fun, informal learning opportunities for all ages and engage community members in art-making as a means of scientific and creative inquiry. The exhibit and related events will examine the things that move us figuratively as well as literally, Hartsough noted, to encourage thinking about momentum as it is expressed culturally in the development and growth of social movements, for example.
“We hope that participants will be inspired to think about how we can harness the power of creative energy to impact social change,” Hartsough said. “What does momentum look like in the Davis community and how can we all contribute to the larger good by making small changes in our daily lives?”
The Discovery Art exhibit opens with a public reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 13. Please join us and take part in the creative explosion that happens when Art meets Science.
Discovery Art is sponsored by the James Irvine Foundation and presented in partnership with the UCD Arboretum, Peregrine School, Paint Bike Fun, and the UCD Physics Club. Additional support has been provided by Genentech, Harder & Associates, City of Davis Street Smarts and Ride Walk Davis, Davis Downtown, Project BANDALOUP, The Paint Chip, Momentum magazine, B&L Bikes and Hibbert Lumber.
For more information on the Discovery Art program, visit davisartcenter.org/discoveryart or call the Art Center at 756-4100.
Notes: There’s still space in “Stuff in Motion,” a momentum-themed mini-camp for ages 9-12, co-sponsored with Pence Gallery. Camps meet from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. daily for a week. Session A runs from July 22-26 and Session B from Aug. 19-23.