Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Children's Museum at 35: Brian Dick ageless

by Patricia Frischer

An artist creating for the New Children's Museum has to have the ability to let go and not only think like a child, but also release the urge for some sort of unreal perfection. The museum offers an opportunity to make authentic art, but at the same time that work has to last and be safe. The wear and tear of thousands of little fingers, exploring, tossing, building, sniffing and licking is part of the experience offered. 

The Mattress Room has returned to the New Children’s Museum (opening to the public on Sat May 12.) This project by Brian Dick (SD Art Prize recipient), No Rules Except….,  was first installed in 2008.  It is an homage to  Allan Kaprow who was so influential in steering the museum in the direction of fine art created and inspired installations.  Kaprow had worked with his son to create a jumble of used tires called Yard (1961) and a room full of pillow-fight ready cushions called No Rules, Except (2000) not shown at the museum but at a private sales Gallery. 

Dick honors Kaprow who was one of his teachers, by merging 175 pillows in the shapes of tires and 40 mattress with kid motif fitted sheets. What kids would not love to jump on a bed and throw relatively weightless tires like a ring toss?   They become superheros right before your eyes. 

Dick’s used lots of recycled materials but for safety all these mattress are brand new as are the hand designed tire trend printed pillows. These are branded Kaperofsky Callback and there is a recipe printed around the rim for bagels. Kaperofsky was Kaprow's Russian name and the bagel references a story about the hole in a bagel not symbolizing the meaning of life. Dick calls this his "collaboration with a ghost." 

This new installation commemorates both the museums 35th year in San Diego and its 10th year downtown. But the real commemoration if the life of Allan Kaprow and his mentorship of Brian Dick. 

The entrance has several hand sewn banners by Brian Dick which bring to mind his famous Mascot series. He has created fantasy mascot for a number of Museum around America. These stuffed pop art like images of tires at odd angles invite you to play. 

Brian Dick is finishing a teaching stint in Philadelphia before moving with his wife to another position at University of Texas.  He visits San Diego and Los Angeles often as he also has a home in both places. We are most grateful to the Children's Museum and private and public donors for bringing him back to SD at this time. 

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