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Mask and Mime Residency at San Ramon School!

by Mentor Artist Eliot Fimntushel

After a little demonstration by madman/artist/instructor Eliot Fintushel, San Ramon students began doing many impossible things, including moving their arms, head, and feet simultaneously in contradictory ways and doing push-ups on thin air with: both hands, one hand, pinky only, and, most gloriously, NO HANDS AT ALL!!!

We are one another's audience!

We are one another’s audience!

Madness Continues, Children Begin to Actually Fly!!!

The next week, heaven help us, we learned to fly, using the mime technique of “string causality.” I warned everybody to stay over Marin County, not to rise above the lowest clouds, and to avoid waving to people in airplanes–but I fear the worst. We’ll see how many show up at class next week, or in crates from where they crash landed, in Mozambique or wherever. We also learned how to travel shorter distances using telekinesis–and, well,  a little imagination.



In spite of all my warnings, it turns out that in the third session at San Ramon, nearly ALL the children wandered into airspace NOT over Marin County. Many, for reasons unknown, reported having flown over China. One got shot down, but managed to escape. They told me all about their naughty exploits. Several had visited other planets, they said. Some, after viewing Pluto at first hand, offered their views ast to whether, in fact, Pluto is a planet or not. A few children remain missing, didn’t show up, may be floating somewhere in the Pacific or lost in the Upper Jebbasphere–but you always lose a few. Not a biggy. I chewed them all out bigtime for not following instructions!

We also learned how to mime a wall, how to dodge and imaginary sword, and how to turn into unexpected characters by means of UNDULATION, which is a very delightful word to say. Try it. Feel how it just kind of rolls all over your tongue?

Undulating into Characters

Undulating into Characters

Children Defy Artist, Refuse to Pick Up The Thermos!!

This week, people had to speak with their arms–no mean task–and to TRY to make their partner pick up the thermos, although the partner was supposed to NOT pick it up, no matter what. There you have it: THEATER! Its essence! We also walked through a gigantic jello mold, and, all of us together, we made up a story about me, of all people, being repeatedly eaten by unsavory very large creatures, all because I crossed the street against the light.


Kindly Pick Up The Thermos

Kindly Pick Up The Thermos

Children Crawl into Camera and Become Photographs!

Nearly all of the children are back from their trans-planetary and interplanetary solo flights, =so there’s nothing to worry about, and the ones who are missing are troublemakers, anyway, as we all agree. I brought in my amazing camera, the one that can take pictures of things that happened yesterday or next century or whatever. (The secret is the film–it’s made of people. Shh! Patent pending.) So the kids climbed into the film compartment, and they became photos of all kinds of things, including the end of the world and somebody’s wedding, and the Bolshoi Ballet, and me as a second grader falling helplessly in love with my second grade teacher, Ms. Henrietta Fneeple, which I still am.

Even More Undulating Into Characters!

Even More Undulating Into Characters!

We also undulated some more, because, for heaven’s sakes, who wouldn’t?

And we turned into many, many people never before seen on the face of the earth.

Family Fun at Laurel Dell

boy handsLast night, sounds of laughter, music and stories filled the auditorium on the campus of Laurel Dell Elementary School as Youth in Arts conducted the second Family Art Night as part of the Walker Rezaian Creative HeARTS Fund.

Mentor Artist Suzanne Joyal led the intergenerational crowd in making a book entitled, “With Our Hands.” Caregivers and their children outlined their hands on recycled maps and then decided what their hands could do together. The book will go on display in the “Imagining Friendship” Gallery Exhibit opening at YIA Gallery on April 8.

Meanwhile Executive Director Miko Lee led families in an old fashioned quilting bee, sewing diamond shapes onto a 12′ Guatemalan kite. The kite pieces were designed at the enthusiastic Family Art Night in February. There were so many diamond shapes designed that Youth in Arts will create an additional kite.

Suzanne will be headed back to the school to make sure as many students as possible are included in this additional finished kite. The kites were designed to celebrate community and be mobile. The finished kites will be unveiled at the YIA Gallery and then will move to the temporary school site while Laurel Dell is under construction.  The collaborative artwork will travel with the community.

Thanks to our amazing volunteers: Stephanie Daly for ironing the diamonds onto the kite and recreating the centerpiece, and to youth volunteers Lena and Haley for helping out on the Family Nights. And a great thanks to all the parents, caregivers, teachers and children that came out to make art with us. We know you have so many things to do and we are thrilled when you join us to create, collaborate, and build friendships. As Principal Pepe Gonzalez summed up, “Another great night with Youth in Arts!”

Thanks to the Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts Fund and the California Arts Council for making this possible.