DOYLESTOWN, PA.- The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown presents Playing Around: Toys Designed by Artists, an exhibition of handmade toys, each one designed and handmade by an artist. These wildly inventive toys hearken back to the days before plastic and mass production, when all toys were handmade and, whether simple or elaborate, engaged the imagination of both maker and user. The exhibition is sponsored by Fred Beans Family of Dealerships and Logan Capital Management, Inc., with additional support from Third Federal Bank and a Friend of the Michener Art Museum, and will be on view in the Fred Beans Gallery in Doylestown through May 22, 2005.
In the early 1970s, the Arkansas Arts Center initiated an annual exhibition of toys designed by artists. Inspired by Alexander Calder's circus figures of the late 1920s and early 1930s, this annual exhibition was launched to stimulate the imagination of both children and adults and to engage them with toys of whimsy, delight, and good craftsmanship. Each year the museum has acquired works from the exhibition and now has over 200 in its collection.
Playing Around features 50 of the best and most interesting pieces from this unique collection. The toys vary in theme, materials, and utility, and many are functional. Some wind up, while others work like the automatons popular in the first half of the 20th century. Some toys are made from found objects; others are meticulously crafted from clay, fiber, glass, metal, and wood.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Museum has planned two afternoon programs of hands-on toy making workshops. On Sunday, March 13 from 1 to 4 pm, visitors aged 7 to adult are invited to take part by exploring the exhibition and then creating their very own handmade toy; Sunday, April 3, from 1 to 2:30 there will be a second workshop for kids aged 3-6 wih one adult. Fees are $35 for members, $45 for non-members (supplies included). Enrollment is limited so reservations are encouraged at 215-340-9800.
Playing Around is curated and organized by Alan DuBois, Curator of Decorative Arts at the Arkansas Arts Center. The exhibition is toured by ExhibitsUSA. The purpose of ExhibitsUSA is to create access to an array of arts and humanities exhibitions, nurture the development and understanding of diverse art forms and cultures, and encourage the expanding depth and breadth of cultural life in local communities. ExhibitsUSA is a national division of Mid-America Arts Alliance, a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1972.