Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Projects: Maira Kalman Projects

This post is about artist Maira Kalman. Maira is one of my favorite artists. She loves the absurdities in life and creates warm, funny drawings and commentary about people, animals and places. Maira is multi-talented. She can work in many media: She writes and illustrates Children's Books. I love her "What Pete Ate." It's an alphabet book about silly things her dog Pete ate. A little further on, I described a "What Pete Ate" book project you can try at home.

Maira illustrates New Yorker covers like "Crosstown Boogie Woogie." It is a collage of the great mix of people from many places in the world, that make up New York City. You can make a collage about the people in your neighborhood inspired by Maira's "Crosstown Boogie Woogie." 

Maira creates little movies, like the "Elements of Style." It's a movie she made about her life. You’ll see her drawing and painting and writing comments on a blackboard. You'll see photos of her family and friends. (Note the lilting Spanish music in the background.)

You can make a little movie about your life with your point-and-shoot camera.

Maira creates an amazing monthly blog for the New York Times. She calls herself a “visual correspondent.” The blog is called the “The Pursuit of Happiness." Her current blog is about George Washington. It is fabulous. American history will never be the same. You can start a blog about your family history. Add new posts every week.

Maira-inspired Project: A funny alphabet book

Maira's funny alphabet book “What Pete Ate," inspired this project. You can create an alphabet book with some funny alphabet pages of your own: Your dog or favorite stuffed toy animal can be the "hero." Take some photographs of your animal and paste them on different pages, one page for the letter "A," one for "B," and "C," and so on. Look in magazines for pictures of silly things your animal can "eat," some that start with the letter "A," like axe, or automobile, or autumn leaf, some that start with "B." You get the idea.

Maira-inspired Project: A photo-collage of the people you see every day

Maira's New Yorker cover “Crosstown Boogie Woogie," inspired this project. You can do a "boogies woogie" collage of your own. Take some photos of the people on your street, your family and your friends in the playground. Print them, and cut them out and glue them down on a nice sheet of construction paper. Put the faces very close together so they become a "crowd."
Maira-inspired Project: A movie of your life

Maira's "Elements of Style Movie" inspired this one. (It seems hard, but here's a really easy way to do it, especially if you and your parent work on it together.) Your parent can use a "point-and-shoot" camera to make a little video about your life. Set the camera on video. You can create a soundtrack by putting some music on in the background. Take short videos of each person in your family, of your friends, your home, your favorite toys, your playground. Ask your parent to draw the titles for your video with a big magic marker on sheets of paper and videotape them. When you're finished, ask your parent to save the video on a computer in QuickTime, and you will have your own "elements of my life" video.

Must see: Maira at the TED Conference:
Check out this wonderful video of Maira speaking at the TED conferences. (The speakers are prominent thinkers and innovators.) Maira is as witty and delightful as her drawings.

Maira's Exhibition:
You can see some of Maira's original work at the Julie Saul Gallery in Chelsea:

Maira's Website:
You'll find lots of Maira's wonderful work at her Website:

Museum Visit: Maira Kalman: Jewish Museum

The Maira Kalman exhibition at the Jewish Museum is the first major survey of the artist's storytelling art. It is composed of paintings that include "stories" about her life, her travels, and especially, her witty ideas about people. The show includes Maira's furniture and papers that give you the feeling that you are in Maira's home.

At the end of the blog, we included some links to Maira’s work, to her amazing books for children, to her journalism blogs for the New York Times and New Yorker magazine, to her product designs, and some amazing paintings that tell her personal stories.

We loved looking at Maira’s paintings online and listening to these audios by her friends:

Maira Kalman
Sunny Day at the Park, 2004
Gouache on paper
8 1/4 x 8 3/4 in.
Courtesy of Julie Saul

Peter Barberie speaks about Sunny Day at the Park


Maira Kalman
Tibor Kalman, 1998
Gouache on paper
15 1/4 x 11 3/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

The artist’s late husband and founder of the radical design firm M&Co (note the onion ring, one of a collection represented by examples on view in this show, along with M&Co objects and ephemera that the Kalmans collaborated on).

Michael Bierut speaks about Tibor Kalman:

Maira Kalman
2 Million People, 2009
Gouache on paper
10 3/4 x 15 in.
Courtesy of the artist and Julie Saul Gallery, New York

The style of Kalman’s work exudes a sense of lightness, joy, and charm. Righteous for cake, this style can be disarming when the subject is serious or tragic (the Blitz, 9/11). But this is exactly the point! Keeping things light—in light of the sadness, loss, and strong emotion that are always present in her work—is what dis¬tractions are for. In Kalman’s world, humor and a keen sense of the absurd are instrumental!

Stamatina Gregory speaks about 2 Million People:

Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz
New Yorkistan, 2001
Gouache and pencil on paper
20 x 14 3/4 in. Collection of Erica and Eric Schwartz

The December 10, 2001, New Yorker featured Kalman’s most recognized image on the cover, made in collaboration with Rick Meyerowitz. This is a preliminary sketch. Writing and drawing play equal roles in the work of Kalman, who is an author, illus¬trator, and designer. This show focuses on the pictorial part of her art by presenting original works on paper for her illustrations. Maira is one of today’s most revered creative artists. 

Maira Kalman and Rick Meyerowitz speak about New Yorkistan:

Self-Portrait (Favorite Jacket), 1991
Pencil, color pencil, and ink on paper
12 5/8 x 9 3/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Maira Kalman’s art is a discipline of daily creativity. Taking photos, collecting objects and arranging them, writing in notebooks, drawing in journals, painting pictures, making lists—these are all relatively intimate and ordinary activities.

Isaac Mizrahi speaks about Self-Portrait (Favorite Jacket):


Sentence Fragment, 2004-2005
Gouache on paper
12 3/4 x 10 3/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Sentence Fragment is from Kalman’s illustrated edition of William Strunk, Jr., and E. B. White’s timeless grammar guide, The Elements of Style.
Nico Muhly speaks about Sentence Fragment:


Herring and Philosophy Club, 2006
Gouache on paper
9 3/4 x 14 1/2 in.
Collection of Ellen and Robert Grimes

Ruth Reichl speaks about Herring & Philosophy Club:


Man Dances on Salt, 2007
Gouache on paper
9 x 7 3/4 in.
Collection of Tom and Claire O’Connor

Kalman’s book The Principles of Uncertainty featured this emblematic image on the cover.
David Shipley speaks about Man Dances on Salt


Max, 1991
Gouache on paper
17 x 14 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Max Stravinksy is the dog poet and star of a series of Kalman’s books.Max

Crosstown Boogie Woogie, 1995
Gouache on paper
15 3/8 x 11 1/2 in.
Courtesy of the artist
Kalman’s work appeared on the cover of The New Yorker for the first time in the December 4, 1995, issue.

My Mother in Organza, 2003
Gouache and pencil on paper
14 x 11 1/4 in.
Courtesy of the artist

Kalman is seen as a child with her mother (left) in Tel Aviv.

Abraham Lincoln, 2004-2005
Gouache on paper
15 x 11 in.
Courtesy of the artist
Long an admirer of Lincoln, Kalman is a contributor to the Rosenbach Museum and Library’s online project “21st Century Abe.”

Le Corbusier Sink, 2006
Gouache on paper
7 3/4 x 7 1/2 in.
Collection of Jane and Patrick Curley

People, places, dogs, dreams, objects, food . . . Maira Kalman’s narrative art comes from her everyday observation of ordinary things (show¬ing them to be extraordinary) and profound events (showing them to be simply part of life).

Panache, 2009
Gouache on paper
11 x 18 in.
Courtesy of the artist
Panache is from Kalman’s most recent children’s book, 13 Words, with text by Lemony Snicket (fashion hounds: note the Schiaparelli Shoe Hat).

Matisse in Nice, 2004-2005
Gouache on paper
12 x 10 3/8 in.

Courtesy of the artist

Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 

From March 11, 2011 to July 31, 2011

Start your visit to the Maira Kalman exhibition with this link to Maira’s paintings. Listen to the audio by her dear friends. It will give you an idea of Maira’s charm and wit and the warm affection she inspires.

Here is one of  Maira’s amazing blogs, “And the Pursuit of Happiness" for the NYTimes. This post is  titled “Sorry, the Rest Unknown.”

Another of Maira’s NYTimes blogs “The Inauguration. At Last.”

Maira’s “Finding Lincoln” blog

At Maira’s website you will find categories of her work: books, journalism, new yorker, products, serendipity, about and contact. Click on ‘books' and look at her delightful children's books. Then, look at her ‘books for adults.’ Check out "The Principles of Uncertainty.” It's got lots of Maira’s paintings and witty comments. 

There is great stuff here. Click on ‘journalism,’ then Style, then “Couture Voyeur.” Click on ‘Mad About Me.’ Click on ‘The Splendid Gardner’ about Vita Sackville West. 

 Here is some information about the Jewish museum:

The Jewish Museum
1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street

New York, NY 10128


Adults: $12
Seniors/65 & over: $10
Students: $ 7.50
Children under 12: Free
Jewish Museum Members: Free
Saturdays: Free more
The Museum is closed for all major Jewish holidays,
including these in Spring 2011:

Passover Eve - Monday, April 18, Early Closing 2pm
Passover (1st Day) - Tuesday, April 19
Passover (2nd Day) - Wednesday, April 20
Passover (7th Day) - Monday, April 25
Passover (8th Day) - Tuesday, April 26
Shavuot (1st Day) - Wednesday, June 8
Shavuot (2nd Day) - Thursday, June 9

You might want to check out these Daily Tours 

The Jewish Museum offers daily tours, during the week, of its special and permanent exhibition to all visitors free with Museum admission. Please check the schedule below for tour times.

These 45 minute tours are led by Museum-trained docents and meet in the Museum lobby at the following scheduled times throughout the day.


12:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 
more about the exhibition

3:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 
more about the exhibition

Tuesdays and Thursdays
12:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 
more about the exhibition

3:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 
more about the exhibition

Thursday Evenings
6:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 
more about the exhibition

12:15pm ׀ Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World) 


Monday, May 9, 2011

Studio Visit: Sylvia Netzer

Did you ever think of creating "faces" out of clay? These ceramic "Faces" were created by a super- bright and wonderfully creative young girl. The humor in these faces is terrific. A two year old walked up to the faces and laughed out loud.

The "faces" were created in a class at the Greenwich House Pottery. The teacher was the talented sculptor, Sylvia Netzer.

Sylvia is planning to give a "Faces" workshop at her ceramics studio in September. We will build clay "faces," then glaze and fire them. We will invite six children to join us.  If you are interested in participating, please let us know.