How To: Have your own Messy Playdate at Home

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator
Follow-up to Creative Playdate: Messy Playdate, December 5, 2013.

Kids love to feed their curiosity by making a mess and using their senses in the creative process. Research for the education of the young child shows that more mess-making leads to higher forms of learning.

Homemade Peppermint Playdough:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp cream of tartar (for smooth texture)
1 cup water
1 tbsp oil food coloring (cake decorators paste or liquid makes great colors)
1 tbsp peppermint extract (easily found at craft stores in candy-making section or grocery store in baking section)
Ziploc bag or airtight container

  1. Mix together flour, salt and cream of tartar.
  2. Add water and food coloring, whisk until smooth.
  3. Cook over medium heat until playdough is nearly set (not sticking to the sides of the pan).
  4. Add peppermint extract and stir until blended. Remove.
  5. Knead when cool, add glitter and continue to knead.
  6. Store in Ziploc bag or airtight container for up to three weeks.

Extension activities: Fill an ice cube tray with small trinkets (buttons, coins, beads) and hide the trinkets in the playdough for your child to discover.  Older children may enjoy using tweezers to “dissect” the dough.  This is a great way to develop fine-motor skills.
Dinosaur Stamping:
If your child likes the idea of painting, but the concept of using brushes or fingers is not so appealing, then incorporate the objects he/she loves into a lesson not soon forgotten.  Try using an assortment of dinosaurs, animal figures and even Little People to trample through the paint and make “footprints” on paper.  Use cars and trucks to roll through red and right into yellow to engage your child in a mini color-mixing lesson. Have a warm soapy dishpan full of water or shaving cream nearby – and watch your children’s eyes light up as they give their painted toys a color “bath.”
Coffee filter painting:
A great way to use up old food coloring on a rainy day is to experiment with drip painting and color saturation on a porous coffee filter.  Be prepared to use a large stack of filters, as your kids will be entranced by the way the colors appear to “crawl” and “stretch” across the filter, creating beautiful tie-dye masterpieces when dry.
Rolling prints:
Old spouting, PVC tubing and roof edging (with safe edges for children) cut in half length-wise make wonderful ramps for rolling balls, cars and marbles.  Line your ramp with paper, dip your ball in paint – and, voila, you’ve made a rolling print!
Check out all our fun kids classes and playdates at

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How To: Make a Thankful Tree

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator
Follow-up to Story Time in the Galleries on November 21, 2013
Bridging language connections to art-making deepens a child’s understanding of and appreciation for literature, the arts and the world they live in.  Carry out the message from our reading of “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,”  by author William Steig, through creating “thankful trees” at home.
Paper, cut into small, individual pieces
Ribbon or shortened pipe cleaner
Small terracotta pots
Small Styrofoam ball to fit snugly inside the pot
Cotton batting to cover the Styrofoam
Artificial pine branches or floral sprigs with spreadable branches
Hole puncher
Embellishments to decorate the tree: buttons, pony beads, ribbon, foam shapes
Fabric scraps to decorate the outside of the pot (watered-down glue or Mod Podge is a great collage medium)

  1. Place the Styrofoam ball into the pot.
  2. “Plant” the artificial pin branches or floral sprigs in the Styrofoam and cover it with the cotton batting (will look like snow in the pot).
  3. (Optional) Decorate the tree and pot.
  4. Ask your child what they are thankful for.  Write down their thoughts on small, individual pieces of paper.  Hole-punch each piece and tie a ribbon through it, or simply use a shortened pipe cleaner.
  5. Tie your child’s notes of thanks to the tree’s branches and celebrate a moment of gratitude!
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How To: No-Sew Lavender Eye Pillow

By Amanda Crowe, Assistant Educator
Follow-up to Creative Playdate: Yoga for the Young

Help your child relax while crafting this simple no-sew lavender eye pillow.
1 tube sock cut down to 10 inches long (cut off foot portion and elastic band near knee)
1 cup dried lavender flowers or 6 drops essential lavender oil
1 ½ cups buckwheat hulls or uncooked rice

  1. Close the sock at one end by typing with a ribbon.
  2. Fill the sock with the lavender and buckwheat hull filler, allowing enough room to close the other end of the sock with a neatly tied ribbon.
  3. Now, snuggle up in your favorite cozy place and relax with the eye pillow across your forehead while listening to music or a good book.

Check out all our fun kids classes and playdates at

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Chili Cook Off

Director Mark Masuoka tasting the chili.
Director Mark Masuoka tasting the chili.

Director Mark Masuoka's scorecard of the seven different entries.
Director Mark Masuoka’s scorecard of the seven different entries.

A frigid and overcast Monday provided a perfect atmosphere for staff members looking to warm up with a bowl of chili at the Akron Art Museum’s Chili Cook Off fundraiser on December 9. Seven employees entered their favorite chili recipes in a battle judged by the museum’s Executive Director & CEO Mark Masuoka. First, second and third place winners were chosen based on consistency, flavor and variety of ingredients.
Two entries tied for third place – one made by Sheri Stallsmith which was a traditional chunky red chili filled with tri-colored bell peppers, and the other made by Cristina Alexander which was also traditional but contained a secret ingredient: spicy Italian sausage. Second place was awarded to Carol Murphy who created a white chicken and smoked sausage chili accompanied by lime wedges and fresh cilantro. The first place ribbon went to Laura Firestone for her uniquely flavored vegetarian chili filled with chick peas and crushed tomatoes.
For a small fee, staff members enjoyed unlimited bowls of chili, salad, slaw, cornbread and dessert. All proceeds will be donated to United Way as part of the museum’s annual campaign. Special thanks to everyone who participated and congratulations to the winners!
The winners and their ribbons.
The winners and their ribbons.

Cristina Alexander and Sheri Stallsmith tied for third place. Rather than sharing custody of the ribbon they decided to split it in half.
Cristina Alexander and Sheri Stallsmith tied for third place. Rather than sharing custody of the ribbon they decided to split it in half.

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What’s your print profile?

What’s your print profile?
A. I like to get messy. There’s nothing more fun than inking up a plate and rolling it through the press.

B. I love to absorb information from print experts. Sitting in a dark room, sipping a beer and taking in a slide talk is my idea of a dream date.

C. I love getting to know artists and acquiring new art. I love seeing artists in action and picking their brains.

If you answered:
A you’re a printmaker
B you’re a connoisseur
C you’re a collector
Whether you’re a printmaker, connoisseur or collector, the Akron Art Museum has plenty of print programs that will appeal to you. Stop by the museum Thursday, December 12 at 6:30 pm as we kick things off with an art talk and print mixer that will appeal to all you A, B and C’s out there.
What’s a print mixer? Is it an event for single artists? Not quite. An open portfolio night is an opportunity for printmakers to present and sometimes even sell their work. Students from the University of Akron’s Myers School of Art, Kent State University, Youngstown State University and the Cleveland Institute of Art as well local artists will cover tables throughout the museum’s lobby with their work.  Similar events take place at printmaking conferences across the country, allowing many artists to display their work and an even broader audience to view the presented work, enabling discussion and discourse.
Great websites for printmaking information and insights

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Holiday Gift Guide 2013

Holiday Gift Guide 2013

In the past we have done a very successful countdown of gifts from our store starting on Black Friday through mid-December. However, this year we wanted to do something different and give you more.

The retail geniuses in our store have put together a gift guide that includes everything from posters to mugs to games to even giant pencils. We’ll be adding to the guide throughout the holidays based on what comes in and what sells out. There’s even a 10% off coupon in the guide! Simply follow the link, click on “Claim 10% off.” All you have to do is print the page or bring it in on your phone. Have friends or family that would love 10% in the store? Share it with them.

The last day to shop the store before Hanukkah and Thanksgiving is Wednesday, November 27. The last day to shop before Christmas is Sunday, December 22.

Questions about the store? Visit our website or call 330.376.9186 x280.

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Gravity and Grace Installation: Des Moines Art Center

By: Ellen Rudolph, Senior Curator

El Anatsui and Ellen Rudolph
El Anatsui and Ellen Rudolph

It was very exciting to see Gravity and Grace installed in Des Moines! Because the Des Moines Art Center has three distinctive buildings and the exhibition was disbursed throughout, the work took on a different character in each space. Our chief preparator and exhibition designer Joe Walton spent several days in advance of El’s arrival helping the Des Moines crew get up to speed with hanging and sculpting. El arrived the Monday before the opening and was more hands-on with the installation this time around, so it was great to see the works that he had a major hand in shaping (Drain Pipe, Gravity and Grace and Ozone Layer, which had fans behind it to make the hanging elements flutter).

Installation of Gli here
Installation of Gli here
Installation of Gli at Brooklyn Museum
Installation of Gli at Brooklyn Museum
Installation of Gli at Des Moines Art Center
Installation of Gli at Des Moines Art Center

The works in the I.M. Pei building looked amazing against the hammer-brushed concrete walls and with natural light filling the space. Other works are integrated with Des Moine’s collection, most stunningly Garden Wall, which hangs in the Richard Meier building in a niche that looks like it was created just for the piece. You can view it from above, which is perfect for highlighting the floor components. Near it hangs a gorgeous Morris Louis painting with similar acid-green coloring, along with a John Chamberlain sculpture whose crushed steel reminds us of the metal bottle tops.

Gravity and Grace installed here
Gravity and Grace installed here
Gravity and Grace installed at Des Moines Art Center
Gravity and Grace installed at Des Moines Art Center

Between Akron, Brooklyn and Des Moines, the architecture and gallery layouts have affected the appearance of the art as much as the different approaches to shaping and sculpting the work. Can’t wait to see what happens in Miami and San Diego!

Each installation of Red Block has been different.
Each installation of Red Block has been different. Here you can compare and contrast our installation (top) with the installations at Brooklyn Museum and Des Moines Art Center. Collection of The Broad Art Foundation, Santa Monica
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Be Nimble and Pivot

By: Gina Thomas McGee, Associate Educator

That’s the lesson I learned at the Alliance of Artists Communities Conference. What does it mean? It means: be flexible, be open to change, seize opportunities as they come, change direction and forge new paths as you keep one foot firmly planted in your experience, knowledge, and abilities. Just pivot.

Knowing virtually nothing about artist in residency programs before attending the conference, I didn’t have any clear expectations about what I’d learn. The most striking thing about this group of arts leaders, administrators, funders and directors is how deeply they care for artists. They’re constantly asking themselves how they can foster and support artists. Why? Because they truly believe that what artists do is important. Imagine that. If you’re an artist who feels like you’re on the outside or that nobody is rooting for you, talk to anyone associated with the Alliance and you’ll know that is not true.

It was inspiring to meet so many people committed to artists and the artistic process. The love the messy stages. The in-between stages. The “I don’t know what it is yet” stages.  As a museum educator, I’m used to seeing art after it is all shiny, polished, and installed in the galleries. This conference made me appreciate the ‘before’ as much as the ‘after’.

I attended so many interesting sessions. I learned about international artist exchange programs, trends in philanthropy, community engagement, evaluation, and collaboration. I was inspired by projects like this. Oh, and this. Also, this place? As Tina Fey would say, “I WANT TO GO TO THERE”.

Now I’m stuck with a brain full of ideas. (Did you know you can make bricks out of mushrooms?! Mind blown.) I can’t wait to keep learning and put some of this new knowledge to work in Akron.

Here I am rambling on about an art conference and haven’t shared any images? Unacceptable.

Here are some highlights:

I loved this sculpture on view as part of  Zero1 Garage’s Patent Pending exhibition. You touch that fluff ball and the light bulb lights up. Love it.

The artists of Fallen Fruit. You NEED to check out their work. It is all kinds of awesome.


The Palo Alto Art Center. I want to take all of their classes.






Sunshine(!) at Café Strich, who kept us fed after hours of using our brains.


A real highlight of the conference was visiting the Montalvo Arts Center. Nestled in the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, this place is strikingly beautiful. Our group was greeted with pizzas made by their culinary artist (when can I move in?) and then got a tour of the cottages, where their artists in residence live and work. Fantastic!





Thank you Alliance of Artists Communities for putting on a great conference. Thank you, Akron Art Museum for sending me. Big thanks to the Ohio Arts Council for making it possible.

See you next year in Charleston?


Find part one of my conference experience here:

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Art Shuffle

By: Elizabeth Carney, Curatorial Assistant

This week, the artworks are being removed from three galleries—but don’t worry, the walls won’t be empty for long (and there will still be plenty of art to see during these changes!)

The floors won’t be bare, either. Diana Al-Hadid’s monumental sculpture Nolli’s Orders will all but fill the space of the first room in the Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation Galleries when this special exhibition opens the evening of November 22.

Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli's Orders
Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli’s Orders


The other 2 galleries will reopen on November 6. A few paintings will be put away for a while, but this means that visitors will have a chance to see other works from the collection, including John Baldassari’s Six Colorful Gags (Male) (1991), Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later), and some other surprises.


John Baldessari, Six Colorful Gags (Male) , 1991
John Baldessari, Six Colorful Gags (Male) , 1991
Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later)
Seydou Keïta’s untitled portrait (around 1957–1960, printed later)

Some favorite artworks, including Chuck Close’s Linda (1950) will be returned to their current spots—and we will be adding a Chuck Close screenprint, Alex/Reduction Print (1993).


Chuck Close, Alex/Reduction Print , 1993
Chuck Close, Alex/Reduction Print , 1993

Mickalene Thomas’s Girlfriends and Lovers (2008) is moving to a different gallery—come see what you think!

Art by Chuck Close and Mickalene Thomas in art storage during reinstallation.
Art by Chuck Close and Mickalene Thomas in art storage during reinstallation.

The museum collection includes over 5,000 works of art. Remember, even though we can’t display everything, the majority of the collection is available to view, explore, learn about, and discover on our website!

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Alliance of Artists Communities Conference

Thanks to a scholarship from the Ohio Arts Council (OAC) Associate Educator Gina Thomas McGee is currently attending the Alliance of Artists Communities Conference in San Jose, CA. Presenters and attendees are from across the country. Gina says her brain is full and squishy, but she’s excited about all the ideas she’ll be bringing back.

We’ll be updating this page with tidbits from her trip, but you can check out Instagram and Twitter for even more photos. If you’re in San Jose and see Gina be sure to say hi.

Thursday, October 24


Wednesday, October 23

From keynote: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of creativity, innovation and change.”

From the Trends in Philanthropy session- the idea that the very best situation your organization could be in is that money is the only thing you need.

Overall, it was great to explore the SoFA district and see how the arts are transforming the neighborhood. Galleries, a theatre, contemporary art center all in one block.


I met up with some fellow recipients of the Ohio Arts Council scholarship and we shared lots of ideas….and talked about the threat of snow at home.


Went to an event at the San Jose Museum of Art and got a chance to explore the galleries after hours.


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