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"ALMOST WARM AND FUZZY: Childhood and Contemporary Art"
2000-10-07 until 2001-01-14
Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
Scottsdale, AZ, USA

Various views of childhood—a mix of innocence and nostalgia, comic-strip heroes and science-fiction, fairy tales and computer games—are explored in 41 thought-provoking works by 33 contemporary artists and artists’ groups from the United States and abroad. ALMOST WARM AND FUZZY is an exhibition that attracts both those interested in thought-provoking art and children and teens eager to find their own experiences reflected in the world around them. On the surface, the exhibit has a whimsical and fun-loving atmosphere and yet, a closer look reveals that all is not “warm and fuzzy.” Childhood, for all its charm, is also a time of uncertainty, and for some, great stress. Many works recall those feelings and speak to the reality of growing up and becoming an adult.

The exhibition features several kinetic and interactive pieces. Among the many captivating installation works are: Sandy Skoglund’s Shimmering Madness, a dream-like environment which includes two life-size figures covered with jellybeans running through a field of butterfly wings; and Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s Cardoso Flea Circus, an authentic flea circus featuring acrobats, clowns and a tiny ring master. Charles Ray comments on the difference between the real and unreal in his over life sized toy Fire Truck made of aluminum and fiberglass.

Artist Kim Dingle is represented by the monumental figure of a little girl dressed in white who appears to have just broken through the museum’s walls. Issues of scale are also evident in Laura Whipple’s Tea Party where a typical children’s tea party is upset by the inclusion of a giant- sized chair placed alongside a miniature table and a trio of chairs set. Bill Scanga’s At the Met is a miniature reconstruction of the American wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art populated by mice complete with shopping bags.

Other artists in the exhibition include: The Art Guys, Barry Flanagan, Tom Friedman, Mike Kelley, Jeff Koons, Charles LeDray, David Levinthal, Takashi Murakami, Elizabeth Newman, Daniel Oates, Tom Otterness, Marc Quinn, Alexis Rockman, Tim Rollins & KOS, Michelle Segre, Beverly Semmes, Laurie Simmons, Fred Truck, Meyer Vaisman, and Charles White.

ALMOST WARM AND FUZZY introduces both teenagers and younger children to art, in particular, the art of their own time. The exhibition has been designed with families in mind. A 24-page, Spanish-English children’s activity book raises intriguing questions in connection with the works and provides a series of projects for young people. The interpretive object labels, which are bi-lingual, have been developed by a group of museum educators especially for younger visitors. A cheerful poster serves as an attractive souvenir of the show as well as an unconventional catalogue, with an essay and the exhibition checklist on the back. In addition, SMoCA’s education department is planning an exciting series of educational programs and artist residencies and a “rumpus room,” jointly coordinated by SMoCA and the Arizona Museum of Youth, for children to participate in hands-on art activities.

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