Coming to the Walker this summer as an intern, I’m definitely new to the game. I’m learning a lot, and “just getting my feet wet” as some might say, but one thing I have already determined with certainty is the dedication to and quality of Family Programs at the Walker Art Center. The effort and planning that went into this year’s Fantastic Fourth! event was tremendous, and it was all in the name of providing an experience that brought people and families together in a fun and exciting way. With an attendance of nearly 5000, the event drew people of all ages from across the metro and beyond. With a bike parade, food, musical performances (Sumunar Javanese Gamelan Ensemble, Haley Bonar, and M.anifest), hula-hoop workshops (Harmony Hoops), and art-making activities, Fantastic Fourth! was truly an event that had something for every member of the family to enjoy. The excitement and enormity of the day was captured beautifully by the Walker’s staff photographers. More images from the day can be seen in this Flickr set:
[tylr-slidr userID=”36154778@N00″ groupID=””]http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkerart/sets/72157620974511961/[/tylr-slidr]
Although Fantastic Fourth! was wonderful as a stand-alone event, it is just one of many memorable events since the inception of the Walker. The image below was taken at a Walker concert held July 4, 1959. The individuals in the photo are sitting in a space referred to as the ‘backyard’; an open space that existed before the (first) Guthrie was built. This image seems to capture the innocence of the era–the quintessential American Independence day filled with good, clean family fun.
Although the 1950s seems centuries ago in terms of how our world has changed, the theme of the Walker as a place for place for families to gather to celebrate art, life, culture and each other still rings true. What a far-reaching vision the founders of this institution (and its subsequent Sculpture Garden) had in providing such a tremendous space to host events that have the capability of engaging the whole community.
Whether it was the kids creating their own Spin Art Surprise, concertgoers listening to the music, or those enjoying some delicious grilled corn on the cob, one thing that was hard to avoid were the smiles-lots of them. Maybe that 1950s era sense of picture-perfect “happiness” really isn’t that much of a stretch after all; maybe all we have to do is look around…