How to Conquer the Clutter of Kids Art — Even if You Can’t Bear to Throw Anything Out!

Contrary to popular belief, archivists do not keep everything.

Really!

One of my archival mentors was very fond of the saying: “When in doubt, throw it
out!”

When I tell people this they usually don’t believe me. But here’s the reality: If
archives and historical societies kept every single item that landed on their
doorstep….every cancelled check… every unidentified photograph… every duplicate
map… Well, there simply wouldn’t be any room left for new collections. And that
won’t work in the long run, will it? No way.

The same holds true for your family archive, but it’s a little different. When
collections stay with a family, the sentimental value is very important. I’m a mom
myself, so I understand how difficult it can be to part with sentimental treasures like
children’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Original art is not the same thing as
a cancelled check! But read on, because I’ve worked out some solutions for your
dilemma.

SORT EVERYTHING INTO TWO PILES

The first step to conquering the clutter is to start sorting. Designate a “Keep
Forever” pile and one for “Other” (more on what you can do with these later). Large
boxes would be great, but feel free to sort on a table or the floor. Just be sure your
treasures don’t stay in piles too long. It’s much safer for them to live in boxes with
lids.

The keepers need to go into a high quality archival storage box. These tend to be 3″
deep, so if your “keep” stack is more than 3″ high, you’re gonna need more than one
box. Or you’ll need to go through the “keep” pile again and remove a few more. It
depends on what your budget and available storage space will allow.

What to keep? I’d recommend a sample that includes all your children and
represents each of their school years. Beyond that, it’s up to you. That’s your job as
the family archivist. You can choose pieces that really grab you, the ones that have
the most visual appeal, or the ones that have the most interesting stories behind
them. Depending on how old your children are, they can help with the decision
making.

STILL CAN’T BEAR TO PART WITH THEM?

If you’ve got the room to store it all, then by all means keep it. But if you’re running
out of storage space you’ll need to do what archivist call “de-accessioning.”
Fortunately, we live in an age of technological wonders, and digital copies can ease
the pain of de-accessioning. Think of the digital copies as
surrogates. You still get to see the art, but you don’t have to look at the clutter
anymore and you have more storage space.

Scanning is an option, but for kid’s art you would need an oversized scanner, which
most folks simply don’t have. I thought about purchasing one for my business but
large scans take a long, long, time — which makes the service too expensive for my
clients.

A little while ago I had a real “Eureka!” moment and realized that digital cameras are
the way to go. Quick, inexpensive, and within the reach of most families these days.
So snap away! Try to get even lighting and a good straight shot. Use an easel if you
have one to support the drawings. For 3-D items like Paper Mache and clay, be sure
to shoot from more than one angle.

STORING ARTWORK SO IT LASTS FOR GENERATIONS

The best kind of box for the long term storage of *any* paper records (that includes
letters, photographs, and artwork) is an acid-free, lignin-free, archival box made
without adhesives or unknown plastics. Oversize materials are best stored flat rather
than standing up. This way you avoid permanent curling from paper that slumps
down in a less-than-full box.

Good boxes are available from archival supply companies such as Gaylord
(gaylord.com) and Light Impressions (lightimpressionsdirect.com). My
personal favorite and the one I recommend most often for kid’d art is Gaylord GH-
DFB24. It’s got a drop front for easy access, a full lid to keep out the dust and light,
it’s big enough and it comes in an attractive black. Cost is about $29 including
shipping. The price goes down if you order more than 5, so placing an order with
friends can save you money.

Schoolfolio (schoolfolio.com) sells polypropylene portfolios in two sizes.
Polypropylene is one of the inert (and therefore safe) plastics. The larger holder has
separate sections inside. The smaller portfolio comes in exciting, lively colors and
patterns. The company even started their own foundation called Save the Art which
donates money to “selected youth arts groups.” Everyone wins!

My only caution about plastic (even safe plastic) is that it tends to hold onto
moisture, so it’s not a good idea to store one of these in a moist basement or un-
airconditioned attic. It’s also not the best choice if you live in a humid climate such
as Florida or Hawaii. In this situation you’re better off with archival boxes.

Where to store it? Attics, garages, and basements are all poor choices. The
temperature and humidity are usually uncontrolled which will cause stress and
damage over time. Plus they tend to have creepy-crawlies and other critters that will
literally eat your artwork. Closets located in the interior part of your house are
perfect. Under the bed works great, too — but don’t leave treasures near a radiator
or exterior wall.

WHAT TO DO WITH THE “OTHER” PILE & YOUR NEW DIGITAL COPIES

Just because it’s not worth storing in a very high quality archival box, doesn’t mean
you have to throw it out!

Ideas for Sharing Paper Originals

*Send them to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

*Use them to make envelopes.

*Use them to make cards.

*Use them as gift wrap.

*Laminate ones with a seasonal theme and use them as placemats.

*Punch holes and store in a 3-ring binder.

*Have your local copy shop add covers and bind them into a book.

Kids Art Project (kidsartproject.com) will transform up to 6 paintings into
a single 18×24″ poster collage. Cost is under $100 for unframed, unmounted photo.

Ideas for Sharing Digital Copies

*Email them.

*Use them as the desktop image on your computer.

*Create a slideshow screensaver that cycles through a number of different
masterpieces.

*Upload them to an online digital photo company like snapfish.com or
imagestation.com – they can create a dizzying array of products including
calendars, playing cards, mugs, puzzles, coasters, mousepads…the possibilities are
practically endless!

Jacobs Archival Services creates dynamic DVD slideshows out of digital
images. This is not your father’s boring old slide show! They add music, titles, and
interactive menus. There’s no special computer equipment needed, just a DVD
player and television set. Transform any room into an art gallery featuring your little
Picasso(s).

For a current price list simply send an email to: pricelist@jacobsarchival.com
.
The list will arrive automatically in a few moments.

CONCLUSION

I hope these basic archival principles and creative solutions will help you enjoy the
artwork in you family’s collection. Remember that even archivists toss some things
out to make room for new items. Select what you love the most and invest in high
quality storage materials. Artwork that you store correctly for the long term
will bring your family joy for years to come. My mom saved a few “masterpieces” of
mine, and it’s a special treat to share them with my daughter. Thanks, Mom!
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The Jazz and Art on the Avenue at Delray Beach

Delray Beach is a small, sophisticated town with a rich and interesting history, starting, like many Florida towns and cities, with a well-meaning tycoon who bought up an ugly plot of marsh-land infested with snakes, mosquitoes and alligators. Through a long process, Delray has been transformed into quite an attractive little city, with a large number of things to see and do.

Delray is a fantastic location for leisure, as it offers a wide variety of activities, from a fantastic 2-mile stretch of beach (offering all of the activities that you might associate with beaches), to a quaint downtown full of antique shops and art galleries, to a commendable offering of gourmet restaurants (Kyoto Sushi and Sake is quite good). Without a doubt, one of the best parts of Delray Beach, however, is probably the special events that they seem to be perpetually hosting. My favorite is the Jazz and Art on the Avenue series, which happens about five times a year (there are still two opportunities for 2006 – October 19th and November 30th).

The Jazz and Art on the Avenue events are an amazing mix of interesting art, eclectic music, and the always charming sights and sounds of Delray Beach. There are countless bands (jazz and otherwise – on the 17th of August there were Taiko drummers) that provide a perfect evening of live entertainment for music aficionados. In addition to the music, there is also a “gallery-stroll” – art galleries open up for the duration of the event (6pm-10pm) so that you can peruse their collections. Be sure to stop by the Burton Gallery.
As if this visual and aural feast were not enough, the local businesses around the event center open their doors to provide you with all manner of goods and services – from food to massages to office-supplies – generally at sale prices. This is definitely something I try very hard not to miss.

Hopefully my stirring descriptions pique your curiosity to the point that you visit Delray Beach (whether you visit for the festivals, the shops, the restaurants, or the beach). It is the perfect spot for a special occasion, and pairs perfectly with Millenium Limo. Imagine taking a limo to the jazz and art festival and then wandering around for a few hours taking it all in. You could eat, drink, and be merry with reckless abandon, secure in the knowledge that a professional limo-driver will be taking you home afterwards. In any case – Delray Beach is a great destination for any reason: a romantic outing, a family trip, or just to get away.

Art Galleries Of Truth And Beauty

Art galleries house the finest achievements that a civilization has to offer. When all is said and done, human beings do have to offer themselves more than eating mating and sleeping. They can create things of beauty and these last beyond the lives of individuals, and become part of a culture. That is why people will stand for hours outside the Uffizi gallery waiting for a glimpse of the works of world famous art.

Major art galleries attract huge crowds who gaze upon famous works of art that have a life of their own beyond the wood or canvas that they are drawn upon. In creating a masterpiece the artist has gone beyond daubing and has created a work that meets what Shakespeare meant when he wrote in the final couplet of his sonnet: So long as men can breathe and eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.’

It is said that when Verspronck painted the ‘Girl in Blue’ he saw his model not as the girl that she was but as the woman that she was to become. The painting itself shows the expression of an older woman in the face of a child. It illustrates how an artist can see and create a truth which is far beyond the immediate present.

Although Van Gogh was unconventional and divergent in his real life his art has outlasted him and taken on a life of its own. Artists often seem to be divergent characters but ironically their work can become the arbiter of what is important about the society in which they live. Art galleries are places where the works of these people are preserved.

Art thieves are depraved, but not only because they take what does not belong to them. Their real depravity lies in the fact that they trample on beauty and truth for its commercial value only. The person who buys a badly painted and sentimental representation may display better taste than the billionaire who invests in a famous panting without any appreciation of the art.

But despite the fact that art is not really about money many artists have been good business people and many wealthy people are genuinely appreciative of art for its own sake.

There are people who argue that nothing can equal the experience of seeing an original masterpiece hanging in a gallery. Outside the Uffizi gallery will be many professional artists who may have taught art from picture books for many years. Seeing the original of a work that they already know intimately will be a thrilling experience.

The thrill of viewing masterpieces hung in famous galleries does not preclude the wonderful opportunities now afforded by the internet to visit online galleries. From a military outpost in Afghanistan one can pay a virtual visit to the Louvre and approach the Mona Lisa from a distant to a close up view. Details may be examined in the company of experts who explain interesting details such as the crack in the poplar frame that could be missed on an actual visit. Less well known art galleries may also be accessed online and works that appeal may be purchased, and posted to Afghanistan from America or Poland.

Where to Eat in Barbados – 5 Recommendations

If you’re a food lover then Barbados is the place for you. Possibly the only place in the world that doesn’t have a McDonalds, it does instead have something for just about every taste and budget. From the kid friendly fast food chain Chefette to award winning restaurants such as The Cliff, and L’Azure, the cliff-top restaurant overlooking the magnificent Crane Beach.

The following are 5 personal recommendations for where to eat in Barbados:

Oistins

For a real taste of Barbados head to Oistins, a fishing village on the south coast. Home to the weekly Friday Night Fish Fry, people from all across the island, together with tourists from all around the world, gather to eat, drink, dance, and party. Stop at any of the numerous stalls serving flying fish, rice, macaroni, and plantain, then find a table to enjoy this local specialty. Wash it down with a couple of Banks beers it is a meal to match the finest anywhere.

For breakfast or a light snack visit the Bean n’ Bagel in St. Lawrence Gap for breakfast, and while sitting on the terrace overlooking the Caribbean we eat a hearty breakfast of orange juice, omelets, fresh baked bagels, and gourmet coffee. I could happily sit here all morning and just watch the world go by

The Bean-n-Bagel Cafe (St. Lawrence Gap)

The Bean-n-Bagel Cafe is my favorite place for breakfast in Barbados. The original, located in St. Lawrence Gap, is also an Internet Cafe, so if you really can’t leave the office behind, or you just want to check in with family back home you can be in touch with the world while eating a fresh baked bagel, pastry or full breakfast of omelets and smoked salmon and a hot or iced coffee while relaxing in the morning sun.

They also serve sandwiches, vegetarian dishes, chicken Alfredo, pasta, crab salad, and pizza. Or if something sweet is more to your taste don’t miss the Tortuga Rum Cake, or my personal favourite, and I always get one to go home with, Mount Gay Great Cake.

The prices are reasonable, the atmosphere relaxed, the service friendly, the locations great, the food is good, and if surfing in the ocean is too strenuous you can surf the Internet! Two newer locations have also been opened, one in the West Coast Mall in Holetown, and the other overlooking the Careenage in Bridgetown.

Pisces Restaurant

For a romantic dinner on the edge of St. Lawrence Bay, Pisces in St. Lawrence Gap is a must. Enter through a grove of lush tropical foliage to a table overlooking the water. This most romantic restaurant is considered one of the finest on the island and one taste of the seafood linguine soon will tell you it is a well-deserved reputation.

Pisces is only open for dinner from 6pm, and is not inexpensive. Prices for starters are $14 – $25, and mains from $38 – $74. But for a special night out this is one restaurant not to be missed. Dress, as in most Bajan restaurants, is elegantly casual, and reservations are recommended.

Naniki

One of the most unique restaurants in Barbados set in the rolling hills of St. Joseph. The natural beauty of the landscape that lies just beyond its glass walls creates the ambience of the restaurant. An outdoor porch allows you to enjoy the views of the surrounding hills while enjoying a refreshing breeze along with your meal. The menu includes a selection of staples from the Caribbean, such as yam, sweet potato and breadfruit, together with the famous Bajan corn meal cou cou.

For lunch try seared flying fish, grilled dorado, stewed lambi (conch), curried chicken, or jerk chicken or pork. For dinner, grilled snapper, local black-belly lamb, seared shrimp, and pork loin are specialties. On Sundays, they serve ‘a taste of the Caribbean’ buffet with all the fixin’s.

Tides

On the west coast make reservations at Tides. This unique restaurant features an art gallery on the main floor featuring some of the best local artists and dining on both the main floor and the second floor. Ask for a table upstairs overlooking the Caribbean. There are so many great choices on the menu it’s difficult to decide what to eat. But try the Jamaican jerk chicken wrapped in Parma ham with pesto mash, leek and Calvados cream with caramelized apples, and seared local tuna with Wasabi sauce served on warm ginger, sesame and egg noodle salad and vegetable spring rolls, accompanied with a 2005 Petit Chablis. You won’t be disappointed.

Rum Shops

I know I said 5 Places To Eat in Barbados but there are reputed to be anywhere between 500 and 1500 Rum Shops in Barbados and no visit is complete without stopping in at least one. If you want a real Bajan experience you have to pay at least one visit to a rum shop. Rum shops are actually small bars found in every village and are social centers where residents gather to discuss politics, play dominoes, catch up on the latest news, gossip and… drink rum. The shops also act as grocery stores and are a good place to grab a snack, particularly cutters. Cutters are the Bajan equivalent of sandwiches, a round bun generously stacked with cheese, ham, fish or whatever else you may choose.

Considering Nudity, Sexuality and Art

The hidden meaning is better than the obvious.

~Pablo Picasso~

On a recent cruise, I noticed the reproduction of a classic sculpture of a nude male athlete in the fitness center. I found it inspirational. Outside the exercise room I noticed an almost identical sculpture in an area occasionally traversed by teens and children. This sculpture sported a strategically placed scallop shell.

When I returned from the cruise, I installed a digital art exhibit, my latest project. Two of the pieces had whimsical mermaids as subject matter. Questions arose as to the appropriateness of displaying images of mermaids with breasts included. They were eventually fitted with their own shells before display.

These two experiences got me thinking about the topic of this column. The human body has served as a subject for art since the Stone Age. Artists celebrated the human form for centuries. Throughout the history of Western Art, I think it would be safe to say that the historical figure most often depicted nude was Jesus, mostly as a baby.

Things changed with the Puritan and Victorian times. Over the years we have become squeamish about depictions of the human body. Other than in art galleries, sexuality in our culture is often relegated to the realms of advertising and pornography. Sex is used to sell just about everything. Pornography is considered evil by many but remains the most popular topic on the Internet.

I recalled the story in Genesis of Adam, Eve and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Upon disobeying God by eating its fruit, they realized they were naked, felt ashamed and sought out fig leaves as clothing. This passage was the first association of nudity with shame. I have never quite understood the connection between sin and being ashamed of our bodies. Yet here we are at our stage of human history caught in a rather schizophrenic view of the human body.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we confuse the motivations behind the display of sexuality. Rick Goslikov suggests three such motivations. One is to cause sexual arousal which could suggest pornography or more tasteful nude art. The second is to “capture some element or aspect of sexuality or sensuousness.” The third is to “express or communicate something in pictorial form about sexuality or sensuousness.” He does not mention the use of sex in advertising to seduce us into buying things because they make us feel sexy.

For us to regain a more innocent perception of nudity and sexuality, we would need to let go of our more sordid interests such as viewing people as objects, subjugating others and looking only to our own needs and desires. Then maybe we could rejoice in the human form as we do the rest of nature without a sense of shame. I don’t know if this can ever happen or what it would take to accomplish. In the mean time, maybe we can work on ourselves.

Life Lab Lessons

  • Look honestly at your feelings about sexuality.
  • Can you share your feelings with others?
  • Get to know your own body.
  • Learn to love it if you don’t already.
  • Enjoy the beauty and complexity of the human body.