Saturday I volunteered at a family day program at the Whitney in conjunction with the Dan Graham exhibit. The program was WhitneyKids Punk Rock! Dan Graham doesn’t really believe in the typical art-talk lecture visitor programs, and so the Whitney has tried to incorporate that philosophy into the programs accompanying the exhibit.
WhitneyKids Punk Rock! incorporated many aspects: family tours of the galleries, a viewing room showing Dan Graham’s favorite animated films (primarily the brilliant works of Hayao Miyazaki), and activities such as comic-book making, an interactive drum set, and temporary rock-and-roll tattoos. The punk rock band Japanther, out of Brooklyn, also played a set in the courtyard. Japanther is one of the many bands with whom Dan Graham has worked. While they played a BMX biker performed tricks on a ramp and around the space in front of the band. Graham is really interested in popular spaces and designing for said spaces, and has drawn designs for skate parks and other similar areas, so that’s where the BMX bike fit.
I was working the check-out desk, which primarily consisted of bribing museum goers to sign up for the Whitney’s mailing list via the gifts of rocking sun glasses with lime green side frames and free family passes. All the volunteers received a Japanther t-shirt, a pair of said sunglasses, and the joy/amusement of watching small children dart around the museum and react to a punk rock concert. The parents were all rocking out to the tunes of Japanther. The kids, not so much:
Iris, the other intern working check out, and I were the keepers of gold: those sunglasses were a hot commodity. Luckily the Whitney had ordered an excess of sunglasses so we were able to give them to kids, interns, security guards who wanted them for their grandchildren, etc. We also traded sunglasses for righteous rock-and-roll tattoos.
My tattoo, as you can see, went to eleven.
The event was pretty entertaining. Iris and I were never really extremely busy, so we were able to watch some of the band’s set and to wander around the rest of the museum to see the other activities. I had to pull myself from the film screening room: they were showing Spirited Away, one of my favorite films. There was also an ice cream truck parked by the museum (Japanther once made a music video called “Rock and Roll Ice Cream”) and from said truck I secured a frozen strawberry mochi ball. Win.
The event took up most of my early afternoon but, again, I got some merch, and it was fun to see the parents having a good time with the children. Get the children interested in art early, I say! Most of the parents seemed genuinely pleased to receive a family pass; hopefully more parents will be encouraged to introduce their kids to modern and contemporary art