Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Critters - A New Art Show in the Program Room

For the next three weeks, the Virginia Discovery Museum is proud to showcase the works of local artist, Leslie Allyn, in a solo exhibition, “Critters.” Allyn believes that animals of all types carry a magic; a sense of whimsy that she attempts to recreate in her watercolor paintings. She focuses on the relationship between critters and humans, specifically the personalities of these animals, bugs, and fish. To study the faces and movements of these creatures, one becomes enlightened by the similarities to the expressions and bodily movements of human beings. Such similarities can be “amusing, comforting, mysterious, or even scary.” Allyn enjoys this personal connection with nature’s critters and finds inspiration in the curiosity of a baby goat or the glistening dew on the woven web of a diligent spider. These paintings depict “moments in time” that not only highlight the personalities of the critters, but also glorify the strangeness and magic of our relationship with nature. Allyn successfully captures the human-like characteristics of each critter in her works, whether it is the fearlessness of a “Flying Squirrel,” the sweet nature of a donkey offering flowers in “Ridonkulous Ranunculus,” or the wide-eyed, stressed-out exhaustion of a fish in “Spaced Out.” Be sure to check out Allyn’s works in the Program Room of the Virginia Discovery Museum on your next visit. To learn more about the artist and her process, also check out her website at

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Halloween Party, Holiday Houses, and Many More Fun Fall Programs!

In case you have not received our bi-monthly newsletter or checked out our website, the Virginia Discovery Museum wants to make you aware of several late fall events that are taking place. On October 29th, the museum will be hosting our annual Halloween Party from 6-7:30. Register now and come dressed in your best costume! This event, for children ages 2-7 with an adult, is $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Get ready for a howlin’ good time as you enjoy spooktacular crafts, games, a Mad Scientist Lab, and more!

On November 1 from 9-12, special guest instructor, Meg Heubeck, from the UVA Center for politics Youth Leadership Initiative, will be presenting a Teacher Workday Program: Count Your Votes! The program, geared towards children ages 4-7 and is $30 for members and $35 for non-members, will involve reading books about voting, making a button to share one of your child’s important ides for improving our country, and more!

Starting in December, the Virginia Discovery Museum will devote two Saturdays, the 11th and the 18th from 10:30-11:30, to Holiday Houses, in which kids ages 4 and up with an adult can get into the holiday spirit and decorate pre-assembled houses with icing, marshmallows, candy canes, and loads more yummy treats.

In addition to these fantastic and fun fall events and our usual Drop-in Programs such as StoryTime Tuesdays, Poetry Club, Toddler Time, and Magic School Bus Science Club, we have several pre-registration programs in partnership with local organizations

One such program is Speak! Language Class, which runs from November 3 – December 15. After the success of the language classes over the summer, Speak! Language Center presents European Vacation, in which they explore the languages and cultures of Italy, France, and Spain. Each session includes an interactive language lesson (songs, stories, and games) and an introduction to the culture of each country. Children can Flamenco dance in Spain, discover the artistic wonders of the Louvre in Paris, and order a rainbow of gelato flavors in Italy! The Speak! Language Classes will be on Wednesdays at 3:30-4:45 and welcome kids ages 5-9. The class is only $100 for members and $120 for non-members. Sign up today!

Another summer program that will start November 5 – December 17 is Hollywood Theatre Lab, which also requires pre-registration. Lana Young will teach children how to perform while exploring their imagination in a safe and fun environment. Fun and focused exercises teach children how to listen to their scene partners and build communication skills. They will learn basic stage technique, how to break down scripts, and how to find their objective as the character. The goal – teaching life skills through acting – is to build self confidence while showing children how to find truth in a character. The Hollywood Theatre Lab classes, only $90 for members and $110 for non-members, take place on Friday afternoons at 3:30-4:30 and accept children ages 6-8.

Register for these programs soon as space is limited and don’t forget about Date Nights on Friday nights from 5:30-8:00. Enjoy a night on the town while your kids revel in an evening of activities, dinner, and lots of free time to play in the museum. We are eager to see the kids participate in the weekly programs and we welcome any feedback from our visitors. Please contact us anytime for information and questions. We wish everyone a happy October and hope to see you for the programs.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Dynamic Grace - A new art show in the Program Room of the Virginia Discovery Museum

Amanda Johnson

I have always been drawn to nests and their divine design. That something so small, and presumably simple-minded as a bird, has the innate ability to create such an incredibly complex and developed masterpiece of strands, sticks, and everything in between. Amazing! Initially, this show was planned as a series of nests and eggs. But on a particular evening this summer, when the sky was clear and full of stars, I was taken by an impulse to incorporate the moon’s phases. It was then that I discovered the relationship that eggs have with the lunar cycle. Call it synchronicity. Approximately the same amount of time is taken for an egg’s gestation period as it takes the moon to move through a revolution of phases. More research ensued and biodynamics transpired. This collection of works develops a particular interest in the relationship of organism and environment; divine energy and grace.

All of my work begins with a significant image, color, or texture. After deciding on a medium, I trust my art to take me where it leads. My hope is that my finished product describes this experience to my audience. My painting process is a collection of layers, glazes of color, and an array of textures that have come about along the way. I pour on polymer medium, slather on pastes and gels, stain surfaces, scratch surfaces, and sand surfaces. I force things to dry, to move, and to blend. There aren’t really any rules or expectations when I paint. I just let the flow take over. In the past ten years, I’ve spent time exploring pen and ink, ceramics, woodworking, encaustic, watercolor, and acrylic painting. Anything could be on the horizon.

Amanda currently resides and paints in Crozet.
She has an ever-growing collection of nests and eggs.