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Bradbury Gallery presents 'Artists at Play: the Art of the Toy'

Oct. 2, 2008 -- “Artists at Play: The Art of the Toy” will open Thursday, October 9 at 5 p.m. at the Bradbury Gallery, Fowler Center, 201 Olympic Drive, Jonesboro. ThisThe Hopping Push Toy, by Miel Margarita Paredes. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center. exhibition will feature thirty-one toys made by artists from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection, paintings by Beth Edwards that explore the subject of dolls and toys, an enormous sculptural version of a toy by Dusty Mitchell, drawings that incorporate toy imagery by Tom Richard, and a video of Alexander Calder and his wife, Louisa James, playing with his famous circus made of wire. The exhibition runs through Friday, November 14.

The Ar
kansas Arts Center (AAC) began their collection of toys by purchasing artworks from their first annual “Toys Designed by Artists Exhibition” in 1973. This international juried show presents works that are toys or are about toys. Now in its 36th year, the next show will be held from March 13 to May 10, 2009. This year, the exhibition will be j"Miss Emma and the Butterfly," by Ann Woods and Dean Lucker. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.uried by Susanne Ramljak, who is currently the editor of Metalsmith magazine. Information about entering the upcoming exhibition will be available at the Bradbury Gallery.

“Space Gun,” which is included in “Artists at Play: The Art of the Toy,” is from the second annual “Toys Designed by Artists Exhibition,” which was held in 1974. “Space Gun” is the o
ldest toy in the show. Other works from the AAC’s collection in the exhibition include puppets, pull-toys and push-toys, stuffed animals, photos of toys, toys in the form of jewelry, versions of traditional toys, and numerous pieces with movable parts.

Beth Edward
s’ wBeth Edwards, "Happy III" (Cat 1). Photo courtesy of Beth Edwards and the David Lusk Gallery.ork can easily be enjoyed simply for its colorful and playful imagery, but her carefully rendered dolls and toys force her audience to consider whether these objects are actually innocuous and what their alternative function might be. Her placement of plastic playthings in unlikely settings, her unusual vantage point, and the use of unnatural scale makes us reconsider what we thought we knew about toys. Edwards does this deftly, avoiding the too heavy-handed approach of creating creepy images. She states that her slightly altered, bright and shiny paintings, “record and commemorate the overblown sentimentality, unsettling narratives, and peculiar characterizations that particular toys exemplify.”

Dusty Mitchell’s “Lincoln Logs” is a huge version of the familiar toy of the same name. Far too large for casual play, this installation makes observers feel like Lilliputians. Mitchell wants to make us rethink our relationship with objects we have known. He states, “
I am particularly interested in the idea of manipulating the pre-existing relationship that exists between a person and an object they are familiar with.” Like all of the toys in the exhibition, Mitchell’s “Lincoln Logs” are not available for the public to play with or touch.

Tom Richard’s drawings are based on chapters from the book, ‘From Modernism to Postmodernism, An Anthology” edited by Lawrence Cahoone. This anthology is made up of essays written by philosophers dating from 1641 to 1991. In his drawings, Richard uses phrases from an essay along with quotes from contemporary pop culture and toy imagery. He explains that he selects these playful objects as an initial starting point to make connections between image and text.

The film, “Cald
er’s Circus,” features artist Alexander Calder himself as a sort of ringmaster. He playfully manipulates his small wire creations, moving the circus characters around as if we were there with him in the Big Top. His wife, Louisa James, winds up the gramophone in the background. His work of art, “The Circus,” is now housed at the Whitney Museum in New York.

Bradbury Gallery hours are 12 noon-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2-5 p.m. on Sunday.  The exhibition and the reception are free and open to the public. For additional information or group tours, contact Les Christensen, director of the Bradbury
Gallery, at, or call the Bradbury Gallery at (870) 972-2567.

 Beth Edwards, "Doll House I." Photo courtesy of Beth Edwards and the David Lusk Gallery."Butterfly and Flower" by Ann Woods and Dean Lucker. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.





Photos from upper right:
"The Hopping Push Toy,"
Miel Margarita Paredes
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.

"Miss Emma and the Butterfly,"
Ann Woods and Dean Lucker
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.

"Happy III (Cat I)"
Beth Edwards
Photo courtesy of Beth Edwards and the David Lusk Gallery.

"Doll House I"
Beth Edwards          
Photo courtesy of Beth Edwards and the David Lusk Gallery.

"Butterfly and Flower"
Ann Woods and Dean Lucker
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Arts Center.



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