Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Nina with polymer clay canes
cut up into magnet slices

BENNINGTON -- They've been back less than 18 hours yet Joel and Nina hopped to it today and began teaching Fiddlehead's slate of summer art classes for kids. I'm lucky in that I get to watch Joel and Nina and the kids interact from my perch in the gallery. Endearing is about the best way to describe the sights I see and sounds I hear -- questions and answers and teaching and laughing -- for 75 minutes a pop.

Nina is the artist's artist with an MFA from Iowa, and Joel is the teacher and artist with a Master's in Educational Administration, also from Iowa. He has wanted to open a school for years and dictate curriculum. There is no stronger mind for education in America than Joel's. Education is at the heart of his soul.

For a second I forgot what I was going to write but just remembered.

There was a moment in the today's first class -- LEGO -- that stood out for ... I guess you'd call it intellectual needlepoint? Joel was talking about mythological Greeks and cited one of their gods; couldn't quite hear which god because Phish was playing behind me and the class was way up there. But I heard the teachable moment.

The boy, about 8, knows a bit about Greek mythology and said of this god "But he didn't really exist -- he was just in their minds." Joel didn't miss a beat and said "But he was still important to the Greeks" then continued working his mojo while the boy got back to his Legos. It was great to see him put his intelligence on display and great to see Joel validate said intelligence with grace and subtlety.

Indeed, this is the sauce -- no sugar, no spice -- that makes Joel a wealthy teacher, and it perfectly balances his colorful, exuberant, and playful side of engagement.

Nina took the reigns for ceramics class.

She and the kids began the process of sculpting polymer clay magnets. Nina is reserved and eons quieter than Joel but no less engaging, and every bit as colorful, and the kids hung on her every idea, while Joel chimed in to add hearty doses of comic relief.

They're a great team.

In other news, I'm headed to Gotham City on Sunday.

Gonna do the Air Lift thing at Rochdale Village, which used to be Jamaica Racetrack.

Gonna wear something similar to this while I do it.

Then I have 2 nights to putz around the city. Hope to find sugar, and spice.