Five things worth knowing this week:

Clap Clap Clap for summer camp! I’m convinced the happiest place on Vashon might just be our Blue Heron education center.  Monday morning I followed the trail of happy energy over to watch Caroline Rockey lead a gaggle of 5 – 7 year olds through day one of  Masks From Around the World (masks are a big theme at VCA this year).  If Blue Heron is the happiest place, she might be the happiest instructor (no offense to anyone, I’ve just never seen such ebullience at 9:00 on a Monday morning). She and her charges will be exploring the shapes, patterns and images found in masks from different regions, including Africa, South America and the American Southwest using paper mache, clay and recycled materials.

Boxes Boxes Boxes  is a multi-generation and multi-classroom collaboration drawing inspiration from the Oscar nominated documentary Faces Places, featuring the artists J.R. and Agnes Varda Students in Mr. Rees’ English classes and Ms. Dallum’s Art classes at Vashon Island High School watched the film in class, prompting them to each create individual works exploring themes of identity.

Students also visited residents at Vashon Community Care and the Art Room at Chautauqua Elementary to create boxes dedicated to others and their stories.  Many of the boxes are interactive and made to be read: featuring narratives of times when people felt “boxed in” or “put inside a box” by external forces.

First Friday, July 6th, 6pm – 9pm | Blue Heron Education Center Gallery

Gardens on Tour.  A burst of color, the scent of a loved herb, the orderliness of a row of vegetables or a well-constructed wall  . . .  A garden reveals much about the person that tends it (or is it the garden that tends the person?).  Thank you to this year’s garden hosts for sharing not their lovely outdoor spaces. You offered a sea of strangers an opportunity to have a wonderful shared experience, to  smile, to slow down and notice a rare detail, to feel mother earth in all her glory.  It was a wonderful weekend and we owe it all to you.

Thanks too to the sea of volunteers and staffers who started work on this project nine months ago.  It took a village and the village delivered.

Show coming down. Every day this past month I have had the privilege to sit in our gallery with some truly spectacular art, sometimes to observe, sometimes to be still, sometimes to share my joy, sometimes to share my crankiness . . . and always and in each moment your this wonderful body of work has been there for me.  The gift these talented Vashon Artists have given the world by making and showing their art is impossible to scale or calculate.  Their individual acts of exploration and expression add just a bit more depth and texture to our shared humanity.

What’s just brilliant is not just how different each of the bodies of work are, but how well they speak with each other to the viewer.  Well done Ted,  Janice, Terry, Eddy, Jon-Eric, Michael, Rose and Kate for sharing your great work with the world.

Award Winning Building (fingers crossed).  We received this delightful note from the firm that did the structural engineering on our building . . .

As the structural engineer for The Kay, I can tell you I am very proud of the facility and love every moment I spend at performances and exhibits.

Our firm is so proud of the project we are submitting it for a national award competition for structural engineering innovation. I believe the uniqueness of the roof trusses in a theater and the concrete walls that are vital structural elements, as well as important acoustical components, are worth celebrating.

Agree, agree, agree.  Like I said, fingers crossed.

Finally, and this is actually a sixth item, one of our great dance parents sent me this perfect story about her young dancer about his recent turn in our spring dance concert.  I promise you will love this story.

I kneeled down next to Desmond in the semi-darkness, rubbing his back. This was his first performance weekend with VCA’s dance company. He was nervous He is only 4. The greenroom, happily loud with dozens and dozens of kids in costume talking and laughing, had been a little overwhelming to him. He sat on my lap, drawing and watching everything around him. His beloved sister Lucy, who has been doing ballet at VCA since she was 3, had made the leap to the big kids’ dressing room with this performance. He wasn’t sure about any of this.

On Friday night, he went onstage, leaping about as a frog in Alice in Wonderland. However, he was clearly shocked at the lights, the people, the feeling of being onstage that makes his sister feel free. At Saturday’s matinee, he bolted before going onstage. Saturday evening, I realized he was overwhelmed and kept him home. Sunday’s matinee was the only time he could go on again. I wanted to help him conquer his fear.

But he wasn’t convinced.

I stood next to him, rubbing his back. His sister, who sensed his apprehension, had come out of the dressing room and followed us. We both encouraged him. He wanted to bolt again.

And then I heard Gus say, “Hey, ballet buddy! High-five!”

Gus had been assigned my son as his ballet buddy. I’m continually moved by the way the older kids at VCA treat their younger counterparts. They remember being that age. And the dance program is set up as a corps de ballet, not a series of disconnected classes. Older kids mentor the younger kids. They connect.

I have been watching Gus dance onstage for the past 6 years. And I have noticed his kindness all that time. So I was thrilled that he would be my son’s first ballet buddy. Gus brought Desmond a bag of gummy frog candy before the show began. “Because you’re a frog in the show!”

As Lucy and I stood in the stage wings, reassuring Desmond, I saw Gus come off-stage from dancing. Immediately, he saw Desmond. And immediately, he sensed what was happening. So he called out for a high-five. He came over to put his hand on Desmond’s back. And he said, “I remember. But you can do it. You can do it!”

With Gus, me, and his sister saying it, Desmond started chanting, “I can do it. I can do it.”

And when it came time, amid a clutch of girls in flower-petal skirts and breaths of pink, the little frog moved onstage.

Gus and Lucy and I stood offstage watching, as Desmond very seriously leaped and jumped. And about 45 seconds later, he was back with us.

“See? I knew you could do it, Desmond. Great job!” Gus said to him, grinning.

I stood there, tears in my eyes. This was, of course, so much bigger than 45 seconds on stage. I will never forget this support, this joy.

And ever since, at a few tough moments, I have heard Desmond whisper to himself, I can do it I can do it.

Now we have two VCA dancers for life.

 


Why “Fish Wrap”? Years ago, living in San Francisco, I became a devotee of a legendary journalists named Herb Caen. While he may not have been the first to use the phrase in connection with “yesterday’s news,” he is the one I remember. Today’s news is tomorrow’s fish wrap. Maybe it’s a generational thing. At any rate, we call our Friday wrap up, The Friday Fish Wrap . . . Five things worth knowing about VCA this Friday.

 


 

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