Hansen: When art and nature meld

November 14, 2013|By David Hansen | By David Hansen
  • A giant green anemone is on display in the Aquarium on Wheels exhibit as part of Laguna Art Museum's "Art & Nature" festival, held Nov. 7 to 10.
A giant green anemone is on display in the Aquarium on Wheels… (David Hansen, Coastline…)

It dawned on me about halfway through Sunday, sitting on kid chairs at the Laguna Art Museum and watching the children try to make clay pots: I never had art and nature.

There was an ant farm, maybe in second grade. I used to love that ant farm.

Now there are aquariums on wheels with sea cucumbers that quite possibly are the softest things in the world.

There are birds of prey that look completely unhappy being held in place by their handlers instead of taking flight to chase mice.

There are rainbow beads, Haiku and face painting.

The museum opened its doors to families for its first Art and Nature festival, an interactive way for children — and adults — to appreciate the connection between the two.

With a long list of contributors, including the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Laguna Bluebelt Coalition, the Discovery Science Center, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, the Orange County Bird of Prey Center, the Ritz-Carlton's Eco-Adventure Center and many others, it was like an artistic fifth-grade science camp.


I got away with taking my youngest son, a 12-year-old, who spent longer than usual at the clay area. At first, he was trying to make one of the pots shown on the wall by renowned ceramic artist Adam Silverman.

"It's harder than it looks," he said, digging in with flourish.

After about 30 minutes and several failed bowls, I finally suggested that he might want to make a butter dish or a Frisbee.

He stuck to his fancy bowl, which ended up looking nothing like the picture.

Thanks, Silverman.

I don't smoke but now have a bad ashtray thingie.

The girls are always better at these activities. They spent forever at the My Hero booth, making cut-out birds with feathers and shiny, sparkly doodads.

I half-heartedly asked my son if he wanted to make one, and he didn't even have to answer. I knew by his expression.

He wanted to pet the eagle.

It had a 6-foot wingspan. Who wouldn't?

One look at its beak, though, and there was no way you would get too close.

The four-day event was not all about science, however. There were academic lectures, panel discussions and special exhibits. Historian Kevin Starr spoke Saturday about how ideas of nature have helped shape the state's history and identity.

Perhaps the highlight of the event was Saturday's sand drawing on Main Beach by artist Jim Denevan of Santa Cruz.

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