Matthew Reddin

“Childhood Revisited” puts nostalgia on display

By - Aug 5th, 2011 08:16 am

For this year’s “Childhood Revisited,” Chris Dix took his inspiration from children’s books, including “Where the Wild Things Are”

Doodling is practically a necessity for grade school, right next to knowing your alphabet or how to tie your shoes. Everyone does it, even if it’s just little spirals in the margins or stick figures playing Power Rangers in the middle of science class.

But for artists, doodling isn’t just doodling. It’s practice.

It’s that spirit that fuels Childhood Revisited, an art show hosted at MOCT this Friday at 8 p.m. Chad Edwards, curator for the show and art director at MOCT, started the annual event three years ago as a way for artists to pay homage to what inspired them as kids.

“The show grew out of a desire to go back to why I started drawing,” Edwards said.

The show, like most of its subject matter, is a fan favorite. Edwards said many of the 20-odd participants are return guests from previous years, and some have been in it since the very beginning.

Some of the works included in “Childhood Revisited,” like this drawing done by Micah Zeilinger, reinterpret classic games through maturer eyes.

Part of the appeal is location. Edwards said setting the show somewhere casual, like MOCT, eliminates some of the pressure artists can feel at a more formal event.

“Overhearing people pick apart something personal … takes all the fun out of an art show,” Edwards said. Instead, the pieces serve as conversation starters, the main attraction for some but just cool bar art for others.

Getting to look back at their childhood from the perspective of adulthood might be just as appealing for many of the artists. Edwards said many works in the show simply pay homage to classic shows or games, but others take this theme further, actually interpreting their inspirations through a mature, emotionally complex lens.

For Chris Dix, it’s the way the show evokes universal nostalgia that draws him in.

“Everyone can identify with (Childhood Revisited),” Dix said. “It’s a way to make art more accessible.”

It’s also a way for him to bend his artistic boundaries. Dix primarily makes corporate ads in his work life, so the show gives him an opportunity to try projects with a bit more whimsy. This year, it’s a series based on children’s books, like Babar, The Lorax and Where the Wild Things Are, but previous years’ works have included a Proton Pack (à la Ghostbusters) and lightsabers.

dwellephant’s contributions to “Childhood Revisited” over the years include this drawing of the “Ramburglar,” a Hamburglar/Ram-Man fusion.

Fellow artist dwellephant has slightly different motives for attending. Another longtime participant in Childhood Revisited, dwellephant says he doesn’t do many art shows because he doesn’t have time between his other projects. But he’s always sure to make time for this one.

“Chad brings good people together and there’s a good atmosphere,” dwellephant said. “There’s a lot to be said about having someone good putting together a group show.”

While dwellephant has drawn works specifically for the show before, this year he’ll be only drawing live art, on the spot, much like how kids draw spontaneously and without planning. “It’s fun … something I can get lost in.”

Live art like dwellephant’s is one of the many reasons Childhood Revisited is just as fleeting as childhood itself. While Edwards said some of the more traditional 2-D works may be left at MOCT for a few weeks after the show, the “extra-cool” things — including a Lite-Brite work, giant Jack-in-the-box and an original video game — will only be available for view during the Friday night show.

After that, they’ll be only a warm memory — just like the memories that inspired these artists years ago.

Childhood Revisited is on view at MOCT, 240 E Pittsburgh Ave., tonight at 8 p.m. For more information, click here.

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