Toy & Miniature Museum’s Toytisserie | Arts Upload

Shortly after
this museum opened, another closed
for some major renovations. It”s been 18 months now
since Kansas City”s Toy and Miniature Museum
shut down to redesign its displays
and take on a new identity. When they reopen
on August 1st, it will be as the National
Museum of Toys and Miniatures, and the focal point
in their entryway will be a
spinning metal ribbon covered with playthings
of all kinds. Producer/videographer
Julie Denesha has been watching as the world”s only
Toytisserie takes shape. [bouncy piano music] # # (woman)
We collected all the toys
from the community, which we thought
would be a great way to have the community provide
an interactive element in the museum”s
kind of renovation process. We basically asked for toys that would fit
into the palm of your hand. At the end, we ended up with ten
55-gallon barrels full of toys. So we collected all these toys,
cleaned ”em, sorted ”em, and then Sarah went through
and started to create scenes. This Toytisserie is in
the entrance of the museum, and will greet all the visitors
when they first arrive. And hopefully it will
attract their attention to scamper upstairs and see the rest
of the exhibits of the toys. # # If you look on the Toytisserie,
you”ll see toys from all over. They”re donated from people
around Kansas City, and we”ve kind of tried to get
a nice accumulation of toys to represent different genres
of toys and different eras. # # The concept is based on
a giant barber”s pole that you see outside
old-fashioned barber shops that turn around,
around, around. And that is
the concept behind this huge just over
100-foot metal helix.   (woman)
I think what”s interesting to me
about the Toytisserie is it”s a little bit
of a microcosm of the experience
here in the museum. People love our collection
because it”s so approachable. You have tiny things,
which are the miniatures, and then then you have toys, which are things
that you played with as a kid. So anybody can come in
and find something that they connect with. I like the way that children– they create their own worlds,
”cause I remember as a child in my bedroom,
I had rows of shelves, and I used to like arranging
little groupings of objects. And I loved arranging them
and, yeah, creating scenes, so I was in preparation for
this job many, many years ago. [laughs] The process is you,
you know, choose a toy, and then drill in and attach
a magnet, so very laborious. [drill whirring] One had to pay attention
100% when working with each object. There”s several
different materials we”re dealing with here. There”s wood. There”s plastic.
There”s ceramic. There”s paper and card. And also, there”s
the different ages of the toys
that we”re attaching. Some are old, vintage,
and some are new. I think this is the most
time-consuming thing I”ve ever worked on.
[laughs] # # Toy manufacturers weren”t
really designing toys for us to put them up
on this twisting sculpture. The inconsistencies
in materials and knowing what tool to use is probably
the biggest obstacle, but it”s definitely something
that we”ve overcome, and over time,
through the project, we”ve kind of developed
a rhythm where we could say, “Oh, this thing is
a squishy toy animal. We probably shouldn”t use the
drill on this.” # # (Sarah)
At first, I was daunted
by the scale of it. I mean, this is like
a giant mural. I”ve never worked
on something of this scale. And, yeah, I do remember
the first morning I walked in and was just surrounded by all
these cardboard boxes and me. I just took a deep breath
like… [inhales] “Okay, let”s just start
with this box.” # # I think probably
in just about every scene, there”s some little
tiny detail that I love, and I think probably there”s
quite a few little, tiny details people won”t notice
or maybe will notice in time. I mean, like in the castle scene
just behind the stegosaurus, there”s a little mouse hole, ”cause every castle
has a little mouse door. You know, it”s not complete
without a mouse door on it and a little mouse
poking his nose out, which, you know,
within the thousands of toys, that”s kind of a crazy detail,
and that”s, I guess, me.   (Ben)
A lot of the toys we”re trying
to have directional movement, so one toy will be moving
in a certain direction to kind of help with
the flow of the sculpture. There”s an interaction
of toys wanting to
check out other scenes, and so it”s kind of
a lot of fun. # # It could always have more, but also it could maybe have
less on there as well. So it”s a fine balance
of knowing when to stop. That”s the hard thing, is knowing when it”s time
to just step back. I am going to have
to make myself go, “Stop! Okay, that”s it.” You just pull up
the drawbridge and step away from the
Toytisserie so you can let go. [laughs] # # This has been
a really cool opportunity to kind of pull back
these memories, these toys. We”re drilling holes in these
memories, but we”re also– being able to play again
as an adult, which is a really cool thing. # # (woman)
The Toytisserie
just kind of encapsulates what we hope is the experience. You see stuff on it.
You start to remember. You–it draws you upstairs
and, you know, you get to start
to have a real…   I guess you get to reengage your childlike
sense of wonder, which is something
that we”re all about here. (Sarah)
It”s been really fun, and has
let me revisit my childhood. So I hope people enjoy
it as much as I have. # # (Maris)
While the sculpture
at the Toy museum is largely the work
of one person, our next story
shows how art can be made
by groups of people too. ArtsKC, the
regional arts council, has cool new digs
in the Crossroads, so when they needed
a signature piece, they turned to a man
who makes murals, graffiti artist
JT Daniels. JT and LiveKC
called out the troops, and proceeded to,
in just a matter of hours, combine their skills for something big,
bold, and colorful. Producer/videographer
John McGrath saw it all. We”re really excited
to partner with LiveKC to put on this event. [upbeat music] # # (woman)
What you are in right now is the office of Arts KC. So for those
of you who don”t know, we”re the regional arts council
here in Kansas City, so that means we serve the
five-county metropolitan area. We bring together resources to
support artists, individuals, and businesses
who want to support the creative community
here in Kansas City. Some of you may not know Kansas City is one
of only 17 markets that has a professional
symphony, opera, and a ballet. That”s pretty cool. The arts are something that
contributes a $273 million economic impact annually,
which is pretty great– raises a lot of money for us. And it makes it a place where,
like, I”m psyched to live.   Today we”re just working on
a mural for Arts KC. [percussive music] # # It”s supposed to be a really
group-interactive mural. It”s supposed to bring everyone
that”s interested, at least in KC,
the millennial age, 25 to 35, I believe, working on a KC mural
that”s supposed to encompass the feeling and the sense
of the people that live here. Pretty unique experience. Glad to see, you know,
representing Kansas City well and everything
that the city”s about: homegrown artists,
homegrown drawing. So we have the letters K and C. Within that, there”s a lot of
different characters and faces and–mostly cartoon faces
that I”ve interbred within that. And they all represent, like,
people I”ve either met, I know, I”ve seen, or I”ve run into
or I”ve heard about or have heard stories about
in KC. I just started on the arrow. I figured you can”t go wrong
with an arrow. It can be whatever color
you want it to be. And so right now,
it”s going to be orange. But I”m excited to see
what other colors people are going
to paint the arrows. It should be really cool. Everyone”s scared to make art because they”re scared
to make a mistake. I don”t want to mess it up.
I tense up. I”m not much
of an artist, so– I tend to ruin things in life,
and I don”t want to do that. Whereas, like,
usually when you make a mistake, that”s the thing that people
notice the most, and it”s not in a bad way,
like, “Oh, I like that.” Do we have a table
for the demonstration? We”re all going to get
a chance to graffiti now. # # [paint cans rattling] # # (man)
What are they learning here? (JT)
Different, like,
basic spray paint techniques: how close to get to the canvas, how to layer stencils
on top of each other. More or less, we”re kind of
practicing abstract design, which is something that
I teach to students as, like, just really quick way
of self-expression and getting out of the ordinary. Just kind of freeing up
to make a mistake, but learning
at the same time. And then with
the colors we”re using, it”s more like ”90s pop art,
or ”80s pop art. So we just kind of get them
to think about that, like, how can you use art
as a catalyst for change. And then for my high school
kids, I try to show ”em, like, you can do art
and make a career out of it outside of high school. And you don”t have to feel weird
or anything else. Like, your talent matters. # # (woman)
This is going to go up
on the side of our building that faces Town Topic
out on Baltimore, so every time you come down
to the Crossroads, you can say, “Hey, I helped do that. That”s a thing
that I contributed to.” # #   Poets have always been able
to strip language down to express complex things
in a simple, but profound way. Right now, with terms like
transgender and gender fluidity getting lots of attention, ourArts Uploadpoem
from Ezhno Martin seems pretty timely. It”s called “Liberated.” The producer/videographer
is Justin Bond.   [calm music] # #   [grunts] # # I was just sorting through
my mismatched laundry, which is a mundane chore
for someone who had never taken
any pleasure or pride in the clothes they wore, when a long, black dress showed
up at the bottom of the pile.   And I was wearing it before I
even had a chance to wonder why. Oh, and it felt good. Too good.
Good like, “Finally.” It felt so good to finally see
a sexy reflection looking back at me
in the mirror. So I doubled down, and stole
my girlfriend”s lipstick. You know, I”ve been wearing
eyeliner for years, but it never occurred to me
that I guess I was secretly, you know,
some kind of a queer.   I”d been wearing
only the blander shades of gray because I never felt
like I was worth more, but when I saw that new smile
staring back at me in the mirror, I knew that these pink lips
meant that I was a peacock, a songbird
on the first day of spring, and I actually couldn”t wait
to go shopping for new clothes.   I couldn”t wait to wear them and show off
my sultry contours…   Be pretty–
beautiful, even. And maybe, like,
I was worth affection… and lust–
sweet reptilian lust.   So I have to realize that the dresses
are for special occasions. I set out to go buy new things
for the everyday of my new life. And I shaved my legs to a
stubble with an electric razor and set out
for the thrift store, ready to feel the warm sun on
the thin straps of my shoulders. # # And I wasn”t even worried about
the long stares and snickers, because I never expected
so many elated strangers. It”s like they knew
that it was a new day for me, that I had just emerged
from a vegetative sense of self to discover
savage curiosity and confidence.   And when I made it to the store,
oh, sweet transcendence! The excess of exciting
possibilities for a future I fully expected to spend
wearing the kind of t-shirts that you buy in bulk
would have paralyzed me if not for my prancing
in a variety of fishnet stockings,
skirts and pastel t-shirts. Who would have known it”s so
much fun to have a purse. And I finally allowed myself the
kind of pink and black shoes that I”d always wanted
since high school. # # [water splashes]   I bought the kind of clothes
I”d always liked seeing at the foot
of me and my girlfriend”s bed. And that fascination of mine
suddenly made so much sense– why I”d always thought women
were the stronger sex, and idolized the likes
of L7, Heavens to Betsy, Sleater-Kinney,
and Bikini Kill. I mean, rebel girls,
you are the queens of my world, and I do wanna, wanna
take ya home, so I can try on your clothes. Duh. And home I went, taking every opportunity
and detour seen, finally snug in my own skin, the breeze catching my hems
like the sails of a warship returning to peace
from the place they belonged. And I haven”t stopped, even after my parents
stopped talking to me, even after my girlfriend
flipped out and moved out on me. Life is just too short
for hiding and lying and languishing alone
with a secret self that no one ever meets. And I had to form a new family
and make new friends. But that first day, when I found myself at 24– a vibrant colossus of
cross-dressing, gender-queer– that”s when I started
counting my age as a person, no longer a prisoner to a gender
that I”ve never really been. # #   # # Well, if you had any doubt about
how popular dinosaurs still are, opening week
forJurassic World:over $200 million. Oh, wow. The folks out here
definitely know how fun the ”rexes and ”raptors
and the ”sauruses are for youngsters
of all ages. This exhibit, “Ancient
Fossils, New Discoveries” has been extended
through August 31. And since the Museum
at Prairie Fire is actually a satellite of the American Museum
of Natural History, they do a little
deeper digging than your average
theme park would. In fact, upstairs
they”ve got a discovery room, where all kinds of hands-on
activities are available for kids and their companions
to participate in. They have paleontology,
zoology, biology. One thing they don”t have,
though, is photography. Ah, but we do. In our last story
this week, you”ll meet
a photographer best known for the ways
that he manipulates images. Patrick Nagatani
is less interested in telling pictorial truth than creating fascinating
fictional stories. # # (Hakim)
Patrick, you said photography
is about telling stories, and you are creating fictions. Can you tell us more about
the fiction you”re creating? You know, my storytelling actually harkens
from being an artist, from being a photographer
and arranging the sets and thinking about
what the story is. # # I”ve always used fiction, but I am always interested
in the way photographs can come back to be truthful. A challenge for me has been
moving to writing. # # (Nagatani)
In order to create
a better visual sense for what the wordplay is in the
development of my characters, I”ve actually made images
for stuff that, hopefully,
will go with this novel in the beginning
of each chapter. And so I approached it,
in a way, from a visual point of view to get myself, like, focused
into what the story is. # # (Hakim)
So why create fiction,
particularly? Photography is
an interesting medium in that it”s always
supposed as the truth. Even in the judicial system, photographs are used
to depict the truth, fact. My sensibility has always been
that photographs actually lie. They tell stories. And it all depends on
how you construct the image. And so I”m interested
in those, like, shifts that photographs can have. # # Fiction has always existed
in quotes. # # My favorite part of fiction is that it is established
from truth in a way or expectancy of truth. People ask me,
even about the photographs, and if I share some of
the writing that I”m doing, they”ll ask me,
“Well, was that true?” And I say–
I love the question because you”re questioning it,
you”re wondering about it. Because it seems so factual that you wonder if it”s
the truth or not.   For me, everything is true. # # I once did this body of work where I formulated a fictional
archeologist named Ryoichi, which happens to be
my middle name. I was a photographer, and I went with this
archeological team from Japan and unearthed luxury cars in sacred sites
across the world. So it was all
this fictional narrative. Although I gravitated
in that work to actually constructing,
in Japanese, Ryoichi”s journals and took pictures
of pages of his journal. And the translation
was important because it gave his thoughts, in terms of an archeologist
and this fabulous adventure, that question
the paradigms of archeology and taking objects
and removing them from sites. # # It all became, in my mind,
kind of like the truth. I applied
my aesthetics of fiction into these photographs
to tell the story. # #   # #   History has informed
a great deal of my work. Like, for instance,
theNuclear Enchantmentwas specific to real sites
and real issues in the historical
and contemporary aspect of New Mexico”s marriage
to the nuclear age. And so that came from fact. And my representation
of that fact is where the fiction came in. # #   # # (Hakim)
What drives you to tell stories? It might be escapism,
number one. It might be
my desire for magic, that I find a magical place
in storytelling. I think one brings, in terms of magical realism
and in terms of spirituality, a lot to embracing fiction,
embracing storytelling. # #   I actually did a body of work where I asked my audience
not to– the viewers of the work–
not to suspend disbelief that these are
the so-called truth. And I tried to–
with my knowledge about how photographs
are read, they were small,
almost snapshot like images. They were images of the ten Japanese-American
relocation camps. And the whole body of work
was, in a way, based upon an
N. Scott Momaday quote that landscapes retain memory. And I try to capture that memory
in these straightforward, non-art, not-manipulated
landscape images, which I wanted my audience– this is the only body of work
that they ever did where, you know, no fiction, that these where truthful
documentary images, which was hard for me to do. # #   # #   # #   (Hakim)
Why do you keep creating? (Patrick)
I used to tell my students that, well after
they get their degrees, that what they are going to do, that a lot of them will
go do something important. Maybe that”s making art,
become doctors, go into medicine,
what have you. But I told them that,
“A lot of you will understand, I can”t tell you what it is,
but that it”s in your heart.” And, in fact, just
the other day, I was thinking about my need
to make some pictures. [laughs] So that never leaves the soul,
the heart of me. But you are thinking
about this constantly, and it makes you happy.   You know,
they do on occasion, offer a night
at the museum out here, but we didn”t
pack for that. And it is all
the time we have for this edition
ofArts Uploadanyway. But next week, the series
continues with more science, in the form of fractals
used for artistic purposes. Also, playwright
Frank Higgins, still hard at work
in Kansas City. Till then,
I”m Randy Mason. And I”m Maris Aylward. Thanks for watching.   # #   # #   (announcer)
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