Monday, June 28, 2010

Playing In Artopia

On the way to Artopia I walked among these giants for a time. With those long legs, one would have thought they'd far outpace me, but instead I easily passed them, one by one, until our ways diverged.

I overheard them buzzing to one another in their strange electrical language as each stoically bore his share of the half dozen lines on the ends of his half dozen arms, slow-marching them forever, off into the distance.

When I came to the bridge across rapids of metal, I spied a playground below me full of things to ride and climb, and around which I felt a strong urge to explore.

It looked like it would be a good place to get grime under my fingernails. But where had all the children gone?

In the other direction, there was a checkerboard airport.

The people who live around here have their lives punctuated by the thrill of jets swooping so low over their rooftops that it seems you could touch their fuselages with a hand just by standing on tippy-toes. The roar is so loud you lean into it, like one does a strong wind.

Upon crossing the bridge I finally found people like me, playing. They were racing modified power tools, exploring industrial spaces made surreal with strange artifacts, taking the world apart with words only to put it back together in new ways, and dragging handsaws across sheets of scrap metal and banging empty oil drums. 

I found a machine there. Turning the big wheel activates a series of conveyors and gears, ultimately pumping the giant bellows, which inflates an orange balloon briefly before deflating it again.

All the children wanted to turn the wheel.

Some were cautioned by their adults about pinched fingers.

Sadly, those children stood back, eyeing this now dangerous machine with their hands behind them.

Those who weren't told to worry learned to be unafraid by turning the big wheel themselves and figuring out how it all worked. No one pinched their fingers.

Beside the balloon inflating machine, was a large frame. We took turns festooning this object with black, red and white yarn. It's maker, I think, had other ideas, but we made it our own.

Later, there was an excellent marching band, not marching, but accompanying the fire dancers at 120 beats per minute from a stage.

Without being told what to do, we figured out, on our own, where to sit and stand so that no one caught on fire.

After 5 hours of playing there, I walked back home, in the dark, through a neighborhood of immigrants, and lived to tell about it.

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Scott said...

You definitely see the world through "kids' eyes," Tom.

I have so appreciated your "dangerous" posts lately. I grew up with a cautious mom, but I (usually) suppress that childhood-trained tendency and allow kids to experiment.

I'm thinking that glue guns may be in our future soon!

Play for Life said...

You're a lovely writer Tom and like Scott I like how you view the world through 'kids' eyes. I really enjoyed reading about your day at Artopia. Thank you for sharing it
Donna :) :)

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

What a great day! I love that you saw art on your way to see art. Perfect!

Unknown said...

Positively brilliant.

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