by Sonja Haller)
Through its books, a library transport readers to different worlds. Now 2,500-square feet in the Scottsdale Civic Center Library serves as a portal into the enchanted world of Camp Dreamtree.
Though not an actual camp, the exhibit invites children to explore installations such as the Fire Weather Forest, four different dream houses, a touchable campfire, hanging rooftop flowers, and fantastical creatures.
The world, which took two weeks to install, pops with color and texture and is meant to be touched by little scouts.
"I want kids to feel they're not in Phoenix anymore," said co-creator Koryn Woodward Wasson, 31, who teaches visual arts at Metropolitan Arts Institute in Phoenix. "Or not on Earth, really, but in a different space. We wanted to create this idea of dreaming and dream trees and dream houses and the freedom to be in that space."
Her husband, Phoenix artist Roy Wasson Valle, 38, has a background in graphic design and is known for his clothing and merchandise line, Fuzzy Balls Apparel. Valle's interest in creating dream worlds stretches back decades. A central theme in the exhibit is scouting, with scout kerchiefs and badges and trails that Valle said grounds the dreamworld concept with respect for nature and exploration.
"When we started to do a little research on scouting and its origins I started to see how much I agreed with the principles of scouting," he said. "And that's something we could adapt to what we're trying to do here and what the message of Camp Dreamtree is and also the message of the story behind Camp Dreamtree."
The husband and wife team were selected over other artists for the space, dubbed The Gallery @ Scottsdale Civic Center Library, because the artists will continually add to the exhibit and host events, said Wendy Raisanen, Scottsdale Public Art's project manager.
"Theirs was the most fully realized idea with a mythology and story and environment," Raisanen said. "We liked the idea that people will be able to experience something different every time they visit because (the artists) will be adding to and evolving the experience."
The $20,000 exhibit is a joint venture between Scottsdale Public Art and the Scottsdale Civic Center Library.
This is Scottsdale Public Art's second summer-long installation. Last year, New York artist Luster Kaboom turned the high-ceiling library into a big tent of circus like color and characters in "Luster Kaboom's FunHouse." About 23,000 people came through the library during that three-month exhibit.
Kathy Coster, Scottsdale Civic Center Library senior manager, said the summer exhibits help remind patrons that the library is dynamic, not passive.
"We really had wanted to use the space effectively to bring in more customers and to showcase the library as not only being about books and materials, but about experiencing things.
"Public Art also had a need for showing some of their temporary exhibits, so its turned out to be an ideal partnership."
The exhibit continues through July 31 and is free and open to the public.
What: An interactive exhibit aimed at children and their families in camp-like setting with four dream houses, achievement trail badges and special events.
When: Open during regular library hours through July 31.
Where: The Gallery @ Scottsdale Civic Center Library, 3839 N. Drinkwater Blvd., Scottsdale.
Camp Dreamtree Special Events
2-4 p.m., Scout bag making workshop: Artists Roy Wasson Valle and Koryn Woodward Wasson provide a tutorial on hand-sewing and embellishing scout bags. Free, complimentary refreshments.
6-8:30 p.m., In a closed library, campers and their families are invited to make sit-upons to use as everyone gathers around the "campfire" to hear David Buhl re-enact the founding of Camp Dreamtree and sing camp songs. Free, snacks provided. Registration required at ScottsdalePublicArt.org/events.
10:30-11:30 a.m., Camp Dreamtree counselor Jaime Chandler, an avid birdwatcher, leads a morning of bird watching, identifying and drawing. Free.