Crowdfund a New Take on Classics for Kids


Meet Bax of Bax Classics. 

A Nashville couple is crowdfunding the first printing of a new collection of classic literature–that’s just for kids! Meet Baxter–Bax for short. Bax is a precocious, inquisitive kid who is a little bored with kids books. Eyeing the dusty, adult classics on the top shelf, Bax dreams of more. Wendy and Steven Martin created a series called Bax Classics that makes these books accessible to kids.

They’ve written and illustrated three volumes already. In each, friends of Bax find themselves in a dilemma “whereupon Bax’s wiley imagination pushes things off the rails, whisking everyone into the wondrous world of a classic!” says the project’s Kickstarter. It’s not so much about retelling the stories precisely, but rather about making the themes and lessons accessible to a new audience with three beautifully illustrated volumes.

For example, Volume 1 centers on a reading classroom that is stuck in a rut of predictability. Bax persuades the teacher to crack open his own copy of Moby Dick, and the class enters a high seas adventure. In  Volume 2, Bax tries to out-scare his sister Hattie by summoning the spectres of Jane Eyre‘s Gateshead and Thornfield. In Volume 3, Bax transforms his friend’s regular old rendering of Cinderella by introducing Dickens’ Abel Magwitch and bringing Great Expectations to life.*

bax friend

Bax’s friend Marla finds an entry point to Great Expectations through her precocious friend.

“With this kid-centered approach,” Wendy Martin explains, “we’re about to bring kids into themes of classic literature while keeping it really relatable, and that’s something we don’t often see in adaptations of classics.” What can little kids learn from the classics? The perils of obsession, the courage it takes to be loved, the unexpected nature of kindness? Yep, and lots more to boot.

Support the project here!

They’ve also worked with educators to create a teaching curriculum that pairs the stories with quotations from the classics themselves, exposing kids to the language of the masters. There will be an app, too!

Their Kickstarter offers generous prizes. At $25, they’ll send you the hardcover of Volume 1 featuring Moby Dick, the PDF, and the curriculum. Educators will love the $75 bundle of all three hardcovers, PDFs, a media enhanced curriculum for classroom use, plus a Bax bookbag.

Like Bax’s Facebook page to stay up to date!

[This blogger one threw a Danbury High School copy of Great Expectations at dear Mrs. Paonessa’s blackboard in the ninth grade and could have used a relatable access point even at the supposedly mature age of 16.]


Red Arrow Gallery Kickstarter Closes in 2.5 Hours

dan holland

Installation shot of Daniel Holland’s Dirty Pictures. Red Arrow Gallery, 2015.

Red Arrow Gallery has shown exciting work at its Riverside Village location over the past year since it relocated from Joshua Tree, California to Nashville. The property they rented in East Nashville was sold recently, and they’ve got a new home at 919 Gallatin Avenue. But, the space needs a lot of work to outfit it as a gallery. Today is the last day of their Kickstarter to raise the reasonable amount of $10,000 in this effort. It ends at 5:00 p.m.

Red Arrow has worked with kids at Maplewood High School and Isaac Litton Middle, and its staff says they want the gallery to be approachable to people who have never stepped foot in one before. I hope they’ll continue their community outreach arm in their new location, because the arts are too often complicit in gentrification. They also do a great artist talk series hosted by Joe Nolan. I love artist talks and will definitely make more of them in the coming year.

In the meantime, OZ is hosting them until the end of the year.

They hope to re-open at the new spot in January. Give here if you’re able.

Last Day to Donate to Locate Arts

tennessee logoQuick post. Locate Arts, which I told you about back in March, is on its final day of a Kickstarter that would support its first year of operations costs. This is your last chance, and yes, they have to meet their goal to get even one red cent that’s been pledged.

If you’ve ever said the following, you owe it to yourself to donate.

  1. “Nashville doesn’t support the arts.”
  2. “There isn’t enough critical writing about art in Nashville.”
  3. “I wish I knew what was happening in Knoxville, or Memphis, or Chattanooga, or any little arts enclave in Tennessee.”
  4. “Not enough people buy art in Nashville. How can I make a living?”
  5. “Screw this. I’m going to New York/L.A. where I can see “cutting edge” contemporary art.”

As far as I can tell, you don’t get to complain about Nashville’s art scene if you don’t give to this campaign. Here’s how Locate Arts will help you personally.

  1. If you’re an artist: Locate Arts will have a statewide artist registry with links to your website or gallery. It will be user-friendly, beautiful, and connect you to people within and outside of Tennessee. It will also list all contemporary art exhibitions in the whole damn state. Your practice will be more sustainable because see number 2.
  2. If you are an arts patron: Whether you have the money to purchase art or not, making us art outward facing will bring more artists to Tennessee. It will promote contemporary art in Tennessee to the rest of the country (and beyond!) so that art buyers will put us on their map. More artists will make their home in our cities. Our creative economies will pick up. That means more art events for those of us (ME!) who can’t afford to buy art much.
  3. Umm…if they get off to a good start financially, Locate Arts can start thinking about a Tennessee biennial, which let’s admit would be fucking great.
  4. If you are a gallery owner or curator: See 1-3.

Finally, we will harness the energy of our art scenes across the state, creating more collaborations, more support, more cross-pollination in writing, event-planning, and contact. Here are some things I wrote after I visited Memphis for 24 hours. There’s so much to see and do. Locate Arts will open doors, and behind these doors, we’ll find enrichment and happiness.

If you don’t want to listen to me, listen to Lain York, lifelong Nashvillian, artist, and curator of Zeitgeist: “More communication between the studio communities is crucial and directly affects regional museums, academic programs, state and city arts commissions, commercial galleries, and independent artist-run initiatives. Conduits like these industry hubs will have a more articulate sense of what artists are doing to pass along to supporting constituencies. The initial conversations of LOCATE Arts are already giving contemporary art a higher profile in Tennessee.”

So donate to the Kickstarter today! Even $10 bucks helps. And if have more to spend, you can get artwork from local geniuses like Jodi Hays, Karen Seapker, Shana Kohnstamm, and more from around Tennessee.