A Unique Playground
Photographer Walter Wick gives objects a life of their own.
Walter Wick Studio
In his pocket, Walter Wick, best selling author and artist, carried a yellow marble—the marble that “got the ball rolling,” he said. One can find the same marble in several of his photographs. Sometimes it appears twice in the same image. Sometimes it seems to float, not roll. And sometimes it seems to do both.
At the press event for the new exhibit at the Bruce Museum called Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos and Toys in the Attic, a dozen of us admired this bright and distinctive gallery as Wick discussed thirty-five years of his life’s work. Wick, a gifted photographer with an abundance of imagination, captures stunning photographs full of youthful ingenuity. “I was always tinkering with things,” he said about his childhood in Hartford, Connecticut. “I was always using things around the house to entertain myself. My mother once found us using the kitchen table as a sled in the yard.” His work illustrates principles of science, something he calls, “magic at home.” From gravity-defying still lifes to model built worlds, his work explores the ever-changing edge between what is real and what is not.
Wick’s interest in photography developed early, and his studies at the Paier College of Art in Hamden, Connecticut cemented his commitment to the art world. After working in a commercial studio in Hartford, Wick headed to New York to establish a studio of his own. Though it would be several years until the publication of his popular I Spy children’s books, it was in New York that his now-trademark style was conceived. He began creating photographic puzzles for Games magazine, several of which are included in the exhibition. These puzzles and optical illusions invite the playful interaction of the audience. The images try to outwit the viewer, and they reward a second look.
This inspiring and impressive exhibition features several models from his studio, behind-the-scenes footage of his creative process, as well as several interactive optical illusions. The works encourage children to exercise their observational skills and explore their own imagination. The Bruce Museum will host several Saturday educational programs for children ages 3 years and up along with their adult caregivers. Workshops will also be offered in April for students to explore the exhibition and work on related projects.
“In all the years I’ve been doing photography, I’ve never had a more appreciative audience than kids,” says Wick. And though his model-based worlds appeal to children, his optical illusions are worthy of adult wit. It is an all-ages experience of both magic and mechanics.
It is a must-see colorful exhibition for all those that think young.
Visitors to the Bruce Museum’s newest photography exhibition will find themselves in the whimsical world of Walter Wick, co-creator of the popular I Spy and creator of Can You See What I See? children’s books. Now on display from Saturday, January 28 through Sunday, April 22. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Mondays and major holidays. Free admission for all visitors on Tuesdays. For information call (203) 869-0376, or visit the Bruce Museum website
Photos by Walter Wick Studios
Mirror Maze. Wick often uses mirrors to amuse the viewer's mind. Toys in pieces become whole again
Puss and Boots, the “Master Cat”
At the Circus