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A Twin Cities artist’s toy chest

Minneapolis’ “Toys in the Attic” exhibition continues its charitable efforts one piece of nostalgia at a time.

What: âÄúToys in the AtticâÄù Exhibition

When: Dec. 3-Jan. 8

Where: Gallery 122, 122 8th St. SE.


Regardless of grown-up questions of moral consumerism, most can remember a childhood object that meant close to everything. The country the plastic toy was made in didnâÄôt matter. The wounds Mom and Dad may have incurred in order to snatch that last Furby or Nerf gun at the local ToysâÄúRâÄùUs didnâÄôt matter. There was something personal, and often a livelihood within such childhood relics. ItâÄôs a sort of magic that really only happens as a kid.

And it cannot hurt to try to recapture that magic, especially if it can net a few dream toys for the kids who have yet to experience such commercial fuzzy warmth. In its third year, MinneapolisâÄô âÄúToys in the AtticâÄù exhibition hopes to again elevate that comforting nostalgia through its collection of for-sale original prints, posters and original vinyl figurines, the proceeds of which will go to Toys for Tots.

âÄúItâÄôs about toys and getting the biggest diversity of pieces as possible,âÄù founder and organizer Steve Tenebrini said.

As is an appropriate case considering the mass production of the subject matter, Tenebrini has stressed uniformity among the exhibiting pieces. The figurines are equal in dimensions and individually designed. All prints and posters measure 12-by-12 inches, a bit of information relative to the founderâÄôs more eerie childhood inspiration for the exhibitionâÄôs first year.

âÄúMy dadâÄôs got a pretty massive record collection,âÄù he said. âÄúAerosmithâÄôs âÄòToys in the AtticâÄô was this record that I would sit and look at, and it would kind of freak me out.âÄù

So what originally began as an exhibition exploring the subtle fears of childhood has now become more of an exuberant celebration of oneâÄôs most carefree years.

âÄúI kind of look at [my exhibiting work] as a kid,âÄù contributing poster artist David Witt said. âÄúWhat would be fun for me as a kid, or how did I feel as a kid playing with toys?âÄù

And playfulness ultimately becomes the best word to describe the vibrant exhibiting pieces that will color the walls of Gallery 122 through the yearâÄôs end. Some can be as simple and endearing as WittâÄôs mind-of-a-child work. Other pieces, such as Briana AuelâÄôs Pabst Blue Ribbon-loving Mr. Potato Head offer more adult-tinged themes.

âÄúThatâÄôs where the idea of the show came from,âÄù Tenebrini said. âÄúLetâÄôs have a show about toys and fun and things that should be happy but actually may be a bit twisted.âÄù

However, Tenebrini maintains that his interest in raising money for charity has curbed the darker tones of earlier years. After all, the ultimate goal is to raise enough money to give some young girls and boys that Christmas morningexperience.

âÄúIâÄôm trying to get it to a sizeable mix,âÄù he said. âÄúThere will be something here for you no matter what youâÄôre into.âÄù

With a diverse collection of visions, it seems that an appreciation for a childhood toy alone will translate at least the minimal level of warmth experienced who-knows-how-many Christmases or birthdays ago.

While it is a bit odd how human love and emotion can be so easily transferred to constructions of plastic or plush, it is one of those whimsical aspects of being a kid. ItâÄôs not all bad for the big kids of the world to stop and remember the imaginative fun and fear of being younger.

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