Dennis McNett’s Solo Show and the Importance of Making Art with Kids

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Making and sharing art with the next generation of artists is important to Brooklyn printmaker/ woodcarver Dennis McNett, which is why, when he spent a week in Laguna Beach for his solo show this month–which opened July 6, 2013 at AR4T Gallery — he took a break from making art to hold a workshop at the local Boys & Girls Club. They made shields using printed paper from the artist’s own workshop. McNett said kids are full of energy and excitement:

Last year we did it more intricate [he led the kids in a two-day mask-making effort], so this year we tried to keep it simple. You set everything out nice, and then you say, Ok, go, and it’s madness. They work fast.”

In addition to racing to be done, the Orange County kids got to ask McNett about what it’s like to be a working artist who flies across the country to make and exhibit art. The pieces in the July-August show were mostly built in the east and shipped west to be finished, with the exception of a large mandala that was built entirely in Orange County as well as a large-scale collaboration with Swoon. AR4T Gallery owner Torrey Cook explained that his subject matter of animals — and new pieces depicting waves — are awesomely kid-friendly. She said:

It’s really great to see how young people respond to meeting actual artists – especially an artist like Dennis whose subject matter they can connect with. Being around kids makes you feel like a kid again – there is such a crazy fun energy. It’s like watching a modern day Pied Piper.


The waves are a very interesting progression in Dennis’ work. Each morning he would go to the beach and spend some time meditating, reflecting, gathering peaceful energy that he put back into his work for the show.

“Dennis McNett: Wolfbat Meditations” is on exhibit at the Laguna Beach gallery through August 11, 2013.


Summer camp in Laguna Beach has every reason to make adults wish they were kids again.


A collage by Dennis McNett.


Snow leopard wood carving


McNett did some collaborative pieces with Swoon in Europe, but all the wave art work was specifically made to be shown at AR4T in Laguna Beach.


A Dennis McNett mandala built in Orange County during the first week of July 2013.


A new series by McNett, inspired by real life beach meditations, shows a next-level transcendence in his work.

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